When I first asked my mother if she knew what a rainbow baby was, she had no clue — despite having two of her own.
I explained that a rainbow baby is actually a term for a child born following a miscarriage – they represent the sun shining through after a storm — and she was taken aback. My mom experienced two miscarriages during her road to become the proud mother of four children, but in her generation she felt like this was something she couldn't discuss with others.
After battling infertility and then experiencing a miscarriage both before and after the birth of a child, she lived through crucial life experiences that would've been valuable for other struggling mothers at the same time to know. However, instead of feeling comfortable discussing her journey, she felt isolated in her struggle and, worse, ashamed.
Now that 25 years have passed since the birth of her last child, my mom is thrilled to hear that people — let alone strangers — are using their personal experiences to encourage others. After enduring multiple miscarriages, she wants people to know that — at least for her — things do get easier the second time around. This is what she learned from suffering a miscarriage both before becoming a mom and then again afterward:
Listen to your gut.
The miscarriage before her firstborn: My mom started bleeding when she was two months along and could immediately feel the worst. She rushed to the hospital, where doctors told her she was fine, but her own doctor confirmed her sinking suspicions the next day — she lost the baby and was right the entire time. When my mom was pregnant with her firstborn, the baby kicked her bladder and some fluid came out. Panic-stricken, she rushed to the doctor, but he confirmed that it was just urine. She may have seemed overly cautious, but it was what she needed to be in order to feel secure in her pregnancies.
The miscarriage after her firstborn: Before she miscarried the second time, my mom didn't wait to share her exciting pregnancy news. While some couldn't understand why she would let people know that she was expecting so early on, given her history, my mom explained how grateful she was for any and every pregnancy. Each conception has the potential to end in happiness — and she was going to celebrate that potential from the start.
Getting angry doesn't help.
The miscarriage before her firstborn: The dark time before welcoming a baby into the world left my mom questioning her faith — she struggled with needing to know why God would give her a baby after years of going through infertility, just to take it away.
The miscarriage after her firstborn: This time around, my mom felt even more grateful for the child she had waiting at home to embrace her after the ordeal. Instead of creeping into a hole of despair, she left the hospital knowing her body could carry a child — now, it would just be a matter of when. She was going to enjoy every second with the baby she already had and knew beating herself up about what she didn't have yet wouldn't be productive.
You're still a woman, regardless of how long it takes to have a child.
The miscarriage before her firstborn: She already knew and had coped with the fact that she couldn't get pregnant on her own, but after doctors helped her to conceive, my mom felt like an utter failure for not being able to carry that baby to term. She felt judged by herself and others after having to tell everyone about the miscarriage — even though she knew friends and family had her best intentions at heart.
The miscarriage after her firstborn: She felt that no matter how long it took or how many miscarriages she might endure, her body had already brought a baby into this world, and hopefully it would do it again. And even if it didn't, she was not less of a woman — she was a strong mama.
Other people won't always understand.
The miscarriage before her firstborn: Losing a child is always devastating, but it's a special kind of heart-wrenching before you've even had a child. People didn't know how to act around the upsetting news, and despite my mom's internal pain, she felt it was her duty to put on a happy face and mask her suffering to ensure that others didn't feel a twinge of discomfort.
The miscarriage after her firstborn: This time, my mom wasn't thinking about how she could make the news easier for others, nor did she focus on her own internal devastation. Because of her desire to focus all her energy on her son, she finally realized that she didn't need to explain herself or her feelings to others.
While some automatically assume that each miscarriage experience is equally debilitating, my mother managed to take what she learned the first time around and let it guide how she dealt with the grief when she had to endure similar pain later on. After already having gone through it and being lucky enough to successfully carry a child to term, she suffered differently — and a little bit less — the second time around.