My life is divided into two sections: before my baby died, and after my baby died. I never thought I'd be even remotely OK after my daughter passed away, especially since I spiraled down a hole of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. So when I found out I was pregnant a few months later I was surprised... and thankful. I didn't, and still don't, consider my son a replacement, but my rainbow baby helped me heal in so many ways. Ways I, honestly, didn't know were possible.
Part of me still believes that my pregnancy happened way too soon. When I found out I was going to have my rainbow baby I was still struggling to get myself out of my depression, and so much of my life was heavily impacted by the trauma of both my birth experience and my child loss. At the time I hadn't received any kind of mental health support or treatment, and I had no real resources or help with which to do so. And when my son was born and had to stay in the NICU for two whole months things grew even more complicated. My trauma was compounded, I was triggered, and I struggled as a result.
But through it all, and without him knowing, my son's presence helped me push toward a healthier life; a life that I deserved; a life that had me walking in the right direction: forward. He has filled me with eternal love, and while he can't erase the loss I felt or the devastation of losing a child, he has helped me heal in the following ways:
He Provided A Distraction
I don’t mean this to sound trite, but I truly did need something to help me stop focusing on my previous loss. I had thrown myself head-first into work, but work just wasn’t enough. It’s not to say anyone should have a baby to distract themselves from major life issues, but I would be lying if I said my son's presence didn't help me heal. Having a beautiful little baby to focus on absolutely helped me take the necessary steps forward. Sometimes when you help others, you inadvertently help yourself.
He Stopped Me From Making Bad Choices
I wasn't drinking heavily or on a frequent basis after my daughter passed, but I wasn't making the best decisions and there were moments when I absolutely overindulged. But when I found out I was pregnant with my son I stopped drinking entirely, and after he was born I vowed never to get inebriated to the point that I couldn’t also care for him.
Without my son, there’s a chance I would’ve fallen into the bad habits of my early 20s, and perhaps my marriage would not have survived.
He Reminded Me How Much I Need To Take Care Of My Mental Health
I experienced strong prenatal depression when I was pregnant with my daughter. It wasn’t quite as strong as the depression I experienced when I was pregnant with my son, but it was still there.
After about a year of motherhood and recognizing what an effect my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from both my births was still having on me, I decided I needed to seek help. I’ve seen therapists on and off since then, and done what I can to meditate and care for my mental health. I owe it to my son, and I owe it to myself.
He Instilled A Drive In Me To Become Successful
As a single, child-free woman I didn’t see the reason to save money. I lived paycheck to paycheck, taking whatever low-paying job would have me and would allow me to travel and write.
I wrote my first published essay while pregnant with my son, and I took on additional freelance work when he was around 6 months old. After he was born I realized I could write for a living, and every year since his birth I have wanted more for my son, for my family, and for myself. I know how important it is to continue to focus on my career and achieve my goals. After all, I have a little one who is watching.
He Showed Me Just How Much Fun Life Could Be
After my daughter passed away I honestly didn't think I'd smile or laugh again, and for a long time I didn't. Then my son entered the world, and I realized that I could be happy and life could be enjoyable. Yes, I probably would have learned this lesson regardless, but my son constantly reminds me that I deserve to find the joy in life. He reminds me to play, to stop and smell the roses (literally), and that life is better when you do.
He Taught Me How Much I Could Still Love
After my daughter passed away, I was convinced I would never love another little being again. But then I got pregnant with my rainbow baby, and I heard his heartbeat for the first time, and I felt him kick, and I gave birth to him. And when I finally looked at him and held him in my arms and laid him on my chest, I realized that I was capable of loving another baby after all. My heart grew to accommodate this perfect little baby boy, and now a part of my heart walks around on his own in the world — a reminder of all the love I’m still capable of feeling.