By Fredrica Syren:
The day my son Noah was born was one of my happiest. He made us a family of four, brought us a son, and made our first child a big sister. But what most people don’t know about Noah is that he’s extra special because he’s our rainbow baby. Rainbow babies are those born after loss and grief resulting from a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated, having just experienced the storm. In comparison, this baby is a miracle so longed for. The pregnancy with a rainbow baby is a terrifying one, but in the end the baby is the ultimate gift that may restore hope and faith for grieving parents.
Our Noah was born after three miscarriages and years of infertility. My faith had been shaken and I had begun to believe that I would be the mother of one child. I was incredibly grateful for my beautiful baby girl, but deep in my heart I longed so much for more children and struggled with what my body could not do. Because of the losses I had experienced, my expectation of a “normal” pregnancy was gone.
A pregnancy after loss is very scary. For example, there’s no such thing as a normal pregnancy pain after you’ve miscarried. I remember checking for blood all the time because I feared another miscarriage. Once I started feeling movements, I paid extra attention to them to make sure everything was ok. If the baby didn’t move for a long stretch, my mind would play games with me. My advice for rainbow baby moms is to be kind to yourself and never, ever think you’re acting irrationally. Also, accept help when it is offered, and ask for it when you need it, even if it seems outlandish.
I think the biggest misconception of a rainbow baby is that people assume that once the baby is born you will instantly forget about the loss you had experienced previously and be better off. The sad truth is that you will never forget about the babies you lost before and you will grieve for them for the rest of your life. I remember holding my rainbow baby Noah for the very first time and crying so hard because he was here and he was safe. I also cried for his siblings who are in heaven. A rainbow baby is a true blessing but not a replacement. So as a parent of a rainbow baby, give yourself permission to mourn and miss the baby who didn’t make it.
I never realized that Noah’s big sister also was mourning the loss of the babies before him. She knew about one of them and, as she held her new brother for the very first time, I saw her fall in love. Then she asked me if this one was going to stay.
Noah means “rest and peace,” and I think his name is appropriate because he brought this to my family.
As a mom of a rainbow baby, I have learned that, with each day, I can breathe a little bit deeper. Every day, I love my babies — all of them — and that love overtakes the pain of my losses.