When I started our IVF medications, I held my breath for a rainbow. Through the retrieval and transfer, I am not sure I ever allowed myself a moment to truly breathe in and out. Anyone who has experienced fertility treatments knows that each step is an exercise of science, trust, and patience. For me, the hardest part was always patience. Most of all, I struggled with waiting to see if all the injections and invasive procedures would be merciful.
We had been through this twice before. So, as we endured IVF for the third time, shallow memories resurfaced of losing my son after birth and failing our last treatment. Each day, we moved forward shot-by-shot with a lot of prayer and trust in science. I anxiously checked off my list of medications and procedures, and finally, the results were in – we were pregnant! After five years of infertility, at-risk pregnancy, and infant loss, it is my turn to have a Rainbow.
But why did it feel so gray?
With more and more celebrities and mothers speaking out, there is this reclamation occurring on social media of bereaved mothers sharing their stories and celebrating Rainbows. While this is powerful and healing, it can create self-imposed expectations for our own feelings and result in the dreaded comparison trap. At least, it did for me. I knew a Rainbow wasn’t going to heal my trauma, but I was optimistic that discovering we were pregnant again would ignite deep excitement or overwhelming joy.
You see, the symbol of a rainbow is commonly seen as a sign of hope. I cannot express how much hope and love I had for my Rainbow, yet I was still searching for all those comforting feelings associated with hope – like trust and security. Do not get me wrong, I was overcome with gratefulness and there was this quiet happiness pulsing, but for the first and most of the second trimester, I could not feel excitement without the heavyweight of fear.
So what does it really look like to carry a Rainbow?
Each of our stories is unique and sacred. What it feels like for you may be different from me, but from what I gather, we all fight our fears of past loss and disappointments. For me, the fog that clouds my Rainbow comes from fear of past trauma and self-imposed expectations. I am told what I am feeling is okay and normal. And at 25 weeks, I am just starting to accept my feelings. Although, I’m certain I will never fully understand them between the pregnancy hormones, the very real PTSD, and the natural anxieties of bringing a child into this world – but that is okay.
At the end of the day, I think carrying a Rainbow simply means feeling what you need to feel and giving yourself moments to feel all those feelings without self-judgment. So, until I hold my baby girl in my arms this May, I will continue to feel what I need to feel, give myself grace with my emotions, and take the waves of anxiety and fear in stride.