A “Rainbow Baby” is a term that is used to describe a baby who is born into a family following a previous pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage, premature birth, still birth, or infant death. The rainbow symbolises the hope that this new baby brings to the family without forgetting the impact of the storm of losing a child.
Baby Loss by miscarriage is something which is very close to my heart and something which happens to more people than you would imagine. It is also a subject that is rarely spoken about. This year, I made a commitment to photograph one Rainbow Baby every month for FREE!! My aim being to bring this make this a subject that we speak about and share more….and to honour my own Rainbow Twins. So here is our next little Rainbow…… Thea Beatrice and her Mummy, Claire’s story.
With 10-year-old and 6-year-old sons already filling our lives with joy and never-ending energy, and with my 40thbirthday fast approaching, I thought the opportunity for me to have any more children had passed. However, in October 2018, I received a surprise positive pregnancy test and this new adventure began. I was thrilled to be adding to our family and could hardly wait to meet our new baby.
At around 6 weeks however I experienced some light bleeding and feared the worst. I went to the hospital for a check-up and had a scan which showed a tiny little heart beat flickering on the screen. The assumption was that I was experiencing a little implantation bleed or similar. I took a couple of days’ rest and the bleeding stopped. I was so relieved. Then the following weekend, the bleeding started again. I thought I must have over done it running around after my boys and working full time, so tried to take things a little easier and after a week or so the bleeding stopped. It wasn’t any worse than the previous week and I didn’t experience any pain and as I was told at the scan this may happen, I didn’t worry any further.
It was when we went for our routine dating scan at around 13 weeks that things changed.
The scan showed our baby thriving, but there was also a second gestational sac visible which showed our baby’s twin had stopped developing at around 7 weeks. I was a complete mess of emotions. On the one hand I was obviously very happy that we had one healthy baby growing well and, as that was all I was hoping to see before entering the room I felt that that should be enough. But I was also in a state of shock and sadness at the loss of the baby I never knew.
We were told that the second sac and the undeveloped foetus would be re-absorbed by my body and that we would be offered another scan at 16 weeks to check on how things were going. Having researched into what was happening a little further, I discovered that an early loss of this kind is often referred to as a ‘vanishing twin’ because this re-absorption usually leaves no trace of the lost foetus. One of the midwives I saw on the day of the scan told me how some parents find it comforting to know that the lost twin is re-absorbed to support the healthy development of the surviving twin, but I just kept thinking how sad it was that in just a few short weeks our lost baby may have gone entirely, like they had never existed.
As the weeks passed, I tried to stay positive and focus on the surviving twin. We told very few people what had happened but at the 16 week scan the second gestational sac was still visible and I was reminded again of what I had lost.
Again, as time passed, I put all my energy into the little miracle that was growing inside me and tried to push away the sadness, almost convincing myself that I had no right to feel sad and grieve the loss of our baby’s twin as everything had happened so early in the pregnancy, I had never anticipated having twins so had not grown attached to the idea of having a multiple pregnancy, and I still had a healthy baby developing well to look forward to meeting.
By the time we went for our anomaly scan at a little over 20 weeks, our ‘vanishing twin’ had indeed vanished. I was delighted of course at the sight of our healthy little girl wriggling around in my growing tummy, but there was also a part of me that was sorry to find no sign left of her twin. As the pregnancy continued my notes referred to my ‘singleton pregnancy’ and so our lost baby ‘vanished’ completely from record. Those who did know of our situation were very supportive, but understandably focused on the impending arrival of our healthy baby and when mention was made of how our pregnancy started, it was often to comment on how hard it would have been practically to manage twins. I knew they had a point so I stopped talking about our lost baby and tried to stop thinking about it too, happy that I could instead focus on the baby I didn’t think I would ever have.
I didn’t really mention how my pregnancy had started off again until we welcomed my beautiful baby girl into the world. She is absolutely perfect in every way, but I couldn’t help feeling a tinge of sadness as I held her in my arms for our first skin to skin contact. When my placenta was delivered, I asked the midwives if there was any sign of the non-viable twin as I had read in my endless Google searching about vanishing twins that this can sometimes be the case, but there was nothing.
I feel incredibly blessed to have Thea Beatrice here and I could watch her for hours in total awe of what we have created. She is so loved by her big brothers and all the family and is a happy, contented baby whose life I would not want to taint with the sadness of loss. But I really wanted to honour her lost twin in some way, so when I saw the Kidz Unlimited rainbow baby offer, I wrote to Tracey-Anne to share my experience.
Tracey-Anne contacted me soon after receiving my message and offered me a free rainbow baby shoot as a way to remember the circumstances which brought Thea into our lives and to celebrate her arrival. She was so kind and seemed to completely understand the mixed emotions I have battled with.
On the day of the shoot, Tracey-Anne made Thea and I feel very welcome and relaxed. She handled my precious 12-day-old rainbow baby with such care whilst I watched on from a chair on the other side of the studio, and she had given real thought to the various images she would create for us. Tracey-Anne even took on board what I had told her about vanishing twins sometimes being referred to as ‘sunset’ (lost twin) and ‘sunrise’ (surviving twin) babies and created a bespoke image linked to this theme.
As well as being a name I loved, in mythology, Thea is also the Greek goddess of light, mother of the sun, moon and dawn which seems fitting. Beatrice means ‘bringer of joy and blessings’, which is exactly what our darling daughter is, and I cannot wait to see the photos Tracey-Anne has created to celebrate her being here.
If you are expecting a Rainbow Baby and would like to be considered to receive a FREE RAINBOW MINI SHOOT, please do check the blog post for the details and get in touch with me by e-mail with your story. I only give away one of these shoots every month and these are allocated on a first come first basis, so it is imperative that you contact me as early as you can.