I have earlier written about how I miscarried at 10 weeks due to hypothyroidism. However, I have not written much about my grief of miscarriage and what I felt when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby.
What is a rainbow baby?
Well, I learned the term only when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. A rainbow baby is a baby that is born to a mother after a pregnancy loss. So if you’ve a baby after a miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of an infant, that baby is your rainbow baby. Any child born subsequent to a pregnancy loss is a rainbow baby. It means some families can have several rainbow babies if they are born after losses.
I find the term rainbow baby very beautiful. As the rainbow appears at the end of a dark rainy sky, a rainbow baby appears after the pain of a loss.
Feelings of guilt and shame
After the loss of a baby, not only women suffer from pain and trauma, but also go through guilt and shame.
- The guilt of not being able to carry the full term or failing to notice or do something that might have saved the baby. Yes, the guilt is a constant partner of a woman who has had a pregnancy loss.
- And then, I also remember feeling ashamed of my body that could not keep a baby safe. I would argue when millions of women were doing it, how could have my body let me down.
It was a bad period for me. I avoided family and friends and anything related with babies like a plague. As I had also quit my job when I had learned about my pregnancy, I was at a loose end. Staying at home with nothing to occupy my mind, I spent the entire day thinking about and regretting the baby I had lost.
Wanting to have another child
Also, the desire to have a baby increased manifolds. I just wanted one thing in life – to have another baby – IMMEDIATELY. With a new baby, I thought, this acute and permanent pain in my chest would disappear, I would be healed and feel whole again.
My doctor had advised me to wait for a few months, 3 at least, before I could get pregnant again. However, I fell sick twice with malaria and took some antibiotics. So the doctor then suggested I wait for another two months so that all the after effects of medicines wore off. Believe me, those extra two months were like punishment.
So, after five months of losing my baby, we tried again. And we got pregnant at the first attempt. I knew I was pregnant even before I confirmed with the stick as I recognized all the symptoms.
As I said earlier, I had thought that once I would learn of my pregnancy, I would be back to normal and all the pain and anguish of the first baby would leave me. However, that was not the case.
Let me tell you what to expect when you are pregnant with a Rainbow Baby:
Doubts on the doctor
There was a time early on into the pregnancy when I wondered about the capability of my doctor. I mean, I had already lost one baby under her supervision, what if she couldn’t help me with the second one too. I thought about changing my doctor. But my husband made me see sense. He told me how the doctor already knew my history and it would be inadvisable to change the doctor at that stage.
As eager I was to have a baby, it came as a complete surprise to me when I felt no attachment to the growing fetus inside my womb. Though I was happy to be pregnant again, I was not happy for the baby. I even went to my gynecologist and told her if she could help me abort the baby. It’s shocking, but the truth. It might also have something to do with the fact that I was puking constantly and not eating enough.
While new mothers go into post-partum depression, I was experiencing some sort of prenatal depression. I didn’t step out for days on end except for my routine doctor visits. I avoided people, even friends and family and didn’t even tell them about my pregnancy until I was well into my second trimester.
Worry and anxiety
I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I worried about everything. Every cramp, ache, movement or lack of it made me imagine there was a problem and that I would have another miscarriage. It became better with each milestone. When I first heard the baby’s heartbeat, I smiled in relief, because we had never reached that stage with my first baby. Seriously, till then I had a very strong feeling that the history will repeat itself.
I became little more sympathetic to my condition when I completed the first trimester, as it is supposed to be the trickiest and most crucial. With passing of every week and month, I gained more confidence about my pregnancy and rainbow baby. However, I felt guilty too for looking forward to holding my second baby. It felt unjust to be happy over a child while I had lost one.
A pregnancy loss leaves you emotionally and physically devastated. When you have already suffered a loss this monumental, you do everything in your power to sustain your next pregnancy, even if it means doing things which your logical mind wouldn’t allow you to otherwise.
I wanted my rainbow baby at any cost. Although I am ashamed to admit, I had kind of become superstitious when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. I visited temples and prayed fervently, did all things that family and friends asked me to and most of them were superstitious acts like wearing a miniature iron knife around my neck, wearing black thread on my ankles, not stepping on the crossroads or on manhole covers, etc.
Memories of the baby that you lost never leaves you, even while you are holding your rainbow baby. I cried on the first anniversary of my miscarriage and I silently sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to my unborn baby on the date he was supposed to be born even though my rainbow baby was already 5 months old by then. There are still occasions when I remember my first baby and think what would he/she be like, and how my life would have been with him around.
Here are a few things that helped me while I was pregnant with my rainbow baby:
Be kind to yourself
You are your best friend and only you can make yourself feel better. Be sympathetic and supportive of yourself. Instead of berating yourself, find ways to comfort your body and mind. Go to bed early, take warm baths, read your favorite book or listen to good soulful music, indulge yourself, go for a walk or watch a movie with your partner. Find ways that put a smile on your face and keep you happy.
Talk about your feelings
Talk about your feelings, your fears, doubts and hopes. Find that one person or two in your life who is loving and supportive and would be happy to just listen to you. Or if you can’t confide your feelings into a person, write in your personal diary or a blog.
Live in the present
I know it’s easier said than done, but it actually benefits a lot. You can’t undo the past and bring back the baby. But what you can certainly do is enjoy the baby that is growing inside you. Don’t delve into the past and wonder about ifs and whys, just concentrate on the present.
Practice gratitude. You are having another baby after the death of a child. Be grateful to the nature for the chance of carrying a baby again.
Focus on yourself
Instead of constantly worrying about cramps and movements, focus on the changes happening to your body. Every couple of weeks your body changes and looks different. While the first trimester, you don’t see much change except tightening of clothes, in the second trimester you can feel your belly jutting out and your hair gaining volume and getting bouncier, while in the third trimester you will be having an awkward gait due to shifting of the center of gravity and might have swollen feet. Respect, trust and embrace the changes that are happening in your body to support a new life.
Loving your baby after a miscarriage is not easy. I know that as I have experienced it myself. However, once you let go of the guilt, you will be able to bond with your rainbow baby. Interestingly, I felt nothing when I first saw her or held her. However, in the night when everyone fell asleep, I just couldn’t close my eyes. I worried about my newborn all alone in the hospital crib and kept on staring at this tiny life that I had created. And that was when I realized I had more or less healed. I fell in love with my rainbow baby the night she was born.