Losing your baby is a devastation unlike any other. Some of us do, however, find some comfort when we're fortunate enough to give birth to a rainbow baby. For those unfamiliar, a rainbow is the baby you have after a loss, just like the rainbow after a storm. Sometimes a rainbow comes to your life just a few months after your loss (like mine), while others spend years trying for another baby. So I asked few other moms what it was like when they found out they were having a rainbow baby, and they all had so much to say.
I remember the exact moment I found out I was pregnant with my rainbow baby: my son. My husband and I had just moved into a new apartment, but we were both stressed out thanks to our jobs. I was just barely crawling out of the depths of my grief after I lost my daughter to premature birth. I knew I wasn’t in any way, shape, or form ready to try again for another child. In fact, my partner and I weren't trying at all. We were being careful but, with life, things just happen. I’d been feeling off for a few days when I realized my period was about a week late.
I rushed to a Walgreens straight after work and took an at-home pregnancy test right there, in the store's bathroom. I saw that positive result and felt the world spinning out from under me. I was terrified, to be sure, but I was also excited and even a little hopeful. It was quite the experience, but by the end of it I finally had a baby to hold. My baby. Now that baby is 3 years old, and I couldn't be happier or more thankful for his presence in my life. I'm also not alone, as the following moms can tell you. There's just something truly magical about those precious rainbow babies.
“I had been trying for two years since my loss, so when I saw that second line pop up on my HPT (home pregnancy test), I honestly didn't believe it. I had a stash of tests since we had been trying to conceive for so long, and I took every one of them. Still, that wasn't good enough. I went out and bought a two pack of digital tests. When they both popped up ‘pregnant,’ I finally allowed myself to believe that it was actually happening. And contrary to what many do, I didn't wait until I knew everything was ‘OK’ to announce the pregnancy. I shouted it from the rooftops right away. I think having suffered a miscarriage the first time, I just wanted everyone to know that this baby existed. Good or bad, whether the baby ‘stuck’ or not, I just wanted people to know that they were here.”
“Scared, like, all the time. I lost two in a row before [my son], so it took awhile to settle in. I only told a few people that I knew would pray and just let everyone else figure it out when they saw me. Excitement probably started coming more towards the end when I could always feel him moving around."
“Finding out I was pregnant after Holden (my son) died was terrifying. As excited as we were to raise a child together, we now knew more than ever that there were no guarantees in life, because that chance had been ripped away from us just three months before. From the moment we found out, the anxiety has been palpable. My husband still has horrible dreams that something will happen to our daughter.”
“My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks. It was terrible (I started bleeding during my work holiday party and knew something was very, very wrong). I also had an unrelated medical issue discovered around the same time so we had to put off trying to conceive until several months after my operation.
Then almost exactly a year later, I got pregnant again. And miscarried, again. The official cause was there was no cause, but I think my husband really struggled with that even more than I did, and kept making up 'reasons' it might have happened. But we kept trying, and six months after that I got another positive [pregnancy test]. We were too scared to be excited. I think it was worse for my husband than [it was] for me. He didn't want to tell anyone, and barely let me talk about the pregnancy at all. It was actually pretty lonely for me because I wanted to be excited, but I never really felt like I could — at least not with him. And of course, I was nervous too. I actually had a bit of spotting that turned out to be nothing, but it was terrifying, like I was walking on eggshells the whole time.
Also, sex was totally nonexistent, because he was too scared to even touch me. He wouldn't let me talk about buying anything for the baby or possible names or anything. Like I said, it was really lonely. I think around the time of our 20-week ultrasound, he started to ease up a little bit, but I never really felt that joy and anticipation around him. I think the miscarriages just robbed him of that. This time around, we got pregnant almost immediately after we started trying again and he's still overly cautious and even more hesitant to talk about it because now I'm ‘old.’ I'm 13 weeks along today and I still don't feel like he really wants to talk about this baby. It's as if talking about it will make everything fall apart. I get it, but it makes me sad.”
“It was terrifying. I had three miscarriages in between kid two and kid three. That last pregnancy was full of anxiety. Because two of my [losses] were so-called "missed" miscarriages and I had to have D&C's to remove them, I was petrified with every ultrasound that they would tell me the fetus had stopped growing or there was no heartbeat. But when baby was finally born? The most beautiful, peaceful feeling in the world to know that my family was complete.”
“My son died in March 2013 from complications of Trisomy 18. He was 2 1/2 months old. I also miscarried a baby 6 months after he died. So in July 2014, when I found out I was pregnant again, I was happy, because I definitely wanted another baby. But at the same time, I was terrified. I was so scared that I would lose this baby, too, or that there would be something wrong with her. That fear never went away. I don't suppose it ever will. As the myriad of tests ordered throughout my pregnancy came back normal, I was relieved for a little while, then my brain would immediately think of something else that could go wrong. My rainbow baby turned 2 on March, and I still fear all of the illnesses and accidents that could take her away from me.”
