“It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope.”
– Author Unknown
The term ‘rainbow baby’ is used to describe babies born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of an infant. This is a term that has become so normal for me now, but one that seven years ago, I knew nothing about. It wasn’t until we lost our first baby shortly after birth that I learned about this precious term. I spent the next two years waiting and yearning for that colorful ray of light to brighten our dark days.
My heart won’t ever forget the day I met my little man face to face; he came out crying the sweetest and loudest little cry I’ve ever heard. I remember being in shock and awe of this precious miracle that was now ours. For most, I’m sure this sounds like any normal birth, but for us, it was so different. This was truly our dream come true, this was the day we welcomed our first ‘rainbow baby!’
Fast forward three years from that exact month and my heart felt an all too familiar pain as we had a miscarriage. Another little life lost; this one left me feeling like a broken version of myself. I fought every day to get out of bed and continue being the best Mama I could to our little man. Again, I craved that happy ending and I longed for our story to be redeemed in some way.
While I know not every storm ends with a rainbow, I so desperately wanted ours to.
A year and a half ago, we found out that we were expecting again. Cue all the nerves and anxious thoughts. When you’ve experienced pregnancy and infant loss firsthand, it changes you. As much as I wanted to celebrate right away, it almost as if I felt like I was holding my breath. The innocence of motherhood and blissful joy that most feel just wasn’t there. (And definitely not for lack of trying!) Every OB appointment seemed to bring both sighs of relief and new fears to the surface. Those long nine months tested every part of me. I counted kicks like a crazy person, asked to hear the heartbeat any chance I could, and stared so intently at that ultrasound screen every appointment; still not fully convinced that something wouldn’t go wrong.
Somehow we made it through, and in that split moment, all of the worrying and anxious thoughts became just a blur. We welcomed our second rainbow baby; the sweetest little light and ball of joy you will ever meet! All at once, my world seemed a whole lot brighter, and that heaviness my empty arms had previously felt, was lifted by the eight pounds of perfect baby girl that now filled them.
Pregnancy and motherhood after loss are so different for everyone, but for me, it is almost as if I am living with ‘widened eyes’.
Hear me out. I feel like I have seen the bigger picture. I’ve lived out the opposite side of this journey, and it has made me SO much more grateful for what I have now; for my real-life double rainbow!
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about our two girls that we lost, and just like every other Mama out there, my heart longs to have all of my babies here with me. Having experienced their losses though, it is almost as if they each left me with a gift; that gift of knowledge and those widened eyes. There were so many days back then that I wished for exactly what I have now, and that is such perspective for me! Especially on those rough parenting days.
If you too are raising rainbow babies, I just want to let you know that while it certainly comes with its own sets of challenges and grief waves, it is also such a joyful journey. And if you are the Mama who is sitting there with empty arms, or having experienced the same losses I shared about earlier, I just want to first off give you a virtual hug. We are the 1 in 4 statistic you see floating around, but more than that, we are a whole community of Moms who will forever be connected because of the deep losses we’ve experienced. Keep your eyes focused on the light, I promise it is there and it is so so worth it!