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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

not ttc | infertility after loss > Sunshine without Rainbows

It's coming up to my baby loss daughter's 7th birthday and my grief and loss has morphed and changed over the years. I now find myself taking stock of the things I have gone on to do or have after losing her, rather than the things I didn't.

I did choose to not have anymore children after she died. Trauma, fear, grief and age were all part of my post loss story, but infertility fortunately wasn't. The option to chase the rainbow was there, but it just wasn't my focus. Why? I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps, it was the knowledge that when I was pregnant with her I felt strongly that she was the last one I needed to have. Or perhaps, it was the comfort in realising that I had bonded deeply with my baby daughter regardless of whether she had lived or died.

Many things fizzled or drifted away from my life during this time, the kinds of things that happen to people with or without baby loss, but at the time it felt painfully like it was because of my loss. But here's the bit we don't hear much about:

Those things that do come into our life afterwards; the space that opens up for things other than babies.

I find it heartwarming and quite amazing that I went on to learn to play a musical instrument (drum kit) after my daughter died. In my early grief stricken state, I went out and bought a gorgeous gold glitter sparkle/black drumkit with the money I would've spent on nappies, clothes and toys for my daughter. And my drum tutor became 'my therapist' - metaphorically speaking. This was something for me, a survival strategy, a way to try and fill the void in other life enriching ways, to be a mummy to myself for a while. I'm no Buddy Rich, but I can now play along to some of my favourite songs, and probably proficient enough (minus the confidence) to be in a non serious, amateur band if I wanted to be, which my family thinks is cool.

I'm curious, if not desperate, to hear other types of babyloss stories that find 'sunshine without the rainbows'. I'd like to invite and welcome a space for these type of sunshine stories. Please feel free to share them with me...

Mango Mummy x
March 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMango Mummy
Hi Mango Mummy,
I can't believe no one has posted a comment on here yet! I'm very sorry for that. I just wanted to chime in and say that I understand, probably not in the way you think though. When I was still in hospital after delivery of my precious stillborn boy, the midwife tried to console me by telling me that I could always have more and she looked forward to the day she could assist with that happy delivery. I know that at the time I was too numb to react to what she said, but now... now I think I would have punched her. People have this idea that having more children will fix us, but it is certainly not true. This is not fixable but it has to be bearable. Now, we did eventually go on to have more children as we lost our first, but it was not as the midwife led me to believe it to be. It was scary, anxiety filled and traumatizing. I love my children dearly, ALL of them, but I have not been fixed. I am still broken, but I'm coping.

I know this wasn't exactly what you were looking for but I wanted to share anyway. We all make choices that are best for us. I applaud your choice. It sounds like you are at peace with it and that is all that matters.
March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTB
Thanks Rich for the moral support. I'm so relieved to get past the nil comments point with this post. And thanks for getting at what I'm trying to say here. For some reason this non-ttc corner of the forum is the place no-one wants to be and there is a rainbow desperation and despair hanging over it, which is understandable, but there is also a big part of this story getting left behind.

In retrospect, there was something free-ing about saying 'No, enough is enough, we've taken on as much as we can handle, thank you very much', I was stunned at the assumptions and lack of 'informed choice' discussions around me after my loss. I had to work hard to understand the confusion that comes with being left with a body primed for nurturing a baby that didn't live. I also wasn't prepared or warned about that primal urge 'to want to reproduce to replace the loss' that completely confuses and upends you in the early stages. Thankfully, with the help of SANDs, I did a lot of talking around and my own research to come to the best decision for me and my family. Looking back now, we all agree I made the right decision - Phew! Realising this is what has brought me peace - a peace of mind.

So, here I am 7 years down the line working through the many layers of learning to live with this type of loss. How it has shaped my life, forced me to move in directions I hadn't planned for or anticipated. Learning to dance with Fate and make some music along the way. Come to think of it music was a big part of my family's way of dealing. My son threw himself into his guitar lessons and is now a wonderful budding musician, and my husband also invested more in his guitar playing as a coping strategy. I think having the routine of a weekly lesson and daily practice just helped us to keep going over the years somehow. We chose to do that, but there are so many ways to go with it.

It has been a blessing to have connected with you. Lots of gentleness to you and your family as you take your next steps.
March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMango Mummy
P.S. Sorry, I meant to say 'Thanks STB' not Rich - argh! I get names confused sometimes, especially when I'm replying to multiple posts.
March 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMango Mummy
Mango Mummy,

You're quickly becoming on of my favorite people to learn from. That's what I feel we do on this journey-- learn from others.

I have felt so much the same since my daughter died. Eventually, I found solace in doing the things in life I could most likely not do with a baby. I traveled, I went out with girlfriends, I drank martinis here and there. Those things gave me a renewed sense of purpose. I was doing something else-- something that was for me, that gave me that little spark I needed to remind myself I am still alive, there is still a life worth to live, and I was going to find the "something else" and make it my own. It sounds like you have done the same and what a wonderful accomplishment.

I also did not choose to have a rainbow baby, even though I also could have, for many of the reasons you mentioned. I don't find that a common choice, and I love that you chose it and I have someone out there like me.

