My name is Natasha, and I am a Rainbow Mama. I write this line so often that it is strange to me to meet anyone who may not know what that means. I am a mother, who has had a miscarriage (two in my case) but then went on to have live births. I am one in four women and identifying as a Rainbow Mama is a succinct way of letting the world know that before my daughter and son were born, I carried, loved, and lost other children. Being a Rainbow Mama has informed a lot about how I parent my living children, it informs the friendships I make every day and much else about how I live after loss.
But why am I telling you this? Because for a short while, I forgot what it meant to be a Rainbow Mama.
Life during the pandemic carried on abnormally for me and my household. We did our best to maintain a schedule, enjoy each other, and find new things to be excited about amid the daily drone of the quarantine. In fact, my kids were excited to go visit their pediatrician for their routine checkup. She was kind to them, and her office was filled with fun toys but most importantly, they could pick out their own stickers and lollipops at the end of each visit. They were happy about this trip. Me, I was resolved to get the visit over with as quickly as possible.
What I was not prepared for were her next words: “I am concerned!”
You see, my 3-year-old son can be a bit hyper. He has trouble sitting still and I have often wondered if that was normal. He is only a year younger than his sister and I found myself comparing them. “His sister was not like this at his age” I would say to my husband after one incident or another. “He’s a different child” “That’s how boys are” “I was just like that at his age” My husband would reply. His teachers assured me that he was no different from any of the other little boys in his class and for a while, this was enough.
Until that routine checkup, during the quarantine, when my son’s doctor observed his behavior and communicated to us that she concerned about his hyperactivity. To be fair, she also said a lot of other things – “It could be stress associated with the quarantine,” “He is still young so we don’t want to be rash and jump to conclusions,” “Mom, I don’t want you to worry just yet,” “But, I am concerned.”
The words hung over me like a dark cloud, because honestly, I was concerned too.
We spoke about a lot of things then but only a few words made it to me “spectrum,” “ADHD,” “audiometry,” “referrals”. My husband was unable to attend the visit with us, so I sat in the office alone trying hard to get my son to sit quietly next to his sister because somehow, I thought that if I could just get him to sit quietly in front of the doctor, she would change her mind and not be concerned anymore. He did not sit quietly, in fact, he seemed to behave even more hyper and erratic.
I called my husband from the car park and told him everything I could remember. I could hear the concern in his voice, but it did nothing to ease what I was feeling. My sweet little guy might be facing challenges that I did not understand yet. I wanted to scream and ask God why He would bring this into our lives now? Why after three years of having a perfectly healthy son, why in the middle of a pandemic – wasn’t there enough uncertainty?
I got us home and I alternated between crying and reading up on alternative treatment to medication. I fed my children, hugged and kissed them, played, and prayed with them as normal but I was always one second away from projectile vomiting.
Late the next day, I woke up to a text message from my mom.
She was, as she has always been, completely prolific in her words to me. At that point, I had not yet spoken to my mother, but her message to me was a Bible verse found in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
There it was, clearer than I had ever read it. A reminder to me, that no matter what we face, God is with us. Speaking to my mom a bit later, she encouraged me to have faith. She reminded me that even though I do not know what comes next, God already does. She told me to be strong for my son, to be the kind of mother she knew that I was. It was just the reminder I needed.
Something about her last words, “the kind of mother I was,” took me back to my months of being pregnant with my rainbow babies.
You see, I spent both my rainbow pregnancies on strict bed rest. Back then, I spent a lot of my days in prayer, asking God–no begging Him–to keep my babies safe until they were in my arms. I promised to be the type of mother that would put their needs first and raise them to know and love Him.
Back then I said that it did not matter to me if they would be born with challenges. I already loved them enough to hold their hand and fight our way through this world. I was sure then, that I was strong enough to face any difficulty that parenthood might bring – physical challenges, mental challenges, educational challenges, I was ready to be not just their mother, but their Rainbow Mama.
And that was when I realized that I was being called on to keep up my end of the deal.
That I had taken my focus away from my son and his needs and faltered in my promise to be his champion in this world. Now, I do not know what will come next. There are tests to be scheduled and results to be examined. Maybe my resolve will be tested, or maybe he will simply grow out of it but regardless of what happens, regardless of how many tears I must cry first, I will return to be his Mama. I forgot for a moment, but I am grateful that my mother was able to remind me that I had made a promise. And with God’s help, I would be strong, courageous, and unafraid. I was going to have to be a Rainbow Mama.