My son is the most important person in my world. I’m sure many if not most parents feel this way about their children, but I often wonder how much more his position in my heart has been solidified because he’s a rainbow baby. A rainbow, for those who don’t know, is a baby born after a parent has experienced a loss. I lost my first child to preterm labor, and while it shattered my world, my son’s presence brought a light into my life. It’s the type of thing only a mom of a rainbow baby can know.
As a loss mom, and as a mom to a rainbow, I tend to feel an instant connection to my fellow loss and rainbow moms. It’s the type of lived experience that cannot be completely explained to those who haven’t been through it themselves. Thanks to our pain, our anxiety, our potential for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but also our devotion to our rainbows, there are more than a few common threads through which we can bond and, in the end, be understood.
I am reminded of the universal feelings all moms who have suffered a horrendous loss, and moms who were able to hold their rainbow babies in their arms, every time I have a conversation with someone who reveals this specific pain to me. The things every parent of a rainbow baby knows isn't really what you want to experience, but those things change you in a way that is, at the very least, ever-lasting.
Why We're So Damn Overprotective
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was convinced I would be closer to a “free range” parent than one that hovers like a helicopter whenever their kids are on the playground. My mother was overprotective, and I wanted to be sure my child felt the freedom to explore the world on their terms.
After I lost my daughter, though, all I could do was see all the danger of the world. While I struggle against coddling my son too much, I know and understand why my fears exist, and why I have such a powerful need to keep him safe from harm.
Why We Still Have Really Bad Days
Every parent has bad days, sure. If you’ve experienced any form of grief near the time of your child’s birth, you understand bad days, too. However, I’m talking about these random, feels-like-you-were-side-swiped-by-a-train days, all because of a simple trigger. A song you heard. A scent in the air. The date of your lost baby's birthday. Really, truly hard days that your rainbow is going to eventually learn to understand and, hopefully, have compassion for you.
Why All Things Rainbow Are Awesome
As a mama who identifies as queer, I’ve always had a thing for rainbows. However, now that I’m also a rainbow mom, I love seeing bright, multi-colored patterns everywhere. Whether they're on shirts, flags, bumper stickers, or jewelry, I just want all of them.
Why It's Difficult To Talk To New People About Your Kids
When people ask me if my son is my first, or if he’s an only child, I always hesitate. It is awful having to try and explain my loss, so sometimes I don’t even bother. Rainbow moms totally get this.
Why It's Complicated To Talk To Your Rainbow Baby About Their Sibling(s)
I already try to explain to my son that he has an older sister that’s no longer with us. He’s only 3 years old, so I know it doesn’t make that much sense to him. I also know the conversations with him about his deceased sibling will only become more complicated, and prompt further questions that will be difficult to answer. Only rainbow moms can really understand how hard this is.
Why You're Constantly Afraid
I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep for the first year of my son’s life. He spent a lot of time in the NICU, which didn’t help things in any capacity. But in general, I was doubly paranoid of things like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and had to check on him frequently. I know I would not have been quite as fearful had my daughter not died.
Why We're Willing To Sacrifice Anything For Our Baby
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was planning on returning to work right after three months of my maternity leave. I expected to put her in daycare and expected to have babysitters available.
After I lost my daughter and my son was born, and as a result of the PTSD of my loss and birth traumas, I opted to stay home and be close with my son for the first two years of his life. I just recently put him in preschool, and it's literally walking distance from home. I’ve passed on so many opportunities (persona, professional, and otherwise) because I was so scared of losing my son in the first couple of years. Only now am I finally learning to let others help me. Some folks would just think I’m unnecessarily overprotective, but rainbow moms would get this.
Why We Feel Extreme & Unnecessary Guilt
I am working hard on not completely spoiling my son. That said, he is very fortunate and never really wants for anything. However, if he gets hurt, or wants something he can’t have, I feel completely racked with guilt, much more than I would have ever expected I would feel. I’m pretty sure all rainbow moms feel this way, and constantly want to make everything perfect for the babies that have helped us out of the dark.
Why We're Sad & Excited To Meet Another Mom With A Rainbow Baby
It’s a bittersweet feeling, meeting another rainbow mom or baby. When I meet a rainbow baby, I always feel joy because I know they made it when another baby did not. However, when I meet the moms, I feel both love and sadness. I want to hug them because I know what they’ve been through, and I always feel a bit more connected, and more willing to be open and honest, with these moms. After all, they understand in a way no one else does.