These are the things you aren’t supposed to say after you find out you’re having a rainbow baby. You aren’t supposed to feel anything but happiness, right? That’s all you want to feel when you find out you’re pregnant after a loss. It isn’t.
If you do a quick search for “rainbow baby”, you will find beautiful rainbow-themed photos filled with tiny toes and an overwhelming sense of joy. But, for those of us who’ve been through a loss, there is something missing, the reality of the experience.
The past steals your joy
After a loss, or two, or more, two bright pink lines on a home pregnancy test often result in a sort of half smile. Your heart starts racing and, deep down, you want to run and tell anyone within squealing distance. The problem is, all those doubts and fears take over faster than you can sprint out of the bathroom. Will this pregnancy be the one? Is this the baby I’ll get to hold?
That moment when you should feel nothing but excitement and anticipation is dulled by cautious optimism. I can’t tell you how many times I said those words, “I’m cautiously optimistic”. As the days and weeks pass, you tell yourself it is OK to be happy. You start to dream about the nursery and the perfect “going home” outfit, but you stop yourself from actually buying anything. No matter how hard you try, the loss overshadows the gift.
Not everyone gets their rainbow
The reality every woman thinks about after a loss is simple and devastating. Will I get my rainbow?
In your heart, you know you are meant to be a mom. You’ve dreamed of that first cry for so long, but the fear of never hearing it is almost paralyzing. Yes, there are many beautiful ways to create a family. Those options still mean the end of a precious dream and the beginning of a new one.
Families are a miracle. It doesn’t matter how they come to be. It also doesn’t mean those families weren’t born out of fire, pain and loss. It is something truly special to create beauty from the ashes.
There are a lot of “What Ifs”
What if I lose this baby? What if I tell everyone too soon? What if this is my only child? What if? What if? The questions never stop.
After two losses, I found out I was pregnant with the twins. I decided I wasn’t going to take a lot of pictures during my pregnancy. What if something happened and I had all those painful reminders? It is so overwhelming and almost impossible not to let the fear and doubt take over. But, some days, you ask yourself, “What if this is my sweet rainbow after such a storm”?
You feel guilty when you complain
You know your child is a gift, a cherished gift. That gift doesn’t always seem so special when you’re surviving on four hours of sleep. Again, it is a reality that you feel you don’t get a right to have. It isn’t OK to say you hate being pregnant or that you’re bone tired because your baby should know nothing but utter love and gratefulness.
That is all they will ever know, but it is still OK to have a bad day. You are allowed, just like every other mother is allowed. Bad days happen and it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten how special that little one is.
Hugs are a little tighter
Imagine you were born with an intense difference to overcome. Now, imagine the day you overcome it. What would it be like to walk for the first time as an adult? Or, hear your first word well into middle school? You would know the true meaning of healing, answered prayers and a miracle. Rainbow babies are simply that. Your rainbow baby is healing and answered prayer after a loss, a death.
It doesn’t mean the little angels we’ve lost are forgotten. They will always be in our hearts, forever. It just means there are some very real truths we have to face after they’re gone. And, it is OK to say them out loud, to feel them and, if you can, to let a few go.
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