Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Walking With You ~ Finding Hope and Healing (With or Without a Rainbow)

Week 6 ~ Finding Hope and Healing (With or Without a Rainbow)
For this post, we will share our experiences with longing for another baby to fill our empty arms. Some experienced a subsequent pregnancy after loss. Some may be fearful of embarking on that journey again. Some may not be able to have another child, whether due to infertility or other reasons. Some may have found that having another baby, however precious a gift, was not the key to healing the grief. Can you experience hope and healing…even if there is no rainbow after the storm?

Losing my daughter, Carleigh, has been life-altering but I knew while I was still carrying her that I wanted more children. It may seem odd to some that I would decide while my baby was still alive but husband and I had time to prepare and think what we wanted in many areas and this was just one of them. While I was afraid of lightening striking twice, it was worth the risk to me. I knew that if we lost another children that we would not regret having tried and knowing our baby for as long as we were given. I must mention that while my heart ached to be filled, I did have my older daughter to hold and love and that did help ease my empty arms. I think it would have been more difficult if I did not have her.

After my 6 week check-up we began started trying to conceive. Month after month it didn’t happen and I would be sad and frustrated that I wasn’t pregnant yet. I really started to think that maybe something was wrong because it only took 3 months to get pregnant with Kyndra and 1 month to get pregnant with Carleigh. After trying for 9 months, in January 2010, I decided to just let it go and let God handle it. That very same month I found out I was pregnant. At first I didn’t think I was because I was a week late and still testing negative but a friend suggested I take one more test so I did. It was positive! Evidently I just ovulated later the previous month. I was so excited but also wary too. I know some loss moms wait a certain amount of time to tell anyone but we shared the news right away. I wanted prayers for our baby right from the start from as many people as possible.

My previous ob had closed her practice so I had a heck of a time finding a provider I felt comfortable with. I remember driving home from a few appointments in tears because I felt like my concerns weren’t being heard and that my loss wasn’t being acknowledged. Then I had an appointment with a certain doctor and after meeting with him everything changed. I don’t know if he put something in my chart but from then on everyone was wonderful. He was so kind and acknowledged and validated what we had been through. I knew that we would be well taken care of from then on.

My due date was October 1st and week after week went by. My emotions were up and down. I was so happy and loved my baby so much but I was scared, anxious, and worried that something might happen and I’d lose this little one too. I  bought a doppler to use to be able to check on my baby whenever I felt I needed to and I’m so glad that I did. It really helped me! I’d breathe a little sigh of relief after each milestone, knowing I was one step closer to bringing this baby home. We found out we were having another little girl and I was beyond excited because I hoped that we would have a girl.

As my due date came closer and closer my emotions became a little more unpredictable. I worried that we were getting so close to the end and something might happen to take it all away. I stayed very aware of her movements and checked with my doppler often. I remember one day I had a scare and hadn’t felt her move for 5 hours. I went into the office and they did a NST and an ultrasound. I was in tears during the NST because I was so afraid. Luckily, the same doctor who assured me earlier in my pregnancy was there that day and he really helped me. We did regular NSTs at the end of my pregnancy not because I really needed them but just for my own peace of mind.

At 38 weeks 5 days I had my first rainbow baby. The birth was so healing for me. For Carleigh’s birth I was induced and had an epidural in a hospital. We hoped to meet her alive but she was born still. For my rainbow Lainey’s birth I had a natural water birth in a birth center and she was born alive and healthy. Her birth was the amazing experience I wanted and needed it to be.

Almost a year after my first rainbow was born I conceived our second rainbow and found out in October 2011 and was due in June 2012. My second rainbow pregnancy was much easier on me than the first. I felt a little more relaxed and not so on edge with my emotions. I had some insurance snafus and I didn’t get to go back to my same provider til I was about 24 weeks and had some issues before then, but I was so relieved I got it all worked out and was able to go back to them. I got NSTs again for my peace of mind and kept better track of kick counts to help keep myself calmer toward the end. I had my second rainbow baby girl at 40 weeks. For Evanee’s birth I had another natural water birth at the birth center and it was another amazing birth.

