I had an opportunity this spring to spend an overnight with the most amazing group of women. Women who have walked in my shoes. Women who have cried my tears. Women who have said goodbye to their babies far too soon. Women who carry the burden of sadness, guilt, sorrow, fear, anger, and loss.
Women who are also mothers of a rainbow baby.
A rainbow baby—one who comes after miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, or infant loss—does not replace a baby who has died. But as I know firsthand, a rainbow baby truly is a joy unlike any other, and our rainbows help heal us in a way that nothing else can.
While much is written and discussed about these babies, what about their moms?
I am one of those moms. And I am not alone.
We planned our retreat for months. I met this group of moms through Facebook. I have a friend who suffered her loss around the same time as I suffered mine, and she introduced me to this group. The agenda was simple: meet, drink, talk, cry, eat, laugh, share, remember, repeat.
We met at 3 p.m. By 6, the wine was flowing, the sweet tea was being mixed with vodka, the fruit tray was being demolished, and the chips and dip were adding just enough salt to accent all the food. Then there were homemade treats that were simply better than any words I can use to describe them. Empanadas with various fillings, rich butter cake, chocolate and peanut butter heaven on a plate.
By 7, the selfie stick came out.
By 8, the pizza delivery guy stopped by and we were all so loaded that we joked about him being our entertainment for the evening. He was a good sport about it and did not laugh at us too hard.
Then it was 10.
Then it was midnight.
Then it was 2 a.m.
At 3:30 in the morning, we finally ran out of air in the room and went to bed.
In that time, between bites of food and swigs of drinks and Jamberry nail demos, we talked. We cried. We laughed. We remembered. Many of us told our stories and our eyes lit up as we talked about the babies we carried for longer than we got to hold in our arms. We talked about our labors and our deliveries and it was a safe place to speak. It was freeing, it was liberating, and it was cathartic.
Many of our angel babies are close in age. Many of our rainbows are, too. We talked about how to explain death to our living children. It’s so hard to explain something that we, as adults, do not understand. We got advice and we gave advice and it was so comforting and calming.
For most of my days, I do not talk about my first daughter, born still at 37 weeks and no cause ever known. Our lives shattered. Her name was Allison.
Miranda is her sister. She knows that a baby came before her, but we do not talk in too much depth right now for I do not want to scare her. Miranda is only just 3, after all. She sees a butterfly and asks if that is Allie (our symbol for her sister) but we know she does not really understand. How could she? We certainly don’t.
At our retreat, I became armed with some ideas and suggestions for how to explain death and grief and loss for when she is older and begins to ask questions.
I only slept for four hours that night, but it was a sound and peaceful sleep.
We checked out and went to brunch on our way out of town. We could not get enough of each other. It was so great to all be together.
Allie has given me so much. A strength I did not know I had, a passion for life, and the knowledge that I must appreciate every single day. Now she has given me this group of friends. I am one lucky mama.