Infant loss doesn’t ask to come into your life. Uninvited, it thrust itself full force into the midst of whatever world you have created. It shows no bias or favor of persons. Anyone is fair game. Anyone is susceptible to the endless reach of its grip and the life-changing catastrophe that settles in as mother and father surmise the damage.
One thing that infant loss does consistently spread amongst those affected, is decision. Decisions that have rarely been thought about, much less practiced. Decisions that require immediate answer with little resource. Decisions concerning your would-be child that would’ve normally made you cringe, now strangely get made through monotone conversations and tear-filled eyes. Decisions that demand attention are at your every turn.
The decisions for my wife and I began almost immediately. Do we go to the hospital to deliver the still-born daughter in my wife’s womb without her regular doctor or do we wait until the weekend passes? Do we tell our other children what happened? Do we take them with us?
The decisions increased with difficulty as we arrived at the hospital. Did we want visitors? Did we want pictures? Did we want to see her? Hold her?
Even more hardship found its way into our mind as we studied this new dilemma with no reference and no way to know if what we were doing was right or wrong. Did we want to have a funeral? What kind of coffin did we want? What should the gravestone read? What do we wear to the funeral of our own child?
As difficult as the decisions I have mentioned were, we still were able to make them. We made some with less regret than others, but in the end, the decisions were made and we crawled through the fog of confusion.
A new decision had suddenly arrived. Do we try again? Another choice to another question that we never dreamed we would have to entertain, much less have trouble answering. This decision didn’t seem like it was solely ours to make.
I remember the first time I heard or saw the term ‘rainbow baby’. I admit that I had to inquire as to its meaning. Once I was aware, I began to toy with the notion. The first time my wife and I voiced the question was at one of her follow-ups after we delivered our sleeping daughter.
“So if I were to get pregnant…is there a higher risk this could happen again?
The question carried much more hurt than it should have. The doctor who answered it was aware of its heaviness.
“The odds don’t increase, but I must tell you that if you were to get pregnant, you wouldn’t be at ease until the day you held the baby in your arms.”
We agreed. Although her answer was truthful, it didn’t help us in the thought process. New questions popped up. Did we want to have another child or just replace Bella? Could we handle the stress and worry that would most certainly be present ever time the baby was still or calm? Bella wasn’t planned, but then neither were the other three children we had at home. Was God telling us that was all He wanted for us? What would our extended family think? Would the stares and whispers we were already getting increase from those around us?
Eventually, my wife and I decided the answer to a rainbow baby would be no…for now. Every once in a while the idea of another little baby around the house is all it takes for us to smile and fantasize. Interestingly enough, the same notion can bring on fear, tears and dismissal of even toying with the thought.
I can’t say that I know exactly what our future holds in regards to a rainbow baby, but I do know that when the final decision falls it will be another trying time that we will both get through.
I am curious as to what thought process others use when deciding to pursue a rainbow baby. If you have decided to have a rainbow baby, what was the journey like with the new fear residing in the back of your mind? What experiences during pregnancy, relationships and other children were different this time around?