April 27, 2018- a day I was broken as I went into surgery with Sweet Clara and came out alone, feeling empty and longing for that Baby Girl I’d never meet this side of heaven.
April 27, 2019- a day of panic and hope as the test came up positive and I uttered the words “Well that is terrifying.”
And that’s the truth about Rainbow Babies- they are absolutely terrifying.
In the months that followed our loss of Clara, we were trying for one more baby. Maybe it was part of the healing process or maybe we were clinging to the memory of our Little Girl, but month after month was a disappointment. In November we decided enough was enough. I was having other health issues not being able to retain iron, so we stopped trying and started preventing, both of us agreeing that our family of five was perfect the way it was. Truth be told though, there was always a part of me each month that held my breath until I knew I wasn’t pregnant because Rainbow Babies are terrifying.
When the one year anniversary of our loss of Clara rolled around, we had figured out my health issues, I’d started a new job, all the boys were almost in school full-time. We were truly at a place to move on from babies. But as the memories popped up on my Facebook timeline, not all of them were bad. Not all of them were painful. The pictures of me at 14 weeks when I was absolutely glowing, seeing Clara move on the ultrasound screen during numerous prenatal visits- those memories made me smile. The thing was, the fix to my iron retention issues meant ending the possibility of more babies for good. So we made a choice not necessarily to try, but to not prevent anything until July when some of our insurance changed. Then I would make the appointment. Except that at the end of April, the test said pregnant, and the feelings and emotions that have followed have been a roller coaster (complete with nausea) because Rainbow Babies are terrifying.
It used to be when you heard the baby’s heartbeat or saw the baby on the ultrasound screen, you let out a huge sigh of relief. The baby was fine! It was going to make it! That used to be me. Our first two miscarriages were early (6 weeks and 4 weeks). At 6 weeks, I’d feel a slight weight lift off my shoulders. At 9 weeks, the anxiety would ease. When I’d hear that beautiful heartbeat for the first time, I’d finally release the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. But with Clara, I’d seen her moving, seen her heartbeat, watched her suck her thumb just a week before her heart stopped beating. I’ve seen this Baby’s heartbeat twice. I’ve seen how it’s grown in a mere two weeks. I’ve heard that fast galloping sound of 167 beats/minute. Mamas who’ve experienced such great loss, you know it does nothing. You’re already thinking ahead to the next appointment, wondering if that heartbeat will still be there in two weeks or four weeks. (And the thought of our 16 week appointment gives me such anxiety, it could knock me to my knees.). Rainbow Babies are terrifying.
During the first several weeks of the pregnancy, I’ve been super detached. I had zero desire to see this baby on an ultrasound screen because that would make it more real. It’s a defense mechanism, a safe-guard for the pain you’ve already experienced. Pain that you’re terrified of experiencing again. There was no talk of when this Baby arrives because, to be quite frank, I was already preparing for the loss. Every ache, every cramp, every time I didn’t feel pregnant, I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Fear and anxiety ruled my world because completing this first trimester means nothing anymore. I saw my OB for the first time at a little over 8 weeks. He came into the room and said, “Hey, how are you?” Y’all, I lost it. “I’m terrified!” and tears rolled down my cheeks. That was the first time I’d actually let those feelings flow to the surface. Sure, I’d said them to people. This baby wasn’t exactly a secret, but we weren’t shouting it from the rooftops either. When we’d tell people, they’d say “congratulations!” and I’d respond with “we’ll see.” My OB is amazing, by the way. He calmly let me collect myself and in the most gentle way possible told me I likely wouldn’t breathe easy until 20 weeks. (Let’s be real though, I won’t breathe that sigh of relief until I’m holding this baby in my arms.) It’s hard to find a heartbeat at 8 weeks with a Doppler, but he told me he wasn’t letting me leave until we saw the heartbeat. He held true to his word. Friends, I’m sure it was only 30-45 seconds, but it felt like 5 minutes until he finally said “There it is!” and let me hear it through the ultrasound machine. During those 45 seconds, I was already mentally preparing myself for him to say the worst…because Rainbow Babies are terrifying.
Here’s the thing though- I left that appointment and came home to my boys (one of whom is a Rainbow Baby). I sat out in the backyard and watched them play. I was also watching an adorable one-year-old that week, and he was exploring all the things with the wide-eyed wonder of a toddler. Side note- that one-year-old Little Love is also a Rainbow Baby. As I sat in the grass, I contemplated the events of the day. Finally letting the tears flow at the doctor’s office (that was only slightly embarrassing but I mean, he’d seen me at my absolute worst so this was nothing, right?) and realizing just how much my fear and anxiety were affecting me. I was on the brink of depression. Maybe I was already there. Why does anything get to have that much power over me? When those words entered my mind, I knew they weren’t mine. Our God is so good. He has carried me through the worst of times. He daily provides for our family. I’ve seen him work miracles in the smallest details of our lives! How could I not trust Him with this? Because as terrifying as Rainbow Babies are, my God is stronger.
I will be 10 weeks tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, fear and anxiety still get the better of me some days. But I’ve started making little changes. Instead of saying ‘if this baby makes it here’, I consciously make myself say ‘when this baby makes it here’. I bought a maternity shirt that I won’t be able to wear for several more weeks. I wonder if it’ll be a boy or a girl. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. I don’t want my boys to watch me go through this pregnancy cold and depressed and full of negativity. I want them to see me walk this journey with my eyes fixed on Jesus, trusting that whether I hold this baby in December or when I get to heaven, my God has got this. For nearly 9 weeks, I didn’t allow myself to think about if this baby makes it here. But slowly I’ve started letting myself entertain the idea of days with one more Little Love in the house, and those days look pretty dang beautiful. Because the real truth is Rainbow Babies are miracles. Rainbow Babies are light. Rainbow babies are worth every ounce of fear. Rainbow Babies are strength. Rainbow Babies are hope.