Here I am, 39 weeks pregnant with a baby whom many people refer to as a rainbow baby, meaning baby after loss. For us, this pregnancy comes after two losses over the last two years. I suppose the term has been around for years by now, celebrating a baby after such difficult times. And I am all about celebrating. But I have been hesitant to do it through the use of that term.
Full disclosure: In no way am I putting down anyone’s use of the term rainbow baby. However, these are just some very real feelings and emotions that I’ve been experiencing recently.
There are so many emotions involved with a pregnancy after loss. No longer is it nine months of blissful ignorance while dreaming of a baby. Though I am now glad for those moments that break up the other numerous thoughts that fill the time, the thoughts that would completely consume me if I let them. I am celebrating a new life while still grieving the ones lost. All of those emotions present together.
But the term rainbow baby comes with so much more. I feel an underlying pressure and an expectation that I should be somewhat emotionally stable and completely happy with this baby and everything she does because of the term. And that somehow she is supposed to solve something. I don’t want to attach that pressure and emotion to a child. I don’t want so much of this baby’s identity to be in that she followed such tragic loss.
And then there’s the deeper reason, and perhaps the hardest thing for me to have learned. The rainbow baby term stems from the idea that a rainbow comes after a storm. Of course, it makes me think of Noah’s Ark from the Bible. The rainbow was just a symbol of the promise, but it wasn’t the promise. After the loss of each of our babies, I truly felt peace and that God was still good. For me, the promise was that He comforted me and would continue to – whether or not I would ever be pregnant again or have another baby. That’s a rough statement to get out. This gift of a baby girl is just that, a gift. I don’t feel she replaces the two babies we lost and will always remember or fills any kind of emotional holes they left. But it also doesn’t mean I am any less thankful for her and who she is and will become. Trials aren’t the only things that can teach us lessons. Gifts can teach us lessons too if we pay close enough attention.