About one and a half years ago, I wrote a very heartfelt post about books that get us through the deep and ugly in life. You can find the link here. I was moved to do so, after hearing the tragic story of my daughter’s teacher suffering a loss similar to mine. As yesterday marked the ten year mark for me, I felt it was time to write down some of my feelings, and the lessons I have learned in this decade after this life-changing experience.
Let me start by saying, I am one of the very lucky, blessed women out there, who have four, beautiful children, that today are living healthy lives, and are doing well in their lives. I understand that although I have known loss, others out there have known even greater loss, and continue to face that loss on a daily basis. My loss has been softened somewhat with my “rainbow baby”. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Early June 2007 I discovered I was pregnant of Buysse baby n°3, and I was ecstatic, as I was with the past two pregnancies. I was one of those women (up to that point) to get pregnant almost instantly, and this time was no different. All seemed well, until about 3-4 weeks later I started to bleed. After a very panicked call with the OB-GYN on call in the weekend, I was comforted that all was well, and told to call my own doctor on Monday if the bleeding did not subside.
Late Monday night I went in for a consultation, as the bleeding had not lessened, and I was worried. I must admit at this point I still felt fairly confident all would be ok, because I had carried two children already, how could this be going wrong, right?
That night I didn’t sleep too much, and on Tuesday I rested and tried to take it easy (with a 3,5 year old and a 1,5 year old, so not that much of rest…) That Tuesday night I started cramping, and bleeding beyond any bleeding I had ever experienced, and I miscarried my baby, at almost 7 weeks pregnancy.
For the first weeks I was inconsolably sad. I would cry very often. Every time I saw a baby, a pregnant woman, every time my arms ached to hold a baby. What truly helped me move forward, was talking to other women who understood my loss. Because as much as many close friends and family tried to help me get past my sadness, no one had ever experienced something similar. And it really is true, until you experience it, you have no idea what that kind of pain is.
For me it took 11 months to fall pregnant, and have my “rainbow baby”, who we aptly named Seth, to never forget the loss we experienced.
A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.
The storm (pregnancy loss) has already happened and nothing can change that experience. Storm-clouds might still be overhead as the family continue to cope with the loss, but something colourful and bright has emerged from the darkness and misery.
Looking back on those 11 months, it doesn’t seem like such a long wait for such a precious gift, but at the time each month it didn’t happen, I felt like that loss hit me again each time at full force. Those 11 months were very, very hard.
And my “rainbow baby” was a baby that needed a lot of care in his first 14 months on this earth. We had 10 hospital stays in those 14 months, which put a huge strain on our family.
Luckily my “rainbow baby” is completely healthy now. Seth’s heath issues have been resolved, and he excels in school and sports. He is a joy to be around and a blessing to our family.
Our family was blessed with one more beautiful baby in 2011, making me a mummy of 4 energetic, unique sweethearts.
These 10 years I have seen many women around me struggle with loss, infertility, or struggles with a sick child. And although each situation is absolutely unique, I can honestly say that because of my own experience I can relate on a much more personal level. I can understand to a certain point how someone can feel that is struggling to fall pregnant, because I remember those feelings during those 11 months after my miscarriage. I can relate to people who have lost a baby because for me my miscarriage was a very real loss.
My sense of empathy has grown immensely, and although I would never wish for this experience ever again, or for anyone else, I am glad that I have been able to grow from it. I’m glad that there has not only been pain and loss. I feel like I can be there for others like those other strong women were there for me when I was hurting so much worse, and needed their strength.
I share this experience, not so much because I like getting this personal, but because I hope someone out there who is going through what I have gone through, will read this, and know that there is hope. There truly is a rainbow after the storm. For some it is the precious gift of that “rainbow baby”, for others it might come in another way. But there is definitely hope, and when you find that little bit of hope to cling to, be sure to do so, and move forward, one step at a time, one day at a time, and soon the sun will shine again for you.