On February 26th, 2020, Ruby Mae made her entrance into the world. She was eight pounds, eight ounces of pure, puffy-faced joy. For her father and me, it was love at first sight.
What this sweet baby did not know is the story of the ones that came before her. Our babies who we never got to meet, to hold, to snuggle. The ones who never got a name or a birth announcement or a footprint in a baby book.
Seven months before our girl arrived, we had witnessed a sign of hope and promise, a symbol that this time the outcome would be different. A brilliant double rainbow graced the sky and seemed to land right on top of the roof of our home. The vibrant arches, clear as day, just like the two lines on the test a few weeks earlier.
Our precious Ruby—full of cheeks, sunshine, and sass—was our rainbow baby.
Joy and Grief, Together
I don’t think I truly took a breath until the moment I held my rainbow baby in arms. The bliss I experienced when her cheek was pressed against mine was unlike anything I could have ever imagined. And yet, almost simultaneously, I felt immense heartbreak. She was here because the others were not. My mama heart felt full and fragmented all at the same time. In knowing her, I found myself wishing I could know them too.
“She was here because the others were not. My mama heart felt full and fragmented all at the same time."
Those months I spent holding my breath were all in the rearview now that she was really here. Our little miracle baby was home and we had absolutely no idea what to do with her. Rainbow babies, although incredible gifts after treacherous storms, are still just babies. Brand new humans who need a lot of help, attention, and love.
These treasured babies, like all babies, will cry in the middle of the night, cluster feed all through the day, and experience full blown melt-downs at the most inopportune moments. And so will their parents. I had spent so long anxiously awaiting the feelings of joy that arrived with a new baby, that I was completely unprepared for the feelings of frustration and self-doubt.
Despite my joy, I sobbed in the middle of the night when Ruby would eat for hours on end. I’d remove the perfectly content baby from my chest, only to find her screaming for more a few short minutes later. Why does she need so much? Will she ever be full? Why won’t she just sleep? And that’s when the guilt hit. How could I be so discouraged with a baby I had prayed, hoped, and crossed all my fingers and toes for. How ungrateful was I?
“How could I be so discouraged with a baby I had prayed, hoped, and crossed all my fingers and toes for. How ungrateful was I?”
The tears fell harder. I went back and forth with these feelings, hour after hour, night after night, while trying to figure out how to be a mom. Not just a good mom, but a deserving mom. A grateful mom. A rainbow mom.
And that’s when two important feelings needed to set in: acknowledgement and acceptance. Acknowledging the heartache that came from our miscarriages and accepting that the grief would always be there was a huge piece of healing for me. Now, on the other side of the rainbow, I’ve acknowledged that my guilt is unnecessary, and I’ve accepted that although my grief was still real, so is my gratitude. Feeling defeated on the hardest days does not make me any less deserving of the gift of motherhood.
Life After the Rainbow
These allowances have carried me through difficult conversations with mothers who are still in the thick of it. The ones still trying to bring a baby home. The friends that are healing over losses, procedures, and pregnancies that didn’t last nine months. Those calls from a friend, or those texts in the middle of the night, bring me right back to where I was.
Our adorable girl has lit up our world in the biggest way, but the truth is, there will always scars hidden behind my smile.
“Our adorable girl has lit up our world in the biggest way, but the truth is, there will always scars hidden behind my smile.”
A simple, “Is she your first?” asked by a stranger leaves me stumbling in my response every time as I mention our first two babies. It always stings, but I feel peace in letting others know they existed. Someday, I imagine having the same peace as I tell Ruby about the dear souls before her, the siblings whom I believe passed down all of their own spunk, spirit, and sweetness to the chubby little baby we have today.
If you’re reading this amidst a storm of your own, just know that your break in the clouds may look differently than mine. Light will shine through and the storms will have left their mark, but the double-chinned rainbow babies of the world continue to remind us to be grateful for both.
That’s what makes rainbow babies so special. They provide hope to all of those in the waiting, all who are aching with empty arms, and all who dream of sitting up in the middle of the night yearning for sleep.
A rainbow doesn’t symbolize clear skies forever, but hope for brighter days ahead and beauty between the storms.