When you have a baby after suffering a miscarriage, birth and live and babies take on a whole new meaning. All the small things you might've taken for granted are suddenly the most important, because you'll never stop thinking about what could've been with the pregnancy (or pregnancies) you lost. Some thoughts every new mom has when she has a rainbow baby include exactly that — what could've been. Having lived it myself, I can confidently say those feelings never really go away. However, and thankfully, they did ease with time and the addition of my darling rainbow.
When I first held my son in my arms, it was so surreal I almost couldn't believe we'd made it. Considering the heartbreaking journey to have him — including having his older, sunshine baby sister, two pregnancy losses, and ongoing fertility issues that stemmed from untreated cysts on my ovaries — it seemed as though that day would never actually arrive. I spent so much time sobbing on the bathroom floor, wondering why my body wouldn't cooperate and yet, with my baby in my arms, I knew I wouldn't change a thing. All of the devastation brought my son and I to this beautiful place; one where we understand pain and won't allow a single moment to be taken for granted.
Having said that, I was terrified the doctors would find something wrong with my boy, even after his delivery, because the feeling of inevitable loss had become second-nature by that point. I prepared myself for anything. Thankfully, my fears didn't keep us from bonding the way I dreamed about all those uncomfortable months I carried him through my high-risk pregnancy. So feeling an instant connection, along with the following things, just might be par for the parenting course when a new mom finally has her rainbow baby.
"I Feel So Guilty"
The most natural feeling any new mom could have after loss, is guilt. I had it the moment I discovered the pregnancy. How could I carry on happily, while still grieving the pregnancies that didn't make it? Even now, more than five years later, I still struggle with that guilt.
As mothers of rainbow babies, we deserve to love our babies freely without the pain. Unfortunately, or at least for me, that pain is always there. The trick is finding a way to love through it, knowing that in doing so you're not betraying the baby (or babies) you lost, but honoring them by being the best mother possible to your rainbow.
After a harrowing labor and delivery that nearly killed me and my rainbow baby, I couldn't help but allow my first few thoughts to go straight to fear. I was afraid to love him, to bond with him, and to mother him. What if I failed?
When we're able to have a baby after miscarriage, of course it's terrifying territory. What helped me work through that fear was reminding myself to see my son for what he was — alive.
"I Don't Know If I'm Capable"
Looking into my new baby's eyes, I was worried I wouldn't be what he needed me to be. I thought about that beautiful moment where I finally got to hold him for such a long time, but as I soaked in it all the doubt crept in. Could I honestly care for this baby when my body refused two others before him? It all somehow felt wrong, remembering those miscarriages and all I'd gone through, but at the same time, so very right.
"I Don't Want Anyone Near My Baby"
Due to the growing anticipation of my rainbow baby, I knew everyone who came to visit us at the hospital (or at home) would want to hold him. He was a miracle in every sense of the word, but as much as I mentally prepared myself to let him go, I didn't want to. His older sister pleaded to hold him, so I let her. Then, eventually, I let everyone else hold him to.
Still, the whole time my baby was in someone else's arms I was full of panic. What if they dropped him? What if he took his last breath in their arms and not mine? Fear of losing him in anyway, I know, has contributed to the way I parent him today. I'm still slightly overprotective, and probably hold him back from things I know he can do. I'm trying to learn how to let go. I just don't want to.
"Will This Baby Die, Too?"
The biggest fear I've had since conception of my boy, is that I'll lose him, too. However unrealistic, it's a feeling I can't shake so easily. I know loss, and I know love; having one drive out the other is such a painful experience, it's difficult to make sense of emotions with this brand new baby. If my miscarriages have taught me anything, it's that I'm fragile and breakable. However, having a rainbow baby reminds me that despite that and all the other negative feelings, I'm also strong. I am, in fact, everything my baby needs.