Eau Claire (WQOW) - The joy of a newborn and the grief of a loss: both are overwhelming, yet many parents experience both feelings at the same time.
The term Rainbow Baby refers to the healthy baby born after a family suffers an infant loss. The rainbow signifies the blessing of a newborn after the storm of grief from losing a child has passed.
It's a term Nicole and Eric Smith of Eau Claire are familiar with. Their 6-month-old daughter Hayden was born less than a year after they delivered a stillborn son they named Aaron. For the Smith's, Aaron's birthday served as both a day of loss and a day of hope. "He was born on October 20, 2014. We found out we were pregnant with Hayden on Valentine's Day, 2015. Her projected due date was October 20, 2015," Nicole said.
For the Smith's, news of their second pregnancy was met with excitement but also fear. That mixture of feelings is common among couples pregnant with a Rainbow Baby. Tammy Specken, an Infant Loss Specialist at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital said parents are commonly nervous and scared to feel excited. "They're scared that they're not going to make it past the last week that their last baby was when he or she passed," Specken said.
That fear was not without merit for the Smith's. Nicole was 27 weeks pregnant with Aaron when doctor's weren't able to detect a heartbeat. "Because they didn't know for sure what actually happened with Aaron... we had lots of sequential ultrasounds with Hayden," Nicole said. "They were all looking good up until the 36 week ultrasound." Nicole and Eric said that's when Hayden's growth started to slow. Fearing for a second loss, an induction was scheduled and a healthy Hayden was born at 37 weeks and 1 day. Eric said he broke down that day, crying because he was overwhelmed with happiness. "Just to be able to see, touch and hold her and have her look back at you, it was quite a special feeling." Eric said.
According to Specken, as many as one in four mom's will suffer a miscarriage. She said many miscarriages are so early in a pregnancy, they may not even know they're pregnant. Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire offers a support group for parents who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death. That group meets the second Thursday of the month from 7-8:30 p.m. at The Healing Place.
Sacred Heart Hospital also holds an annual Memorial Service for those who have experienced a loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth or ectopic pregnancy. That event is on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at the Sacred Heart Cemetery. It begins at 6 p.m. Friends and family are encouraged to attend. There will be a candle lighting ceremony. Poems and special readings are welcome to be shared as well.