A rainbow baby is the name given for a baby born after experiencing the loss of a baby. But not everyone likes that name and I can understand why. Not all parents get to have their rainbow – some may lose their rainbow and some may not necessarily see a healthy baby after a loss as a rainbow because rainbows come after a storm. They may not see the beautiful life they lost as a storm and I completely see their point.
Here in my home, we have a rainbow baby and we love our rainbow. My daughter Margo, a.k.a. Maggie Moo or Eggie, was conceived after a miscarriage – the first one I ever had and hopefully the last.
Our beautiful angel baby was around the six or seven week mark. Our angel was wanted, prayed for, and loved (not a surprise that a miscarriage is any less heartbreaking). We previously had two healthy and beautiful boys so we maybe naively assumed that this baby we tried for would come into this world with ease. We did this twice before without trying so nothing could go wrong this time.
Having a rainbow baby pregnancy or a pregnancy after loss was like nothing I could have ever imagined or understood until it happened to me. My heart goes out to every single parent who has been through this, going through this, or may in the future. The fear of using the toilet takes over your life, every stomach cramp and new pain leaves you wondering what if it happens again. You get scared to buy anything or tell anyone, or even talk about your baby and its future. Everything feels uncertain and uncomfortable; it's like walking on thin ice.
It can be a very lonely and isolating experience and at times you may seem ungrateful for your rainbow, but it’s not that at all. You are so grateful and you are so terrified it may be taken away from you again.
My rainbow pregnancy with Margo was classified as high-risk due to my high blood pressure, previous preeclampsia, and the fact that in this pregnancy I had low levels of pregnancy‐associated plasma protein A (PAPP‐A).
Once Margo arrived via C-section on September 26, 2023, I just assumed my anxiety would leave. My rainbow baby was here – she was healthy and she was safe – but I was so wrong. I was so grateful that she made it earthside but I was so sure it was too surreal. I was too lucky and something was bound to go wrong. I had it in my head that things were too perfect. I was losing sleep because I wouldn’t take my eyes off her. I was then kept in the hospital as I had postpartum preeclampsia.
Then at 19 days old, Margo was ill and no one could figure out why. Eventually she was diagnosed with bronchitis and her doctors also discovered she had an atrial septal defect, or a small hole in her heart. Our life wasn’t colourful like rainbows are. It was in fact very dark and scary. It felt like one storm after another.
Once Margo recovered we were allowed home. I didn’t become any less anxious, just more anxious. I lost so much sleep because I watched her sleeping, I wouldn’t leave her side or leave her with anyone or let her nap unless it was near me. I was lucky to have a supportive family who I could freely talk to, but none of them had been through what I had.
What I did find extremely helpful is reaching out to people online who had been through the same. Talking to them about rainbow babies, pregnancy after loss, babies with bronchitis and just general heightened postpartum anxiety really helped. It made me feel less alone. All of these crazy thoughts in my head weren’t so crazy or wild and actually very normal if you had been through these things. Our heads can feel like a really wild and bizarre place until we share our thoughts and experiences with others. I really do believe a problem shared is a problem halved.
I don’t believe rainbow babies fix anything. And I don’t believe they cancel out a storm. Life is a storm. We are all sailing the storm on different boats and our journeys are different through this big storm, but rainbows are a reminder that storms can be beautiful, messy, and unpredictable – just like life.
Margo reminds us of all the beauty and reasons to be happy and that we wouldn’t be able to experience joy and highs if we didn’t experience sadness and lows. I can appreciate the good moments because I’ve been through the hard ones.