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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Does having a Rainbow Baby Change the Face of Grief?

I knew last night that I wanted to share my thoughts on this subject. Does having a rainbow baby change the way grief looks and feels? Honestly, I think you will get different answers from different people. I think it depends on how much time has passed, the circumstances surrounding the death of the baby (miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, child death), and how much support the person has in their life.  

What I thought I was going to share today, on our daughter's 8th birthday in Heaven, changed very quickly after my day got started.  I really thought I was okay.  I thought having Eli in my life now has filled a void that Riley left when she grew her wings 8 years ago.  I thought my heart was healed and that I was moving forward without the constant reminder that my first baby died and her body lives in a grave 20 minutes from my house at the foot of my grandmothers grave.

I did not expect to be triggered so deeply and so quickly today.  But when my supervisor walked into the office and was ranting about the strong smell of a woman's "dead baby" who had been in the room with the woman for over 24 hours-I was triggered-deeply, and quickly.  How dare someone talk so openly and rudely about how THEY were uncomfortable when THEY went into a woman's room who had just lost her baby! How dare someone make judgement about how long a woman should be able to spend with her "dead baby"! How dare someone someone be so ignorant to this woman's grief! I instantly felt like I could explode when I heard two supervisors making comments back and forth about how the woman shouldn't have been allowed to keep the baby in the room because it smelled so bad.  All I could think about was the FIVE hours I was given with Riley, 8 years ago, today. FIVE HOURS!!!! I had to say good-bye forever after FIVE SHORT HOURS. So you know what-good for the medical community for realizing that FIVE hours is not long enough for a woman to hold her child that she will never get to hold again! Good for the nurses and doctors for allowing this woman a whole day with her baby-because this day is the only day she will ever have. This day is the only day she will be able to make memories with her baby-and they won't even be good memories. But they will be memories.  Even a day is not long enough. Every woman who has ever lost a baby will tell you that the moment they think they are ready to part ways with their baby, they want to run down the halls after the nurse who is wheeling their baby to the morgue and get their baby back.  I tried to bite my tongue but it just came out-I told the supervisors that their conversation was offensive.  I told them about losing my daughter 8 years ago today and how little time I was given and how no amount of time is ever enough when you lose a baby. Regardless of the smell-a woman wants as much time as she can have with her child. 

I went to the bathroom and cried.....and thought DAMNIT!! I thought I was okay today. I thought I could get through the day without any tears.  I thought I could just look at pictures and watch videos of Eli and be reminded of how much love he has brought to my life and how I don't feel empty anymore.  


I guess the truth is, I will always grieve for Riley.  I will always remember the day I found out her heart was no longer beating and the days that followed in the hospital waiting to give birth to her. I was always remember 5:15am when I delivered her into my own hands underneath the sheets with no doctor or nurse around. I will always remember the five hours I spent holding her.  I will always remember that she was my first child.  I will always remember that she took a big piece of my heart with her when she left me.  

Does having a rainbow baby change the face of grief?? It does a little. But there will always be triggers that take you right back to that place of the worst pain you've ever felt. It never fully goes away.  This is the first year since Riley died that I have had another baby to hold-and it is comforting to know I am no longer childless.  For me, I had to wait so long before God blessed me with another child that I don't have any feelings of guilt about "replacing" her like some women feel when they are quickly blessed with their Rainbow babies (I used quotations because no one actually replaces their deceased child with another one-but as woman we fear our deceased child will feel like that's what we are doing).  When we were starting our egg donor cycle with my sister, our family was worried that I would never be able to look at our baby as MY baby and would always feel resentment towards him or her since my eggs were not being used to create the baby. But that is far far far from the truth-Eli is every bit of MY child as it is my husbands and he is by no means my sister's child.  I would kill someone if they tried to say he wasn't my child or was her child.  I AM his mother and we have a bond that is so incredibly strong.  He has often made me forget about the broken road that led to his creation.....he has allowed me to pour all this love that I've been wanting to share with our children into him. He has changed the face of grief for me-but I will always have triggers that take me back to that hurtful place and time.

Later this afternoon my supervisor came to me and apologized for being insensative and inappropriate with her choice of words today.  She reminded me that perhaps I wasn't supposed to be just okay today and that I was supposed to remember how bad I hurt 8 years ago so she and others who were in the room with us could be educated on grief and how to be more supportive to others.  Maybe she is right.  Maybe my job will never be done as an advocate for women who have experienced the worst grief someone could possible feel.

So I leave you with this little reminder-women will always grieve for the child she has lost.  A new baby does not make her forget about the one who died.  She did not replace her deceased child.  She has not forgotten the most raw, painful days of her entire life.  There will always be a void-maybe small but maybe big.  Your words can trigger feelings of anger and sadness that the woman has not felt in months or years.  Yes-she loves her rainbow baby more than anything else in the world. But do not think for one second that she does not remember her angel's birthday. If you are a close friend or family member-remember her child too-it means the world to her to know other people have not forgotten the precious soul that is no longer with her on this Earth but always with her in her heart.