My Rainbow

By Madison Shepard

The term “rainbow baby” — a baby born after child loss — is something I use frequently and find comforting. To me it means that there is hope even in hardship. Azure has definitely been a very welcome little joy in our lives after losing two of our babies, and both his name and Indigo’s names were chosen to signify the beauty of the rainbow.

However, the journey to having our rainbow baby safely in our arms was anything but easy.

Having a rainbow baby sounds wonderful, and it truly has been amazing to welcome a new little one after several years of heartache; but the level of fear and anxiety that I struggled with throughout pregnancy, and even now that he’s here, has been more than I had anticipated. The anxiety hit me before I was even pregnant. When we agreed that we would start trying for another baby after Indigo, I had the worst panic attack that I have ever experienced in the middle of the night. I woke up with what felt like a belt around my rib cage and I was gasping for air. After that I was constantly on edge and tense, and that first positive pregnancy test sent so many mixed emotions through me. There was so much fear and near disbelief, but there was so much excitement and hope, too.

From that moment on, I’m sure I held my breath. Every time I went to the bathroom I checked thoroughly for any signs of miscarriage, and every twinge sent my thoughts spiraling. That first ultrasound for Azure was miraculous to me; looking back at Indigo’s first ultrasound we can see there were obvious signs that something was wrong and there was a clear difference with Azure’s scan. We chose to go to a private sonographer several times through my rainbow pregnancy. Each time was nerve wracking until I saw our baby moving and heard his heartbeat.

Every time that Azure reached and passed a milestone was, and has been, a relief: making it to and past certain weeks in my pregnancy with him was equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. Part of me thought that would end after he was born but it only seemed to continue – his first feeding, one week, one month, and so on.

There have been a few milestones that he has reached that have been extremely bittersweet that come to mind. The first one was his first cry immediately after he was born. Indigo’s lungs never developed, and her heartrate was so slow when she was born that she never moved, let alone made a sound. Part of me is glad she did not cry—I think it might have been too difficult—but a big part of me wishes I knew what her voice sounded like. When Azure cried, I let out a laugh-cry because I was just so overwhelmed with joy and disbelief.

Another moment was his first proper smile. We had seen plenty of smiles from him when he was sleeping, but seeing Azure fully smile in response to me was a unique and special moment. I love knowing that Indigo and Azure look quite similar to each other, and so I get to see a glimpse of her smile, too.

I think one of the hardest and the best moment with Azure that I have seen is when he plays and talks with his daddy. As his mom, Azure adores me and prefers me most often. However, as he grows, he is coming to realize who his daddy is and will talk up a storm when Hunter gets home from work. They have a unique bond that I love watching develop over time. I would love to see Hunter playing with all of our kids, forming a special relationship with each one and loving each of them fully.

Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to watch Azure hit milestones that we never saw Cas or Indigo reach; I often yearn to hold all three of them and see them grow up together. It is not right that I do not have all of my kids here with me, and it will not be made right this side of Heaven; but I have the opportunity to raise Azure here and now, watching him hit every milestone with ease. For that, I am forever grateful, and I will not take a second of that for granted.

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