Pregnancy after loss can seem like a long period of unpredictable weather, unpredictable emotional weather that is. With loss comes a long season of grief, a season where the fog doesn’t lift, the sun doesn’t shine and life seems to be raining down on us. My emotional weather remained consistent as I navigated life after loss, but the emotions experienced during pregnancy after loss were much more volatile. In an instant, feelings of hope changed to feelings of despair. Excitement turned to fear as the fog of uncertainty rolled in.
When I discovered that I was pregnant with my rainbow baby, it was a warm, sunny November day. My husband and I had decided to start trying to conceive again just a couple weeks earlier, and when this decision was made, I had a feeling that it would happen quickly. I would have normally considered it too early to take a pregnancy test, but on that November day I just had a feeling, so I took the test. And it was positive. My shock quickly turned to excitement. I was optimistic as my instincts about conceiving quickly, and taking an early pregnancy test had proven to be correct. I figured that was a good sign, that this baby was meant to be. I sat out in the sunshine that day and looked forward to a fresh start. A new season. A new life.
But just as quickly as I was filled with hope, profound fear took over. I knew that this pregnancy could end at any moment and as I thought back to my previous pregnancies, I began to think bringing a baby home was unlikely. My mind was suddenly clouded and feelings of hope were covered in the thickness of despair.
But soon we would hear the heartbeat for the first time. Joy! Sunshine! Emotionally, things looked promising as we now had proof that, indeed, there was new life growing inside of me. However, just a short time later, we were told there were serious complications; that we were in the midst of a crisis. Like a gust of wind, the joy was blown right out of us and the sunshine turned to gloom as we felt the heaviness of a storm upon us.
And then, there was another sudden turn in my emotional weather as we were cleared of that particular complication and found out we were having a boy. Excitement! A rainbow was in sight! But, more potential problems were soon discovered. Panic set in as another storm was on the horizon. I began planning for the worst while still hoping for a rainbow to appear.
As I moved through this season of pregnancy after loss, time dragged on slowly. A day felt like a week, a week felt like a month. But, I soon made it past the 20 week mark, then the 24 week mark, and then into the third trimester. Hope returned! The rain seemed to be tapering off and the sunshine peeked through, bringing us closer and closer to the rainbow.
With each ultrasound, I was comforted. With each kick, relief washed over me. But then I would have to wait days or weeks for another ultrasound and the fear would settle in as comfortably as a long winter snow. Depression. Cold. Until the next ultrasound confirmed that all was well. And naturally, there were breaks in fetal movement. The kicks would stop for a few minutes, or a few hours, and the clouds of uncertainty would return.
With each passing day, each passing week, my emotional weather went through it’s ongoing cycle of fear and gloom, then hope and serenity. I was slowly moving closer to a new season which I anticipated would include the warmth of holding a new baby, the sun shining brightly in the heat of summer. I was looking forward to relief, and the ability to leave the fog of the unknown behind me.
And when the time came, the clouds lifted as my rainbow was born. It was as if a refreshing breeze blew in and swept all the crummy weather away. The joy was here to stay. There was no more fog making it difficult to see what was up ahead. There were no more storms to wash away the hope and excitement that I was so desperate for. There was just a rainbow to brighten the gray skies that had lingered for so long.