What It’s Like to Have a Rainbow Baby after a Loss
Have you experienced what it’s like to have a rainbow baby? Or do you wish to know what it feels like?
As you probably know, rainbow babies follow a miscarriage, neonatal loss, or stillbirth.
While babies are a blessing in general, a rainbow baby is a miracle to his parents.
But having a rainbow baby is actually more complex than its simple meaning. Having a baby after a neonatal death, stillbirth, or pregnancy loss can feel exciting and terrifying.
Like I shared in one of my miscarriage articles, I was scared of having a rainbow baby. I didn’t wish to go over the experience again. I wanted the baby to go through the 9-month process and come out healthy.
Honestly, it was a terrifying 9-months experience, even though I was happy to be blessed with another baby within a short time. (Need help monitoring your cycle and increasing your chances of getting pregnant? Check out this post on Ovulation Tests)
So, in this article, I’ll try my best to be as real as I can about what it’s like to have a rainbow baby. I know many grieving moms and dads can relate.
And, I hope you can realize that whatever you feel concerning your angel baby and rainbow baby is normal and accepted.
What it’s Like to Have a Rainbow Baby?
Joy and Excitement
After losing a baby, you will likely worry or wonder if you will get pregnant again and how soon.
Realizing that you’re pregnant again will cause you to be hopeful, relieved, happy, and joyous.
Your thoughts may turn toward preparing for your new family member in the future.
Therefore, allow yourself to enjoy and share these positive feelings with your loved ones.
You Won’t Stop Grieving.
Grief is one of what it’s like to have a rainbow baby.
No matter how happy I was that I was expecting my daughter, there were times where I’d grief my angel baby. “This girl would have been my second child now,” “Ryan was supposed to be my first fruit.” These thoughts keep coming at intervals, even now.
So, you should realize that your newest family member will not prevent you from grieving your loss. You may experience emotions like yearning, sadness, anxiety, depression, and anger.
Sadly, you will never be able to forget the pain of losing a child.
As time goes on, you learn how to cope better. However, there are still times when the grief will hit you like a tidal wave on the beach.
Some of these times include the dead child’s birthdays, family vacations, National Rainbow Baby Days, and holidays.
The best way to manage your grief is to allow yourself to experience or express how you feel. But don’t ever allow it to overwhelm you.
In addition, you can try to accept the loss. As a devoted Christian, I believe that there is a reason such a loss happened. God knows best, right!
Alternatively, you can distract yourself by engaging in activities like exercising, reading, journaling, or therapy.
While you won’t stop grieving, allow yourself the time to heal.
You’ll Question Your Decision.
Before we conceived our rainbow baby, my husband and I debated whether or not it was the right choice. The pain of our loss was still fresh in our minds – we couldn’t forget.
So, you may second guess your decision to have a rainbow baby when grief strikes. Your mind might race with many thoughts as you consider what’s best for your family.
In the end, my husband and I decided that having a rainbow baby was beyond us. We were cool with anything. But after six months of losing my pregnancy, we found out I was pregnant.
The news blew our minds! Several emotions flooded my mind. I pondered for months whether having another baby was a good idea after conceiving and delivering the child.
It Can Feel Scary
Some people find it frightening and overwhelming to bring a newborn home after one has died.
It was so stressful for me that I couldn’t sleep if she slept at night.
I was worried that if I didn’t watch her breathe, I might miss something, and she could die.
However, you can do things to manage these emotions, like special baby monitors, extra family support, anxiety medication, or therapy.
No matter what you choose, realize that some anxiety is normal after bringing a rainbow baby home.
Anxiety refers to excessive worry that is challenging to control. It also interferes with your energy levels and sleeps patterns.
In the case of newly pregnant women who have experienced a loss, anxiety is normal, but excessive anxiety is a sign of a mental health disorder.
Feeling anxious about your new pregnancy? Identify your fears and take actionable steps to overcome them.
For example, if you are worried about your risk for a future miscarriage, speak with your healthcare provider.
Your physician can help with more information and possible actions to reduce your risk.
Everything Will Remind You of Your Lost Baby
This part can be the hardest for parents that had a stillbirth or lost the child at infancy.
After you deliver your rainbow baby, the baby will keep reminding you of your lost child, especially if they are of the same sex.
Little things could remind you of the infant you lost. It could be your baby’s face, the lost child’s clothes, a cloud in the sky, a particular song, a smell in the air, etc.
You Will Experience Mom Guilt
Mom’s guilt is part of what it’s like to have a rainbow baby.
Some moms feel it’s their fault when they suffer a loss. It worries them if they will lose their rainbow baby and if they can protect them.
In addition, after losing a child, you may feel guilty for being excited about a new pregnancy. There’s nothing abnormal about mom guilt.
Be aware that both joy and sorrow can exist in your heart simultaneously.
It Will be Difficult Allowing Others Carry Your Rainbow Baby
It is typical for new moms to feel this way, regardless of whether they have previously lost a child.
Nevertheless, mama bear instincts have a fierce pull on a loss mom. Therefore, it’s okay if you don’t share your baby immediately. Just take your time, and let those close to you know what you need.
You May Feel Overprotective or Detached
If you have experienced what it’s like to have a rainbow baby, you will likely feel detached or overprotective of your child.
According to research, after the birth of a rainbow baby, moms tend to experience complex emotions.
While you might feel overly protective of your baby at times, at other times, you might feel detached and still afraid of losing her.
Gradually, this feeling of separation will fade. Overprotective feelings may take longer to diminish, but they will eventually decrease as well.
The Takeaway of What it’s Like to Have a Rainbow Baby
What it’s like to have a rainbow baby may vary from one mom or parent to another.
When you decide to have your rainbow baby is totally up to you and your partner. Our rainbow child has been with us for four years now. But it has been a rollercoaster of emotions so far.
Being pregnant with a rainbow baby will often bring mixed emotions, which is normal and expected.
While you will likely feel excited and joyous to be pregnant again, you may also worry about your pregnancy. Simultaneously, you could feel sad when you think about your past loss.
Rather than judging or ignoring these feelings and worries, acknowledge how you feel and find ways to express them positively.
One way to do this is to express your feelings with a supportive person, such as a close family member, friend, therapist, or support group. Opening up and connecting with other people in this way can help you to feel less alone.
Rainbow babies bring hope, love, and healing. Therefore, don’t be afraid to give them full access to your life.
If you are grieving the loss of your previous pregnancy, you can consider ways to honor your loss.
Some ideas include creating a scrapbook, framing an ultrasound picture, or planting a tree in memory of your baby.
Read more on the best ways to honor your angel baby in our article Thoughtful Miscarriage Gifts.
Learn more about the 2022’s National Rainbow Baby Week
Have you ever lost a baby or been around someone who has? In the comment section below, I’d love to know what it’s like to have a rainbow baby from you.