We met on a Tuesday. You tumbled into my life in that crazy, comical way that I still see you enter rooms. I remember hearing the nurses gasp at your birth. You were that breathtaking. Over the years you have taken my breath away often. I have gasped in admiration at just how fast you were growing. In fear, that time I turned around and you had climbed all the way to the ceiling. And in love, each time you hug me. You have embraced the life you have been given with all that you have. And this world is that much brighter with you in it.

Natasha and her son - After the Rainbow: When Parenting Your Baby Born after Loss is Harder Than You Expected

Author’s Personal Collection/Natasha Carlow

When I was pregnant with you, I unconsciously set up having you in my arms as the goal. “Keep him alive, and I’ll love him just as he is. Please God, let me have a live birth and I’ll be the best parent I can be to him.” Those were the desperate prayers of a woman with three losses. Just get me to the rainbow. And we did. I got my rainbow ending.

Which, as it turns out, was no end at all.

It was, in every way, the start of a beautiful, complicated, and meandering journey.

Beautiful

You bring joy wherever you go. You make me laugh like no one else. I love seeing things through your eyes and watching you figure out what you can do. Your smile can melt even the coldest heart. You are so much braver than me, obstacles are just small details to be maneuvered.  You love hard and making friends comes easily to you, except for babies. You don’t really like babies. There is a lot said about kids like you and not enough said about how capable, creative, and brilliant you are.

Complicated

I didn’t see your diagnosis coming. We don’t talk much about after the rainbow. It takes so much for some of us to get to the rainbow that we forget that there is so much more to parenthood and miscarriage taught us to dream only as far as the next step.  You were diagnosed early, your doctor is hopeful and pleased with your progress. It took us some time but we have created our own special way. It’s a bit more complicated and there are a few more steps involved but we are loving each moment and dancing along as we go.

Meandering

Like any new parent, I sat, babe in arms, and imagined your future. Who you would be, what you would do and how we would get there. The road ahead was clear. I assumed the hard parts were over. The biggest lesson now is accepting that the road is not that straight path but a crazy, scenic, and meandering one. One that at times feels like the smooth road of my imagination and other times, a treacherous path that l am not sure I can navigate. The twists and turns can happen at any time. And that is as honest as I can be about this. Some days I can do it with ease and other days, I feel very unqualified.

Natasha's son on the beach

Author’s Personal Collection/Natasha Carlow

But, oh, the things we have seen along the way!

I keep mental pictures of you smiling that smile you do whenever you feel truly proud of yourself. I collect them like precious stones and I just know that I am blessed beyond measure. And of course, I take note of the things that challenge you. Maybe today was a hard day my love, but tomorrow will be better.

However, no matter what comes our way, I am still that Mama that prays for you. “Keep him alive and I’ll love him just as he is. Please God let me know what he needs, and I’ll be the best parent I can be to him.” Still the desperate prayers of a woman with three losses but I am perhaps a new kind of desperate.

I am desperate to follow my son’s lead, to know what he needs of me, and desperate to give him every opportunity I can.

But more than that, I am desperate to claim every God-given moment with my son. Desperate to enjoy every lesson along the way and desperate to grow to be the mother that God would have me be. So very desperate to ensure that my son knows that he is loved without condition by a Mama who delights in him. Whatever I thought has been abandoned. We are on a new journey and singing off-key along the way.

If I had the chance to speak to that pregnant version of myself or to prepare the one holding her new baby in her arms, I wouldn’t say a thing about what’s coming. I would sit quietly next to her, listen to her dreams, and nod enthusiastically at each one. Then, I would take her hand and assure her of just one little thing.

It won’t ever be easy, but I promise you, it will be worth it.

More on this topic:

Share this story!