Every year on December 10, I take a nostalgic look at this photo, and I share it on social media (which for me, is just Facebook). I can’t believe it’s been seven years since our second daughter was born, and seven years since our doula captured this moment. It is one of the most important pictures in my life.
Our second daughter was a rainbow baby. If you’re not familiar with that term, a rainbow baby is a baby born after miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss. We lost a pregnancy on Thanksgiving Day in 2011, and what followed was a very dark and frantic time, wondering why, and whether it would happen again, and whether our oldest daughter would grow up an only child. I know that statistically, miscarriages aren’t unusual, except that when you’re in the middle of grieving and recovery, statistics mean nothing.
But in December 2012, our rainbow arrived. And every year since, I have shared once again our moment of sheer and supreme joy. I smile just looking at the photograph. And I realized just this year that the reason I hold it so close to my heart is actually bigger than what I’d originally thought.
It’s actually a photo of a double rainbow.
In 2010, when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter, I did careful research about the type of birth I wanted to have, finally deciding on one that would be completely unmedicated. A lot of people thought I was a little bit crazy, including my husband, but I finally won him (and most of the skeptics) over. I was ready to connect to my most powerful self and bring life into this world. But our daughter had other plans. She was poorly positioned in the womb, and after 40 hours of labor, which included 4 hours of pushing, I ended up having a c-section.
I was very fortunate. I was never bullied or mistreated during the birthing and decision-making processes, and I know that’s not the story for thousands of other women. But it was an extreme personal disappointment that I carried with me for a long time afterwards. So when it came time for planning Baby #2’s birth, I was back on track with my original goals, and I moved towards a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean).
And I did it. That’s what this photo says to me. After the loss of our second pregnancy, and the death of the kind of birth I had been dreaming of, I tried again and gave it everything I had, and I DID IT. And then I went on to do it two more times with Baby #3 and Baby #4. But that first time will always hold a little extra shine for me.
Giving birth to a healthy child after a loss. Reclaiming my goals and empowering myself to have the birth I wanted.
THAT’S my double rainbow.