My sweet rainbows have been the best healing balm for my heart. They restored some of the joy that was lost when Carleigh died.

Pregnancy is never the same after you have lost. The innocence you had before died when your baby died. Pregnancy after loss can be filled with so many overwhelming emotions. It is normal for fear, anxiety, and worry to be present, but you don’t have to let it take over your life and steal the joy of your pregnancy. Enjoy every moment you can with your baby. You don’t want to look back with regret wishing you had cherished it more. Find someone who can be your listening ear when it gets tough.

It is so important to have a good support team behind you, both personally and professionally. It may sound harsh, but if someone cannot support you then you don’t need them, at least not right now in your life. If friends or family criticize or minimize your feelings then take a step back from them. If your care providers won’t listen to you or treat you with extra care then find a new one. Surround yourself with as many positive things and people as you can.

Having a rainbow does not mean you will ever forget about the baby or babies you have lost, despite what some people may think. I still think of my Carleigh every single day. Watching her sisters grow up is bittersweet. There is always a little girl missing from the picture, a void that can never be filled. Carleigh is a little and a big sister and she will always be a part of our family. Her sisters know who she is and speak her name.

I know it isn’t easy for everyone to have their rainbow. For some it takes years and for some it never happens. My heart aches for these mothers and families. Can healing take place without a rainbow? I believe that it can. I believe God can bring healing no matter what.

As for the future, there are no more rainbows for us as Anthony had the big V. Of course, I am fully aware God could totally change that and I am very open and willing if that is His will for us. Even if there are no more children for us, I plan to be a surrogate for a family who can’t have a child of their own at least once perhaps more. Maybe I’ll even be able to give a mother the rainbow she longs for.


Kayla Yow said...

I am so happy that you have your healing and peace from God! And, you are so very brave, to even have the thoughts of wanting to be a surrogate. I could not imagine doing this! Thank you so much for sharing!

Lynette Myers said...

Great article. I have hoped for a rainbow and have lost 5. I fear it will never happen due to age and health. The hardest loss was my baby girl born sleeping at 39 weeks and a day. She was moving on the way in and for the Doppler, but when they hooked me up, her heartbeat was gone. Just moments from our scheduled c section. I never thought this would happen to me and then lose another just last month. It is hard to heal and hope. I know in my head my hope is in Jesus, but my heart is having a hard time believing it. On top of that, we are having terrible marriage struggles.

Thanks for sharing and providing glimpses of hope and purpose.

Jennifer Ross said...

Wow! What an amazing gift to give a woman... the gift of carrying life... Beautiful.

After having a rainbow, there is a sweet balm that covers the wound of loss, but never loosing the daily thoughts of the child(ren) missing.

It is truly bittersweet...

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

Love the way you took such an active role in the planning of the births of your babies. You are such an inspiration, beautiful friend. It's so important for people to look out for themselves, to be gentle and protective...we must be our own advocates at times...and I loved your advice about surrounding yourself with people and professionals who will support you and protecting yourself from people who will not.

Catherine said...

Holly, I'm so happy that you have 2 healthy rainbows... they are both so precious and beautiful. I'm glad that they have brought healing to your heart and restored lost joy. And I think it's amazing that you want to be a surrogate... that's a tremendous, selfless gift. One of my friends is using a surrogate right now to have her rainbow and it is a blessing like no other!

Hannah Rose said...

Your rainbow was due the same day that my Luke was due - October 1st.

Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts, Holly. You are always such a blessing and encouragement to me.

I wish that my future pregnancies could be totally blissful, but I realize they won't be. But, thank you for reassuring me that I can still have joy and don't have to let my fear control me.

I didn't realize that you guys were finished with having rainbows...and wow, a surrogate? Good for you! I don't think I could ever do such a thing because it would be a loss in itself. It reminds me of the book "Inconceivable."

It has been a joy to walk with you for this series. And I look forward to continuing to walk with you.

Love and Hugs always,
Hannah Rose

Kari said...

Thank you for sharing! I hope for a rainbow when my husband and I are ready.


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