“I miscarried a week after finding out I was 8 weeks pregnant. Even though I had gone to the doctor to rule out pregnancy before beginning a hardcore diet and exercise regimen, I felt an immense amount of guilt for not realizing my weight gain was due to pregnancy. The week after my miscarriage, I was scheduled to travel to Costa Rica. Two weeks after returning to the States, I learned I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. I was over the moon about getting pregnant again so quickly, yet terrified of having another miscarriage.”
“I lost my first pregnancy right at 12 weeks. I didn't see it coming at all, and was devastated. It actually took me a while to even start trying again. When I did get pregnant again, seven weeks in, I had some bleeding and found out it was ectopic. That heartbreak was almost too much. I had to take this awful medicine to kill the fetus, and it made me feel just awful. Plus then I had to wait four months for that medicine to leave my body before trying to get pregnant again. It felt so unfair. Eventually, I did get pregnant again. I had to go in for blood tests every morning, because I was considered high-risk. I was so scared. I was constantly on edge, wondering if I felt a twinge of pain, or if I would see blood in my underwear. Honestly, that fear got better but never left me.”
"I had an early miscarriage in May 2013, then found out I was pregnant in October of that same year. It happened after our first attempt to get pregnant again. I had been so terrified that I wouldn't be able to have another child (our oldest was 2 at the time) that I had begun imagining life with just one and sort of coming to terms with that. It didn't make logical or statistical sense that I had to believe that: lots of women have miscarriages and my doctor had found no indication that this miscarriage was anything other than ‘just one of those things that happens sometimes,’ but I had felt so betrayed by my body that I began to question its capabilities."
“(My) miscarriage came quickly, but it was incredibly painful physically and emotionally. After nearly a year, we were finally pregnant again, and I knew I should feel great relief and joy. While I did in some small measure, the overwhelming feeling was great anxiety and fear. I felt too guarded to truly embrace the good news, and I felt that my miscarriage continued to rob me.
Then the doctor called to say that my HCG levels were too low to sustain a pregnancy. I was told to come repeat blood work to see if the HCG level was increasing or declining. I was told to prepare for another miscarriage. Two hours later, the nurse called to say that inexplicably, my HCG levels had not only doubled, but had tripled. It was the miraculous sign I needed to allow myself to consider that our hopes were finally being fulfilled, and to battle through the anxiety that nagged at me throughout that pregnancy.”
“It was less than 10 months after we lost our son (and three days after my wedding). My husband was still looking for work, I was still in grief and trauma therapy three days a week, and I didn't know how we would make it work. I was terrified throughout, but I'd met a really caring and compassionate OB-GYN when I lost my son at 22 weeks. I switched to her care after my loss and she was amazing to work with. I also saw a great perinatologist who helped me feel like ‘OK, I can't control much, but I do have a lot of medical options to help me stay pregnant.’ We had a plan, and I could follow it and know I did everything I could do.”
“I lost my first baby just shy of 16 weeks due to triploidy 69 which means the baby had 69 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. It was a hard time for us and it took me two years to even begin to think about trying for another child. I suffer from endometriosis so getting pregnant wasn't exactly easy for me. [My partner and I] finally found out we were pregnant again in early December of 2013. We were obviously over the moon, but I also had this fear in the back of my head and kept waiting for them to tell me something was wrong with the baby. I was so paranoid about losing the baby that I didn't fully appreciate the beauty, awe, and amazingness that is pregnancy. Every time we bought something for the baby, I made sure to ask about their return policy (in case I lost the baby and needed to get the baby stuff out of my house). I didn't want to have a baby shower, but thankfully my mom and best friend convinced me to. Even as I was pushing my daughter out, I was convinced something would still go wrong. Looking back, I am mad at myself for not trying harder to let those feelings go because I won't ever be able to experience pregnancy again.”
“When I found out that I was pregnant with my rainbow baby, it was terrifying and beautiful at once. I wanted to be excited, but I was also afraid to get my hopes up and almost every doctor’s appointment or ultrasound until he was born was nerve-wracking. He is 8 now, though, so it was all worth it!”
“After six years trying, five losses, and our sixth and final Hail Mary cycle of Clomid, we got pregnant with our rainbow baby. I felt nervous all the time. Cried every time I had to go to the bathroom through the first trimester because I was sure there would be blood or another sign I was going to lose this one, too. After the second trimester, I eased up a little and it actually felt real. It was then that I could relax and enjoy my pregnancy.”
“Both of my little ones are rainbow babies. I had a miscarriage before my first and two more before my second. With both of them, I felt simultaneously anxious, excited, and hopeful. I wanted to believe they would work out, but I was so scared something would go wrong until the very moment they were pulled out of me.
I never understood women who just were like, 'OMG, [it feels like] I peed on a stick and [now] a baby is coming out.' Every second of my pregnancies felt like a lifetime because I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. There were very few moments of pregnancy I actually enjoyed because I was so afraid something would go wrong. But now, here they are and I get to soak them in every day. So pregnancy for me was always a means to an end, and I'm so fortunate I got two happy ones, even if I had to go through a few others to get there.”
“I was terrified the whole time. I felt like the joy and innocence of pregnancy was stripped away from me. I was jealous of the women who could announce their pregnancy without fear. I felt excited, too, but it was always met with hesitation.”