Friday, May 4, 2012

"Only rainbows, after rain..."

Having a baby (or babies in my case) after losing a child comes with a whole new set of feelings, worries, hopes and dreams. I was in no way prepared for how different this pregnancy would be from my other two. Regardless of my high risk status due to a twin pregnancy, it's different this time. It's scarier. I'm more doubtful. For a long time, I was less optimistic. But I also have a greater appreciation for every little wiggle and poke they give me. More thankful for everyday they stay inside, growing stronger and bigger... It's been more intense.

Today, I am 36 weeks and one day.

I can't believe we've made it this far. Every day these babies have stayed in, has given them a better chance at coming home with us- all fat and healthy. But the thought is never far from my mind... a healthy baby at birth does not equal a lifetime of happy moments and memories. There are no guarantees. None. I, like many other heartbroken parents, know the truth. The horrible and brutal truth. We know that you can be going about your life, completely happy and blissfully ignorant, only to be  cut down by the reality of tiny caskets, autopsy reports and the realization that you will never hold or see your child again. When you've been through what we have, you know the truth. And you realize that those who haven't, can never truly understand.

I can't tell you how many doctors and "experts" have told us that what happened to Ellie was a fluke, a freak twist of nature, "the worst kind of bad luck." Every time I voice my concerns of history repeating itself, I am given the same response- "that won't happen again."

How can they be sure?

What happened to Ellie was so rare that there is very little research or information on the subject. The infection she died from is very common, but the problem her spleen is more than rare. Our answers from the medical examiner, geneticist, immunologist, intensivist, pediatrician and perinatologist were less than vague. Basically, we were never given an answer to why this happened to her spleen leaving her so incredibly vulnerable. And to me, that's not nearly good enough.

Max had his spleen and antibodies checked shortly after Ellie passed away. The babies will have their spleens checked before we leave the hospital, at three months and at six months. They will also have their pneumococcal antibodies checked after their full course of pneumococcal vaccinations are given. I know what happened to Ellie is not likely to happen again. But it wasn't likely to happen the first time either. The odds weren't in our favor the first time, so why would they be the second time??

What I want is for people to understand that lightning can strike twice. Just because we've suffered one tragedy, doesn't mean we are protected from another. Several of us were harshly reminded of this this past week when a fellow mother shared that her two day old daughter had joined her big brother in Heaven. Reading her heartbreaking words and seeing the pictures of her final moments with the second child she sent to Heaven makes me mad. It's not fair that one person should have to bear so much. It doesn't make sense.

This is what I want people to understand... Once you've lost a child, you are never the same. Yes, being pregnant again is a wonderful gift but its also a burden. We know that at any minute all of the joy, dreams and hope can be taken away. We are teeming with happiness and terrified of losing it.
We want people to understand this when we voice our concerns over every day things like rashes, stuffy noses and a nap that seems a little too sound. Don't blow us off and don't make us feel crazy. Trust me, we already feel crazy. Be understanding of our lows.

And try to understand what's going on behind the smiles of our highs. We will rejoice in the snuggles with our new babies and in the little noises they make. We will love our babies for who they are- totally separate from any other child we have. But behind our laughs and smiles is the ache of knowing that someone in our family is always missing. Our sadness over never seeing their sibling reach the same milestones. The fear that it may all happen again and that we are powerless to prevent it. The guilt of moving forward with our lives.

Having another baby- or babies- after losing a child is messy. My reactions and feelings towards certain aspects of preparing to add to our family surprise me. I was ok going through Ellie's clothes to find things for her sister to wear, but it was nearly impossible to remove her still attached nuk-hook from her car seat and get it ready for our baby girl. Finding one of her tiny hairs still on the straps nearly caused me to buy a whole new car seat instead of reusing hers... The joy of preparing for a new child, while tucking away memories of their big sister... it's messy.


There is a phrase out there- "Rainbow Babies." For a long time, I avoided this term. It seemed a little too cutesy and happy for me. But the more I think about it, the longer I'm pregnant and the closer I get to meeting these two little miracles- the more I can relate to it...

"Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is 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.

We've spent the last 18 months in hell. A non-stop storm of heart break, longing, sadness and grief. We will never get over Ellie. Our beautiful little girl was only in our arms for nine months, but she will forever be with us. And this means we will always long for her. We won't ever "get over her." So while we are so excited to meet these two little ones and so happy to have them join us, we will always be missing Ellie... The rainbow might be breath-taking, but it doesn't fix the damage the storm did. You can't have a rainbow without the rain. They go hand-in-hand... you can't have one without the other...

The last few weeks here in Minnesota have been filled with a lot of rain and storms. Rain and gray skies have made these last few weeks of pregnancy rather difficult. I feel like the dreary weather has been a perfect match for how my body has felt. But tonight I was given a little reminder as to why I feel this way... Being 36 weeks pregnant with two babies is no easy feat. But feeling sore and miserable means that these babies are still in there- growing away. And that is a good thing.

So when Dave spotted the double full rainbow outside our house tonight, I rushed out to snap some pictures. And until the babies get here, they will remind me that all of this pain of pregnancy is a good thing. And after they get here, they will remind me that there are only rainbows after rain.





23 comments:

Debby@Just Breathe said...

The rainbow is beautiful. I can only imagine all the emotions your are going through. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. ((HUGS))

Tracie said...

What a beautiful post, so elloquent. I delivered my twins a day shy of 36 weeks and remember how miserable it is to be so pregnant. I will be praying for you and your little ones, can't wait to see some pictures and hope you have a healthy delivery and healthy babes. Just think right now your Little one is telling her siblings of the wonderful family they are about to come to, and if I were to bet on it she is going to be right their not missing a moment of it.

Kelly said...

Beautifully written post, and I love the pictures. Thinking of you as your pregnancy comes to an end. I can't wait to see pictures of your little ones. (((hugs)))

Emily said...

Brian and I talk a lot about if we have another child after Kaia. It's always IF, it's never when. We know how lucky we got with her. It's hard to imagine having a healthy pregnancy after two back to back pPROM pregnancies. It's hard to imagine having a full term healthy baby after having two preemies. One who died and one who lived. People might think we're crazy to be so pessimistic. I think we'd be crazy not to consider the worst happening again. It's all a matter of perspective.

Congratulations for reaching 36+ weeks with twins. That's a feat in and of itself!

Maxie's Mommy said...

You put into words what I have been STRUGGLING to do. My fears are almost as big as my grief. Almost as big as my joy that a new babe in on his way. Sometimes my fear swallows me alive. "It won't happen again" is something I hear all of the time and think, "It shouldn't have happened the first time". Max was also nine months. It is such a precious age. People say you start to feel some relief from the anxiety once you pass the age that your baby died. Nine months is a whole pregnancy. Hopefully our nine month waits go faster that our pregnancies have. If you are anything like me, this one (I am in my 28th week) has been moving at a snail's pace. I hope your remaining pregnancy time flies and I can't wait to hear about the little ones! So much love to you Tiffany!

XOXO Abby

Mary said...

Your little ones truly are rainbows fed by the light of their big sister. Being pregnant after a loss isn't easy by any means. It's so hard to keep the doubts away. But all we can do is be the best parents we can be. You're an amazing momma to Max, Ellie, the twins. No matter the doubts and fears you have, they know you love them unconditionally.

SG said...

Well said. Congrats on getting this far with the twins. Thinking of you and your husband and *all* of your little ones <3

B. Wilson said...

I couldn't help but think that double rainbow symbolized your set of two rainbows. Ellie was so special that she made sure two babies are coming to provide some comfort.

You put it all so well. May Ellie's love shine and warm you as you reach the end of this pregnancy and hopefully welcome her second brother and sister into your home.

The pacifier and hair? My heart sunk reading that.

Caroline said...

Thinking of you & praying so much ..... I know those feelings. Such a beautiful post !!

