2018 is all about erasing stigmas. Stigmas that say women are less valuable than men. Stigmas that surround the very REAL effects of mental health, and stigmas around fertility.
When it comes to erasing the stigma around pregnancy loss, you may have heard someone refer to their newborn as a rainbow baby. The term comes from the idea that just like a rainbow often follows a storm, a rainbow baby is the hope that follows the devastating loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth or death of an infant.
When she was pregnant with her third child, Baltimore, Maryland mom Alicia Lewis signed up for a prenatal fitness class, where she’d hoped to meet some friends while staying active during her pregnancy. And although the classes went well, Lewis never failed to leave the workouts in tears.
You see, her third pregnancy was a big step. Lewis had given birth to her first son, Wesley, back in 2014. But in 2016, just one day before she was set to deliver her second son, Frankie, doctors delivered the most devastating news. Frankie no longer had a heartbeat.
“Frankie was born into the loudest silence I have ever heard,” Lewis told TODAY. “I kept holding out hope the whole time that all of the doctors and machines were wrong and he’d be born alive, but he wasn’t.”
Doctors told Lewis and her husband, Matt, that their son’s stillbirth was “unexplained.”
You can imagine the fears, doubts, and anxiety Lewis was wrestling with as she carried her third child, a daughter named Charlie.
Taking part in the prenatal fitness class was good for Alicia physically, but mentally and emotionally it took its toll. She feared other mommies-to-be would consider her a “jinx” when she told them about the loss of Frankie.
“After that first exercise class, I felt like these women would think I was a bad seed who would give them some bad ju-ju for their pregnancies. Who would want to hang out with a mommy whose baby died eight months ago?” said Lewis. “Why would someone want a constant reminder around them that their pregnancy may not end up the way they hoped?”