In just a few short weeks, I will be welcoming our rainbow baby. Some people may not know the term. It refers to someone who lost their baby either in utero or just after birth and is now expecting a baby. That his term is given to these special babies because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what's to come. Meet Courtney. Try not to cry.
10 years ago when my husband I decided to have children, we thought it would be a simple thing. A few nights of fun trying, you mix the sperm and the egg and viola… a little Shorter would be on the way. That’s how it worked for the women in my circle at that time in my life. But after weeks turned to months and months turned to years… the thought that there was a problem became real and we stopped trying. The idea of having to visit a doctor for help and pay money for that help was not appealing… quite honestly, it was embarrassing. There was shame that showed up before I event showed up to the appointments. The questions from friends and family didn’t make it any easier.. when are you starting a family, when are you going to give me a grandchild, you don’t want kids… the responses where anything from.. we are enjoying each other first to when God decides to bless us. Inside… the pain, guilt, and shame were all so real! Guilt that I was not able to get pregnant “naturally” with my husband, the man I loved…..
On June 11, 2015 we celebrated 10 years of marriage and then on June 12, 2015, we experienced one of the best days of our lives as a couple. We delivered beautiful baby girls, Ryan and Morgan Shorter. Ryan was born at 1:45 pm and Morgan at 1:46 pm. Born at only 23 weeks, and weighing about 1 lb. each, Ryan and Morgan were considered micro-preemies. Micro-preemies that survive being born so early often live the first 6-12 months of their lives in a hospital NICU before going home with their families. Life in the NICU is hard on those little bodies and just as hard on the parents who sit by the bedside for hours and days at a time.
When I learned we were pregnant I felt so excited and hopeful. We dreamed of what our girls would grow up to become. We started making plans for our lives with them and then in the blink of an eye, they were gone. It sometimes feels like such a lonely experience. On June 15th, after putting up a strong fight, Morgan received her baby Angel wings and on July 3rd, Ryan joined her baby sister with a set of her own Angel wings.
Life can be funny or cruel, depending on how you view it. You make elaborate plans, envision how perfect things will be and then somewhere along the journey, those plans change. One thing I know for sure, nothing in this life prepares you for losing a child, nothing prepares you for losing two children. From the moment I met Ryan and Morgan and was able to hold my girls, I remember feeling extremely blessed, even thru all of the fear and sadness that comes with life in the NICU. I will always remember their adorable little faces and those tiny hands and feet!
Between then and now, there have been 2 miscarriages and at least 3 IUIs and/or IVF cycles with no results and then 1 year ago, in July 2017 we decided to try again. The loss of our infant children Ryan and Morgan, the miscarriages we suffered, and the failed IVF cycles were so heavy it was hard to live and enjoy life daily. One day.. we changed how we lived our lives, gathered up a ton of faith, and began another IVF cycle to start our family...this time, we got our rainbow baby…heeyyyy Hendrix (Drizzy)!
I know for some mamas, especially mamas of color, it's hard to share this part of our lives with strangers..hell, we don't even want to share it with the people we love. It's a lonely space...I know what it means and how it feels to move through the shame and grief of infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss.. I lived it daily for 10+ years. We’ve been mom and dad to our rainbow baby for 3 months now and it’s the most amazing feeling ever. We feel so incredibly thankful and blessed that we get to experience parenthood again! Contrary to what some may thing. Hendrix in NOT our first or only child.
Windsor Mill, MD, US