Getting pregnant after a loss is stressful, wonderful, and complicated. After you lose a baby, whether through miscarriage, prematurity, or any other way, your life is left in shambles, whether you have other living children or not. If you want another baby, and are lucky enough to have another, your life is filled with a new, unexpected, and cautious joy. As a result, sometimes folks don’t know how to react to this post-loss baby. Rest assured there are plenty of great ways to react, but there are things you moms of rainbow babies do not need to hear, too.
It’s not surprising that many folks end up putting their foot in their mouths when speaking to a grieving parent or the parent of a rainbow baby. Most of us don’t learn how to talk about dead babies in any capacity (or death in general, for that matter). After I lost my daughter, and even after I had my own rainbow baby, I often encountered people who just didn’t know how to react. Some offer condolences. Some don’t. Some ask questions. Some ignore the situation (and even my babies) altogether.
I know that it’s a difficult topic, but I want people to know that it’s OK to talk about the death of our babies. I want people to know it's OK to not always know what to say, and that all we need is support through our losses and the birth of our rainbows. What I do ask, though, is for folks to always be kind. Check out some of these statements and make sure not to use them the next time you’re around the parents of a rainbow.
"Rainbow Baby? That’s A Silly Name."
It is perfectly fine if you lost a baby, had another, and don’t choose to call your post-loss baby a rainbow baby. It is not okay if you tell someone else not to use this term. I personally don’t use the term “angel baby” when referring to the baby I lost, but never in my life would I argue with a loss mom who uses that term for her lost baby. If someone wants to call their rainbow something completely different, that is 100 percent fine by me.
"So Now You Have [Insert Number Of Living Kids Here]"
Some folks don’t understand that many loss parents include the baby or babies they lost as one of their children. For some reason, they think if you ask us how many kids we’ll have, we’ll only include living children. While some bereaved parents do this, it’s insensitive to assume that we don’t include our dead children when we speak about our babies. Best not to ask or say this in general.
"Maybe You Shouldn’t Spoil Your Baby So Much"
In my three years of raising my rainbow son, I’ve had a few folks comment about how much I "spoil" him. If he asks for help, I’m quickly there to assist. If he wants something from me, I almost always comply. My son is not throwing temper tantrums at the store because I won’t buy him expensive gifts. He does not slap me in the face or spit on me or anything equally terrible because I won’t do his bidding. That, to me, would signify he’s acting spoiled. I love on my son quite a lot. I am attentive to his needs. I am more of an attachment parent than anything, and I would never, ever tell another bereaved parent they should be colder or more distant toward their potentially only living child.
"Why Don’t You Quit Helicopter Parenting?"
I am also a very cautious parent. As such, my son can be fairly cautious as well. He is not the first kid climbing up the playground to jump or slide down the slide. He doesn’t stick things in his nose or his ears and he’s never been one to experiment much with putting random things in his mouth. I’ve always been very attentive of what he does, and while it may be making him slightly less adventurous at the moment, I don’t really care. My son is alive. My son is healthy. My son is happy. What business is it of anyone else?
"Now You Won’t Be So Sad About The Baby You Lost"
No. No. No. I will always and forever grieve losing my daughter. My son does not change that. If I have more babies in the future, their existence will not change that, either. This is truly insensitive to say to the parent of a dead child.
"Were You Disappointed You Had A [Insert Gender Of Baby They Lost]?"
When I first found out I was having a boy I was a bit depressed at the thought, mainly because I lost a daughter, and had always pictured myself mothering a little girl. However, I got over it when I realized gender is a social construct and, at the end of the day, none of it matters. I have my baby and I love him regardless of his genitals, chromosomes, outward appearance, or anything else.
"You Must Be So Relieved You Didn’t Lose This One"
You think? Of course I am relieved I have my son. However, as any loss parent will tell you, you never stop worrying about losing your baby. I will always be concerned that a simple cough will turn into something more. I will always panic when I don’t see him at the park right away. Honestly, I think that's OK. That’s what I have to deal with as a loss parent and as a rainbow mom.