Not too long ago, I didn't know what sunshine babies, angel babies, or rainbow babies were. I never had a reason to until I had my miscarriage. These terms, and the visibility they provide, have helped me and many other moms cope with the tragedy of pregnancy loss. For those who don't know, a sunshine baby is a baby conceived before a loss. I never knew there was a name for the child I had before I lost my baby, but I find it deeply comforting. That's why there is so much I want to say to my sunshine baby.
I was 33 when I got married, so my husband and I decided we'd start trying to get pregnant right away. Let's just say it wasn't nearly as hard as we thought it was going to be. I delivered a beautiful baby girl nine months and a day from the day of our wedding. We knew we wanted to grow our family before I crossed the dreaded "geriatric pregnancy" threshold. Then, about 10 months after the birth of our daughter, we conceived again. Unfortunately, I miscarried within a week of finding out we were expecting.
You would think having a normal, healthy pregnancy first would soften the blow. However, as I have learned, grief for a child doesn't work that way (at least not for me, although it's important to acknowledge that everyone processes grief differently). It did make me incredibly grateful for the gift of my daughter, and there are a few things I need my sunshine girl to know.
Beyond the shame I felt about my miscarriage, was the guilt I endured for not being a better mom to my living child. I was so distraught that it was difficult to remain "present." While I cared for her physical needs (feeding, dressing, changing, sleeping), simple things like playing her on the floor felt like too much. I have a vivid memory of lying on the living room rug as she drove her purple wooden dinosaur over my back.
I want to apologize for that period of emotional absence, and I want to honor her loss as well. After all, she was supposed to be a big sister.
"Our Family Is Already Complete"
My dearest wish is to have another baby, but if that's not in the cards, it's really OK. We became a family the day my partner and I committed to making a life together. It's not marriage or a certain number of kids that makes a family. It's love. We have that in spades.
"I Love You"
I love my child. Truly, madly, deeply. It's a walk through fire, throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle to save her kind of love. As my mom always said, love is not a pie. The piece of love that's reserved for my angel baby does not mean a smaller piece for my little girl. The love I have for her is infinite and unconditional.
"You Are The Light Of My Life"
In Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie writes, "When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” We recognize that there is something magical about babies. A sweet smile from my darling girl can turn around my darkest day. Nothing can ever happen to change the fact that her very existence makes me happier than I ever imagined I could be.
I'm not sure I could have come out of the deep depression that followed my miscarriage without my daughter. There were the practical realities of taking care of her that kept me going. In that dark place, she could still make me laugh with her babbling and rejoice at her first steps. She wasn't even a year old when it happened, but I owe her a debt of thanks I may never be able to repay.
"You Were A Dream Come True"
When I got married and had a baby, I realized I had everything I'd ever wanted. Maybe that seems anti-feminist, but I had plenty of time to thrive in my career and I was ready for a family. Yes, I experienced tragedy, but not everyone can say that their dreams became reality. Thanks to my daughter, I can.
"I Haven't Given Up Hope"
I choose to believe that it's not too late. I have a lot to give as a mother, and I would welcome another baby with open arms. I would love for my girl to have a little brother or sister, and I'll keep trying for her and for myself, comforted by the knowledge that I'm already blessed with so much sunshine in my life.