Being a Rainbow Baby

I never really knew what a rainbow baby was until about a year ago.

For those of you who don’t know, a “rainbow baby” is a term used to describe a baby born shortly after the loss of a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death during infancy.

I became a rainbow baby on March 4, 1997 because of the life my parents lost on March 1, 1996. Her name was Keisha Elizabeth Carter, and in medical terms she was aborted at 21 weeks 3 days.

Before you read the word “aborted” and jump to conclusions, let me tell you a little bit about my parents and the situation.

In March of 1996 my mother had just turned 29 and my father was 36, about to turn 37. Neither of them had children, and they had been married for 5 years. Both had steady jobs, they had just moved into a bigger home in anticipation of their new child, and both were excited about bringing a new baby into the world. They had a name (Keisha) picked out, they already told both sides of the family, and they were preparing for a baby in another 20 weeks. The point I’m trying to make here is that they were overjoyed about the prospect of a new baby, a new human being that was all them.

And then they got the news. Keisha wasn’t healthy. Her spinal sac didn’t close the way it’s supposed to, an abnormality so rare that there are only 200,000 cases in the United States every year. This abnormality, also known as Spina Bifida, was nothing that they could prevent, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just happened. More bad news: if Keisha survived the fetal stage and was birthed, her chances of surviving were low. Her quality of life would be even lower, and her medical bills would be hard on two parents who had enough to bring a baby into this world, but worked hard for every single cent. Her birth could hurt my mother, who would never dream of hurting a fly. The doctors recommended aborting the fetus in order to prevent damage to both the unborn child and my mother.

My parents went on to make what they still describe as the hardest decision of their lives. On March 1, 1996, Keisha Elizabeth Carter came into this world, and subsequently became my guardian angel. My parents were changed forever, because they had to make the hardest decision of their lives.

Without their decision, I wouldn’t be here. Neither would my baby brother, who just this past weekend went to his first homecoming dance (and yes I cried at the pictures). There’s a chance the birth would have harmed or even killed my mom, who is the most loving, caring, amazing woman I will ever have the pleasure of knowing in my lifetime.

Why the background story? Well, politically, it’s important. The House of Representatives just passed HR36, making it illegal for physicians to perform abortions after 20 weeks, unless the pregnancy will kill or harm the mother, or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. While the doctors hypothesized that the pregnancy would kill my mother, they were not certain that it would do so. The bill offers nothing about exceptions for dead fetuses, so women would also be forced to carry their dead fetuses to term- something that I would deem cruel and unusual.

I know I don’t often get political and wordy on my blog, but this is an important exception. If this bill were made a law 21 years ago, I wouldn’t be here to write this blog.

Rainbow babies are said to have a different outlook on life. They are raised to value life for how precious it truly is. Rainbow babies live their lives not just for themselves, but for their big sib that they lost.

I live every day for Keisha and myself. She is my guardian angel and she watches over me in everything I do. I’m never alone- I have her. And I have Tripp, and my parents.

This had a purpose and an ending but now I’m tired and almost crying in a coffee shop and also kind of hungry. So I’m going to leave you with this:

Don’t make assumptions; you never know what saved someones life, what matters to someone, and what someone has been through. Life is precious; just ask a rainbow baby.

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