If you are new to the baby loss community, like I once was, it’s very possible you have never heard of a “rainbow baby.” A rainbow baby is one who is born after a pregnancy or infant loss. A rainbow is a symbol of God’s covenant that comes after the storm has passed, and it offers peace, hope, and promise.
Women who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss often feel as if their stories are hard to share due to the unspoken taboo surrounding their loss. This silence can leave mothers feeling alone and misunderstood. As a mother who has experienced three pregnancy losses and is currently pregnant with another rainbow baby, I understand those feelings all too well.
After pregnancy and infant loss, becoming pregnant again is simultaneously amazing and scary in a way that only a mother carrying a rainbow baby can truly understand. But a rainbow baby can never take the place of their older sibling or fill the void created when a parent experiences a loss. A pregnancy after loss makes those two pink lines on the tiny stick so incredibly different in both positive and negative ways.
To continue to shed light on pregnancy and infant loss, I would like to share some of the raw emotions a mother experiences during a rainbow baby pregnancy.
1. You feel excited.
The moment you take a pregnancy test and see a positive result, all those doubts and fears are covered — if only for a moment — in nothing but excitement.
2. You feel joy.
You revel in every milestone as each month passes, even the not-so-fun ones. Take morning sickness, for example (but let’s be real and call it all-day sickness). Even though you feel miserable and the smell of everything makes you beyond nauseous, those feelings of misery are also amazing because they reassure you that your baby is alive and growing.
3. You feel fear.
No matter how your loss occurred, the fear of losing your rainbow baby can be extremely overwhelming at times. You try to be optimistic about bringing a healthy baby home in nine months, but you are also terrified of getting your hopes up only to have them completely broken again. Every time you wake up, you check to make sure you have all the pregnancy symptoms you should have. Every time you go to the bathroom, you pray there is no spotting. Every day brings a new fear.
4. You feel angry.
You are angry to be at a place in your life where you know and understand what a rainbow baby actually is. The questions of “Why me?” and “Why my baby(ies)?” can drive you crazy and draw you into a darkness you feel no one else can ever understand. You are angry that you had to experience loss and that every pregnancy thereafter has been robbed of a sense of innocence and joy in its purest form.
5. You feel a sense of guilt.
It can feel as if you are trying not to let yourself feel too much joy or you feel like you are taking away from the memory of the child(ren) you previously lost. You have guilt for being so excited for this new baby and worry that people will think you are trying to replace the child(ren) you lost, though that is not even possible.
6. You feel relieved.
You are beyond relieved that you are able to get pregnant again. From the time of your loss, the thought of being able to either start your family or continue to grow it stresses you out daily. Knowing that you are physically capable of becoming pregnant again is a sense of relief so many others take for granted.
7. You feel overwhelmed.
Blame it on the pregnancy hormones if you want, but carrying a rainbow baby is emotionally overwhelming. The highs of feeling excited, happy, and joyful are paired with the lows of fear, guilt, and anger, and they all take a toll on you mentally, emotionally, and physically. At times, you are unable to turn your mind off, wondering and worrying while trying to stay positive and joyful.
8. You feel grateful.
You have a sense of gratitude beyond any you have ever felt. You know from the moment you see a positive pregnancy test that you will not take the experience of pregnancy — or your child — for granted in any way.
9. You feel hopeful.
The hope of holding a healthy baby in nine months completely fills your heart. You know that even though there are no guarantees, there is hope, and even just being able to become pregnant again can give you all the hope you could possibly need.
10. You feel special.
Even if you do not feel this one, you should. You have been chosen to be a mother, and that alone is a special gift. It does not matter if your child(ren) is on this earth or if they are awaiting you in heaven. You are a mother. You were specifically chosen to be the mother of the special rainbow baby you are carrying. You are special.
To all the rainbow mothers out there: You are not alone. Enjoy every little milestone of your rainbow pregnancy. Be hopeful. Remember the storm has passed, and your rainbow is on its way.