I first discovered The Hearty Life last year and although heartbreaking, even more so when I can relate to so much of it, it fast became one of my favourite blogs. Mary writes so beautifully, and with such bravery and strength, about the loss of her precious daughter, Poppy, to stillbirth, about the subsequent dark times that followed and the joy of giving birth to a fourth baby earlier this year. I have followed her story with pride and admiration, felt her pain, the worry throughout her pregnancy, and cried tears of happiness when her beautiful daughter Alice arrived safely into the world.
Every baby has a story, no matter how short or long their stay in this world, and today, during a week filled with rainbows, this story is hers.
I distinctly remember the day after Poppy’s funeral, and with a desire to feel a little more normal after a nightmare week (and I think with fear I might get depressed staying in), we drove up to Bolton castle with the kids for a family day out. I don’t know what we were thinking trying to pretend to be a normal family after going through so much, but heading up the M1 as a broken woman and numb to all around me I made my husband promise me we would never have any more kids and that we wouldn’t risk our hearts again.
In that moment it seemed quite an easy thing to agree to. We had just buried our 3rd baby the previous day after losing her at term to Edwards syndrome. Despite hope we would have some time with our very sick little girl, we had found out 2 days before my due date that she had passed away. My life shattered, my heart broke and I suddenly found myself flung into a world where I was living every parent’s worst nightmare. I mustered strength and birthed naturally our perfect sleeping angel, and following burying her tiny casket, I couldn’t bear the thought of ever having another baby inside of me only to risk them losing their life and to be told those awful words again that “there is no heartbeat”.
But “they” say that time’s a healer and with time things change. I guess in some ways it heals, but in other ways my pain for losing poppy is always right beneath the surface. I think time brings clarity and an ability to put a lid on grief, it certainly brings strength and it brings a new look on life. With time I find whilst my heart still aches it did ignite a desire to have another baby, a rainbow baby…someone to lift our souls and colour life again. With time we moved from a state of it being an unbearable thought to it being the answer to a new vibe in our home and restoring joy, we didn’t feel particularly healed (by that I mean whole again) but we were
coping and wanting more from life.
So that was it, we reassured each other the stats were low for it to happen again and we talked a lot about how we would probably have a 4th anyway even if Poppy hadn’t have died. We decided to have faith it would be ok this time and before I knew it, just a year on from losing our dear Poppy I peed on a stick and saw a faint positive. Joy was not my initial reaction though as I thought it might have felt to see that, it was mostly fear and guilt. I was terrified – utterly terrified that I would miscarry, that I wouldn’t make it to the end or that the baby again would have complex issues. I was sure I would be facing loss again and it was so hard not to tell people until we knew for sure, which of course made me feel lonely and worried all the more so.
The 1st trimester seemed to drag and with a face covered in cold sores which seemed to scream to the world I was under stress, we were relieved to see a healthy little fetus. The 20 week scan couldn’t come soon enough and again after what felt like a lifetime we received more good news that baby was well. I started to relax a little more, though still terrified something somewhere might go wrong, and after a very anxious delivery my heart was filled with immense joy as I held my healthy little rainbow baby Alice. I hadn’t bought her much during the pregnancy, I just couldn’t, but now she was here and alive it was like a dream come true to do all of those things!
There is a poem or saying I love that cropped up one day as I was pondering on “should we have another” that I feel best sums up what it means to have a baby following the loss of another:
“A Rainbow baby is the understanding that the beauty of the 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 and the darkness of the clouds”.
That is it, the light has come back on…Alice had coloured our lives once again and brought so much happiness to our home and family. She fills my empty arms and comforts my aching heart. She helps me get up every day and feel blessed in life. She helps me feel joy and restores perspective. She even helps me remember Poppy more so.
Alice does not replace Poppy and she was never intended to, but rather she takes her place as the 4th child in the family…the baby. Granted her place is a very special one as she is a healer to us all and a little treasure that fills our days with gladness, but she is our 4th and not here to out shine the first, second or third! We still have sad days and hard days, she can never stop that, and nor would we want her to as those emotions are what connect us to her sister, but having a rainbow baby simply means life feels so much better now, our home has a buzz about it again and life generally is a happier, more beautiful place to be.