I've been fortunate enough to have not one but TWO rainbow babies. I say fortunate because there are many out there who never get to have their babies. A rainbow baby, for those who don’t know, is a baby born following a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, like a beautiful rainbow at the end of the storm. Although I’ve had two, my journeys were very different.
I remember the day I found out we were pregnant for the first time like it was yesterday. We had just gotten home from a long weekend in Chicago. I was late (which I was often) and I had taken a test before we left for our trip but since I still hadn’t gotten my period I thought I’d better take one again. When I saw the “YES” blink on the screen of test my heart was so happy it could have exploded. I ran down the stairs to tell my husband. We had been trying for months — months that felt like years at the time — and those long months were already starting to wear on us, as it seemed everyone else around us was successfully getting pregnant during this time period. But here it was! The news we had been waiting for! We were going to have a baby.
Five long weeks later we had our first appointment. The heart rate was 87 but I wasn’t as wise as I am now and didn’t think it meant anything. Three days later I started to bleed. On the way home from work, I couldn’t keep it together anymore. I knew what was happening and I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I had done wrong. That night and the next morning I was emotionally inconsolable. The following day I was physically inconsolable, hunched over the bed with contractions, passing large clots. It was almost too much to bear. But all of this was NOTHING compared with the agony, loneliness and grief that was about to follow over the next year.
We started trying again two months later. Back to using the ovulation sticks, I even tried acupuncture, taking my temperature every morning and trying to stay as positive as I could mentally handle in that moment. Every month that went by still not pregnant was a crushing let down. I went through days where I thought, “How can everyone just continue with their lives?” I tried to continue going on with my life, working, friends, family — but I felt so lonely sometimes. No one prepared me for feeling alone like this.
And as the months went on, I had more friends getting pregnant or friends of friends announcing their pregnancy. On the outside I rejoiced in their joy. On the inside, with every announcement, my heart cracked a little more, the knot in my stomach tightened and the ball in my throat grew. Because of this I felt ashamed, even mad at myself for feeling this way. This wasn’t me. I loved my friends and took joy in seeing my friends happy and successful. I wanted the best for everyone. I spiraled some days and others I pushed through.
Almost a year to the date of my miscarriage I found out I was pregnant again. Elated yet again, I felt a brief weight lift off my shoulders. I say brief because almost instantly I went into a nervous spiral. Five weeks later I was at the doctors yet again. 165. The heart rate was 165. I felt a huge relief. One obstacle down, seven more months to go. Those seven months were long. Every choice I made about traveling, eating, physical activity was made cautiously. I made counting kicks a habit. I obsessed over every slight movement. I didn’t allow myself to think past my due date. What if something went wrong? What if this didn’t work out? I would say things like “If I have the baby…” well into my third trimester.
Then one steamy August day I finally got to meet my daughter. She was perfect and all my worries were instantly gone. I loved her so much. I felt like I earned her. I worked hard for her, I cried for her, I missed her before I ever met her. She was my baby and our connection was instant. She was worth every obstacle, every negative pregnancy test, every sleepless night, and every tear I cried. I fought for her and I fought for this day.
The next nine months were exciting watching her grow yet exhausting as any new parent will tell you. Then one day I found myself descending our stairs with another positive pregnancy test. I showed my husband and we both just couldn’t believe it. We weren’t even trying! How could it take two years for us to get pregnant with our daughter and then have something like this happen? We were nervous but excited. I felt slightly guilty that I was taking attention away from my daughter who wasn’t even a year old yet but also slightly happy to have my kids close in age.
There was less anxiety this third time around between when we found out and our first appointment. We were busy with our daughter and the life of three we made was an easy distraction. I went into the appointment light and airy but I left an anxious mess. The heart rate was on the low end and the baby measured a few weeks smaller. I knew the signs and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me to be positive. I felt in my gut that this wasn’t going to end well. A few weeks later I traveled to Florida for a work conference and my husband and daughter tagged along so we could visit some friends and make a long weekend out of it. Two days later, it started. Things were different this time. My husband had to stay with our daughter so my closest college friend met me early in the morning and drove me to the hospital. She was nervous but I wasn’t, I knew what was happening but I was so thankful for her.
A few days later we were back home and I was able to pass it in the comfort of my own house. I felt empty but not emotional this time. The physical pain was less. I wanted it to be over fast so I could move on and thankfully it was. My daughter was going to turn 1 in a month and I just wanted to celebrate her. She gave me so many reasons to be thankful.
There were times I thought over the next few months that maybe I was only meant to be a mother to my daughter and I was okay with that. We decided we’d start trying for a second (or fourth) in the coming year to give myself time to mentally prepare myself. January came fast and we decided for more time. February would be our new goal. But my period never came. Instead, there I was walking down those stairs with another positive pregnancy test. We were happy — slightly confused, but happy. We were cautious this time. Our miscarriage rate was high, and we kept our excitement at bay.
Our (fourth) first appointment went well. The heart rate was in the 140s and our projected due date was October 5, our wedding anniversary. We took it as a positive sign. We breezed through the pregnancy. It seemed easier than my daughter's. I was distracted with my toddler, my current job, and my new business venture. I didn’t have swollen limbs, I gained less weight and I slept great. Two weeks before our son was born I told my husband that I didn’t think I was going to have a strong bond with my son. I felt I didn’t earn him, I didn’t fight for him. Sure I had a miscarriage a year and a half ago but it wasn’t as hard as the first miscarriage. And we didn’t even have to try with this pregnancy. I knew I loved my daughter before I even had her but what if it wasn’t the same for my soon to be son? How could I love somebody as much as I love my daughter? We laugh and play and sing and dance together. What if my son doesn’t fit in? My husband assured me that I would love him just as much but going into the delivery room I still wasn’t sure I believed that.
After a somewhat complicated delivery, my son came into this world. He was a peanut compared to my daughter but he was perfect. My husband was right, I loved him instantly. Three days later at home, I remember sitting on our bed, holding him and I told my husband that I felt like our family was whole now. I felt whole.
Three months later, I feel my bond with my son strengthening every day. When he smiles at me or turns his head toward me when I’m talking, I feel this unexplainable joy and connection that makes me immediately smile. Our love is just as strong as it is with my daughter, as if my heart grew twice as big with his presence, and I am completely thankful.
I think about my miscarriages often, almost every day. There’s a dark cloud over those times in my life when I look back. But those storms, as destructive, painful and real as they were, gave me my beautiful babies. They gave me my rainbows, and the sunshine that lights my days. For that, I wouldn’t change a thing about them.
Kyla resides in the beautiful state of Maine with her husband Luke and their children, Ella, age 2, and Caden, age 3 months. She is a co-founder and plays a major role in Lilladu Exchange, an online quality kids' clothing exchange service.
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