The Beauty of the Rainbow Baby
As told by Marisa
"The phrase 'Rainbow Baby' is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm.
When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."
My husband and I recently used the above quote to announce to our friends and family that we are expecting our "rainbow" baby boy in February.
I saw this quote shortly after losing our daughter Charlotte last year, when I was in the throes of that storm, and all its devastation. After a perfectly healthy, happy and normal full-term pregnancy and labor, with no signs of distress, our daughter shockingly died an hour and a half after her birth. She had aspirated meconium in the womb that got too far down into her lungs...and when she was born, it was immediate panic and trauma as doctors couldn't get her to breathe.
A few weeks after her death, as I began to learn about a world I never wanted to know about and became part of a club no one wants to belong to, I saw this quote on a baby loss support site. I saved it...hoping to be able to use it sooner than later as we hoped and prayed for another chance to parent a child here on this earth.
It took longer than we hoped for to be able to share this quote with our loved ones. After unexpectedly getting pregnant fairly quickly, just 3 months after Charlotte's birth and death, we found ourselves crushed again when I had an unrelated early miscarriage this winter. It was the darkest of my despair, and damaged so much of the healing that I had begun. We learned personally that one tragedy or loss, no matter how traumatic and awful, doesn't spare you from other bad things happening-- sometimes, in succession. Lightning can and does strike twice.
Despite a very difficult road...and many moments of hopelessness...we held onto the dream of one day bringing another baby home...and in June our flicker of hope grew brighter. We learned we were pregnant again.
What I didn't realize at the time I first saved that quote was just HOW true it holds when it comes to baby loss. More than a year after losing our precious girl, and even after getting more than halfway through this current pregnancy, we are still very much dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Storm clouds are an ever-present part of our reality, this life after loss.
I knew from the moment our world crumbled and we lost our daughter that we would never be the same..that our lives wouldn't...I just didn't have any idea how all-encompassing the effects of grief and loss can be. How, a year later, the peaks and valleys of grief could come so intensely and without warning-- one day, joy, laughter and lightness...the next, right back down to the depths of darkness and bitterness...the realization that the pain of missing our daughter will always be there, in the background of all we do, even the happy moments.
Like most things, until you experience it, you really can't know.
It is a daily balancing act and learning process, to sort out the challenging, layered, and conflicting emotions of pregnancy after loss. Balancing the joy and the sadness, choosing faith over fear... feeling such excitement and hope for our son while still mourning, missing and honoring our daughter.
It is all HARD. Much harder than most realize. People see a new pregnancy and automatically think of the happy ending ... a beautiful, healthy baby that will bring constant joy as the parents watch him or her grow. We know differently-- that that picture is not always the case. But we are determined to celebrate this pregnancy and choose hope and faith as best we can.
We had these photos taken by our incredibly talented wedding photographer shortly after finding out our 2nd child is a boy...Charlotte's little brother. The location, the colors, the content-- all carry such meaning for us.
We see pink skies as a sign from our daughter. We believe the soft pinkish glow of this night was no accident...it was so peaceful and comforting as we took these pictures, that we knew she was right there with us. I chose the multi-colored pastel tassel garland to represent our "rainbow" baby....the light amidst the storm.
And it turned out, it actually was a stormy night...we thought several times we would be rained out...but the light continued shining through that night. It was beautiful. And this very beach is so special too.
At a walk we did in honor of Charlotte this spring, we released a butterfly from the box you see in these photos in this very same spot. The thought behind a butterfly release is that the butterfly carries your message up to heaven. In addition to telling Charlotte how much we love and miss her...we also wished and prayed for her to help send us a sibling. Our angel now has a little brother on his way, and we are so grateful for this beautiful blessing I am carrying.
I feel our little family all together in these pictures. Every time we look at them and see all these "signs" come together in these images, I feel so much hope for our future.