I had a miscarriage, and then I got pregnant with a rainbow baby in the same year. (For those of you that are unfamiliar, a rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillborn or neonatal death)
After the miscarriage, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be okay again.
I’m a school counselor, so I’m pretty familiar with the stages of grief. I know the common signs of depression.
But living it was a different story.
I often felt like there was a black cloud over my head and I was simply going through the motions.
In fact, the day before I found out I was pregnant, I went to the dentist for a cleaning. They had in my chart that I was due for a baby the next month. The hygienist cleaning my teeth had no clue that I had lost the baby 7 months prior. She had no idea the pain she caused me by asking if I had the baby early.
Laying on the dentist chair with my mouth open and having to utter the words I had a miscarriage again left me feeling vulnerable and a shame that I didn’t deserve to feel. Just as I was trying to feel “normal” again, I couldn’t escape the tragedy that had happened to my body.
Fast forward to the next day. I had just dropped my cousin off at the airport and decided to get Starbucks before beginning my work day. After drinking half of my coffee, I felt an overwhelming nausea wash over my body. It was so strong that I searched my medicine cabinets for some medicine that I had taken the last time I was PREGNANT.
Since the miscarriage, my husband and I decided that we would try again to have a baby. Every month that didn’t yield 2 positive lines was another month I tried to pretend not to be disappointed.
I’m generally a healthy person, so the fact that I was searching for medicine to cure the nausea was a hint that I might be pregnant. After so many disappointing tests in the months prior, I couldn’t believe my eyes when the test came out positive.
I jumped up and down. I screamed. I cried. I thanked God.
And then the anxiety set in.
I was excited last time. I told people last time. I made social media announcements. And look what happened.
Fear followed anxiety and the happy tears suddenly changed to fearful ones.
I told myself that I wouldn’t make a doctor’s appointment until I felt like I was close to the 2nd trimester. My miscarriage happened at 10 weeks, so if I could just get past that time, in my mind I would be safe.
But every day that went by, I was stricken with fear. I decided to make a doctor’s appointment in hopes of settling my fear. My doctor’s sent me to the hospital to check my HCG levels to ensure that we would see a baby for my first ultrasound.
I can’t thank them enough for thinking ahead and trying to spare me any potential pain.
Thankfully my HCG levels were in the normal range, so my husband and I went for our first ultrasound at 7 weeks. As I listened to the heartbeat and stared at the ultrasound picture, I tried to get excited. I really did. I tried to remember what it was like to feel nothing but pure euphoria.
But I couldn’t.
Sitting in the ultrasound room reminded me of being there months prior while the ultrasound tech uttered the words no mom wants to hear, “I’m so sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.”
My husband held my hand and beamed with joy. He noticed the look on my face and asked me what was wrong. I was fighting back tears because I didn’t want to cry in public. I was so scared that our little miracle would be snatched away like our last.
The further I advanced in my pregnancy, the less those overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety took over. I think I began to feel at peace when I felt him move. His kicks felt like I was growing a baby ninja.
I didn’t have time to get frustrated, because I remembered what it felt like to long for those kicks. In fact, after I had a DNC, I often thought I felt a kick. And then I was reminded that I was no longer carrying a baby.
The day my son was born made all the negative and positive feelings that I’d felt over the course of my pregnancy collide. I had a successful c-section and gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy.
Julian is my last baby and our family is complete.
But having a miscarriage has forever changed me. There are times that I sit in church and I remember the feelings of depression. I remember waking up crying and falling asleep in a pool of tears.
A loss, no matter how early in your pregnancy is still a loss. Occasionally, my heart still aches for the one that I lost. Having my son is a beautiful blessing, but he doesn’t replace the one before him.
During my pregnancy, I struggled when people asked me how many kids I had. I felt like I was forgetting my last baby if I said he was my 3rd child, or if I referenced my 3rd pregnancy. It felt like I was living a lie to not tell that it was my 4th.
But it also hurt to remember that I lost one before him. I also couldn’t take the look of horror and/or discomfort on the faces of women when I told them that I’d had a miscarriage.
I don’t blame them. I didn’t know what to say or how to act towards someone who’d had a miscarriage until I’d had one myself. Then I felt bad for not being there more for my friends who had experienced one before me.
So does having a rainbow baby heal the hurt of a miscarriage?
Yes and No.
The rainbow baby doesn’t replace the baby you lost, but it does help you begin to put the pieces back together again. Babies represent new beginnings and can help your heart overcome the damage that miscarriage causes.
But without acknowledging your hurt, and seeking medical attention if you experience depression, having a rainbow baby cannot heal your pain.
It’s okay to miss the baby you lost and love your rainbw baby at the same time. The conflict of grieving and rejoicing often causes pain that so many women can relate to, however those feelings are normal.