Our rainbow baby is our last, and it’s giving me all the feels.

By | 2017-11-19T21:12:12+00:00 November 19th, 2017|Parenting After Loss, Pregnancy|2 Comments

“I’m done,” I repeated to my husband for the millionth time that week. Just months earlier, we saw our reproductive endocrinologist. We miscarried for the fourth time and wanted to follow up to see if there’s anything more they could do. They told me our next steps were trying IVF, or we could do an exploratory surgery where they would remove my questionable fallopian tube which was scarred from my ectopic pregnancy. We weighed our options, and even checked with our insurance about the surgery.

And then, our family endured a very different kind of loss. Our foster baby returned to his biological family after being a part of our family for a year and a half. I was pretty sure my heart had just taken as much as a heart could take while still beating.

“You know what my OB said,” I reminded him. “‘Just ask yourself if you can handle one more loss. Not five more, not two more – just one more. If you think you can handle ONE more loss, then you should keep trying. But if the answer that question ever becomes no, one more is too many . . . then that’s a pretty good indication that you are done.’

“Right now,” I looked at him solemnly, “one more is too many.”

After five years of trying and five losses, I finally came to terms that I would only have one successful pregnancy and I could learn to be content with the children I have.

When I requested he get a vasectomy, he turned to me with a serious face. “I’m not done,” he said plainly. “I just feel like our family is incomplete, and there is one more baby for us to love.”

Over the last five years, I was the one poking and prodding my husband to get on board with trying to conceive. I was the one tracking my cycle, doing ovulation predictor kits, and saying, “Come home – sex, now.” But he was always hesitant, terrified of loss, but more terrified of losing me. After two significant scares during my pregnancies, he couldn’t imagine facing a lifetime without me by his side to raise our daughters together. And yet he always relented because he knew how badly I wanted to have another child by birth.

His answer shocked me. I wanted to retort that my vote should count twice as much as his, as it was my body going through the pregnancies and losses. And yet, I remembered the years he tried to conceive against his will for me. As his loving partner, I knew what I needed to say. “Ok . . . one more try,” I sighed. “But after that, we’re done.”

I didn’t think it would happen.

At least, not so fast. Within weeks of this conversation, I found myself staring at a strong positive pregnancy test the day my period was supposed to arrive.

There was no celebration. I knew not to get my hopes up. When my husband saw the fear in my eyes, he softly hugged me and whispered, I’m sorry. I felt sorry too. I was consumed with fear that we would miscarry again, that my body would fail my baby and fail my husband. But it didn’t – our baby hung on.

After a very long, anxiety-prone pregnancy and a redeeming birth, our little rainbow arrived into our hearts and our arms. And my husband kept his word, taking permanent measures to make sure we don’t fall pregnant again.

Initially, I felt relief – which lasted all of two hours.

And then I questioned our decision. Every day we had with our daughter was precious, and reminded me of just why I had been trying for all these years. I loved, loved, loved having my baby. I already wanted to do it again.

Mentally, I understood the million reasons we needed to be done: my traumatic pregnancy history, the years spent battling grief and depression, the heavy physical toll pregnancy takes on my body, and the ridiculous postpartum anxiety. Not to mention that I’m now 35, as though I need nature to work against me any more than it already is.

And yet as my daughter’s one-year birthday creeps up on me, and the chasm of time stretches, separating me from my last pregnancy, I’m feeling all the feels. After five years of trying, and eight years of mothering, our journey really is over.

There will never be another two-week wait, for better or for worse. I’ll never have to question if my breasts are a little tender or REALLY tender, and then binge-read every pregnancy symptom known to Google. I’ll never need to think of a fun way to announce that our family is growing. I will never again feel the little flutters of tiny feet pressing against my body from the inside out, or the tickle of little fingers as my baby tries to find something to suck on. I’ll never again feel that incredible bond as I watch her suckle from my exposed, engorged breast right after she emerges whole and healthy from my womb.

There will be no more firsts in infancy. No more milky breath after cluster feeding. Or 2-week-old sleepy baby snuggles. No more photos documenting each month of growth.

And yet – there is also no more pregnancy loss.

No more waiting with bated breath every single time I wipe and look for the faintest streak of pink on my toilet paper. There’s no more waiting for my nurse to call with my hCG numbers, and have her start the results with, “I’m sorry . . .” There will be no more flushing my miscarriage down the toilet, knowing that my baby was in one of the clots accumulating in the bottom of the bowl. There will be no more ultrasounds where you see an empty womb that should have been full of life. There’s no more “un-telling” of our announcement. There is no more fear that I will have scary pregnancy complications that will end in a loss for either me or my baby. And there is no more questioning whether I will ever get to have a baby again.

Because just one more loss is one too many, we are done.

While I sometimes still grieve what could have been had recurrent loss not robbed our family of choices, I mostly find myself snuggling my quickly-growing baby. Breathing in every scent, memorizing the way her fuzzy head feels against my chest. Celebrating her presence in our lives now and not just mourning what could have been. Willing time – and her infancy – to go by just a little more slowly. And being grateful, ever so grateful, to end our journey on the best note one could ask for:

With a beautiful rainbow after the storm.

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About the Author:

Rachel Lewis
Rachel Lewis is a foster, adoptive and birth mom. After a 5-year battle with secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, she now has three children in her arms, five children in heaven and a foster son in her heart. She now considers her family complete after the adoption of her second daughter and the birth of her rainbow baby. Rachel understands what it is like when building your family is just a little complicated, and is passionate about helping women feel heard and understood in their struggles. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids around or working on her upcoming book, you can find her shopping at Trader Joes, drinking coffee, or writing about her journey as a mom at The Lewis Note or as a contributor to Still Standing Magazine. You can get her free resource,  "Your BFF Guide to Miscarriage: 5 Ways to Comfort a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss" here. Connect with Rachel on Facebook, or join her private Facebook group Brave Mamas -- a support group for anyone who had to struggle to build their family.

2 Comments

  1. Bec Armistead November 20, 2017 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on your precious rainbow! We have had a similar journey to you, and many times I’ve had to ask myself if i could cope with another loss.
    Our first baby was hard to conceive, but i didnt realise then how lucky we were to carry him to term.
    Then, when trying to add to our family, we had miscarriage after miscarriage, nearly died when my fallopian tube ruptured due to an ectopic twin pregnancy, lost our rainbow daughter at 35 weeks due to a heart condition… We turned to ivf, but after 2 more m/c i just couldnt do it anymore. Hubby wanted another baby desperately, and i (like you) thought I’d try just once more.
    Our precious 2nd rainbow was born in july last year and he is the light of our lives.

  2. Emilie November 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    I had a hysterectomy when my rainbow was not quite two. I hated when the surgeon and her staff would ask if this meant I didn’t want more children (or assume I didn’t). I couldn’t seem to make them understand that this was the kindest thing to do for my body and by extension our little family, but that knowledge didn’t negate my desire for another baby. I just wanted them to rephrase the questions, more like, “Yes, I understand that by removing all my reproductive organs, I will never have more biological children.” Birth control is a wonderful thing for women who need or want it, but I have found that it gives our culture this idea that all childbearing is your choice. For some women it is. Others have to make hard choices or get no say, as you so eloquently say here.

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