Before I had my rainbow baby, my partner and I struggled to stay afloat. After two miscarriages, infertility issues, and life as parents to our daughter, communication had become a rarity. And romance? Nearly non-existent. On the verge of separation, we seemed to be moving in two different directions and despite the deep love we had for one another, we were sinking. Then something changed when I found out I was pregnant with my son. In fact, there's more than a few ways our rainbow baby brought my partner and I together. Honestly, without him I don't think we'd have made it.
Having a "rainbow" baby means bringing life into the world after miscarriage or infant loss. During those days before I found out I was pregnant with my son, I never thought I could carry to term again. All that wishing and hoping took its toll, and I was negatively affected as the mother to my daughter, a partner to my husband, and simply as a human being at war with her own body. I couldn't help it, but the losses defined me and the inability to have another baby haunted me. Before I was pregnant with my son and after my first loss in 2009, there was a short period when my husband and I were so close. In fact, we even renewed our wedding vows. It was the closest we'd ever been and I'd never felt happier. It didn't last, though, and that period of closeness was followed by a dark time when I thought, for the first time ever, that we were going to be over if something didn't change soon.
I blamed my body and myself for all the things it'd done (and not done). I shut my partner out and was fully prepared to go through the rest of my life internally isolated. We tried couples' therapy and, after the first session, I felt even more alone. Something I thought might help, didn't, and all of our problems still overwhelmed our relationship. "What now?" was the only question I could bring myself to ask myself, my partner, or anyone who would listen.
Then, when I was finally pregnant with our rainbow baby, all those issues that divided us somehow mended themselves. We communicated more, fought less, and came together for the sake of our daughter and soon-to-be son. Maybe it was because I let my guard down long enough to be close to my partner again, or maybe we'd just hit peak timing in our relationship. Regardless of any one reason, I know our rainbow baby had a lot to do with connecting us at a time we were so very disconnected.
We Talk More
Before out rainbow baby, we certainly talked a lot at each other, but it wasn't conducive to a healthy, thriving partnership. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the reason why we were together at all (children aside). During the pregnancy and birth of my son, I noticed a significant change in the way we communicated. Not only did we have actual conversations again — something we hadn't done in a long time — but we enjoyed it because the infighting stopped. Maybe my boy wasn't the sole reason, but his presence sure did help lessen the burdens we carried since the prior losses.
We Listen Better
Along with communicating more, we started to hear what was actually being said. Through all the frustrations beforehand, neither of us took the time to empathize or understand what the other was saying. When you don't hear or aren't able to read the subtext of a conversation, translation is often lost and it causes more of a divide. We lived this way for years. Pregnancy with our rainbow baby forced us to re-evaluate the way we did things, because every day facilitated another important conversation about the baby, about my mental health, and about our life together.
We're Better At Co-Parenting
My partner and I had our firstborn in our early 20s, before we were married. She wasn't planned so we had to figure out how to sacrifice and prioritize in order to be great parents. It took a long time to figure out how to parent together and, even then, we struggled. Now, years after both full-term children, we're light years ahead of those early new parent days and I liken a lot of that to our later experiences with my son.
We Reflect And Reassess Regularly
The struggle isn't lost on us. Many nights we sit down and talk about where we are, where we're going, and what we can do better in order to make our marriage last. Relationships aren't always easy and take some work. What my son has taught me, much like recovering from the losses, you'll get out of it what you put into it.
We're More Focused On Our Firstborn
When my daughter was almost 3, we decided to start trying to give her a sibling. She wouldn't get her little brother until the day she turned 5 years old. The time in between was spent crying over periods, failed pregnancy tests, miscarriages, and ovarian problems. It wasn't fair that she only had part of me and part of her father through all of that. After my son, we came together as a family and made sure to devote just as much time to our daughter, too. Not only did it strengthen the relationship between my partner and I, but also our daughter and us.
My Partner Encourages Self-Care
My postpartum depression, and the depression I experiences from two miscarriages, stole some of the best parts of motherhood from me. I wasn't ever fully present, and because I waited so long to seek treatment, the consequences were more dire than they needed to be. After our rainbow baby, my partner knew the importance of my mental health, making sure I put self-care at the top of my long to-do list. If it means he has to pick up more slack, he does without complaint.
We Accept That Our Rainbow Baby Is The Catalyst For Change
My son isn't the reason for everything that's good between my partner and I. We had a life before children and would continue to have a life if our children didn't exist. However, I dreamed about that baby for so long, if he'd never come I imagine I'd still feel shut off from the world due to my own inadequacy.
Maybe life wouldn't have altered that much if I'd never had my son, but we'll never know for sure. It doesn't matter anyway. Our lives feel a little brighter and I think it has at least a little something to do with the rainbow in the next room.