This summer my husband lost the two grandparents he had left within 3 days of each other. It was a sad and beautiful story all at the same time because although we were all sad to lose them, how can you not see the beauty in two people that had a love that was so great they simply could not be on this Earth without the other? The day of their funeral, my Grandma fell and broke her hip, the same injury Kyle’s Grandparents suffered, and for the next two months she was between the hospital and a rehab facility. I loved my Grandma but I was never particularly close to her, a product of having divorced parents and not seeing that side of my family often. It is something my brothers and I discuss, usually after a wedding or a funeral, the two events we see all or most of them. And it’s sad because we always enjoy being around them so much and regret all the missed time getting to know each other and form better relationships. I had taken my son to visit my Grandma a couple times but life and distance made it not often enough and when she fell I realized how much I regretted not spending more time with her. So while she was in the hospital, we went to visit her more and I got to hear stories I had never heard before and get to know her in a completely different way. Those visits are the ones that I will remember forever and even though there is still regret that I didn’t spend more time with her, I am grateful to have those memories.
My Grandma was a feisty lady and she was never one to hold back what she was thinking about anything. So on one of those visits when she started the “more babies” talk, I wasn’t surprised by anything she said. She told me in her very matter of fact way, that the worst thing I could do was make my son an only child…..I smiled and told her we were working on it. Then she said, “as soon as I go, you’ll find out you’re having another one” and I smiled again and said, I hope it’s long before then Grandma. That was the last conversation we ever had.
On August 14 my husband left for a 4 day business trip and I woke up and took a pregnancy test. After almost a year of trying and being constantly disappointed, I wasn’t expecting much but the test came back positive. I sat there shocked, almost unable to process that it was actually positive. Then I broke down, full of so many different emotions…..pure joy…..excitement…..disbelief…..and of course, more than a little fear. I couldn’t wait to tell Kyle…..except he had just left and there’s no way I was telling him this news over the phone. People were surprised when I was pregnant the first time and I waited till the end of the day to give Kyle the news (doesn’t say much for what people perceive my secret keeping abilities to be) so imagine what it was like to wait 4 days to tell him this news. After waiting a year to be able to even give him this news…not easy. But I held out and he came home to a giant banner announcing the impending arrival of our rainbow baby…..April 23, 2018. We immediately made plans to drive to Madison that weekend and give my Grandma the news, that evening I got the call that she passed away.
For those of you that have never heard the term, “rainbow baby” it is any baby born after loss and is described as,
It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow
does not negate the ravages of any storm
When a rainbow appears,
it does not mean that the storm never happened
or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath
It means that something beautiful and full of light
has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds.
Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of
color, energy and hope.
On November 21, 2015, I woke up in a surgical recovery room with a nurse asking me how I was feeling. My response, empty. For anyone that has ever carried a child, I’m sure you understand exactly what I meant by that. Sure, I was way to early to feel movement or kicking, but I felt different. I felt like my body was no longer my own. I felt the connection we already had. So when I woke up and all of that had been ripped away from me, the only way to describe the feeling is empty. For the days, weeks, months following that day, I turned into a version of myself I didn’t recognize, a version of myself that made me not a great wife or mom, not a good friend, sister, daughter, etc. I didn’t want to be around people, and I doubt many of them wanted to be around me either. I hated seeing people and getting the looks of pity or having to listen to them say all the wrong things. And that’s not anyone’s fault, there’s no perfect thing to say to someone that has experienced any kind of loss. But having to hear things like, at least you have one. Yes, and I thank God for him everyday but no child can take the place of another and nor should that pressure be put on any child. Or the, you can always try again. Yes, we can but again, one child does not replace another and there’s never a guarantee we can get pregnant again. Little did I know then of the fertility struggles we would end up having. Some people said to me (shocking but true) you were only 10 weeks, think of the people that lose their babies almost to term or give birth to a baby that is stillborn. I cannot imagine either of those things because yes, that pain would be unbearable but the thing we all have in common in any loss situation is a lifetime of birthdays we will never be able to celebrate. A wedding we will never see happen. Grandchildren that will never be born. A lifetime of moments we never get to celebrate because instead of living on this Earth, our babies live in our hearts and in heaven.
This storm is called that for a reason, it takes you to a dark place and makes it so hard to ever see the light. A rainbow does not clear the storm but it offers a peak of light through the darkness. A promise that even the darkest of days will eventually start to clear. The path of the storm has left behind damage that can never fully go back to what it was before but pieces can start to be placed back together in a new version of normal. I was so excited that my storm clouds were starting to ease up and our rainbow was growing. We told our families immediately for a few reasons, first, after so long and so many people praying for us, we could not wait to have them share in our excitement and also because we needed all of them praying that this baby would be born healthy.
On September 22, 2017 our glimpse of a rainbow turned into another storm. I woke up in another post-op room with a nurse asking me how I was feeling and the pain and emptiness consumed me all over again. Now my promise of a rainbow had joined our other child in heaven and we’re here, trying to ride out the storm.