Today, August 22nd, is National Rainbow Baby Day in the US. This is a special celebration with a note of solmenity. Mothers across the country unite in support of one another and share pictures of their kids wearing all sorts of rainbow-colored garb. My son, Shep, is a Rainbow Baby.
A Rainbow Baby is a baby born after a miscarriage. The trend isn't new, but the proliferation of rainbow-themed baby clothes and photoshoots is - and I am here for it! Just look at these adorable sweet blessings!
I don't want to bring the mood down a bit, but it's important to talk about the significance of miscarriage and how it impacts women. Statistics show that 40% of pregnancies end in miscarriage - most of them so early that the pregnant woman doesn't realize she's expecting and thinks the miscarriage is a late period. My very first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage on April 20th. Just 348 days later, I gave birth to my son Shep.
After my doctor placed Shep on my chest, my husband and I locked eyes. We both started crying and I blurted out, "We wouldn't have him if we had had our first baby!" In a way, the baby I never got to meet laid the groundwork for my perspective of motherhood and parenting, and the nearness and dearness with which I hold my children.
Every mother who experiences a miscarriage feels a rush of emotion - but it's a mixed bag. Some women grieve the baby they lost, others get angry with their bodies for not doing "what it's supposed to do". There's no right or wrong way to feel about a miscarriage, and there's no time limit on grieving a child you've lost. It's fitting that the day is so open - National Rainbow Baby Day - no requirements, no conditions. It doesn't dictate that mothers feel any which way about their losses.
For me? I grieved the loss of my child. I took a day off of work (I had only been in a new job a few days!), and stayed in bed and cried all day. Irrationally, I wanted to squeeze my legs so tight that my body wouldn't be able to expel anything. My mind fixated on my PCOS, the likely cause of the miscarriage. What had I done that had caused my PCOS? How could I fix it? Why had my body betrayed me? What had I done to deserve this pain?
A few months later, I discovered I was pregnant again - this time, with Shep. I held my breath for the first 7 weeks; I felt like I couldn't relax until I had safely carried this baby longer than I had my first. But Shep was a sticky little rainbow and hung in there!
Moms who have been blessed with children after a miscarriage call these kids their Rainbow Babies. Not because rainbows are stunning works of perfect art. But because a rainbow is the promise of beauty after the storm.
Do you have a rainbow baby? Show me your favorite rainbow-themed photo on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.
Editor's Note: Restrictions on image size make it impossible for us to keep the watermark of the photographer, Shutter Darling Photography, in the cover image of this story. Please go support them on Facebook and share the love!