The Rainbow and The Swan
Many know the term Rainbow Baby. It is a baby born after a loss. It is beauty after a turbulent storm and is a symbol of hope and healing. Many may not know that the Origami Swan symbolizes that you will or have received the desires of your heart.
Through my loses and photography, I have met many brave and strong mothers and fathers, which has inspired me to do a personal project in hopes to empower women to speak up and know they are not alone. I am so excited to share with you today one mother's journey through loss and healing.
Life and loss were not meant to go through alone - Joy Greene
I never expected growing our family would be such a difficult journey. One filled with immense heartbreak, but also indescribable peace, grace and blessings.
In May of 2013, we became parents to a big, healthy, baby boy named Nolan. It didn’t take me long to get pregnant with him, and other than needing a c-section, my pregnancy was healthy and as normal as could be. When Nolan was around 2 years old, we were ready to add another member to our family. I naively thought having another child would happen easily....
It took us 8 months to get pregnant. 8 months of impatiently waiting for those 2 pink lines to appear on a stick. Then, in December of 2015, we found out we were pregnant. I was ecstatic! Finally! When we went in for our first ultrasound we were told something was very wrong, but that the baby was too young and too small to see exactly what was wrong. We had to wait two long weeks for anther ultrasound.
At that next appointment we learned we were pregnant with twins! Yay! But our excitement quickly turned into worry, when we were told our babies were conjoined at the chest and stomach and that they shared a heart. We were told that they might not survive. A few days later we found out our babies were girls! I refused to give up on my baby girls, and continued to carry them and give them the best chances I could. We talked to them, sang to them, and our 2 year old Nolan whispered to my belly often, “I love you sissies”.
On Feb 8th, 2016 we went to our high risk doctor for our weekly ultrasound and found out that the girls’ heart had stopped beating. They were gone. That night, we went to the hospital to be induced and after 9 hours of labor, I delivered our 4 oz baby girls. We got to hold them, name them and spend time with them. We were even able to get hand and footprints of their tiny hands and feet. In my eyes, they were perfect and saying goodbye to them was the hardest day of my life.
Charlotte Joy & Lillian Norma changed our lives forever. I would never have chosen to go through that kind of pain, but their lives changed me. Changed who I am as a person, how I view things, and how I respond to the world around me. My heart and life are richer because of them. I learned the depth of grief the day I gave birth to them, but I also experienced divine peace.
We took some time to grieve the loss of our precious girls, and then decided to try again to have another baby. We got pregnant quickly this time, but the fear of losing another baby crept in just as fast. What if? What if? What if? I tried not to let my mind go to those dark places, but it did. This time, we didn’t even tell our family we were pregnant, because I didn’t want to get their (or my) hopes up.
At our first ultrasound at 9 weeks, my worst fear came true. “I’m so sorry. There’s no heartbeat”. The baby measured right on track, but there was no heartbeat. And no explanation. Not again...How could we possibly survive the pain of losing yet another child, just 6 months after burying our twins? It felt so unfair. And because we hadn’t told anyone we were even pregnant, I felt so alone. And ashamed. It was such a dark place to be in.
I eventually told people about the miscarriage, and I learned that the more I talked about all 3 of my babies, the easier it was for me to heal. I needed to acknowledge them, to have others acknowledge them, and to know their life mattered. They existed. They were loved. And they will forever remain a part of our family.
But then... Nearly 2 years after losing our 3rd baby, in March of 2018, we got OUR rainbow! I gave birth to Hudson Westcott, and a small part of our hearts healed that day. He will never replace the children we’ve lost, but he is definitely a special gift of sunshine and giggles after such a long rainy season in our lives. I believe with all my heart that my babies are in heaven with Jesus, and that we will all get to be a big family together in heaven some day, and that brings me hope and comfort.
I share my story because I don’t ever want any woman going through the loss of her child to feel alone, or ashamed. The statistics say that 1 in 4 women will go through a miscarriage, but most of the time, women suffer in silence because it’s such a difficult thing to talk about. But I believe the more we talk about it, the more we can come together to heal. I was so fortunate to have amazing people in my life to pick me up and love on me during those dark days. If I wouldn’t have been honest about my pain, those people wouldn’t have known to pray for me, hug me and share their own stories of loss.
So, if you’re a momma who is going through the loss of a child, or you have had a loss but never shared it with anyone, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Life and loss were not meant to go through alone. You’re not alone.