Carrying A Rainbow Baby: Life After Loss

Donnie Belcher
8 min readDec 9, 2020


TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

Caption: A recent photo taken of my baby and I, by my partner & the baby’s father.

This date, the 9th of December in 2011 was the worst day of my life. The day before I had to be hospitalized due to vaginal bleeding. A week before I had just celebrated starting my 5th month of pregnancy. It was my first pregnancy, so I had 100% trust in the medical professionals who were managing my care. On the evening of December 8th, after checking my baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound, they had determined that “everything was fine”. In the wee hours of the morning, I was discharged and went home.

I woke up the next morning, the morning of December 9th and had to drop off my then partner to the airport for a work trip. I returned home and had to use the bathroom. Immediately after sitting on the toilet I hear a large gush of water, as if someone had dropped a brick into the toilet. I investigated the toilet to see if there was any tissue or if the baby had fallen out. Thankfully there was nothing but water that was light pink due to the blood that had come out. Without thinking twice I knew that my water had broken. I drove myself to the Emergency Room, and after waiting over an hour to be seen I had the urge to use the bathroom again.

I went to the ER bathroom, and immediately when I pulled my pants down — which were black, my pants, underwear and everything below my waist was soaked in blood. I had a terrible feeling at that point, and yelled out of the bathroom “HELP!” It looked like a crime scene. I’d never seen so much blood in my life & certainly not my own blood. A nurse rushed in with a wheelchair and a blanket and I was whisked away into the back. By this point it had been 90 minutes since I had checked in to the ER and about 2 hour since my water broke.

The rest of the day was a blur. I only remember hearing:

“Your baby’s umbilical cord is hanging out…”

“Your stomach no longer has any amniotic fluid in it…”

And then I had to be transferred from the Emergency Room to the Maternity Ward. I wasn’t expecting to see this floor for another 4 months. Yet there we were, 18 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

“There is nothing else we can do.”

“Would you like to pass everything naturally or would you like a D & C?”

I opted to pass everything naturally.

A few of my closest girlfriends arrived to both check on me and to help me get through the terrible nightmare. I had to be induced and actually push my baby (after watching her heartbeat stop on the ultrasound machine) out. A had one friend on each side as I pushed, holding my hand and offering words of encouragement.

I had so many mixed emotions — anger, frustration, confusion, rage, heartache. Why me? Why now? What could I have done differently?

Eventually the doctors would tell me that the reason why I had a miscarriage during the 2nd trimester, which is so rare was because I had an “incompetent cervix” or “cervical insufficiency.” I still wonder which doctor coined those terms… *squint* *eye roll*

I would come to learn everything that could have happened to prevent the loss of my baby including:

  • Cervical Length Checks
  • Progesterone
  • Transvaginal Cerclage (a.k.a. “The Stitch”)
  • Transabdominal Cerclage (this was the surgery I elected to have in 2013 to hopefully prevent any future losses — A special shout out to Dr. Haney who did my surgery and has helped thousands of women realize their dreams of having a baby biologically. Learn more about him here.)
  • Seeing a Maternal Fetal Medicine (High Risk Pregnancy) doctor instead of just an OB/GYN
  • Transferring care to a hospital that was more experienced with handling women who had my specific medical challenges. Not all hospitals or doctors are equipped or experienced with handling certain medical cases.

I would also learn that my cervix was likely damaged due to being raped at the age of 12. This revelation rehashed an experience that I thought I was over. It was like cutting open a wound that was barely visible at least from the outside. My abuser had taken so much from me & now 15 years later, he had taken my first baby from me and was also threatening to take motherhood away from me.

I discovered two wonderful resources Fertility For Colored Girls and the Abbyloopers Facebook Group — a group for women like me who had been diagnosed with cervical insuffiency.

I am grateful for women like Chrissy Teigen, who wrote about her recent loss of Baby Jack here and Meghan Markle, who wrote about her loss in the New York Times here. Beyoncé who has publicly spoken about her miscarriage before her rainbow baby Blue Ivy. The more that we can remove the stigma and the shame around fertility challenges and pregnancy loss — the better we can help each other heal and cope. It can be such an isolating experience, but is also one of the most common experiences. I still remember the messages I received after that first loss from so many women who were also moms to angel babies.

After my first loss at 5 months, I went on to have 3 additional miscarriages — all during the first trimester.

