After losing our firstborn Harry at 32 weeks of pregnancy, we knew every pregnancy thereafter would not be the joyful anticipation we had during those first 31 weeks. That first-time, surprise, care-free pregnancy feeling was forever tainted by the grief and the harsh reality of knowing first-hand how vulnerable life truly is.
A year later when we were expecting our second, Lily, we were “cautiously optimistic”, as my husband would say. We were grateful for experiencing pregnancy once again but we weren’t sure what a healthy level of hope was appropriate or necessary to get through those 40 long weeks (actually 38, because she came early).
One would think that after losing a baby, it would be only natural to love the second baby extra hard, but it honestly felt impossible to fall in love so blindly, again. I allowed myself to love the child growing inside me, but I didn’t allow myself to imagine what life outside of the womb would be. It felt safer to forbid myself of dreaming up a future that may never happen.
Expectant mothers of rainbow babies also experience survivors guilt. It feels wrong in some ways to celebrate or be excited about a baby, when another one is no longer alive. I had promised Harry when I held his little lifeless body in my arms, that I would never stop loving him and that he would be present in my thoughts every-single-day. So when another life was growing inside of me, one that deserved all the love in the world, it felt like I was betraying that promise.
Overcoming all the fears and sadness during my pregnancy with Lily was daunting. They also didn’t just go away once I had her in my arms, like I believed they would. It took about a year to feel like just a normal worried parent. My bond with Lily is very different than with her little sister, Camila. I feel indebted to her in some ways, and I’m not sure anyone else could’ve brought out the mother I am today, if it weren’t for her.
I tell Lily everyday that she is my rainbow baby, she doesn’t know what it means but she loves hearing it because (like every girl her age) she is obsessed with rainbows. I hope that someday I can share with her all that she did to heal us. We were scared, nervous and grieving, but Lily showed us the path forward from the pain and sadness.
She’s even become a very active voice in keeping Harry’s memory alive. She talks about her brother often, almost as if he were a part of her everyday life. She draws him into family portraits, unprompted. She says goodnight to him and kisses his urn. I know in my heart, she was hand-picked for us by her brother. We are forever grateful for our perfect rainbow baby.
❤️Be Healthy Mami