In the loss community, there are frequent posts and stories of dealing with a pregnancy after a loss — the supposed “rainbow” after the storm.
The anxiety, the increased risk of antepartum and subsequently postpartum mood disorders, as a result, the myriad of emotions.
For me, pregnancy number 10 was an exercise in detachment.
Even when we surpassed the gestations of all of our eight previous losses, even when testing continued to come back normal, I often kept myself as disassociated as possible from my ever-changing body.
People asked why we didn’t find out the sex; my mother exclaimed, “Do you have anything ready for this baby?” when I was asked if I had bought diapers.
But as many of us know — to entertain the idea of a living baby was far too hard. I bought a book for our living child called “My New Baby” with the instructions that it only be read to her after we’d given an “all clear” from the hospital.
And we made it. The “rainbow” was born after years of constant pregnancy loss.
My living child had a living sibling. We had two living children.
But there didn’t feel like a rainbow was in my life.
I’ve been in regular therapy for many years, so the understanding that PPD is coloring many of these thoughts and feelings is very much discussed.
But something I haven’t seen discussed often is…
Sometimes the rainbow isn’t really a rainbow.
This new, cooing baby isn’t a panacea.
I remember hearing so many women express, “But so-and-so wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had that loss” after giving birth following a loss.
I heard it enough that it seemed it was the inevitable end result of a rainbow pregnancy: sure, I’m sad, but can you imagine life without Baby Rainbow?
There is a dark side to that rainbow: sometimes, you are going to be sobbing while breastfeeding your newborn, remembering how you were hemorrhaging her twin brothers at this time the year before.
You will have onesies hidden in a box still, unable to bring them out for this baby because they belonged to a previous one, and they don’t quite feel like hand-me-downs when they were never worn.
Some days you will even guiltily think, “You’re not supposed to be here.”
These are scary thoughts, but as I’ve learned in my sharing my feelings — it’s not uncommon among mothers who have lost babies but is entirely foreign to anyone else.
This new baby cannot replace previous ones; the joy isn’t always enough to erase the grief that remains.
The reality is that miscarriage, and recurrent pregnancy loss often leads to PTSD. Higher incidences of PPD.
That rainbow can’t always fix all of that.
I worked through my grief and emotions as much as I could and urge anyone else navigating a hopeful rainbow baby to do the same.
It sometimes feels like a marathon race when we finally make it to a breathing baby in our arms.
We lose sight of what our minds and bodies are going through with only our eyes set on the finish line.
But boy, does that race take a toll.