Content warning: This post contains details of miscarriage some readers may find triggering.
Warning: Imagery of stillbirth that may be triggering for some readers.
It’s a roller-coaster of emotions when you conceive a “rainbow baby” – a baby born directly following a miscarriage or stillbirth. At first, you’re incredibly happy and relieved and then the cold, hard fear and dread creeps in. A rainbow baby will never erase the pain or the memory of the lost baby, but it’s a beautiful, new beginning.
For the loss of a baby through miscarriage and/or a stillborn is an incredibly devastating and debilitating life event and can take you much time to grieve. It’s as though your mind/body/spirit has undergone such massive stress and gut-wrenching upset and sadness, you wonder if you’ll ever heal.
Pregnancy loss is then worsened, at times, by society’s ill-treatment of the bereaved; your no doubt well-meaning friends, family and work colleagues will want and expect you to recover very quickly, as well might you may. But, in my experience, after two miscarriages, the grief process can take some time and you can think you’re well recovered until something sets you back: a friend falling pregnant; a violent reaction to seeing a newborn in the street; and/or you’re pregnant again and you’re overcome by fear.
I fell pregnant with our first child just four months after the soul-sapping horror and heartbreak of finding out our much-wanted, 12-week baby had no heartbeat. Of course, my husband and I dearly hoped we’d fall pregnant again quickly and we were very blessed that it did, but I wasn’t quite prepared, either physically or emotionally, to fall pregnant again so soon. I felt incredibly scared and numb.
Would I miscarry again? Could I survive it? What if I just couldn’t carry a baby to term? All these hideous fears and more were clouding my heart and my head to the point it was overshadowing any pregnancy joy I was experiencing with my first child.
So, what did I do? Here are my tips, from my heart, on how to embrace having a rainbow baby. Below, you’ll also find top advice from a clinical psychologist I interviewed, who wishes to remain anonymous.
And did I get my happy ending? Yes – I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who was a whopper, born ten days overdue. And I’d venture dear reader, you’ll get your happy ending – a much-wanted child – just as I did, too.
My coping tips
- Keep busy: Working through my first pregnancy right up until week 32 (when I got too huge and cumbersome to travel) helped me stay sane and focused on something else outside my pregnancy.
- Get help: I got some very helpful short-term grief counselling from a clinical psychologist to help me better resolve my grief over losing the baby.
- Mind over matter: I practised a lot of pregnancy yoga and meditation to resolve my angst. There’s something so healing about both yoga and meditation and it’s good for your health too.
- Talk, talk, talk: Loved ones you can lean on, who offer wise, practical and sane advice, are who you need to surround yourself with right now. Stay away from negative people who regale you with pregnancy horror stories. And talk it out – I talked about my fears and stress a lot and it helped me no end.
Psychologist coping tips
“Miscarriage is a very distressing event,” says the clinical psychologist. “It’s bound to be followed by a period of grieving and sadness, making it hard to enjoy a subsequent pregnancy. But it’s so important to move on and allow yourself to feel the joy and optimism of a new pregnancy,” she says.
It’s not easy, but the psych says to try these suggestions:
- Discuss your fears: Tell your worries to a professional such as a nurse/counsellor, someone who can reassure you on the statistics of having a normal pregnancy this time around.
- Practice some mindfulness: Learn to be in the here and now and enjoy the moment – do something you enjoy and immerse yourself in that.
- Seek strong support: Be with friends and family who are supportive and positive, who will talk if you want to or just be there with you in a kind, caring and understanding way.
- Breathe in and out: If you are experiencing anxiety, try relaxing using slow deep breathing and picture the new baby, healthy and safely arrived. Imagine holding her/him and allow yourself to feel happiness. Hold onto that feeling.
Images via froufroumonkey.com, lendmeyourkite.com, inspirefirst.com, Pinterest
What do you think? Did you have a rainbow baby?