Rainbow Baby Day: Meet Calvin
National Rainbow Baby Day (Aug. 22) offers families a chance to celebrate the joy of a new baby while reflecting and sharing about the baby (or babies) they lost.
We’re excited to introduce you to Cal, the newest arrival for Count the Kicks Georgia Ambassador Erica Aitken. In honor of Rainbow Baby Day, we asked her to share more about her experience with pregnancy after loss, pregnancy during a pandemic, and what having a rainbow baby means to her.
Congrats on the safe arrival of your new baby! Can you tell us more about your family and your new baby?
My husband, Jesse, and I have been together for 16 wonderful years! Our fur-child, Belle, is our first born (haha!). She was followed by our first human daughter, Josie, who is currently 4.5 years old, and Alex, who was stillborn in October of 2019, and last but definitely not least, our son, Cal. Calvin Thaddeus Aitken was born Aug. 27, 2020 at 6:37 p.m., and measured 6 lbs., 6 oz. and 20 inches. He had blonde hair at birth and we have no clue where that came from since we all have brown hair! His hair has darkened as he’s grown over the past year.
How long have you been a Count the Kicks Ambassador and what does it mean to you?
I became a Count the Kicks Ambassador in June of 2020, during my third trimester of pregnancy with Cal. After losing Alex, I knew I needed to give back in some way to honor her, and becoming an integral part of Count the Kicks was the obvious answer to this calling.
Please tell us more about your experience being pregnant after losing a baby to stillbirth.
I got pregnant again very quickly after losing Alex. She was born still on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2019, and I found out I was pregnant with Cal on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2019. I recognize how fortunate I am to get pregnant so easily, however this rapid timeline did not allow me the time to properly grieve Alex and launched me into emotional turmoil.
I was extremely hesitant to share the news of my pregnancy with anyone, not even my own family. Honestly, I was terrified that Cal would die too and I knew I could not survive the loss of another child.
I was so laid-back during my pregnancies with both of my daughters and trusted my body to do its job and protect them, and I felt I’d personally failed Alex. I was riddled with anxiety during my entire pregnancy with Cal and was constantly worried about him. To sum things up, being pregnant with Cal was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I don’t think I could put myself through that again.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic have an impact on your pregnancy experience?
Yes! Not only was I reeling from my very recent loss of Alex, coupled with the emotional upheaval of being pregnant again so quickly, but I also had to remain a recluse from any sense of normalcy in life for fear of COVID-19 harming me or my baby.
Jesse and I did not want to take any risks with Cal after all we’d been through with Alex. I didn’t see my family or friends and had no face-to-face support system. I stayed home — all. the. time. I felt utterly alone and had no escape. I couldn’t even have a glass of wine to try to relax! It was so, so, so hard.
Another major downside of COVID was that none of my family or friends could come visit Cal right after he was born, for fear of getting him sick.
Tell us more about your experience using the FREE Count the Kicks app during your rainbow baby pregnancy.
I used the Count the Kicks app at least once daily starting at 26 weeks of pregnancy with Cal. At first using the app made me very nervous. I would worry if I didn’t get 10 movements in around 20 minutes.
After a week or two of using the app and learning what movement patterns were normal for my baby, I grew to greatly appreciate the knowledge I gained about how Cal moved. It reassured me to know he was moving in ways that were typical for him. I felt more and more confident that he was OK, since his movement patterns were pretty reliable.
What was your favorite feature of the Count the Kicks app?
Being able to view the history of how my baby moves and share that information with my doctor is most definitely my favorite feature of the app.
It’s Rainbow Baby Day! Do you use this term, and if so, what does it mean to you to have a rainbow baby?
I understand that many people use and love the term “rainbow baby” and I’ve come to accept that most people refer to my son that way. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this term, as it implies that my beautiful precious daughter, Alex, was a storm. She is not nor will she ever be a storm to me. She is just as much a lovely rainbow as Cal is. I wish she were here with us today more than anything.
What do you want other moms to know about stillbirth, pregnancy after loss, and the Count the Kicks campaign?
TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCTS, MAMA! Did I say that emphatically enough?! I wish I’d listened to my internal nagging that something wasn’t right with Alex. I didn’t. And I will never be able to totally forgive myself for that.
Truly, if you feel something isn’t right with your pregnancy or baby, go to the doctor or hospital. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go to the doctor right away.
What do you hope to accomplish in your role as a Count the Kicks Ambassador in your state?
I hope to help educate expectant parents in Georgia on the vital importance of tracking their baby’s movement in the third trimester of pregnancy. If I can help one mama pick up the Count the Kicks app, trust both the data that it provides as well as her gut intuition, and feel empowered enough to speak up and save her baby if the baby’s movement patterns change, then I’ll feel Alex’s life was not lost in vain.
Nobody should have to say goodbye to their child before they even get a chance to say a proper hello. It is a cruel heart-wrenching torture that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
About Our Ambassadors
Count the Kicks Ambassadors help us educate expectant parents and providers across the U.S. about the importance of kick counting in the third trimester of pregnancy. This incredible group of kick counting advocates are essential to our efforts to reach as many parents and providers as possible. Our Ambassador team currently includes 42 women representing 28 states, plus Washington, D.C., Canada and India. The team includes 33 who work in honor of lost babies, five that are baby save moms, and four who are birth workers.
Visit our website to learn more about our Ambassador program.
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