Like so many of us, I live every day with the grief and trauma of baby loss. With the loss of my own rainbow baby, I also lost trust that I will ever have a living child.

Before Hudson, we had already had a tough fertility process: between my wife and I, we had over a year of treatments, including five IUI cycles, IVF, a failed embryo transfer, a miscarriage, and a chemical pregnancy. Despite the fears in the back of my mind (Am I not supposed to be a mom?), I had unwavering faith that we would eventually have a living child. If I could just get everything right, it would happen: do all the testing, take all the right supplements and medications, scroll through all the “research” (Doctors Google and Reddit), and get the timing right. I believed I would not feel so strongly called to be a mother if I wasn’t going to have my own living child eventually.

Embroidered "H" for Hudson, and a rainbow - Rainbow Baby Day Without My Rainbow Baby

Author’s Personal Collection/Alli Baker

When I got pregnant with Hudson and made it to the second trimester, I felt like I was on the other side of this struggle: this would be the final chapter to close out this horribly difficult story.

It was the logical end to our fight to have a living child. Hell, it was the conclusion of every story of baby loss and infertility I have ever seen–fictional or in real life.  “We got our rainbow baby!  It was all worth it!” Although we talked about having two children when we first started trying, I imagined Hudson would be our one and only living child. I never wanted to go through IVF or baby loss again.

And then we lost our rainbow baby, too. Hudson died five months ago, when I was five months pregnant.

I have never felt so much doubt, purposelessness, and uncertainty as I have since then. I think often of the beginning of monk Thomas Merton’s prayer:

“I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.”

The grief feels unsurvivable at times, with triggers everywhere despite my best efforts to protect myself. I think I’m just browsing a small business’s social media page, and suddenly I want to scream and crawl out of my own skin when I see the owner has posted a pregnancy announcement. The trauma catches me when I least expect it, too: sobbing in the car outside of my sister-in-law’s birthday party, the ache of my arms when I remember I never got to hold my rainbow baby.

Hummingbird tattoo - Rainbow Baby Day Without My Rainbow Baby

Author’s Personal Collection/Alli Baker

But the uncertainty is such a specific, unique kind of pain.

Most days it hurts too much to let myself hope or wish for something more, for another pregnancy, for a living child. Gone are my fertility manifestation meditations, my Pinterest boards overflowing with baby shower or nursery inspiration, my baby outfit purchases. Hoping for a living child when I know too well that one is not guaranteed to me–when it feels unlikely I will ever get there–is too much when I am already in so much pain.

There are days when I want to stop trying and stop IVF completely. My wife and I talk about this possibility nearly every week, a discussion we never dared to have before losing Hudson. I fantasize that stopping will end the pain of the uncertainty, although the grief and trauma would continue on, with a new layer of childless grief, too.

It isn’t time to make that decision yet, so instead I try to get through one more day as a mom who can’t hold her rainbow baby during Rainbow Baby Day this year. Hudson Everett should be five weeks old. “I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.”

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