The term rainbow baby was coined to describe a child who is born following a loss with the idea that the light of the rainbow inspires hope after experiencing darkness. While I don’t like thinking of the baby we lost as a storm, I do appreciate the sentiment.
We were just on the fringe of the eye of the storm when we conceived again, so sticking with the weather analogies, it’s been a whirlwind of a few months to say the least.
While over the moon, I am having a difficult time reveling in the joy of this pregnancy. Every squirmy movement, subtle twitch, and soft jab is a miracle that I will find myself waiting for, heart racing, terrified that I may never feel it again. I still hold my breath every time I wipe and always have to peek, halfway expecting to see a bright red stain. I find myself subconsciously pressing on my boobs to see if they are still sore, and if I am not hungry on the hour, every hour, I worry something has gone awry (although to be fair, I get concerned if I’m not hungry for more than an hour pregnant or not). I kept telling myself that I would feel confident after XX milestone and XX benchmark, but it still proves to be a challenge.
I have carried two babies to term with little to no complications, and I have experienced one miscarriage. It’s just that the fragility of the whole process is so visceral to me now. Perhaps it’s because it is more recent or maybe it is because for some reason we can be so quick to dwell in the bad before we believe in the good. I know it’s a defense mechanism in place to protect, but it can be exhausting. For the sake of this baby, however, I will not give up. I will continue to work on harvesting faith, because deep down I do believe in the sheer power of it all and know that strength cannot exist without vulnerability.
When we told the kids about this baby, they said they wanted to transfer the name of Boo Boo Tummy to their new sibling, and after an intense brainstorming session, they decided to rename the baby we lost, “Gillbret”.
When it came time for my 22 week appointment, the only day the midwife could see me was on what would have been Gillbret’s due date. I laid back against the crinkle of sanitary barrier between myself and the exam table and listened to my baby’s heart beat with tears brimming in my eyes. By now, I have come to expect these flares of emotion and am starting to see them as a confirmation of life. That really is the epitome of the whole grieving and healing process. It’s the juxtaposition of the joy mixed with the sadness, and it’s being okay with saying goodbye to one chapter, knowing it’s always going to be a part of the overall story, and allowing yourself to be excited for what is coming next. “Sounds perfect!” our midwife said with a smile. As she wiped away the gel and put the fetal doppler back in its place, I felt the wave of that truth rush over me.
After the appointment, I walked in the rain to a nearby cupcake store and got some cupcakes to celebrate. I bought one in honor of a baby I couldn’t wait to meet and one for Gillbret’s birthday. I also bought two for the next person in line who happened to order cupcakes. It made me happy to think of someone else feeling randomly loved on this day, and I hope to make this a tradition.
I always carry a little purple amethyst with me, which would have been Gillbret’s birthstone. At our recent family photoshoot, our wonderful photographer took some incredibly beautiful images with this little stone that both celebrates our rainbow baby and memorializes the other. In my heart, we will always be a family of six—seven including our fur baby, Dino.
I look at these pictures and see the sparkle in my kids’ eyes and the grins plastered on their faces (fueled in part by a continuous stream of gummy bears that we kept popping in their mouths as a ‘please don’t have a meltdown so we can get a good picture’ incentive). I marvel at my growing belly, sheltering this tiny life and admire my handsome, supportive husband who under it all is my unwavering rock (and who, let’s face it, can pull off purple pants like no other). Moments like these not only remind me of the light, but demand it.
I don’t want this little one to be born in a shadow of pain and never want him to feel like he is here just because his sister isn’t, because in reality, he is here because she was. She created the space in our lives and hearts that now has the capacity to be filled with the most steadfast of loves. She served such a purpose in her short weeks, and I will always be grateful for her.
Since this little one is our precious rainbow baby, then Gillbret was the pot of gold. She just existed at the beginning of the rainbow, instead of the end, and both are such a gift.
Marissa B. Niranjan is beyond grateful for the love and support she has received throughout this season as it is what has enabled her to see the the the blue birds flying over the rainbow. Thank you will never be enough.
Speaking of thanks yous, a HUGE one goes out to the amazing Kailey Shakespear for capturing the best of us, gummy bear high and all, and for becoming an instant friend. Seriously, if you need photos for any occasion, she’s your gal!