February 15, 2016 is the day I took the test. It's the day we found out about Brayden. The day we began to hope we'd be bringing home a baby.
I didn't get to write publicly about those joyful but incredibly worrisome and grief-filled first few weeks because we didn't "go public" with our news until we hit the "safe zone" of the 12 week mark. I think we did this more to try to be normal than we did because we actually believed we were safe. We never felt safe the entire pregnancy, honestly. So it was definitely more out of "tradition" than anything.
I thought it might be good to share some of those initial feelings now, one year to the day of getting the news. One of the first things I did this morning, after enjoying my morning routine with that same little rainbow, of course, was reach for my journal from last year. I flipped to February and there it was: an entry for the 15th. It was a letter to Ryan. I won't share it all, but here is a line or two that really capture the feeling:
"I'm excited baby boy, but so nervous too. I know you'll do what you can to protect us. And I'll do what I can to keep from worrying. But I need you to know that no new baby will ever take your place. You came first -- and you always will."
That's a lot to unpack. And I think really sums up the pregnancy after loss journey. The joy. The worry. The fear. And the desperation to hold on to the baby who died despite taking such huge steps in moving forward.
My chest kind of tightened when I read those last lines.
"You came first -- and you always will."
It goes without saying that in my day to day life, Brayden obviously comes first. His needs are so great, literally no one could ever get in my way of taking care of him. But it makes me think about what if Ryan lived? What if I was mother to two living boys? How does the whole coming first thing work then? I'd assume that BOTH boys would come first. That I'd put both of their needs ahead of everything else, right? Maybe some day I'll know what it's like to tends the needs of two living children. But this morning it was a heart crushing feeling to know that Ryan really doesn't need anything from me. Everything I do for him is more to fulfill my own needs to remain connected to him.
Back then I was confused about how life with a living child and one who slipped away would look and feel, and I think in a lot of ways, I still have those confused feelings now.
I'm so grateful to have my rainbow here in my arms. Though, I still don't ever really feel "safe." That feeling of safety was torn from me 17 months ago. But on this day, one year ago, I started to feel hope again. I felt hope despite the confusion. Despite the worry. Despite the fear.
Today is the day I caught my first glimpse of the rainbow. And despite the more confusing and troubling feelings it brought, it's a day that will always be worth celebrating.