It’s a difficult fact to accept that not everyone gets to experience a rainbow baby. For some, your losses are your only motherhood.
For others, you may have a child or children, but because of secondary infertility and losses, your rainbow isn’t arriving. And you are still stuck in the storm.
For me, infertility was a hurricane, a raging tempest of high emotions and valleys so low that I had to pick my way out with headlamp, cramp-ons and poles. There were entire years of slogging through the muck, unable to look up from the mire. I didn’t want to “look up”, because guaranteed I would find a baby-shower invitation, see a mom, large with child and her little ones running around her, or experience another pregnancy announcement.
While everything on the outside of me looked calm, I was battling on the inside a storm so fierce I am still surprised I was not lost to it.
That my marriage wasn’t destroyed. That I’m still (on good days, at least) able to speak coherent sentences and tie my own shoes. The storms inside us are always so very much worse than anything the weather outside can possibly throw at us.
I spent 3.5 years, soaked to the skin, hair askew, mascara running in the sheets of rain from that gale. I thought I saw sun on the horizon once, but it turned out to be a blizzard, cold and harsh and stripping all the colour from the world. And then my rainbow came. She was here, she was amazing (at everything but sleeping and eating…ugh), and we were unbelievably happy. My rainbow had brown curly hair, bright blue eyes. Perfection. So perfect that I naively thought the second would be just as awesome, if not a better sleeper.
It has been 6.5 years since my rainbow arrived, and another 4 losses have come after her. I have no more rainbows. I am blessed beyond measure to even have one, but, at the end of my fertility journey without that second rainbow, it’s unfinished; the storm has continued.
I have an amazing friend who has lost her first two children, in horrible miscarriages each time, while another friend had a stillbirth after five healthy pregnancies, and yet another has been dealing with infertility for the last 6 years with no double lines on a pregnancy test yet…they are all still stuck in the storm.
Without that hope of a rainbow on the horizon, all you can feel are the heavy clouds, the rain, and the deep exhaustion that comes from trying to find shelter inside your own heart when there are no sticks to even build a lean-to.
Eventually though, the storm HAS to stop. Whether through the arrival of a rainbow, or a steady breeze blowing the clouds away, it will end. Even in nature, there isn’t a rainbow after every single bout of rain and hail, and that is what finally helped the clouds part for me: knowing that rainbows aren’t promised every single time, that sometimes instead of that final burst of beauty, there’s a different sort of ending, no less beautiful, just not as colourful.
It can momentarily halt your breath, that abrupt end to the raging wind and rain. You’re left damp and blinking at the sun, wondering what on earth just happened, and what you’re supposed to do now. All that effort battling the ravages of weather isn’t needed anymore. You can put your efforts to other things. Patching up the house that stood firm, rebuilding a new one if it was destroyed in the hell you just went through. Finding new ways to spend your time, doing some very needed self-care along the way. You can be disorientated and out of place for a long time after a storm dissipates.
Give yourself the time and space to navigate the new roads created after the old were washed away.
If it was a particularly long battle, be prepared that it could take an extended amount of time for the after effects to melt away as the clouds do. Sometimes it could look like the most brilliant sunny day only to have it turn again and leave you running for shelter. Riding out the wind and hail can be easier than fighting against it.
Sometimes you might see the beginnings of what looks like a rainbow only to have it overtaken by black thunderclouds and blowing snow again.
These times can be especially hard.
It helps to never battle alone, to always have other people (especially if they’ve lived through such times as well) to hold on to while the tempest threatens to pull you apart at the seams. Sometimes that person can be a lifeline when your almost-rainbow disappears. The only guarantee is that at some point, the thunder and lightning will go, and it will be calm.
And know, in that calm and quiet once it’s all over and there is only clear sky from horizon to horizon, that if you never see a rainbow, you have still made it through the storm.
Jill Kawchak is the proud mama to one truly amazing daughter, the wife of a good man, and a companion of a very troublesome Labrador retriever. Her days are spent homeschooling from the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Cochrane, Alberta, where her daughter constantly begs to go exploring. She had always wanted to be a mother and started TTC just after her wedding in 2006. Jill has been diagnosed with PCOS, and was told motherhood would be a difficult goal to attain, but after 3.5 years of infertility with one early loss, the clouds parted, and the sunshine that was a little girl with blue eyes and brown curls broke through. However, in the years since her daughter arrived, there have been another 4 early losses. After *much* debate, angst and tears, Jill and her husband, Mark, have decided to end their fertility journey and are now focused on ‘what comes next’. She writes to keep sane, and support those who are also experiencing infertility and baby loss.