“There are many ways to heal,” she said, holding one cupped hand up like it was holding something precious. “Even now, watching your hands, I noticed you elevated the second hand higher than your other to indicate that you feel having another baby is superior to another path. But each story of healing is of equal value and power, even if yours doesn’t include another baby.”
Did you know this? Did you know you can heal from trauma and loss even if you are grieving your youngest?
It almost feels like a secret I recently uncovered. I can heal just as fully as someone who successfully brings another baby into the world. My story is of equal power and is worthy of being told. Bellowed from the rooftops, even. Your story of healing is of equal power and value. Society at large seems not to know that healing beyond the Rainbow Baby is possible. I deserve the deepest of joys this life has to offer.
So do you, Mama.
When people followed up “I’m so sorry” with “Will you have another?” I was always incensed. There were a lot of reasons for my anger, mostly because it felt like they were suggesting that Reece was replaceable. But now I wonder if people thought another baby was the path to healing. The only path. The most obvious path. The one most often taken. But another baby is not my path to healing. Maybe it isn’t yours either. When my grief was fresh, I would never have believed not hurting was possible. Until recently, I wouldn’t have believed that healing fully was possible without a new baby either. There is hope for happiness after the death of your baby, even if your season of pregnancy is over.
It has taken many sessions of Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to work through the PTSD, the toxic guilt, the crippling panic attacks. A year and a half later, I am still standing. I am continuing my healing journey, despite the thread of grieving my youngest being stitched through the rest of my life. Little Reece is forever mine.
Related Post: Not Everyone Gets a Rainbow Baby
If people are asking you about another baby, share with them the secret: healing without another baby is possible.
It’s hard work. It demands creative thinking and immense bravery alongside therapy. Releasing the bitterness and pain is like base jumping. You don’t know what’s at the bottom, but you can’t cling to the edge of the cliff forever, either.
Now, understand that healing does not mean there will be no scars. Trauma and damage leave scars. I’m forever marked by Reece’s death in a way that clearly divides my life into Before and After. I can see photos of even just three years ago and see a much younger-looking face. I will always wonder who my youngest son would have been. The sadness of missing him will always be there.
Coaching my older children as they age into understanding what happened is a huge challenge to my parenting skills.
My oldest son has had many angry outbursts about how unfair it is that other families have their babies and ours died. These are the same torturous thoughts I had in my own head for a long time. If I hadn’t healed myself, I’m not sure I could comfort him and guide him through the grey experiences in life.
Even though some days my scars ache, I know that Reece and the pain are not the same. I am connected to Reece even without the bitterness and sense of righteousness. I’m beginning to feel peace with the grey areas of life. I am healing. Healing means no infection: no toxic guilt, no crippling depression, no panic attacks. Healing for me means sharing public space with a mother of three little boys and not needing to leave. It means being around pregnant women and not feeling the need to warn them their baby could die at any minute. Healing means hearing a newborn cry in public and not flushing with sweat and abandoning my shopping cart.
Related Post: Empty Arms, Cradled Siblings
What if I said, “No Rainbow Baby, but…” and you got to finish the sentence yourself.
No rainbow baby, but my husband and I love each other.
No rainbow baby, but my living children bring me so much joy.
No rainbow baby, but my angel baby will always be mine, and I can always hold a place for him.
If you are new to the land of grieving your youngest, hang on to hope. It might be hard to feel sometimes and it might take hard work to believe in it. Healing without another baby is possible. How would you finish your sentence?
“No Rainbow Baby, but…”
Photo Credit to Marc Sendra Martorell from Unsplash