Post by Still Standing Contributor RaeAnne Fredrickson of Still Mothers
As someone active in the online babyloss community, I know there is a lot of talk about Rainbow Babies.
Who’s having one, when to try, how to support someone who’s carrying one, how to parent one, and so on.
But what’s overlooked in those conversations is the loss of Rainbow Babies.
Or the fact that not everyone gets one.
Unfortunately, there is no “free pass” for babyloss parents to get a perfectly healthy little bundle of hope and healing after their heartbreaking loss.
There is no line you jump back into after you’ve been mercilessly tossed out.
Sometimes, the only child you have is the one who died.
Sometimes, although I know it’s unpopular to talk about it, Rainbow Babies die too.
Just as much as any other pregnancy, the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, congenital disabilities, and fatal conditions are still present.
And secondary infertility (infertility after a previous pregnancy) is a natural condition, more common than you might think, that a lot of babyloss families are facing every day, many in silence.
We are a community breaking the silence of babyloss.
We are making changes to the way people think and speak about grief.
We are making a difference.
Let’s take that momentum and direct it towards this other area of loss.
Let’s explore these questions together:
How do you cope with the knowledge that your baby who died was your last?
What happens when there is no Rainbow Baby to bring hope and healing to your broken heart and empty life?
How do you cope when your Rainbow Baby is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition?
What do you do when your precious Rainbow Baby dies?
How do you handle life when even the babyloss community that’s supposed to be a safe place – free from hurtful pregnancy/birth announcements – has now become yet another place to hear the news that cuts like a knife?
How do you continue when you feel like you’re the only one without a Rainbow?
Related Post: When Hope is Distant: Searching For Rainbows
It’s time to talk about this.
If you are a loss parent facing secondary infertility, or secondary loss, or cannot bring yourself to try again, you are not alone.
Countless families in our community are profoundly grieving both the loss of their precious baby and the loss of their dreams of ever holding a healthy alive baby in their arms.
I am one of them.
Since Samuel died, I have watched a lot of families in this community go on to have a healthy baby.
I rejoiced with them – no one deserves a healthy baby more than someone who knows the hurt of babyloss!
But I also cried and hurt for myself.
With each passing month of no new baby in our arms, my pain has grown, while jealousy and confusion bubble up inside me.
My soul screams out “When is it my turn? Where are my hope and healing? Why don’t I deserve that same new happiness?”
But just as with every other question I scream out into the universe, there is no answer — only silence.
In a little over three months, it will be two years since Samuel died.
As of this moment, I’m no closer to having a living child in my arms than I was three years ago when we decided to start our family.
It’s maddening and despair-inducing.
I’m on the verge of saying “enough is enough” and facing the monumental task of making peace with the fact that I’ll never be able to raise a baby of my own in this life.
To give myself a break from the tiring monthly cycle of putting all my hope and love out there only to be denied once again.
To never have a pregnancy end in heartbreak again.
But with each thought to give up, there is a spark of relentless optimism that says, “One more time, a baby to keep is worth it.”
I’m exhausted from it all. I’m so mentally, emotionally and physically tired of this thing that’s so easy for most, being so difficult for us.
I’m worn down and empty and tired of hearing about all the Rainbows.
Related Post: When There’s Uncertainty That a Rainbow Will Ever Come
For a while, earlier in my grief, the news of a Rainbow Baby was something that gave me hope.
I naively assumed that once I was ready to try again, I would get to say “Samuel’s going to be a big brother!”
I knew it would be scary, I knew pregnancy was never going to be the same, but I also believed there would be a renewed sense of hope and joy to bring some life back into our broken hearts.
And I knew I wanted to keep one of my babies with me, more than anything in the world.
Now, after over a year of monthly disappointments on top of my existing grief, those Rainbow announcements I hear are no longer good news.
Now, they’re just another pregnancy announcement to pretend I didn’t hear.
Now, it’s just another person to hide on my newsfeed.
Especially when that announcement comes from a “newbie” in the loss world, the news now cuts deep into my already broken heart.
I’m finding it hard to follow many of the babyloss blogs and pages I used to go to for comfort and support because so many of them are filled with Rainbow pregnancy and birth announcements.
I feel the relentless pain of being a mother with empty arms, and I cannot continue to celebrate for these new babies in the way I wish I could.
I know the anguish of watching person after person walks away with a patch over the hole in their heart and a tiny little bundle of joy in their arms.
I know the eternal emptiness of never being able to say, “I have a special little someone to give me purpose and hope for the future again.”
My future is still empty, just like my arms. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
Let’s stop remaining silent about this.
Let’s stand together and say loudly, “Not everyone gets a Rainbow Baby.”
Let’s talk openly about the torture of each new month when we get negatives instead of positives, the misery of seeing blood and knowing it’s the end of another life that’s only just begun or soul-destroying act of picking out another tiny casket.
Let’s rally around the mothers who may never know the feeling of carrying a healthy baby in their wombs or of bringing a child home to keep.
Let’s stop pretending the best way to heal is to feel the redemption of birthing a healthy baby and recognize that sometimes healing has to come solely from within.
If you are a loss parent and you are unable to have a Rainbow, have chosen not to try, or have experienced the death of your Rainbow, please share your story.
Together, we can walk this uncharted path and find some hope and healing, even if our arms are unbearably empty.
No one should ever have to face this life of loss alone.