Our Rainbow Baby

The due date of our second little boy, Ezra Knox, is rapidly approaching and there are many emotions tied up in his arrival. Verena and I are so excited to meet our second little boy! We can’t wait to see his face, kiss his cheeks, and marvel at his tiny toes. These emotions fall into the bucket of what I expect most parents are feeling right before their child is born.

However, there is another bucket that has been a bit more difficult to sort through. As many of you know, our last pregnancy was miscarried (if you weren’t aware of that, I’ve detailed how we made it through that pain and loss here and here). This makes Ezra our rainbow baby[1] and that is causing a lot of emotions for which we weren’t prepared.

I believe there are two big reasons for our emotional distress. First, we don’t want to fall into thinking that Ezra is some sort of substitute child for Olive, and I’m scared to death that — even subconsciously — we’ll do that. In fact, some have even told us explicitly — I assume in an effort to comfort us — that God has seen fit to give us a replacement for the child we lost(!). They are both our children, and they are both good gifts from God to us. We were only afforded a short time with Olive here, but we know one day we’ll see her and know her in a fullness that we never could in this life. We love Olive, and we love Ezra. When it’s all written out, it doesn’t seem confusing, but training our subconscious emotions to yield to logic is easier said than done.

The second reason we’ve had so many unexpected emotions is because of the fact that Ezra was conceived before Olive’s due date. This means that if Olive had been carried to term, there would be no Ezra. This second reason is probably the weight that causes us the most confusion, angst, and (amazingly) awe. Let me explain.

Good God

At times we still wonder why? Why didn’t our last pregnancy make it? Why do we have to — even still — feel the pain of loss? Why can’t we be holding Olive June right now? Why?

Miscarriage has done this to us. We probably won’t ever get a full answer to the question why? And I’ve become convinced it’s not the correct question for us to ask anyway. Instead, we should be asking who? We know our God, and we know him to be good like he says. So while we often wonder “why?”, we are continuously learning to turn our question into “who?” In our confusion, the answer to this second question brings us the comfort and assurance needed to move forward.

Wasteful Worry

Anyone that has experienced a miscarriage will tell you that any subsequent pregnancies are stressful ones. Even as you get past the gestational markers where you know the likelihood of miscarriage drops dramatically, you can’t help but constantly be subconsciously bracing yourself for the “what if?” It pains us that we’ve found ourselves reluctant to enter fully into joyful anticipation over Ezra because we’re subconsciously preparing ourselves for the worst. We remember the pain, it’s even still present at times, and we’re worried what might happen if we take all of the barriers down and then the worst comes to pass.

Some might say that bracing like this is natural, and we shouldn’t be concerned about it. However, an is doesn’t prove an ought. Just because many people experience something doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s not right that, in a sense, we’re not completely and happily embracing the full expectation of our son’s arrival. It’s not right that, even subconsciously, he doesn’t have access to all of the unfettered love he deserves from us. This is a result of worry, and it’s not right.

Appropriate Awe

Finally, the fact that Ezra was conceived before Olive’s due date brings us to an amazing place of awe. We stand amazed in the presence of our sovereign God who works all things together according to the counsel of his will, and to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-12). There is no way that we could have had Olive and Ezra unless God chose to take Olive for a time that we might receive her back in glory.

What god is great like our God?

How can we not let this tragedy turn our hearts to worship when we see God’s clear hand working in our pain? How can we not respond with appropriate praise when we are pressed to this place of wonder at the God of the living? What god is great like our God?

The pain is still real. Even though awe is appropriate, I write these truths through tears. We miss our little girl, but we love our Ezra with everything we have. All of our children are God’s good gifts to us. Not replacements, not forgotten, but, instead, as the Psalmist describes them, “a heritage from the LORD” (Psalm 127:3).

What god is great like our God? (Psalm 77:13) How can we not turn our mourning into rejoicing when we see his wondrous works?

[1] A rainbow baby is a child born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. The child is called a rainbow baby because it is like a rainbow after a storm: something beautiful after something scary and dark.