My 4 year old son is my Sunshine Baby. For those of you who don’t know what a “sunshine baby” is, it’s a baby you have before experiencing the loss of a child. My pregnancy with him was absolutely perfect.
Back then, I was oblivious to all the genetic conditions that can happen during conception, and blind to all the complications that can happen during labor. I had no clue how miraculous it truly is, to conceive a child and have it born full term without any difficulties or complications.
Back then, my ignorance was bliss and my life was sunshine and rainbows.
That was all until I got pregnant with my daughter Audrina. Her pregnancy was very different. During my 20 week ultrasound, doctors detected a lethal dwarfism. The condition meant my sweet baby girl would die of respiratory failure upon birth. Doctors explained how she might only have a few minutes to live before passing away. So I planned my entire pregnancy, carefully considering how I would bring her into the world and say goodbye at the same time.
It breaks my heart to say that I didn’t get those few minutes with her. When I went into labor with Audrina, my uterus tore almost completely in half. Doctors raced to save my life, and in the process Audrina’s life slipped away. I never had the chance to look into her sweet eyes, or hear one beautiful sigh or cry. The whole experience left me asking, why? I was left traumatized, not only from labor but from the loss as well.
Doctors were able to save my uterus but explained that it would be hard to determine how it would function in the future. They weren’t sure if the scar tissue in my cervix would even make it possible to conceive again. So I was left with much uncertainty. I could only hope that someday I would be able to have another healthy child with no complications.
Two years passed by and I am now pregnant with my Rainbow Baby. For those of you who don’t know what a “rainbow baby” is, it’s a baby born after experiencing the loss of a child. The moment I found out I was pregnant, I felt my heart instantly swell with joy and expand to a level of exhilaration I’ve never known. I now understand how miraculous it is to conceive a child. But just as I know how precious this new-found gift is, I know just how fragile it is as well. Life has already shown me how easily it can be taken away.
I’ve been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder my entire pregnancy. Every time I go to the doctor’s office, my heart starts racing. My throat sinks down into my stomach and my heart crawls with anxiety. I suffer from panic attacks just waiting for the doctor to come in and read results. When they tell me everything looks good, it’s still so hard to believe them. I’ve been waiting with anticipation for the ball to drop.
Everything feels like a trigger, throwing my body into fight or flight mode. My body failed me once before, so I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before my uterus ruptures again. Any twinge of pain gives me anxiety. The thought of losing my own life is scary, but the thought of losing another child is absolutely terrifying.
I’ve found I cannot allow myself to be overly excited or have any expectations in this pregnancy. This has been a protection mechanism to keep my heart from reaching an intense high, then dropping to an extreme low and shattering like it did before. It’s safer to stay comfortably numb and not allow my emotions to take over too much. I can feel my little one kicking away inside, yet I float on through the pregnancy emotionless, refusing to acknowledge them or get too attached. Somehow I’ve managed to make it all the way to 33 weeks without bonding the way normal mothers do.
The truth about carrying a rainbow baby is your pregnancy experience will never be the same. It’s not an easy, joy-filled path. There are no birds singing or sun shining. It’s one full of doubt filled cracks, stretches of uncertainty and moments of pure darkness where you find yourself clinging to blind faith. A rainbow baby is just a glimmer of hope in the midst of the storm. Because the hard part is believing again, and having faith after losing so much. It’s a battle of the mind to choose faith over fear.
I have a couple more weeks until I get to meet my rainbow baby. I hope that once they are here, all the stress and anxiety will subside. For now, I can only imagine how intense the love will feel. When I can finally hold them in my arms and accept them into my heart. Although this pregnancy has been extremely difficult, I ultimately chose to have faith, that in the end it will all have been worth it.