It’s 2 a.m., and I’m staring into her tiny face. I am exhausted, but she is wide awake. She just needs me to hold her, to let her take in this moment. Everything is brand new to her. She’s only been here for a few weeks. I am happy to be her home.
She’s my rainbow baby. A perfect reminder that there is beauty after the storm. She feels like a miracle, and in some ways, she is. As I rock her, I think back on the two years it took to get her into my arms.
“I’m sorry, but there is no 8-week fetus visible in this sac. I know this comes as a disappointment to you. Unfortunately, there is something else your OB will need to discuss with you…”
It was supposed to be our first glimpse of our third baby. Instead, we found that our baby had stopped growing. She was already gone.
Before we could even process the loss, my OB asked us to follow him into his office.
There was a mass on the ultrasound. Nobody could tell from the imaging what it was or even where it was attached. He felt strongly we needed to get it out and send it for testing.
We left with broken hearts and a surgery date.
In the end, I was lucky. The mass was benign. My OB was able to remove it without a problem, but I lost a fallopian tube. That usually doesn’t mean much, but I also have PCOS. Between my rarely-ovulating ovaries and my missing tube, our third baby seemed like an impossible dream. My OB reminded us that a third baby was possible, but encouraged us to do our best to make peace with the idea that our family might already be complete.
I tried. It was lucky that PCOS had even allowed me to have the two beautiful children I had. I realized I should feel like they were more than enough. And they were. I would have found peace in time. I just needed to heal.
But I wasn’t ready to completely give up hope that a rainbow baby was in our future.
When I found out I was pregnant with our loss, I created room in my heart for a third child. That’s just how pregnancy works for me. I feel very connected to the idea of my babies from the second I know they exist. When we lost that pregnancy, that space didn’t just disappear for me. It sat empty, waiting for whoever was coming next.
It always felt like someone should be coming next.
Eighteen months after our gut-wrenching loss, ridiculous amounts of optimism convinced me to take a test days before it ever should have been positive.
There was the faintest hint of a second line.
I think I held my breath for nine months, afraid to let myself think it was real.
And now she’s here.
A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or child loss. Just like a rainbow often follows a storm, a rainbow baby follows the pain of loss. They bring light and beauty back into a place where dark clouds have taken up residence.
There’s something a little bit special about a rainbow baby.
Rainbow babies bring healing. They don’t erase our memories or take away our pain, but they help us begin to mend our broken pieces. They bring us joy again.
On the night my daughter was born, when we were finally alone and the hospital was quiet, I held her tiny body close. I felt her fuzzy head on my cheek, and I cried. Pure joy ran down my face as I snuggled this little person whose very existence renewed my belief that even the most impossible dreams sometimes come true.
Joy eventually gave way to pain. I cried for the baby I would have had two years ago if things had gone differently. I will always wonder who she would have been.
And then, gratitude.
Our loss led us here. If anything was different, this baby would never have existed. The pain will always linger, but there’s acceptance here now. There is no version of reality where I would ever choose to spare myself that loss if it meant never having the privilege of creating this baby.
There’s a beautiful, magical haze that falls over the birth of a brand-new rainbow baby. The whole family can feel it. We are all in awe of her together. Her very existence feels miraculous and unbelievable.
I know that as time marches on, the fact that she was born after a loss won’t cross my mind as often. Rainbows don’t last forever, and like the old poem says, babies don’t keep.
A rainbow baby’s magic shines brightest in the beginning.
I’m okay with that. We won’t define her whole existence by the fact that we lost someone before her. Her time as my rainbow baby is just the blink of an eye. She will grow up before we know it.
That’s why I am drinking it in. It’s why I have full laundry baskets, an empty social calendar, and a slow-cooker working overtime. It’s why my older kids have spent so many lazy afternoons just watching movies and eating popcorn with me in my bed since she was born. This little rainbow baby has reminded me to slow down and remember the days when I could only dream of the family I have now.
My rainbow baby reminds me to marvel at my other babies just a little more, too. I will always be awestruck by the fact that Fate deemed me worthy of raising three amazing human beings. The bitterness of loss taught me how to appreciate the sweetness of every day with all three of my children.
Our rainbow baby filled the space that was waiting for her in my once-broken heart. She also filled the last bedroom in our home and the last empty seat in our car. It feels like she was always meant to be ours.
You’ve never met a mom more obsessed with all of her children than I am, but even I can admit that there’s something extra sweet about a rainbow baby.
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