Dandelion Breeze said...

Such a beautiful rainbow... and lovely post - so true. Thinking of you, Ellie and your twins... love to you all xoxo

Seeing Each Day said...

My goodness, what an amazing sign to be sent with these rainbows. And no judgement here for the angst and worry that is totally understandable that you will always feel. I truly wish you the best over the next couple of weeks especially.

Ashley said...

Those pictures are great! I can't wait to see pictures of your twins!! How exciting, you have come SO far and congrats on keep them in so long - thinking of you ((hugs))

crystal said...

Beautiful!!! I couldn't have said it better. Praying for you and your family. So glad that those little ones are still in the oven baking. Keep us updated on how things continue to go :)

Melissa said...

I can relate to so much of this post. It is hard for others to understand, but those of us who walk the same road just do. It's nice to have others who can begin to understand. Looking forward to hearing the good news about your babies and I am so glad you've made it this far.

Deanna said...

Holy cats, this is definitely hitting the nail on the head. It is so great to have others understand. It is amazing how intense the grief can still be sometimes. It is also really hard to know that someone is always missing. Every single thing we do, River is not here and it hurts. I am praying for you and these babies, know that we are all sending you lots of love!

Ashley said...

Can't imagine all the emotions you're going through.

Congratulations on making it to 36 weeks - I remember those last miserable weeks all too well! Can't wait to see pics of the twins!

Tesha said...

Beautiful real post. I ma so afraid to get pregnant again even though I have many healthy children. It just seem to much to go through. We always planned on a BIG family so i know I will...it is just scary. I am having a link-up for grieving mommies on Tuesdays, I would love if you join us. I am saying a prayer for you and your sweet babies!

Tiffany said...

so well said. i know there are many people that do NOT understand this. and i hated when people told me it was a fluke. my son was perfect, so i'm not really interested in thinking of his death as a "fluke". and yes, hearing about becky has made me mad, and terrified at the same time. it's not fair at all. why so much suffering? how much can a person take? :( thinking of you guys as you prepare to bring your double rainbow home ((hugs))

Sarita Boyette said...

I've been thinking about you so much. You wrote such a lovely post and it is very much true. Sending love to all of you. I'm excited for the twins to get here! * Ellie *

Stephanie said...

What a beautiful post. Being pregnant after a loss is so hard. I remember people discounting my concerns as "crazy talk" and saying that since I was going to have another baby I could get on with my life. I remember almost needing to separate myself from the pregnancy so I didn't go completely bonkers worrying about the 'what ifs' but at the same time trying to drink in every little hiccup and kick to the bladder. Unfortunately, I hoped that having this baby would make all my pain go away. I found out that I was even more distraught after he was born wanting my daughter even more. Putting false pretenses on that pregnancy took away bonding with my son right after he was born. I try to encourage others from thinking that a new baby can take the pain away because I found out the hard way that is does not. Congratulations to your family!! I agree with Mary above, these babies are fed by Ellie's light. Many blessings to you!!

LauraJane said...

Beautiful. I'm so looking forward to hearing of your babies' arrival. :)

twisteddomesticgoddess said...

Wow I am going through many of the same things you are at this moment. Although not pregnant with twins but pregnant for the second time around after losing my Reed almost 9 years ago shortly after birth. No matter how many times the Dr says his heart looks just fine that voice in my head says,"yea so did Reed's right up to the last 48 hours." It's been a very healing process also though this time around. I have been able to grieve and heal in ways I didn't even know I needed to.

Lindsey McFall said...

A friend sent me a link to your blog a few months ago, and I am ashamed to say that I never checked it. I did today, and I feel like it was somehow meant to be. I am also 36 weeks and one day pregnant today. I lost my son, Max, almost one year ago to SIDS. I couldn't help but notice that your last post, which I relate to on so many levels, was written on what would have been Max's first birthday, May 4. Thank you for sharing and for reminding me that it's okay to be human throughout this process.

Post a Comment