I couldn’t attend baby showers, but always sent my gifts in the mail.

I couldn’t walk past the baby section in stores like Target without breaking down.

I couldn’t watch baby commercials without tears.

I was traumatized. Yet despite the trauma, I still believed in my heart & hoped that one day I would carry & give birth to a baby of my own.

You can imagine my excitement (and terror!) when I learned on August 29th of this year that I was expecting. I prayed immediately. I felt joy. I remembered all 4 of my babies who never made it to this realm alive. My partner had also experienced losses with previous partners so together we were both hopeful with reservations. We didn’t want to get too excited, but we also didn’t want to rob ourselves of the joy of this moment of realizing that we had created a life together. Getting too emotionally attached too early makes the grieving process so much harder if a loss happens. You throw in my age (which is 36) and all of sudden things get even more interesting and the stakes become even higher. Pregnancy after age 35 is very different and in many cases is automatically considered high risk. I wondered if there was a term for just how high my risk was with my history of losses, my age, and the horrible state of maternal health in the United States for Black Women.

I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough room for both the reality of science AND the possibilities of faith. I tucked the science away so that I could survive my first trimester without losing my mind. I reached out to friends and family members who would become my prayer warriors and my accountability partners throughout the pregnancy. Every milestone warrants a celebration.

The fetal pole has developed — CHECK.

The baby is located in the right place, inside the uterus. — CHECK.

The baby has a good strong heartbeat. — CHECK

The baby can be soon moving & is growing at the right pace. — CHECK.

There appears to be no sign of genetic disabilities or complications. — CHECK

The baby has all of his/her limbs & organs & everything is in its right place. — CHECK

You’ve surpassed the 1st trimester. — CHECK

Every doctor’s visit is reassuring & every milestone increases the hope that this is REALLY (finally!) happening for us. You allow yourself to get a little more attached & your faith grows stronger every single week!

The thing about carrying a rainbow baby is that every trip to the bathroom is scary. After every wipe you investigate the tissue to see if there is any spotting. You check your panties to see if there is any evidence of spotting. When everything is normal, you feel a sigh of relief. You also go to the bathroom more when you are pregnant, so there is constant anxiety with every single trip. The bathroom causes me so much anxiety because it was the place that my initial nightmare started. You never forget that sound of your water breaking in the toilet or that feeling of dread — the knots you had in your stomach & feeling of doom.

You agonize over when and where to share publicly that you are expecting. You don’t want to tell too many people for fear that if something goes wrong, you’ll have to go back to those same people to share the sad news, which in my experience can sometimes amplify the grieving process — it certainly did when I experienced my first loss at 5 months. You also don’t want to rob yourself of the experience and joy of sharing the news with your loved ones. I was always taught that as long as you made it past the first trimester… you were “safe.” My first pregnancy experience totally dispelled that myth.

When you visit the doctor’s office it’s hard to focus on anything that they say because all you really want is to hear your baby’s heartbeat with the doppler or see the baby moving around on the ultrasound. Seeing and hearing a healthy baby with your own two eyes and ears is the most reassuring thing that a least makes the days that you visit the doctor’s good days. The night before doctor’s appointments, it is hard to sleep because all you can do is think about whether or not you’ll receive a good report. You add COVID-19 to the mix, and you’re not allowed to have your partner or any one else attend doctor’s appointments with you.

This pregnancy unlike the others has been pretty uneventful. Which is exactly what you want. No trips to the ER. No spotting. No cramps. Once I surpassed that 18 week, 3 day mark, I celebrated officially being the most pregnant I’ve ever been. Every week, I feel stronger, and my little miracle baby has been my lifeline. I’ve got to continue to move in positivity, love, and unshakeable faith not just for me, but for my baby. I feel incredibly blessed to be carrying this life, and I wanted to publish this to encourage other women and families that miracles still exist and they still happen. We’re past the halfway mark, which is so exciting, but I have yet to feel at total ease or peace. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we march toward our due date in the Spring of 2021.

This post is dedicated to my first angel baby Biko. Thank you for the gifts that you brought me and others. May you continue to rest peacefully! It is also dedicated to my partner Camron, who has helped to bring normalcy, joy & calm during this time. We are witnessing a miracle unfold before our very eyes.

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Donnie Belcher

Donnie Belcher (IG @donnienicole84) is a life-coach, business strategist & the owner of wellness company Whatever we say comes looking for us.