A “rainbow baby” is a term parents use to describe a healthy child born after a prior season of loss, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant/child loss. No parent can imagine suffering such a loss, but unfortunately, many parents know exactly how it feels to lose a child. Some of us also know what a special blessing it is to successfully have a healthy baby, a rainbow baby, after such a loss. My husband and I are a part of that club.
As I began to write this letter, I realized that the words that flowed out of my heart were less of a message I would actually share with my rainbow baby and more of a letter to myself. A “dear diary” entry if you will. I had no idea how much I needed to document the journey that led to the birth of my rainbow baby. A journey that may be familiar to other moms. While it was a cathartic release for me, the contents of this letter are not something I would burden my child with. If I were to write a letter for my son to read someday it would go more like this:
My darling boy,
I love you with every ounce of my being. There is nothing you can ever do or ever say that will make me stop loving you. You are the perfect caboose to our family train, and your very presence fills my heart with joy. I thank God every day for the precious miracle that is your life! You are just the one I always wanted.
Forever grateful to be your mom,
I realized, though, that the letter I needed to share spoke to the journey of my heart. I felt that this letter needed to be shared in hopes that other moms might find connection and community within the lines on this page. So while I may never share the below letter with my son, I feel other moms of rainbow babies need to hear the journey in a way my son could never understand. This is my truth.
A Mother’s Heartfelt Letter to Her Rainbow Baby
My Dearest, Most Squishy, Huggable Boy,
You are the child of my dreams, the grand finale to our family, and the healer of my heart. I did not think I was capable of having another child after years of chemical pregnancies and an eight-week miscarriage. Before I knew about you, I had lost all hope that my mother’s heart would be made complete. I gave away all the baby clothes, toys, and equipment I had been saving. I could not look at them anymore, and I knew other mamas could use them.
Making space in my garage eliminated the constant visual reminder that the desire of my heart (you) was never to be. What I did not understand at that time was that I was still desperately waiting for you. I buried the seed of my dream for you so deep down that I did not know it was there. Although I seemed to have given up hope, hope never gave up on me.
The Beginning of You.
Many months later, a positive pregnancy test terrified me. You see, my perfect rainbow baby, I could not let myself believe that my dreams might actually come true. The idea that I might not get the chance to feel you in my belly and hold you in my arms was almost too much to bear. I tried to push down any glimmer of hope or excitement. I did not think I could handle the disappointment of another loss.
The first time I went to the doctor to hear your heartbeat, I could not stop sobbing. The idea that something might have gone wrong wrecked me to the core. Then I heard it—the loud, strong song of your life. Your heartbeat was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I recorded it and listened to it over and over. To this day that recording is one of the most precious things I own.
Finally, at 16 weeks along, I set myself free to feel the joy, excitement, and redemption of your growing life inside me. I sang you songs, told you how much I loved you, and explained how your big brothers could not wait to meet you. We shared the news of your life with people whom we loved and they grew to love you with all of their hearts. Your grandparents were especially excited to meet you and loved the ultrasound pictures I sent them after every doctor’s visit.
The Bittersweet End of a Season.
I also did not know at the time that this pregnancy would officially be my last chance to complete our family. Immediately after your delivery, the doctors took your warm, cozy house as a lifesaving procedure. Your pregnancy ended up being a wild ride of high-risk drama. But I would do it all 1000 times over to be your Mama.
As soon as the doctors told me you were okay, years of pain and grief slipped away. Your very existence filled the holes in my heart created by loss and longing. And now you are two-years-old. I have had the honor of being your mama for two glorious years. Two years of my dreams coming true. Two years of you completing our family. And two years of the indescribable joy of watching you grow. You are simply amazing.
I Still Grieve Those Before You.
I often think about the babies I never got to hold and I imagine what my life would be like if any of them made it Earth-side. It is such a strange thing to think, though, that had I been given the gift of one of those babies, YOU wouldn’t be here. You were a spark from a moment in time that would not have existed. I miss those babies every day, but you are the exact one I never knew I needed. The one I had been waiting for deep within my soul. My rainbow baby.
Your oldest brother sometimes tells me that he misses “baby bug,” the baby that I lost at eight weeks. He and I still grieve that loss deeply, but I know without a doubt that you are the perfect baby brother for him and the perfect baby boy for me. He knows that too. I cannot imagine our life without you and with someone different. I would not have asked for the pain and grief of infertility and loss. But without it, I would not have you. My son. My priceless gift.
You Complete Our Family.
You have some looks and personality traits of your brothers, but you are your own person. And you exude joy and energy and make us laugh and laugh at your antics. Your brothers proclaim daily that you are “the cutest thing ever.” Your daddy loves reading you books, playing catch with you, and taking you on walks.
My darling big boy, I am forever grateful for the privilege of being your mama. Your smile melts my heart, and your hugs remind me daily just how lucky I am. Your very existence proves that one should never give up on a dream. I thank God for you every day. You are just the one I always wanted.
Love you always and forever,