In May of 1980, my parents got married. They recently celebrated 39 years of marriage. Like all couples, they had plenty of ups and plenty of downs. Almost immediately after they were married, they found out they were expecting their first child. Due in March of 1981, my mom had a feeling she was carrying a boy. His name would be Andrew Joseph. Unfortunately, my mom miscarried. Their loss shattered the joy of their recent marriage and first child on the way.
Shortly after my mom miscarried, she got pregnant with me. Although my parents were excited at the thought of another baby, understandably, they were nervous. I was born on August 10th, 1981, five days past my due date. My birth is one of the highlights of my parent’s marriage. My brother and sister were just as celebrated, but I know, from experience, there is something different about a baby born after a loss.
I am my mother’s rainbow.
The emotions range from happiness to guilt. You grieve the child you were initially planning on bringing into the world. At the same time, you are grateful for the new life after the loss. It can be confusing and hard to understand. I know my mom was once in that painful place. Until I had a miscarriage, I never realized just how meaningful my life was to her. My teenage years came with angst, trouble, and depression. Many times, I felt worthless. I told myself my parents would have been better off with their first child. Did I tell them? I can’t remember, but I would not be surprised. I’m sure it was like a dagger in my mom’s heart.
As an adult, my thoughts shifted. I accepted I was meant to be a part of this crazy world. Then I got pregnant when my oldest was just eight months old. I went in for my first ultrasound at 10 weeks fully anticipating embracing this life with children 17 months apart. Initially, I was nervous, and it took time to warm up to the idea.
The words and the face on my OB are still burned fresh in my mind. I had a missed miscarriage.
Miscarriage leaves you feeling alone like you are the only person in the world going through this agonizing heartache. Even knowing, it happens to one in four women, it was the loneliest place I have ever been. As much as I hated the thought others knew how I felt, it was comforting when friends came forward with their stories. It was even more comforting to have a mother who understood my pain.
I wanted to have another baby. The thought, alone, filled me with guilt as though I was replacing this baby. I did not want to admit it. My husband and I would try and not prevent and see what happened. I could never bring myself to say we were trying. It was unspoken. I just hoped it would happen and beat myself up for those thoughts. I had one cycle after my D&C before I got pregnant with my oldest son.
I gave birth to my son, exactly one year after finding out I was pregnant with the baby I lost. When I got a letter from the hospital months after his birth inviting me to a service to remember the babies we lost, I sobbed. I called my mom. She cried, too. Her pain was always with her. It will forever linger. It does not change how much she loves me.
Through my heartache, I found peacefulness in knowing what I did for my mom. We never heal from the pain, but life graces us with new beginnings that give us hope. Hope happens to be my middle name. I was hope for my mother as my son was for me. Our experience gives an appreciation and understanding of each other. We still shed tears for a pregnancy gone too early, years after. Seeing the sadness my mom has over thirty years later validates my own. I can love my son with every beat of my heart and have difficulty recalling my life without him. At the same time, I can mourn the 10 short weeks I had with my second pregnancy. I can wonder what life would be like had that pregnancy continued. We can imagine different outcomes while we can’t imagine our life any other way.