All these national, made up holidays celebrated on social media make me laugh. But I do personally connect with some of them, especially National Rainbow Baby Day on August 22nd. For those who don’t know, a rainbow baby is a baby born after loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of a baby). The rainbow after a storm.
I’m currently nine months pregnant with my second rainbow baby and decided to take some time today to reflect on the past five years. About five years ago I discovered that I’d had what’s called a missed miscarriage. I thought I was going in for the end of my first trimester scan, after having an ultrasound with a strong heartbeat at eight weeks, only to discover I had unknowingly miscarried sometime between the two scans. The entire experience was really hard on me both physically and emotionally. At the time I didn’t know how to process everything and I think it took until my second miscarriage before I finally came to terms and dealt with my emotions. About a year after I got pregnant for the first time, I got pregnant for the second time, and 38 weeks later gave birth to a healthy rainbow baby.
About two and half years later, I got pregnant for the third time. Most OBGYNs will not make the first prenatal appointment until about eight weeks so I impatiently waited for that first scan. I was really thinking I wouldn’t miscarry again, but in that first ultrasound the heart rate was slow and the fetus was measuring very small. I miscarried a few weeks later, but mentally and physically I knew what to expect this time around and took the measures I needed to help me process and heal. Thankfully I was able to get pregnant again a few months later. Even though I couldn’t even think about the pregnancy and connect with the baby until I was about 20 weeks (or halfway through this pregnancy), I’m so excited to give birth to my second rainbow baby boy any day now.
I recently did the math, and I’ve been pregnant for about 22 months or almost two years of my life! And I really don’t like being pregnant because I spend the first 20 weeks throwing up daily. The second half of the pregnancy, I’m exhausted and impatient to meet my baby. What I’m trying to say is that pregnancy after loss can be an emotional rollercoaster. And if you ended up on this blog post because you’re pregnant with your rainbow baby, it’s completely understandable to have a wide range of emotions and thoughts, from excitement to terror.
While I’m so incredibly thankful and lucky to have two healthy pregnancies, I do allow myself time and space to indulge and complain; to do whatever it is I need to do in order to make it through a – quite frankly – miserable pregnancy both emotionally and physically. I also try hard not to compare myself to others; I know there are other women who have had more miscarriages, women who have hyperemesis gravidarum their entire pregnancies, women who don’t have trouble getting pregnant, and women who love being pregnant. But I have to remind myself that everyone’s experience is unique, including yours and your partner’s (if applicable).
If your experience is similar to mine and you have a rainbow baby or are pregnant with one, take the time you need this week to commemorate and / or celebrate. To commemorate, there are many ways you can respectfully honor the loss that came before. From posting about your loss to writing a private letter, or even ordering a statue of a Jizo, do whatever you need to do to mourn. I personally like to drink wine or caffeinated tea and eat non-pasteurized cheese once I miscarried, but that may not be therapeutic for you. And if you just want to celebrate your rainbow baby, taking pictures, drinking wine, and eating non-pasteurized cheese also works well too!
Hopefully my story resonated with you and if you need someone to talk to, please feel free to send me a private message.
Featured photo by Chantal Lavine Photography: https://chantallavinephotography.com