The journey for us started with a feeling that something about Magnus's death wasn't right. We started asking questions, and quickly learned there were many obviously negligent practices that took place in our care. Much of the past, nearly two years now, has been spent seeking accountability and reaching out to help others. Those two efforts have been enormously healing in and of themselves, and will continue to be a part of what we must do. I have found the way in which we perceive Magnus's love to be present with us every day, leading us forward, and the way we can talk about him as a family to be a great comfort.
It hasn't been an easy journey by anyone's standards. The most difficult moments seemed to come when they were least expected. Last week for example, we went as a family to a 20 week ultrasound for a baby we're eagerly, yet anxiously, expecting to arrive this summer. This is our third pregnancy since Magnus's birth and death. We have hoped to have another baby for many reasons, but fully knowing that nothing could replace Magnus. This entire pregnancy has seemed surreal. It seems as though my husband and I are bracing ourselves for the moment when someone pulls the rug out from underneath us yet again. I think it's much like self defense, like preparing yourself for the worst, in case things don't work out.
We went to the ultrasound last week full of nervousness, and hoping everything would be okay. We took our 4 year old son, who wanted to also see his brother or sister on the screen. Everything turned out great, in fact we're expecting a girl. What surprised me was the flood of emotions that came afterward. We are excited to be having a girl, and in a way glad that it will be a different experience than any we've had before. At the same time, I found myself struggling with such a definitive move forward in our lives. I don't want to ever forget Magnus, and I know that we won't, but things felt more real after seeing our baby on that screen. We also were mentally prepared for raising two boys. We had hoped for a girl so things would be different, but when it turned out to be the case, we found ourselves emotional about shifting away from the idea of having two boys to raise. Before this baby, I always felt like we had two children, one who couldn't physically be here with us. Now that has suddenly shifted to feeling like we have three children, still one who can't be here.
We feel so grateful for this baby on the way. It's difficult though when I know we likely wouldn't have attempted another pregnancy had things turned out differently with Magnus. It's an awkward sort of blessing and tragedy all rolled into one. I had heard other people refer to their "Rainbow Babies", and never quite knew what it meant. In the middle of my emotional roller coaster last week, I came across this beautiful description of what the term means:
A "Rainbow Baby" is a baby conceived after the loss of another child.
"Rainbow babies are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate
the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm
never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it
means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the
darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow
provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope."
Her words so eloquently summed up exactly what I had been wrestling with. And so we will celebrate this rainbow baby, the light that brings us much hope. We will try to trust that things will go the way we hope they will, and try to push out the fear, the harsh reality that too many times it does not. We will never forget what happened to Magnus, and will be dealing with the aftermath for a lifetime to come. The most challenging part is finding security in life, trusting, and enjoying the good, instead of bracing for the next big blow. We work hard on that daily. We refuse to submit to sadness, (even though it still often creeps in), and instead look for ways to "grab the good" from every situation we face.
My favorite good moments from the ultrasound experience were the sigh of relief I heard from my husband when we could see and hear the heartbeat. It was when Jonah's baby sister lifted her arm and "waved" at him, and the smile of pure love that spread across his little face. It was learning that it is okay to be happy, without one bit of lost love for Mangus.