On August 26th, 2016 I gave birth to twin boys, Matix and Tegan. They were stillborn. I had learned a little over two days previously at a routine ultrasound that they had passed away. I was induced that same day and after more than two days of labor, finally delivered their perfect bodies.
There was a funeral for them a week later, and there I was- a childless mother with leaking breasts and a bulging postpartum stomach, grieving a loss I’d never really imagined could occur.
The ache of empty arms was keen and especially difficult for me. I started a blog to share about loss and spread awareness about stillbirth. I longed to start again and have another baby, not as a replacement, but maybe as an ease to the sting of the grief I was facing. Our doctors advised us to wait at least 6 months to start trying again, but I couldn’t wait and we started trying for another baby just a few months later. Finally, 7 months after their birth, I got my positive pregnancy test. I was elated. At just 5 weeks pregnant, I purchased a Halo Bassinet on a good deal for the baby. But just a few weeks later the bleeding began. I miscarried.
I remember being so frustrated and angry at God. I couldn’t imagine why He would take this pregnancy away from me too, so soon after taking my sons. I fell into a depression, dropped out of school, and had a hard time participating in life at all. We never stopped ‘trying’ for another baby even immediately after the miscarriage, and by that fall I had even started measures further than just tracking my cycles and guessing ovulation, but still month after month I got negative tests. That result time and again on top of grieving my sons and a lost pregnancy was all very heavy. We commemorated the boys first angelversary still not pregnant, and endured another holiday season alone. In January of 2018, I finally decided I needed to do something more with life again, and enrolled in cosmetology school to begin that spring. Of course, just a couple months into starting school I finally looked down at a positive pregnancy test. How could one little thing make me so happy, anxious and sad all at once?
I announced our pregnancy publicly as soon as we had our first ultrasound, and tried to face this pregnancy with cautious optimism. I wanted to document every moment and soak it all in, always worried it could end. There was no ‘safety’ spot after 12 weeks or even ‘viability’ at 24 weeks, just the keen understanding that it could all be ripped away at any minute.
At 20 weeks, we learned that we were having a baby girl. I felt like I had known all along that this baby was a girl, and was relieved to have some kind of distinction that differed from her brothers.
She grew healthy and ahead of schedule the whole pregnancy. At 39 weeks we were induced to deliver her. She came after just three pushes and after a little urging, began to cry. I cried, too.
My perfect rainbow had made it. Alive. All 8 pounds 21 inches of her.
It’s been nearly 2 and a half years since my rainbow baby’s birth. She has been the biggest light and blessing in my life. I can see her brother’s features in her, and love having her sweet spirit with me to ease that ache when another wave of missing my sons comes.
We’re now pregnant with our second rainbow, or “pot-of-gold” as some people call it. Each pregnancy is met with a lot of anxiety, and a lot of well meaning, but hurtful comments from strangers and friends alike. This being my 4th pregnancy, 3rd to get this far, and hopefully 2nd live delivery is just a lot to grasp.
This year is the 5th angelversary of my sons in August. August is also when my next son is due. It has been a complicated and emotional pregnancy, lots of milestones and déjà vu moments because of the seasonal timing lining up as well as the knowledge that this is another boy. I have worked hard this pregnancy to give God my trust and faith, regardless of how I sometimes feel because of our past loss.
This year marks 5 years. Five whole entire years since the stillbirth of my first two babies.
At times, it feels like it was just yesterday that they were born and held in my arms. And other times it seems like so so long ago. Grief is funny like that. There’s no specific timeline. There’s no “ok, I’m good now,” spot to get to. I would say that as time has gone by, as life has evolved, as I have had my rainbow baby and am pregnant again, my grief changes. The things that trigger me change. The occurrences of those really bad break-downs change. My understanding and acceptance of God’s plan for me has changed.
Even now, when I truly feel I have come to accept that God has a plan for us even when He didn’t let my sons stay, even now there are the nights that I can’t see through the tears.
But that is matched by the moments of awe I feel when my daughter does or says something so precious my heart melts. That is matched by the incredible sensation of my son wiggling and dancing around inside of me. That is matched by the increasing love and growing family that I am blessed with.
In the last five years, I have embraced the idea that life is like a pendulum. The lower your lows, the higher your highs can be. You cannot face great sorrow without increasing your capacity for feeling greater joy.
To me, this is the heart of what a ‘rainbow baby’ is.
A rainbow does not negate the rain, only reminds us why it is worth living through it.
Gorgeous Rainbow Maternity images by Abbie Road Photography. Dress borrowed as part of the “Journey for Jasmine” Project sharing stories about rainbow babies.