Two pink lines beamed boldly through the tiny window of a pregnancy test, my future staring back at me—a vision in pink.

It was my first pregnancy, and the moment was marked by pure joy. The sight of a positive pregnancy test held a certainty, a hope I had never experienced before. There was a precious life growing within me, and because of it my life would be more beautiful than before.

As the weeks turned to months, I savored each moment without any thought of something going wrong. The pregnancy was without complications and after months of anticipation, I gave birth to and brought home a perfect baby girl.

Three years later, I became pregnant again. And again I felt that pure joy—at the thought of having both another child to call my own and a sibling for my daughter.

But that joy quickly dissolved. Just weeks after reaching the supposed safe-zone of the second trimester, my water broke and a few weeks later, I gave birth to a stillborn baby.

Somewhere between the grief and depression that followed, I recalled the ease of my first pregnancy and wondered how I could have been so naive, so oblivious to the fragility of pregnancy, to the frailty of the life within me. One of my babies had died and my world had become dark and confusing.

Months later, I again became pregnant, but the positive pregnancy test looked much different from before. The two pink lines were there, but the bright light they once emitted had become dim. They no longer represented joy or a future, but fear and uncertainty. Those lines signaled a pregnancy, but they did not guarantee I would bring a baby home. I was acutely aware those pink lines could fade away at any moment, as could the life of my baby.

My pregnancy after loss was referred to as a rainbow pregnancy, but the clouds of grief and panic hung low. The experience seemed dark and colorless, instead of vibrant and colorful as the term “rainbow pregnancy” suggested.

Each moment was marked by doubt as the possibility of death loomed. Unlike my first pregnancy, hope did not radiate from the images on the ultrasound screen. Instead, the darkness of the screen reminded me of the dark memories surrounding my previous pregnancy. It was a reminder that the light of life could be shut off without warning.

Before each appointment, I silently prepared my heart for the worst, while praying that God would prepare the way for the best possible outcome—that my baby would live to see the outside of my womb.

Each appointment, each ultrasound, each echo of my baby’s beating heart left me wondering if it would be the last. If I could have moved into the doctor’s office or perhaps the hospital for the duration of that pregnancy, I would have. I longed for the constant monitoring that a hospital stay could provide. And I would have given anything to hear a round-the-clock rhythm of my baby’s heartbeat. That sound was the one thing that brought me peace—if I could hear it, I knew my baby was still alive.

No matter how much I tried to conjure up images of a healthy, living baby, all I could see was the image of my baby who died. No matter how much I tried to let hope’s light seep through the cracks of my broken heart, it remained clouded by traumatic memories.

From the outside looking in, I must have seemed ungrateful for the gift of another pregnancy. When people inquired as to how I was doing, I could hardly muster a smile and often changed the subject. Some were incredulous over the fact that I wasn’t having a baby shower or decorating a nursery, that I didn’t seem to be celebrating my pregnancy.

Now, I was incredibly grateful for the baby growing in my womb, but I was also incredibly scared that my baby wouldn’t make it out alive. Pregnancy loss had conditioned me to believe that giving birth to a living baby was next to impossible. And despite the positive outlook that others had toward my rainbow pregnancy, the clouds that cast shadows over it would not part until I held a breathing baby in my arms.

That pregnancy completely drained me. It was like trudging through quicksand on the foggiest of nights, to a destination that I might never reach.

But in the end, the dark and lonely journey was worth it. I gave birth to a healthy son, his every breath restoring light to my soul and healing the fractures of my broken heart. His birth reminded me that even in the darkest pit, there is hope; that a miracle might be just around the corner, that joy comes in the morning.

And while pregnancy loss taught me that nothing is guaranteed, my rainbow pregnancy taught me that anything is possible.

You may also like:

Dear Rainbow Baby, You Saved Me

My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born

Embracing Pregnancy After Lost Innocence 

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Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. When she's not typing words, she can be found wrangling a fiery little boy and nurturing a quickly growing girl. She's a tea-addicted, jewelry-loving, cat-obsessed, Jesus-following, introverted midwestern girl who is thrilled to connect with you from the other side of the screen. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.