“She is here Lindsay! Your Rainbow baby is finally here!”
This was the very first text message I received after announcing that my daughter, Layla Donna had arrived. It was snowing the day she came as it sometimes does in Connecticut in early Spring. It was late March and the first buds of crocuses were sprouting up everywhere, anticipating the new season that had arrived. The lights were out in my room and it was a nice change from the heavily lit operating room that we had just come from. I felt the warmth of my precious new baby against my skin, sleeping so soundly. I felt every breath she took, in and out and I wondered, “What does she feel from me?”
My heart raced, a heartbeat that she knew so well. A heartbeat that she listened to for the past nine months, bringing her comfort amongst the difficult circumstances she endured in my womb. My fear of facing her and whether I could love her overwhelmed me.
I felt my body shivering against my racing heart. It felt cold inside and I felt the first tear fall down my cheek and softly land on my beautiful little girl.
“I am so sorry Layla…” was all I could manage to say.
My husband Jason came over to my side and with his strong arms around me, he held me tight, allowing the tears to turn into sobs. What was happening? My throat felt dry and I could not speak, yet inside me was screaming. Why didn’t I feel the joy of this new little Rainbow baby? Was it baby blues or a deeper despair? How could anyone get postpartum depression after delivering their Rainbow baby anyway? Where was the hope?
A rainbow baby is supposed to represent hope after a loss and light within the storm. For me, the storm felt like it was still raging. I didn’t feel any hope from my colorful new rainbow baby, all I felt was black and white and motionless. You see, my husband and I lost our son, Joseph Michael on November 12, 2013. We were joyfully expecting him and at 26 weeks he passed away. My tears soon turned to anger. I asked my husband to take Layla and after he did, I turned and closed my eyes. Then I heard my husband whisper in my ear, saying three very powerful words, You Are SO Loved. The battle within my soul was still raging from my past, but I somehow knew that Love would win the war.
Once I arrived back home, my anxiety increased. For eight weeks I was very disconnected, ignoring all of the gifts, flowers, text messages and phone calls. I felt lost. The anxiety began to turn into fear and I was not able to look at Layla. Yes, I glanced at her once in a while, but I could not bring myself to really look at her and allow myself to connect. I was afraid if I did, I would not be able to give her my heart, that was very broken. The guilt and shame over not loving my rainbow baby intensified within me.
As the days passed, I often looked at my oldest daughter, Lillian and felt more sadness. Nine years of a bonding felt like it was slipping away. My sweet, innocent babies who needed their Mama and I couldn’t reach them, until one single moment that changed everything. Did it magically cause my PPD to disappear? No, it didn’t. But it did allow me to let go and embrace it. I stopped fighting it. Instead I allowed the depression to become my teacher and unfold the layers of my past.
This magical moment happened when Layla was eight weeks old and was screaming in her nursery. I was outside of her door, crying. I was terrified to go in there and then I felt a jolt in my stomach. This was the first day my husband had left me alone to go to work. A strength within me was there to remind me that I was NOT alone. I could face this demon. I went into her room and picked up my precious baby and sat in the rocking chair to nurse her. I tried to hold back my tears. I was trying to be her Mama, her protector from my pain and be the wiser, stronger one.
It was in that moment, that my tiny infant showed me that she was wiser. While she nursed, her eyes looking up at me, she reached her arm out and placed her hand on my face. Everything in that moment became surreal. The tears I was struggling to hold back came pouring out until I had no more tears left. Layla stayed peacefully on my breast through my tears, with her hand on my cheek, showing me that no matter what was happening, the connection she and I shared had been there all along.
Peace and connection begins in the womb and she showed me with one loving gesture that hope is alive.
Postpartum depression forced me to slow down and I was able to peel back the layers of my pain. Layla’s touch reminded me how strong love is. Stronger than pain, anger, sorrow and fear. I could cry and let go…and the love between us only grew stronger. I didn’t have to hide it from her. Layla’s love for me wasn’t afraid of the pain I had felt. In fact, she embraced it with me.
Love is unconditional and brings miracles.
My battle with Postpartum depression was not quite over, in fact I am still facing parts of it, but the strength to face it was restored. With Layla’s help that day, she showed me how. I knew I could overcome this and my “rainbow of hope” was finally presented to me.