October 24, 2013 at 4:24 PM
A Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravage of the storm. When a rainbow appears it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds
On April 30, 2013, our Rainbow Baby was born. My family had been given a special gift and her birth was filled with so many emotions: joy, love, elation, contemplation, and hope. My husband and I had waited two years to hold this baby and her presence in our lives has filled us with such pride and joy. It is easy for many people to understand that emotion: the joy, the love, and the laughter this child brings. Harder to understand is this joy, as wonderful as it is, does not eradicate the love and loss we feel for our son. These emotions don’t just disappear when a Rainbow baby is born. They change, yes, but the grief and desire to remember are still there.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I have been asked this month why it is so important for me to remember, to light a candle on October 15th, to participate in remembrance events throughout the month. I think because we have had a baby, some people think that this would change the way we treat our loss. I have thought of why is it is so important for me to remember and this is my response:
I light a candle on October 15th because I want to remember my son. I want to honor his life and I want others to feel they can light their candles as well. More importantly, I remember that there are an estimate of 1 million pregnancy and infant losses across the nation in one year. October 15th helps us as a nation remember those families who have suffered through these losses. I want these women and families to know that it is ok to grieve, ok to remember, ok to honor the lives they so wanted. I light that candle for the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, and the friends we all know who will experience a loss and feel lost in their grieving. It is important to ensure that those families never feel alone. This is why we light candles on October 15th.
I participate in remembrance events because I loved my child. His presence in my life is just as important and impactful as the children I have here with me on earth. His life didn’t just make an impression on me; it affected my friends, my family, my colleagues, who grieved the loss of my baby, who wanted this child as much as me. I participate for the loss and pain his aunts, uncles, and grandparents felt when he was taken from them. Often these people don’t know what to do to help the parents. These events give them a way to remember as well.
I remember because the lessons I learned through the loss of a baby have changed me. They have made me more aware, more appreciative of family, of my children, of the miracle of birth. This experience has taught me to be present to people. It has taught me that tears are signs of strength, that emotions are healthy, that being present to each other is most important. It has changed me and I am grateful for the transformation.
This remembrance does not make me sad. In fact, I have had people say they are afraid to say anything to friends who have had loss because it may make them sad or may cause tears. The truth is that these parents are grieving everyday and talking about their child will not increase their pain. For me, I am sad if people don’t want to remember with me. When I think of my loss, yes, I miss what may have been but I am grateful for this child in my life and the lessons he brought to me that strengthened my faith and brought me closer to God.
This past weekend, I celebrated the Christening of my daughter. Before the ceremony, my family and friends mingled around the courtyard, the children looking at the fish in the pond whose walkway is paved with memorial bricks. Each member of our family was able to see Jude’s brick and remember his presence in our lives. As I observed this, I thought how special this moment is: to have all my nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, close friends, so present with Jude. We never were able to baptize Jude, but that morning as they sat near the brick, as we laughed around the courtyard, as we prepared to baptize my daughter, we were able to feel Jude’s presence in the baptism of his sister. This was a gift.
I know that my rainbow baby is so connected to her brother. This moment was why we remember, why having a brick, a necklace, a walk, a flower release, a day to light a candle are so important. I hope that everyone has a place, a time, a symbol to remember their angel babies. As my son says, “my brother lives in my heart” – this is why we remember.