Loss, Joy, & Rainbow Pregnancies: Reflections from a Newborn & Maternity Photographer

I have a lot to say on this topic. The definition of a “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.

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To me, that definition doesn’t fully give justice to the full experience of this. “Storm” is pretty much an understatement. I have personal experience with this. Before my first was born, I experienced a miscarriage, which makes my beautiful first child a “rainbow baby.”

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When a woman experiences her first pregnancy, or any pregnancy really, there are so many mixed emotions: excitement, joy, anticipation, anxiety.  But devastation is not one you expect to put on the list. Following such extreme feelings of happiness, when you go into that ultrasound room and some stranger tells you “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat” – it’s like your own heart has stopped too and was ripped out from your body. I was numb for a while, but not for long.

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Then I was angry (really angry) and sad (really sad) and then all these foreign unwanted feelings crop up, like raging jealousy for every happily pregnant woman out there.  I felt guilty for wanting to plow them over with a tractor.  And the anxiety about your future child bearing ability is indescribable. I thought for sure (obviously somewhat irrationally) that I would never be able to have children, ever.

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Every moment you spend trying to get pregnant after loss is excruciating. The day I peed on that stick and saw the plus sign, so much relief rushed out of me, it felt like I had a herd of monkeys on my back that were suddenly gone. But now there was a new anxiety – is this going to happen again? Thankfully for me it did not, but for many women it does. And it’s hard to talk about. For these women, they are stuck in an unknowing limbo.  All they want is a family, and that comes so easy for some.  For some it’s harder.  So maybe my first baby was loved more because of it, but I can’t imagine ever loving that little newborn any less I do know, though, that it felt like a lot more than a rainbow when she arrived.

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That is why the maternity session I captured in these photos was so meaningful to me. This glowing pregnant mama to be has been through loss. And following such a tragedy, she was so grateful and open. Qualities we could all learn from. I hope she treasures these images forever as a reminder of what she has been through and a token of the happiness that is to come.

Erica of Erica Eldridge Photography is a newborn, maternity, child and family photographer in Nashville, Tennessee, and its surrounding areas including Brentwood, Franklin, Hendersonville, Murfreesboro and Spring Hill.

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