WOOSH. How is that for a title. Heavy. I know.
But now that I have you, let me explain.
This is not the message I wish to convey. I wish I had better news for the infant loss community. I wish having a rainbow baby was the magic fix we are all hoping for. I wish I could tell each and every one of my loss friends — “just make the rainbow happen, it fixes everything.”
But that just is not the case.
Let me see if this example will help me explain —
Let’s say you grow up hunting and fishing. Your dad and his dad used to take you out in the boat and to the blind. Those experiences affect you. Whether you still get up early and get your bait together on a Saturday morning does not matter. You grew up doing it, so it is part of you. If you go to the grocery store to buy fish or game, your experience hunting and fishing is going to dictate the kind of fish or meat you buy. You know that fish is better than the other fish and so on. It is literally ingrained in who you are.
Let me bring this example back to loss —
If you suffer infant loss, as much as you kick and scream and fight and hope to wake up from the nightmare, it becomes a part of you. It is like a new body part that you have to incorporate into your daily life.
In the beginning, it is THE body part that consumes most of your day. It affects how you see every single thing — the good and the bad.
As time softens the wound, you can neglect and even forget about it every now and then. But it does not matter what you do and how much you change, it will always be there.
The hole will always be there.
Kind of like how fishing will always be a part of the kid who grew up fishing every Saturday morning.
So when the rainbow baby comes along — IF the rainbow baby is even a possibility, which is a whole different story for another day, there is hope that the baby will fill the hole. There is hope that the baby will heal the heart.
But, the hole will always be there.
In order to trudge through a rainbow pregnancy, you must relive it all. Each week, you relive your previous pregnancy. As you pass the week in which you suffered a loss, it is difficult to survive. But if you get to survive that week — if you get to stay pregnant longer than you did before, then you must walk the footsteps of your infant loss family. You walk through each week in which your loss family suffered their loss. You must come to terms with each and every kind of loss. It is the greatest empathy that I have every felt.
If you get to deliver your rainbow baby and if you get to hear that baby cry and if you get to feel the weight of a living and breathing baby on your chest, your heart just grows.
But, the hole will always be there.
With each milestone that you tackle and celebrate with your rainbow baby, there is a part of you that knows you did not get to do the celebrating with the baby you lost. You may be able to just nod at the hole in your heart, acknowledge its presence and ache of the loss, and move on. Sometimes it is easier than others. But sometimes it knocks the wind right out of you.
Just as the once a fisherman walks out sometimes and thinks to himself, “gosh this would be a great day on the water.”
I am sure as time continues to pass, the hole will remain but I will think of it less. As my boys grow, the two of them will become more and more in focus and I will not think about their missing brother when I take pictures of them together. As time goes, and as my rainbow baby gets bigger, I will wonder less about what his middle brother looks like.
But the hole will always be there.
We have experienced a joy I did not know possible with our rainbow baby. I can honestly tell you that my heart has grown with each smile and coo. My heart swells each time he wakes — even in the middle of the night. I have held him every single day and thanked God more times than I haven’t.
The joy is here — the joy is here every day. There is hope in the rainbow — hope for joy.
But, the hole — Theo’s hole — will always be there.