After enduring the devastating loss of her son, Jonathan Edward, four months into her pregnancy last year, Married At First Sight star Jamie Otis, 30, has announced that she is pregnant with her rainbow baby. Otis and her husband, Doug Hehner, 33, actually found out that they were pregnant again in December — on what would have been the due date of their first son.
Otis first made headlines when she shared a touching image of her son after he passed away, cradled in her hands as Hehner looked over both his wife and the son they lost too soon.
In the Instagram post, the bereaved mother said that her son deserved to be remembered, not hidden away because the sight of his body, so shockingly small, might offend someone. Since then, Otis has become a beacon of hope and healing for many women who have also lost a baby, many of whom suffer in silence.
And in a joy-filled rainbow-themed photo shoot for their rainbow baby, Otis addressed all of the complex emotions that experiencing a pregnancy loss can bring, from worrying about making people feel “awkward” with an announcement that is early to discussing the “taboo” topic of miscarriage, while also celebrating the fact that she and Hehner are just pretty darn excited to have the chance to be parents again.
The couple told PEOPLE that this little one has been long dreamed-for and prayed for. Due in August, Otis was so thrilled, in fact, that she made the decision to announce their pregnancy at 10 weeks, sooner than the typical advice to wait until you’ve made it through the first trimester. Of course, as Otis and Hehner know all too well, there is never any truly “safe” time and for them, the decision to announce their pregnancy “early” was an important one.
“We as women are told to wait to share you’re pregnant until you’re in the ‘clear’ (in second trimester),” she wrote. “This is supposed to ‘protect you’ since your chances of loss significantly reduce once you reach your second trimester.”
The other side of that, however, is that when women do have a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, it is not only a devastating loss, but also an isolating experience if no one knew that they were pregnant to be begin with. And when you think about it, who is that “don’t announce until after 12 weeks” rule really protecting anyhow? It’s certainly not protecting the woman or the couple going through it — it’s only for the benefit of other people who we worry about burdening with the heavy news of our loss.
Otis shared in her post how going public with her own loss not only helped her heal, but other women as well. Women from all over reached out to her with their own stories of losing a baby that they had not yet announced. Often, they felt like they had to hide their sorrow — quite possibly the worst way to deal with grief.
“Miscarriage is as taboo as it gets so you certainly don’t mention it in passing or at work or at a dinner with friends,” she noted. “Instead they would paste a smile on their face and wipe the tears so it wouldn’t be ‘awkward.’ Women should not have to go through this after such a devastating loss.”
Reading her words as a mom who has had a miscarriage myself, what she said truly resonated with me. It can be overwhelming to worry about upsetting other people and even harder to wonder if you have the “right” to be excited about a pregnancy after a loss or even when it’s early. Otis brushed off that idea with the many colorful rainbow balloons around her head, because when it comes right down to it, it’s every individual woman’s right to be excited about her pregnancy when she wants to be excited and her right to announce whenever the heck she wants to.
“I know I’m not the first to announce my pregnancy early and I hope I’m not the last,” she ended her post “….my hubby and I have squashed fear with so much love, joy, and happiness.”