This Baby Loss Awareness Week, Woman Alive’s editor-in-chief Tola-Doll Fisher shares her story of tragedy and explains that while life hasn’t looked how she expected there is always hope.
I love the term “Rainbow Baby”. For those who aren’t aware, it’s a reference to a child born following a baby loss experience. Losing a baby is a harrowing experience and there is such beauty in the expression mirroring the promise of God in his provision of the rainbow after the flood.
I’m writing this in anticipation of Baby Loss Awareness Week (October 9 - 15), but right now it’s a few days after the Queen’s death was announced on September 8 and my daughter, had she lived, would have been ten. I gave birth to her at around 24 weeks by spontaneous labour and after struggling to breathe for a few hours, her lungs collapsed and she died.
On September 8, 2022 it had been pouring with rain pretty much the whole day. Later, many people reported seeing rainbows and commented on the significance of the Queen passing, referencing the promise of God in the Bible.
I love rainbows and it’s comforting to make these connections and to notice these occurrences in nature which seem like gifts from God. For anyone who has lost, the fulfilment of a promise of restoration is an incredible healing power. Sometimes I wish I had experienced that healing power, but I haven’t.
For anyone who has lost, the fulfilment of a promise of restoration is an incredible healing power.
Ten years after my daughter was born and then died; eight years after her father and I divorced, and still there are no signs of rainbows; at least not in the way you might think. It’s true that I have not been pregnant or had another baby, nor have I been re-married. I used to cry out to God about both these things regularly, wondering why he did not seem to want to heal me the way I expected. I held on to things for a long time; hoping, waiting. My London “Baby on Board” badge, a new crib and bouncer I bought for Annie. I was very specific about the baby things I bought for her and I wanted to keep them for her sister or brother.
I dug them out when I moved out of London a year ago and I finally gave them away. No more holding on to things “just in case”. I wanted to free myself from the idol of a baby and the idol of being a mother. What if I never get to carry another child? I asked myself. Do I believe that God is still good?
In 2021 I decided my word for the year would be “Joy”. In March I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and spent most of the year in and out of hospital while I had an operation, numerous blood transfusions and then chemotherapy. For most of my recovery, I stayed with my cousin, her husband and their little girl, who became my little best friend. When I first stayed over, she insisted on sitting next to me at dinner because I was a novelty: who was this new person in the house?! Then when I was there more frequently she would get me to sit with her while she pretended to read the books she couldn’t yet read and chastised me for not being able to speak in French like her Papa. And when I was really sick, she would scramble up the stairs when she came home from nursery and clamber into bed with me to tell me stories she’d made up during the day.
No more holding on to things “just in case”. I wanted to free myself from the idol of a baby and the idol of being a mother.
Little E was my joy and I fell in love with her in a way I never thought I could for someone else’s child.
Today, I am back in my own place, healthy and grateful to be alive. When I look around at the things I have done in the years since I lost my baby, I am proud of myself. Mostly. It is not easy to keep getting up after you fall but the Bible says in Proverbs 24:16: “The godly may fall seven times, but they will get up again.” And that’s comforting to me.
And the thing is, the day the Queen’s death was announced, I looked up at the sky as I heard the church bells ring in confirmation. I didn’t see a rainbow as so many others claimed, but the grey sky was parting to blue and the clouds looked light and fluffy; happy clouds. It reminded me that sometimes, there is another happy alternative to a rainbow and I’m living proof of that.