The Complexity of a Rainbow

I want to touch more on what it is to bring a “rainbow baby” into the world. It requires you to see past the devastation and wreckage, the triggers, the emptiness, and the bleakness of loss. It requires you to be able to recognize that even in death’s finiteness, something else can be born. And maybe that seems simple, a new baby after losing one. Happiness after heartbreak. “A rainbow after a storm”, the truth is, it’s so much more complex than that. With a rainbow baby comes new stress, new fears, anxieties, triggers, and even guilt- all the facets that aren’t often talked about when you hear about babies and pregnancy after loss.

These photos are the face of release. The face of a mother who’d just given birth to a baby after loss. A rainbow. I was exhausted. I was in pain. But I was exhilarated. My tears were that of intense and overwhelming grief and emotion. She was in my arms, only 11 months after those arms had been forced let go of her brother. She was living, her heart was beating, she was breathing, she was all of the things that had been stolen from us when Sloan had died, and yet, she was every bit as much her own.

Her birth meant so much more than I could fathom explaining. It was like coming up for air after nearly drowning under the crashing waves of grief and guilt. But she didn’t replace, she didn’t mute the loudness of trauma or stifle the hurt of loss. No, she brought light despite it. She offered proof that amidst tragedy, joy can still grow. And concurrently, amidst joy, fear and pain can still linger. Her brother’s death had nearly destroyed me, and then…she was there, she’d arrived, and every day of her existence, she would teach us that you can rise from the ashes even when the fire is still smoldering.

This rainbow didn’t end the storm. Because sometimes, most times, the rainbow appears before the storm is over and the most important part is adjusting to that space of grief and pain now being shared with recreation, joy, and growth.

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