I don’t remember any clouds overhead on the days that my children died. The sun glowed high in the sky on all five days. Three of those days were during the summer months, and two were in spring, one day each for Gabriel, Boo, Peanut, Pumpkin and Keanu, who we call “Ki-Ki” most of the time. My sunshine babies, I like to call them, not, unfortunately, my rainbow babies.
I first heard the term “rainbow baby” while sitting in a support group meeting surrounded by moms–and a few dads–who, like me, had experienced the death of a newborn child. I’ll admit it here: I did not jump for joy when the subject of rainbow babies came up, when I absorbed what the term meant–that a rainbow baby is a baby born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth or death in infancy. My lack of enthusiasm was because, although I was one of the women in the group who had become pregnant fairly soon after both my first and second loss, the other women in the group were still pregnant–and were growing large–while I was not.
Now entering hell…my thoughts would churn when I walked into those meetings. Yet, onto my face went a perfect plastered smile, and out of my mouth came words that were “proper.”
“Congratulations. How are you feeling?”
It was hell, sitting on the edge of my seat with my mouth clamped shut, listening to stories about how other women’s dreams were coming true, while mine was not. It didn’t matter to me that those other women were still grieving over the babies they’d recently lost. In my eyes, their hole just wasn’t as deep as mine.
Here I sit…I remember thinking…with an empty womb. Don’t they see me? Don’t they care?
Those rainbow babies were the main reason I walked away from my support group and never looked back. I didn’t know how to deal with the anger, the resentment, the jealousy I felt towards those women–or with the intense guilt and shame I then felt for reacting that way in the first place.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy for someone else…
I wasn’t alone in this emotional tornado. There were other women in the group who felt the same way. In fact, not long after I left, I learned that my one main group was going to be split into two groups–or, at least, talk of this was going on–because a few women had voiced how difficult it was for them to heal when surrounded by pregnant women with rainbow babies. You see, many of us in the group were “older,” and getting pregnant again was either difficult for us, or in some cases, not even advised.
The separation of groups–one with rainbow babies and one without–should have made me feel better, at least, I’m sure that was the intended effect. But instead, I felt worse, deep rage further compounding the bitterness I was already smoldering.
What gives them the right to shove me off into a little group of my own? To make me feel odd, old–like a freak! Don’t they know that I already feel all alone?
This was, of course, the main problem: feeling alone in a world full of people. Not that women who lose babies are the only ones facing this dilemma. This is a problem for everyone, everywhere. Just take a look around you…cell phones have become our new best friends.
Looking back now gives me a new perspective on how I define grief. Although my behavior seemed childish, self-centered and downright ridiculous at times, it’s not a behavior that I should feel the need to vehemently apologize for. That’s because, grief is grief, and grief is different for everyone. Grief makes no sense, not to the person experiencing it, and definitely not to the people around her. The wide variety of feelings and reactions that can consume you when you grieve are extensive, and the scream that you feel inside of you that you want to let loose is suffocating, beyond a simple gasp for air. Grief is a full-time job, one that can make you feel like you’re going insane, and there is no “standard behavior” that you should be expected to follow.
But…grief has a purpose, we can’t forget that. It’s within us, so that we can remember our sad experiences, come to terms with them, and in an accepting way…move on. Let go. Find hope and joy in the future again, teaching us about ourselves, enabling us to become better people because of what we’ve gone through, and, inevitably, opening a new chapter of life. All of this is ours, if we can allow grief to do its job.
Thank you for “sharing” and “liking” any blog that moves you. Have a special day…♥
Photos via Visualhunt.com. Featured Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters via VisualHunt.com / CC BY