A Rainbow at the End of a Journey
By Olga Bernhardt
PICTURED ABOVE: LUKE & OLGA BERNHARDT, TOGETHER WITH THEIR CHILDREN ELIZABETH & LEX.
At 32 years old I found myself with an amazing husband, a step-daughter I adored, and embarking on the journey of expanding our family. IVF was a necessity and I got pregnant on the first try, but that excitement was short lived as the little heart never started beating. I got pregnant again and the pregnancy progressed beautifully, we were expecting a little boy. We had the perfect name picked out and joyfully went to a fancy dinner to celebrate being halfway to meeting our miracle!
Except two days later everything changed. They called it pPROM (pre-term premature rupture of membranes) and Christopher Kyle Bernhardt was born December 20th, 2015. A perfectly healthy boy who at 20 weeks was just too small to survive outside the womb. An angel of a nurse, and my rock of a husband got me through a labor and delivery that nightmares are made of. We held our son and recognized our features, 10 perfect fingers and toes, a button nose, the most peaceful expression. We walked out of the hospital without our son and heavy with grief. The weeks that followed were full of sadness, anger and confusion, we felt so isolated, we missed Christopher so much. Telling Elizabeth that the little brother she was so excited to meet was born and died was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. The doctors called our loss a “fluke” and we were encouraged to try again. So we did.
We approached the next pregnancy with hesitation, the heartbeat, the ultrasounds all on track – another boy. Except pregnancies didn’t all have happy endings. We were scared to pick a name and referred to the baby as Anakin (after a joke with RAD clinician, Rhonda Wright, that the baby looked like Darth Vader). We didn’t even tell Elizabeth another baby was coming. The worst came true and just before 17 weeks we were losing him too. With this loss came an official diagnosis – Cervical Insufficiency. Little Anakin Skywalker Bernhardt was born July 24, 2016. An even tinier perfectly healthy little boy. An even greater grief.
“It is only because of RAD that we ended up with our 3 miracle boys, sadly only 1 of them got to come home with us.”
Our boys changed our life in remarkable ways. Christopher was the catalyst for bringing us to our current church. He gave us the gift of a renewed faith and an amazing church family. Anakin gave us a diagnosis and through him we learned about a treatment. Dr. Arthur Haney, an amazing surgeon in Chicago placed my Transabdominal Cerclage (TAC) in November of 2017 enabling me to carry future pregnancies to term. He (along with our incredible medical team here in Delaware) assured us that we would not lose another child.
And they were right. In January of 2018 after a mostly uneventful pregnancy we finally experienced the incredible joy of hearing our rainbow, our little Lex, crying. A sound we will never take for granted. Our third boy, but the first one who got to come home from the hospital. We walk each year in the Delaware Rock & Walk for Babies event to honor the Bernhardt Boys we carry in our hearts. It is an incredibly special experience to walk beside others who share our unique appreciation for life and loss, who understand what it’s like to have each family portrait have very real missing pieces.
Bonnie Raley Photography
This sweet rainbow boy was the result of our 5th embryo transfer, so needless to say we got to know the RAD staff pretty well during that time frame. There were so many friendly faces and encouraging words (leading up to and) at his transfer in May of 2017, and as we left the office as 3rd time RAD Grads (but finally with the game changing TAC in place) I remembered tearing up because this group of amazing clinicians, doctors, and all of the office staff were really rooting for us. I even suggested to my husband that we should swing by RAD the morning of my scheduled c-section because they were such a big and important part of our journey I felt like they needed to be there for the delivery (and I was only half kidding). Thank you RAD!
And to everyone out there who is still on the journey to meeting their miracle – I know the wait can be debilitating. To any other family who has experienced loss, whether before or after a heartbeat is on that ultrasound screen – I know that a loss after fertility treatment feels like a double whammy. Remember that you are resilient, strong, and your story may be long and hard but it is oh so meaningful. I somehow landed on the other side of this and I can tell you that you will have an appreciation for parenting that is beyond anything you ever imagined – until you get there too, know that The Bernhardts are praying and rooting for each and every one of you from afar. You’ve got this!
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Newark, DE 19713
Silverside Medical Center
2700 Silverside Road, Suite 2A
Wilmington, DE 19810
Eden Hill Medical Center
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Dover, DE 19904
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