The Clouds That Accompany The Rainbow
“ A “Rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or still birth.
In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.
The storm (pregnancy loss) has already happened and nothing can change that experience. Storm-clouds might still be overhead as the family continues to cope with the loss, but something colourful and bright has emerged from the darkness and misery.” - urban dictionary (apparently not only used to define the phrase “Bye Felicia”, which is one of my personal faves.)
I am going to get real with you all. These are my feelings. No judgement on others. There is no blanket “how to deal” protocol with loss. I may say things that make you think “wtf.” but that’s ok. I am not seeking approval or validation of my feelings/actions. Just sharing my journey and experiences.
So much talk about the rainbow, but what about those storm-clouds that sit with it. For some the beautiful rainbows glow shines those clouds right out of the sky. For some, it may take more than a little while for them to clear away. For some, they never really leave.
I am 33 weeks and 4 day’s pregnant with our forth baby, due this August. Last August my world was covered in clouds. That is when I miscarried. Two words, that after two perfectly healthy pregnancies, and two perfectly healthy babies, I NEVER for a second thought that I would write.
But I will say it again.
[Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real. Even though I remember it like it was yesterday.]
I had a miscarriage.
I experienced hours of labor, the birth of my tiny baby, River, in the amniotic sac (such a gift to be able to see and hold), and postpartum hormones for weeks to come. It all seemed so unfair.
That happened. Not just a nightmare - something that I lived through. Even though there were days when I didn’t care much about living.
I was broken. I was torn. I was a depressed, hot mess of grief, anger, and so many other emotions that I seemingly had little to no control over. I had my good days - the days in which I could function some what normally, mostly out of numbness, and my body’s inability to keep up with tear flow. I had may bad days, many that only my husband and children witnessed. I broke down - a lot. I cried - a lot. I was numb - a lot. For a long time. And all of those things still happen, even though I am pregnant again. Even though I will have my rainbow baby.
I had never experienced a miscarriage before. So I couldn’t fully understand it. Still the only one that I can understand is my own. I know there are so many different degrees: some are earlier, some are later, some result in labor and the passing of broken up tissue, some result in an intact baby and birth, other’s in a D&C. But all result in loss and heartache. They are all an unwanted end to “what could have been?”, “who could have been?”
I teach natural childbirth classes. I have had maaaaany mother’s over the last 5 years who had experienced loss before coming to me for classes. And before my experience I didn’t fully understand how rocky rainbow pregnancies could be. I naively assumed that they would be overjoyed the whole time, and walking on clouds in the bliss of their pregnancies. “They finally get their baby! What a healing experience! What a healing pregnancy!” For some, I am sure that is exactly what they feel, the whole entire time.
For me - This pregnancy has been my most difficult yet - an emotional rollercoaster. For starters I took one million pregnancy tests.
[I took more than one with each pregnancy - you know - the “holy shit!”, “for reals!?”, conformation tests that take, because you can’t believe it. There is a reason that they come in a two pack. You WILL take both of them. No matter what the first one says.]
But this time it was different. I was checking almost daily to make sure the line was still there, still dark, still real. I would leave them all over the place. I put them in on my dresser, bathroom sink, entry way hutch, in my underwear drawer, my purse - just casually trying to find my keys and would pull out a pee stick - everywhere. The more the merrier. Which reminds me…I have one in my glove box right now. Totally normal.
Every time I went to the bathroom I was checking for blood. Every time I would wipe I would check the toilet paper, even in the middle of the night. Every little twinge in my uterus would set off an alarm…is it happening again? I can’t deal with it again. My husband can’t deal with it again…my children can’t deal with it again! I mean, we can live through it, but is that really dealing?
At 33 weeks I still struggle with the feelings of this pregnancy actually resulting in a real, live, healthy birth. I have been on pins and needles for more than half the time. At our 20 week anatomical scan we saw this baby for the very first time. I was excited, I was in love, I cried from joy…you would think that would have fully snapped me out of it. It didn’t.
I think it was after 25+ or something weeks that I finally accepted that I was pregnant and going to have a baby. It was more difficult to bond this time around. More difficult to picture myself holding a real, live baby. I was just so afraid. I am still fighting off those clouds every now and again. They remind me that no one is exempt from the possibility of loss at any time, even if they have already experienced one. There isn’t a set quota. Then that reminds me that I should not waste a second worrying, because - I can’t control it anyway. I need to enjoy this pregnancy for all that it is. For me. For this baby.
This rainbow baby is such a gift. One that we weren’t planning on. One that fell out of the sky. And one that I am happy to keep forever.
I don’t have any magical antic dote for coping. For any of you who have experienced loss, know that rainbow pregnancies can be such a joy but also so much more difficult because of your loss. The looming feeling of what if? And flashbacks of what happened before. That next pregnancy holds so much more weight. You know that what can be - this growing life inside you - can possibly not be…again. And that is frightening.
You may have people throwing annoying positive quotes at you or talking to you like they are regurgitating every effing “whatever is meant to be will be” type saying. Ignore them.
All of the feeling that you will have/had had are important. Allow your ups and downs. You need to experience all of your feelings and not shut them out. And it takes time and they will never fully go away. Give yourself grace. It is all normal. It is all okay.
The hole in my heart from loosing River, is not simply filled with the life of a new baby. There is still a hole. A piece that will not be full until we meet in Heaven. In the mean time, my heart is growing from loving another baby, and for thank I am thankful.
Rachel Harris, The Village Lifestyle Journalist