Elizabeth Michalski was 22 weeks pregnant when she found out her son had died.
When her water broke a few days before and she and her husband, Alex, went to the hospital, she was kept on bed rest. “They basically told us our odds weren't great, but we had a little bit of hope to hold onto and that's exactly what we were going to do,” Elizabeth recalls. However, on the morning of October 6, 2018, she was rushed to labor and delivery after labor began, and early in the afternoon, doctors discovered that Teddy had passed away.
After nearly 10 hours of labor that was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, she had a natural birth. Elizabeth and Alex’s friends and family were there to meet Teddy, celebrate his existence, and grieve his death until they said goodbye.
When Elizabeth and Alex wanted to start a family, they knew it would be a challenge since Elizabeth had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormal number of androgens (male sex hormones). Then after seeing specialists, they learned Elizabeth had thyroid cancer, which has since been treated.
Once receiving the green light from their doctor to start trying to get pregnant, they were able to conceive right away with the help of fertility treatments. “It just felt like we had finally gotten over the hill to get pregnant, and we were excited to start our family,” Elizabeth says.
When Teddy passed away, Elizabeth and Alex turned to March of Dimes for support. “We learned that they were not only honoring all the babies in the NICU, but they were also honoring the angel babies. And that immediately sat with me because we just had lost our child. So, we wanted to support a cause that wanted to support all the babies.”
They knew that they wanted to be parents, regardless of everything they’d been through—and the following year got pregnant with Nathan. However, that pregnancy came with its own troubles. Elizabeth had a high-risk pregnancy due to the complications she had during her pregnancy with Teddy, and she was on progesterone shots from week 16 to 36. The day of her last shot was when she and Alex found out that her water had broken.
Nathan was born preterm at 36 weeks, the day before Ohio shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, he was strong enough to go home and didn’t need to spend any time in the NICU. “Nathan is the healthiest, happiest baby,” Elizabeth says. “He has been nothing but a light in our lives, not only due to being born in the pandemic, but also because he was our rainbow of hope that we absolutely needed.”
Elizabeth and Alex went through unimaginable pain before welcoming Nathan into their family, and they’re sharing their story because they believe that those experiencing loss need to know that they’re not alone. “From the get-go, I've been very open about our loss, and I want to be very open about the fact that I have a family of four and you just can only see three of us,” Elizabeth adds. “And I think it's important not only as a mom, but as a woman to be able to share that experience.”