Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dear Sweet Rainbow Girl

My sweet baby girl,

I had kind of hoped to have a name for you by now, but we are not quite there yet! I hardly know where to start my first letter to you. We found out we were pregnant with you in mid-October just days before your big brother Theodore's four-months-in-heaven birthday. We were not expecting to be pregnant again quite that quickly, but God had his plans! The month leading up to finding out about you was a strangely bright and hopeful month, after three dark months of hard grief. On Theodore's three-months-in-heaven birthday, we visited his little grave like we always do and there was a beautiful rainbow over the cemetery. We saw a similar one the evening before Theodore was born. It brought me such joy and hope. Throughout that whole month, I saw rainbows literally everywhere... dancing through the chandelier in our kitchen, shimmering through cracks in the garage door, out of the corner of my eye as the light caught my glasses.

There was joy that month, mixed with the grief, and bright hope for the future... promises of good things to come. And then we found out about you! A "rainbow baby" is a term for a baby who comes after the storm of loss. I do not consider Theodore to be a "storm" or a "loss"... he is our precious baby boy... but the grief of not having him with us on earth is most definitely like a storm. Rainbows don't take away the ravages of the storm, but they bring light and hope. You are our sweet rainbow girl - you have brought us so much joy already.

As the pregnancy hormones kicked in, I began to have a more difficult time again. Pregnancy and grief make for a rough combination. I always look back on that month and the first couple of weeks of pregnancy with wonder - before we even knew about you, God sent little signs of the joy to come. It really was such a bright and hopeful few weeks.

November, December, and January were hard. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, a new year... so many firsts without Theodore, while being pregnant and exhausted and hormonal. Your due date is only a week apart from his, so I hit milestones at all the same times I was hitting them with Theodore last year. It was/is bittersweet. Thankfully the past few weeks have seemed a little brighter again.

I had no idea how terrifying being pregnant again after a loss could be. Before I could feel you moving, I had to rely on my pregnancy symptoms. If they seemed less severe one day, if I felt less queasy or something, it was hard not to worry that I was loosing you. I felt you move later than I felt Judah (14 weeks) and Theodore (13 weeks)... it was not until about 16 weeks that I felt you really move. Even now at 22 weeks, you movements are softer and less pronounced than the boys'. When I was pregnant with Judah and Theodore it was so fun to feel them moving, and I never gave it a second thought. I never did my "kick counts" like you're supposed to after 28 weeks. Every time I feel you move, I breathe a sigh of relief and release some tension that I don't even realize I'm carrying. When I wake in the middle of the night, I cannot sleep again until I feel a little kick or roll. And you can bet I will be doing my "kick counts" multiple times a day as soon as I hit 28 weeks. Maybe even 24 weeks. I feel like I can't trust my body to keep you safe like it's supposed to... like it failed to keep Theodore safe. I know that God has a plan, that Theodore is exactly where he is supposed to be... and that you have your own days ordained for you... but it is very hard to feel like something in your body went wrong and caused your baby to die and you don't exactly know what or how to stop it from happening again.

Each appointment that I have, whether just a check-up or an ultrasound, is nerve-wracking. My appointments at the birth center are often in the same room that the midwife could not find Theodore's heartbeat. I always walk right past the ultrasound room where they confirmed his heart was not beating. And sweet baby girl... you are ornery when it comes to finding your heartbeat! You like to hide. At my 12 week appointment it took the midwife at least five anxious minutes to find it... same again at 16 weeks. Because I felt movement later and your heartbeat was always hard to find, the midwives guessed I might have an anterior placenta (in the front of the uterus). However, the ultrasound at 20 weeks showed it was more fundal and posterior - so baby girl, you just like to hide and give me and Papa mini-heart attacks! I guess you are just more chilled out than your brothers because you don't move as much as they did.

Your 20-week ultrasound with the maternal-fetal specialist was anxiety-inducing as well. I'm just more aware now of all the things that can go wrong with development etc, so it was hard not to be anxious. The ultrasound was early on a Monday morning and the whole week before I literally kept forgetting about it. Thomas would mention it and I would be surprised again - oh right, that's on Monday... I think it was my mind protecting itself with some sort of denial, ha! The ultrasound tech was very sweet, and the very first thing we saw was that you were a girl. Everything looked good, although the tech was momentarily concerned about one of your kidneys being a little big. When she went back and measured again, it had gone back down, meaning fluid was moving through properly. You do like to give us a good scare. You measured two days bigger than your due date (July 4th), and apparently you have long legs and arms and big feet! Which is surprising, considering the rest of your family has relatively tiny feet :)

One of the reasons I really wanted to have a name for you by now was that I felt it would help me to connect with you during the pregnancy. While I still want to find a name sooner rather than later, I'm not worried about bonding with you anymore. I think about you all the time... I wonder what you will look like, and I imagine holding you in my arms. I feel connected with you, much more so than I ever felt during my pregnancies with Judah and Theodore. I only got to hold Theodore in my arms for six hours, after carrying him inside me for nine long months. It's intensified the longing to hold you... to see you breathe, to hear you cry, to feed you, to watch you grow, to watch you with Papa and Judah.

Your biggest brother Judah is so excited to meet you. He wants to rub my belly and kiss you multiple times a day (an hour!). Every morning when he snuggles up next to me he asks "Mama, is there a tiny baby in your tummy?"... "yes, buddy, there is!"... "Is it baby sister?"... "yes, buddy"... "Is she going to come out now?"... "Not for a few months, she's still too little right now" .... and so on. He just has to check every morning that you're still there... my sweet 3-year-old boy. He worries for you, which breaks my heart... and makes me beg on my knees that you get to come home and play with him and grow up with him. After rubbing my belly he often says to me "I just checked on baby sister and she is good! She is sooo cute and I love her." He pretends to check for your heartbeat like he sees the midwives doing, and he gives me "shots" in my arm (I get blood drawn at every appointment to keep an eye on antibody levels). He is so very sweet with you, just like he always was with Theodore. Now that he is older and understands more, he wants to know things like exactly how you get your food (the umbilical cord thing is fascinating to him), and if you need to wear a diaper inside me! According to Judah, you love blueberries and chocolate just like he does.

We are less than four months away from meeting you, and it cannot go fast enough. I just want you in my arms! I feel like I will not breathe deeply or easily until I hear your newborn cry. I know you will not fill the hole that Theodore has left in our earthly family... there will always be someone missing. You and Theodore will be my little Irish twins - I only wish you could both be here on earth. You definitely bring joy and healing to our lives... and it will be such an adventure to have a little girl!

We love you so very much,

Momma, Papa, Judah, and Theodore

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