When you first get married, the first question you get asked is (say it with me)…
“When are you having kids?”
An innocent, slightly burning question that comes from eager relatives and friends who are already imagining mini-you’s. Apparently the next step is to let the practice of baby-making become a fruitful one? Now, I was only 23 when I got married and my priority at the time was to spend some one-on-one, adventurous, baby-free 20’s time with the future father of my children. Eat, drink, travel the world and be married. We wanted to get to know each other in person more than we had ever been able to. To dig deeper and find out each other’s weaknesses, grow with each other and become a stronger team. Just the two of us.
As innocent as that question can be, it can also go deeper than picturing a happy couple creating a happy baby. It can also poke into heartbreaking issues that aren’t ready to be poked at yet, let alone discussed openly. Issues of infertility, miscarriage, and the scary stuff no one ever talks about can be poked at constantly. But you answer with a “When it’s time” and give a reassuring smile in hopes of a segue out of the subject.
So when it came time to finally try for a baby, it’s not like we wanted to make it headline news. Personally, it is such a private journey that is between you, your partner… and maybe your doctor. God too. He’s got a pretty big part in it. And not to mention that the process of making a baby is a behind-closed-doors kind of thing. I know, I’m such a prude.
With so many factors involved, needless to say, I was afraid. When you think of everything that goes into conception, implantation and then pregnancy–a baby can really be a miracle.
Unlike trying to bake a pie or paint a wall, when trying to create life the consequence is not a burnt pie or accidentally painting outside the lines. It’s the loss of a life. A life that you briefly got attached to, that you created with the intent of meeting, holding, smelling, seeing and loving. For years and years to come.
Before this little baby we are expecting (and praying for) now, there was a storm of heartache that we waited out for months. We miscarried a baby who we thought had been growing for weeks, only to find out from the ER doc there was no heartbeat, becoming the miscarriage that certainly haunted us for months to come. I will never forget waking up knowing something was wrong, showing the symptoms of something being wrong and knowing–while waiting for results–that I was alone again.
My baby left.
The emotional devastation and pain from that kind of loss far surpassed anything I felt physically at the time. I felt my heart break and my faith leave and it was terrifying.
It was something I did not want to talk about and wouldn’t know how even if I wanted to be more open about it. I wondered why Ryan and I, two people who couldn’t wait to be the loving parents we knew we could be, deserved to go through such a thing.
I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t help my husband heal from a loss that was most certainly affecting him as well. I couldn’t sleep, focus, or be happy. What didn’t help was me not wanting to talk about it at all. Of course, I needed my time to come around and tell my family, the people who also shared blood with this angel. But at one point, I was fine not saying anything at all. It took my brave, genuine husband to reach out for support for us. To be honest about our pain and not be ashamed. (You can see why I love him so much.)
The problem with my generation of new moms is that the tragedies that come with trying to have a baby are not talked about as much as I personally think they should. A lack of honest precedence lulls most of us into a quiet, suppressed grief.
But I can’t allow that to happen anymore. This healing process is a delicate one that can’t be rushed, but it also doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Nature’s way or God’s way, whatever you believe, is not exclusive to one prospective mom. It affects more than we know. Some moms lose their babies early enough to not know she was pregnant, some lose their babies after getting halfway through their pregnancy, some sadly at birth. Some moms have fertility issues that prevent a pregnancy to begin with, becoming a monthly heartbreak. And we must not forget the effect this kind of tragedy has on a dad. While his body is not the one undergoing physical loss, he still feels pain for his grieving baby mama and the precious child he will never meet. That is an unspoken, undermined sorrow that should be acknowledged as well.
My want for a solitude was achieved by yoga, a beach getaway with Ryan and Elvis, and just… time. But I knew that there was a part in me that needed to eventually come out and be the woman I wish I met when I first got hit with news that I lost my baby. To be the woman who tells me that just because everyone else around you is having beautiful babies, doesn’t mean your loss makes you any less of a woman or mom. It means it’s a storm you need to sit through, but even better if you can build shelter with some trusted folks who know the storm all too well. With the kind of faith that you didn’t know you had until you were put through something like this.
The reason why we call our expectant baby a rainbow baby is because it is beautiful, colorful joy that resulted from the grey turmoil beforehand. It is the miracle of life that swells in your heart in a unique way. We can all appreciate a rainbow even more when we see it against the dark clouds behind it, making way for the kind of hope we need to move forward.
If you have ever had your heart broken in the process of trying to have a baby, I want to tell you that you are not alone. You are not a failure. Your rainbow might be another pregnancy down the line or adoption of a precious life deserving of a chance of being loved or the ability to use medicine and practices that can help your body carry the child you have been praying for.
The rainbow effect is a real one. Trust me.
So the next question I’m sure I’ll get asked after this rainbow baby is born is “when will you have another?” Everything I’ve been through will swirl in my head and render the reply, “when the weather is just right.” 😉
Throwback to when Wee Will was 10 weeks