Rainbow baby definition: the meaning behind a rainbow baby and how infertility has made me hesitant to use it.
There are few things sweeter or cuter than the pictures moms take of their rainbow baby in cute rainbow clothes or with a rainbow backdrop. I always smile at the sweet sentiment and love for these babies that were so wanted and so welcomed.
Rainbow Baby Meaning
For those who don’t know, let me share the definition of a rainbow baby.
Rainbow baby meaning: a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of an infant from natural causes.
Essentially, after the storm of loss and grief, a baby comes feeling like a rainbow.
For those who have been long-time readers, you may remember when I shared a post about what to say when someone tells you they’ve had a miscarriage. That post came from personal experience spending a Valentine’s Day in the hospital losing a baby.
I spent a year hoping another baby would come along. We even started seeing our infertility doctor actively again to start more serious treatments. The story of our second child is a bit dramatic with Zika, infertility hormone therapy, and a lot of worries that the baby wouldn’t make it past the first trimester. I shared the full story about our second miracle baby in this post if you want more details. Essentially, by all terms and definitions, he is a rainbow baby. And a true miracle that the pregnancy happened, and we made it full-term with a healthy baby!
Why I’m Hesitant to Use the Rainbow Baby Label
I had someone ask me recently why I don’t I share more about my rainbow baby. It’s just all so cute and so photogenic. And in light of National Infertility Awareness Week this week, I thought I’d share why I always pause to say anything.
Let me start by saying I have never known a rainbow baby mom to be stingy with the title, unsympathetic, or any other form of negative towards any other mother. Quite the opposite, they are all lovely mothers thankful for the miracle a baby is! Most seem to offer love and support to any mom, particularly those who experience struggle in becoming a parent.
The Rainbow Baby Photo Shoot
But I had a strange moment a few years ago that put me and another mom in an awkward spot. My first baby was only a few months old. I was invited to a photo shoot of moms with their rainbow babies. It was styled under a rainbow balloon with each baby and mom in a specific color. Darling, powerful, and Instagramable as all get-up.
And I had to tell the lovely photographer that I had to decline; my baby isn’t a rainbow baby. He’s a baby who was as loved and hoped for as any other baby. He’s a baby who came after a lot of negative blood draws (aka infertility pregnancy tests), infertility treatments, and emotional and physical storm.
But I’d never technically officially been pregnant prior to my miracle baby, which was the whole problem. We spent years just hoping there would even be a mature egg to even attempt IVF or any other procedures.
I was sweetly told I could probably still come, after a long awkward pause.
What’s the Name for When An Infertility baby is born?
After the rainbow baby photo shoot awkward conversation, I wondered what the name for an infertility baby is. And to my research, there just isn’t one. Many call them their miracle baby. But there technically isn’t an official term.
Surely no one was going to get that technical and the spirit of a baby was the same. But when I thought of going to the photo shoot, it made me feel dishonest, and like I didn’t quite belong. What if someone started to ask about my loss? I’d have to explain how infertility feels like a loss of a family member you never got to meet. I was just a girl, with infertility, who doesn’t have a hashtag name to call my oldest child.
And I get that putting a syringe or million hormone pill bottles on a onesie isn’t quite the same. So you get a huge pass Target (and everyone else known for cute rainbow baby onesies). It’s okay that rainbow babies get the marketing messages!
Infertility and Rainbow Babies
Most infertility mammas seem to have several losses before success. So for many, their little miracle is a rainbow, or double rainbow, or quadruple rainbow, etc. But for many of us, we never had hope of any success or any loss for so long that when it finally happened, it was a joyful surprise after years of emptiness.
But for us, there’s no title for our babies.
It’s just one more thing that separates the infertility mama. And similarly, parents who adopt after years and years of hoping. Even if it feels like the biggest piece of sunshine or rainbow, it just technically isn’t brought to awareness enough to earn a label worthy of marketing campaigns.
The Rainbow Baby Definition Conundrum
So while I look at my second child who fully fits the rainbow baby definition, I always take pause and think how they are both my little rainbows. If I dressed one in a darling rainbow shirt, I’d want to include both.
Once again, most rainbow baby parents aren’t withholding this title! Most say if you want to call your baby that, you earned it sister! And I agree, any infertility mom who felt the loss without actually having a pregnancy, any parent adopting who never felt pregnancy, you can do every photo shoot you want!
Loving Those Who Celebrate Their Rainbow Baby
Also, I would never wish to diminish their joy and darling photos. I mean no shade to anyone who celebrates their little miracle! Loss is truly hard, and the joy of another miracle is all yours! I’ve been on both sides, and I completely understand!
But when another photo shoot invite for a rainbow baby picture was extended to my second baby and I really wanted to go, the pang of guilt hit again. One day my oldest would see these pictures. And I’d have to explain to him that he was wanted just as much. In fact, we spent multiple years hoping for him. He’s our million dollar baby (okay maybe not quite a million but maybe the cost of a small vehicle). There was technically more time, more pain, more depression, more storm hoping for him. So I’ve never purchased the darling shirts, and never really used the label because infertility makes everything hard to define and hard to talk about.
My Sunshine Baby
And it’s just one thing that I have to smile for everyone else. And wrestle my inner infertility turmoil. Maybe both my kids should just jump under the rainbow arch and be celebrated as kids who took every shred of emotion and prayer we had to get. Even though this label is taken, maybe I should just call them both my sunshine baby. One technically is, but I feel it’s the right name to call any baby who is a bright spot after a storm. Because singing “You Are My Sunshine” to both of them just feels right. They are the bright spot on years of hoping and praying.
Maybe I should stand back and not label either because I really believe every kid is a miracle.
But for now, I’m hoping both my boys know that we fought so hard for each of them. And whatever labels and technicalities get in the way, they are both the brightest spots after so many years of storms.
And maybe one day I’ll just get over the pains of infertility and the formal label and go to some photo shoot someday with both of my babies knowing they both healed my heart and are my miracles.
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