One thing (and a very big thing at that, and something that could I suppose disqualify me from the "no-rainbow-baby" scenario), is that I adopted a child. I know I would not have done this had I not lost my baby, so it is something I am proud of. I don't think of my child as a rainbow, though. It's different. It was more of a separate situation, for me, and it needed to be. I am still glad I did not have another baby biologically, and I am glad I had the courage to broaden my scope of what it meant to be a parent and how I could use my loss for something good eventually. Anything we do that uses courage-- and stretches our mind and body and soul-- post-loss is something to be celebrated. That said, the years before adoption, and even without it, I knew I was going to be okay on my own. Every day, I repeat to myself I am enough, and I have enough. Whatever that may be that comes alive in us through loss, after loss-- it is beautiful.

Love and light to you, Mango.
April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Also, I think it is often celebrated and looked at as an act of bravery when others go on to have a baby after loss. So much so, I thought I was a coward for not. Now, I realize I was just brave in a different way, but no less.

I wrote a piece on choosing to not birth another baby here, if you're interested:
April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Also, I just realized why this was never responded to. This particular forum space gets next to no traffic. I stopped coming here, because seeing next to no activity was hurtful to my soul. Of course I want others to have a rainbow baby. But what about the ones that can't or won't? Where do we go to support each other? There have to be more of us, and more of us wanting to have this discussion. I am so glad I came upon this as the question of what if? always haunts my mind a bit-- but I find the joys in strictly avoiding pregnancy and all it would bring. It was such a trauma, why on earth would I want to do that to myself again? That's how I feel, anyway.
April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Elaina, I am deeply grateful for your sharing and comments.

I want to reply more and I will soon. However, I decided the other day to go on a Digital Detox for a week or two, if this is even possible in the digital era that we live in, but I'm giving it a go. I am loving the connection and sense of community within the babyloss forum, so I will be back soon.

I am spending time over the next week or so just getting back in contact with Mother Earth - gardening, cooking, walking, swimming and of course my drumming. Hoping it will bring a renewal of perspective for me.

Lots of Love to all you beautiful and courageous women and men and to your babies gone too soon.

Mango x
April 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMango Mummy
Thank you so much Mango Mummy for posting this and everyone else too. I lost my son in the early stages of labor one year ago - and I will never forget my OB visiting me in the hospital, while I was still in labor, and telling me what our plan would be "in the next pregnancy." I remember thinking "first, why would I ever want to do this again, and second, could we maybe focus on this one that is actually STILL IN MY BODY?" I was stunned by the number of people who just expected that I would immediately want to try again - it really was the furthest thing from my mind in the early days. I know for many people it isn't, but for me - it was way more than I could comprehend. I was put off by a lot of the babyloss blogs I found that were so focused on the "rainbow" (i do not like that term, or the term angel) - it made me feel like there was just that one way to recover or that I just could not relate to the loss community and was going to have to find my own path.

A huge part of my healing process - and my husband's - has been getting to a place where we know that we will be happy in our lives whether we have children (our loss was our first) or we don't - which was how we felt when we started trying for our first. Slowly, I made my way there - through starting to enjoy all the things I wouldn't have been able to do with a new baby (impromptu drinks and dinners with friends, late nights, travel, sleeping in, etc) and just coming back to myself.

I am now pregnant again and maybe this baby will live, and maybe it won't. But I am happy to know our sunshine doesn't only come from this pregnancy - we will be happy in our lives either way. I don't spend much time on this board - because it doesn't have much traffic and when I have checked it out, it has been mostly people who were sad to be here (which I know many many are). I fully welcome hearing more stories of sunshines without rainbows and I'm glad this thread exists for those who find themselves newly here.
May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSR
Amen, SR. We matter, too. And we are okay and enough!
May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnon
Thank you Elaina for the link to your ‘Just the Storm’ article (2016) from the front page. I have had so many conversations inside my head over the past week with you and all those courageous and beautiful women who responded to your article by posting the 19 comments below it. It turns out there are more of us on Glow than I was led to assume.

I can see how the front page may offer a more neutral space to engage with this subject than the ‘non ttc / infertility after loss’ section. I can also understand how it’s not exactly a very appealing label/space to identify oneself with.

I’m in two minds as to whether to just refuse to engage with the label (and hence this corner of the forum) or be proactive and mix things up in a constructive way over here. Either way, I am currently thinking of some possible threads to start on the matter, so I shall see what I end up writing /sharing and where they end up in the Glow space.

Thank for all your comments and support here.

Mango x
May 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMango Mummy

Looking forward to whatever you write. It’s always such a pleasure. I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts.
May 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Hi to all of you involved with this thread so far. Just to share that after lots of reflective thinking I have now left a personal comment on the 'Just the Storm' article from 2016 by Elaina - link copied here again:

I have wrestled with my thoughts for some time before finding the right words to respond, so I hope something in what I have shared connects. Am aware that because it is over 2 years since this article was on the front page, there is very little traffic towards it too. But this felt the best place for now to post my comment and acknowledge all those deeply affected by the issues raised.

As always there is so much more to say, but I don't want to get into a habit of repeating what has already been said before unless there is a good reason to do so. Thankyou once again for all your shared thoughts and connections here, it is helping me to continue to shape my own thoughts and articulate one of the most overwhelming and challenging experiences of my life to date.

Look forward to continuing the conversations...

Mango x
May 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMango Mummy