In the vernacular of the pregnancy and baby loss community, a baby born after a loss is called a rainbow baby. The idea is that this child is the rainbow after the storm that was previously endured, the culmination of a hard-fought battle against despair and grief. Some women go on to have two, three, or even more rainbow babies; others struggle to have one. For those still trying, they are living, breathing gifts of hope, a promise that not everything is lost.

Even so, it’s a long, difficult road for those hoping for or carrying a rainbow baby. I’m terrifed at the prospect of getting pregnant again, even though it’s something that I want very much now. From the first day we went into the hospital, Geordie and I knew that we wanted to try again. Lauren was an unplanned pregnancy, but she brought so much love into our lives, so much hope. As frightened as we were of becoming parents, we also knew that we wanted her. We wanted the family that she made us into. We wanted to love her and each other, and we wanted to raise her together. Nothing felt more natural. And as soon as we knew she was gone, we knew we wanted that for ourselves and for Lauren’s memory.

It’s not that a rainbow baby is a replacement. Lauren – or any other lost child – cannot simply be replaced. There will never be another baby like Lauren. What there will be is Lauren’s younger brother or sister, someone just as unique as Lauren was and just as special. Another baby won’t be Lauren, and that’s as it should be. People don’t have more than child because the first one is faulty, after all. No child is a replacement for another.

I hope it will happen for us. Someday. Not yet. We’re not ready for it yet, in so many ways. Some people try again as soon as they get the all-clear from their doctors; we won’t be doing that. Our first few months back in the States are not certain ones – we don’t know where we’ll end up or what we’ll be doing or what our living situation will be like. We want to be settled before trying again; we want to avoid the stress of uncertainty and moving that we went through this year. Being pregnant again will be stressful enough; we want to make it as easy on us as possible.

Also, emotionally, we aren’t ready, and it will probably be a while. I’ve read a lot of stories of women who try again two or three months afterwards and have their babies around the due date of their lost child. I don’t think that’s something I could do. It’s not just the closeness to Lauren’s due date, even though there are so many reasons why that would make me uncomfortable (I can’t bear the thought of sharing Lauren’s day with a rainbow baby, who should have a day of his/her own). I don’t know that I could be pregnant again as I was pregnant this year, experiencing all the same things as I experienced them with Lauren. My rainbow baby will be a new baby, and I want new experiences. I don’t want to relive everything. And three months is not enough time for me. I don’t have the strength to try again so soon. I want to, more than anything, but I know it won’t be right for me.

And, one more thing – probably the most important thing. I’m scared. Not of being pregnant again; I’ve found that I can survive that. Likewise, I’m not afraid of labor and delivery, as I know I can also survive that. I’m afraid of what all baby-loss mothers are afraid of: losing another child. The odds of that happening are small. But it can still happen. I won’t be fooled by the innocent naivete of the pregnant woman who has never felt a loss. I see life now through the eyes of experience, and I wonder that it might not be possible for me to simply enjoy being pregnant now. I want to enjoy it next time, appreciate it for everything it is. But how can I? From the moment I feel my baby moving, how will I be able to think of anything else? How many minutes – hours – will I spend lying on my side, waiting to feel that life is still nestled within me? I don’t want to be scared my entire pregnancy, but I doubt I can trust myself not to be.

It’s really for this reason that I will need time before trying for our rainbow. I need to know that I can trust myself and my body to have a healthy pregnancy; I need to have confidence that I can give birth to a heathly, breathing baby. But I do know this – I’m waiting for the day when I can hold my rainbow baby and look into his or her eyes and know that things are alright. A rainbow baby won’t bring Lauren back to me, but it will still bring something wonderful into my life, and I want that. I want to bring another child into our little family, a child I never thought I would want to have, a child I never would have thought to expect. I want more than anything to meet Lauren’s younger brother or sister.

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