Moms Share Touching Photos and Stories of Their Rainbow Babies
October 15, 2018
Miscarriage can be a turbulent storm, leaving emotional wreckage in its wake. But for families who conceive after loss, there’s light at the end of the squall. Rainbow babies—those who are born shortly after a miscarriage, stillbirth or death in infancy—bring color back into their parents’ lives. Here, 14 moms open up about their experiences with pregnancy after loss and share stunning images of their beautiful rainbow babies.
“Welcome to the world, Aibhlinn Noelle, born Earth-side on May 28, 2018 at 3:23 p.m., weighing in at 5 lbs 7 oz and 17 ¾ inches long. Her name is Gaelic/French and means “along awaited (Christmas) gift” all together. We worked and prayed so hard for her for many years, and God gave us our long awaited gift after many years of trials and storms, and our rainbow is here,” the mom, Shannon, wrote in an emotional essay posted to her blog. “She is an absolute delight of my life, and the sleep-deprivation and being covered in baby spit-up are very much a gift and a blessing after losing so many babies and waiting so long for this baby.”
“Ten years ago, when my husband I decided to have children, we thought it would be a simple thing. A few nights of fun trying, you mix the sperm and the egg and viola—a little baby would be on the way. But after weeks turned to months and months turned to years, the thought that there was a problem became real and we stopped trying,” Courtney shared with The Bump.
“On June 11, 2015 we celebrated 10 years of marriage, and then on June 12, 2015, we experienced one of the best days of our lives as a couple. We delivered beautiful baby girls, Ryan and Morgan Shorter. Born at only 23 weeks and weighing about 1 lb each, Ryan and Morgan were considered micro-preemies. Life in the NICU is hard on those little bodies and just as hard on the parents who sit by the bedside for hours and days at a time. On June 15, after putting up a strong fight, Morgan received her baby angel wings and on July 3, Ryan joined her baby sister with a set of her own angel wings.”
“Between then and now, there have been two miscarriages and at least 3 IUIs and/or IVF cycles with no results,” she continued. “And then a year ago, in July of 2017, we decided to try again. The loss of our infant children Ryan and Morgan, the miscarriages we suffered and the failed IVF cycles were so heavy, it was hard to live and enjoy life daily. One day we changed how we lived our lives, gathered up a ton of faith and began another IVF cycle to start our family. This time, we got our rainbow baby: Hendrix (Drizzy).
I know for some mamas, especially mamas of color, it’s hard to share this part of our lives with strangers. Hell, we don’t even want to share it with the people we love. It’s a lonely space. I know what it means and how it feels to move through the shame and grief of infertility, miscarriage and infant loss. I lived it daily for 10+ years. We’ve been mom and dad to our rainbow baby for three months now, and it’s the most amazing feeling ever. We feel so incredibly thankful and blessed that we get to experience parenthood again! Contrary to what some may think, Hendrix in not our first or only child.”
“In May 2012, I learned I was pregnant with my first child. But during my first sonogram, the technician couldn’t locate a heartbeat and I was told that I had a blighted ovum and would soon experience a miscarriage. We were devastated. You never think a miscarriage would happen to you,” Katie told The Bump.
“In September I became pregnant again. We went in for our 18-week anatomy scan, and we were told we were having a girl! I wasn’t scheduled to see the doctor that day, but the sonogram technician told me to wait and the doctor would come speak with us briefly. I immediately knew something was wrong. My doctor came in and explained that our baby had a congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were sent to see a specialist and cardiologist, who informed us that she’s have her first surgery within 48 hours of birth and would require two others before she was 5.
On June 4, 2013 Briella Grace was born. Her first surgery was scheduled for the next day and it was a success, but she developed complications and at just 6 weeks old she gained her angel wings. The loss of a child is indescribable. There are no words that can describe what you go through. We debated if and when we should try again. You think ‘maybe I’m not meant to have children’ or ‘what if it happens again?’
Then in January 2014 I became pregnant again. I was excited but also scared. I remember laying on that table and the sono-tech asking us, “is this the first time you’re seeing this baby?” We replied “yes” and she said “well there are two!” To say that we were shocked when we learned I was pregnant with identical twins would be an understatement. We say God must have felt guilty for taking our precious Briella from us that he gave us two babies to love. Our boys, Kade and Xander, were born on September 20. These two boys bring so much light and love into our home everyday. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my beautiful baby girl or wonder what she may be like today, but I am very blessed for my two boys.”
“When my sons Isaac and Samuel died at birth, I almost lost all hope. Almost,” the mom said. “Childless and broken, I slowly began to understand that rainbows of hope are all around us. I was beginning to heal. And then, finally, rainbow babies. Joy is a marathon.”
“After experiencing no success trying to conceive a child for over a year, my husband and I made the difficult decision to seek guidance from a fertility clinic. After trying some of their recommendations and procedures with no success, we were faced with my biggest fear: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF),” Calynn wrote.
“Round One: I overcame my fears and kept a positive mindset. However, my blood work would soon crush my spirits with a result that I feared the most: negative.
Round Two: We fortunately had a few embryos that were frozen after the first round of IVF. I decided to take a pregnancy test at home. Success! My first positive pregnancy test, ever! I was in shock. We were finally pregnant! Everything was progressing perfectly—but the second ultrasound changed all those positive vibes. I’ll never forget the doctor bluntly telling me the baby, my baby, wasn’t growing as expected. I left the clinic in disarray. The doctor confirmed my fears at the next ultrasound and informed me that I was going to miscarry. The ride home from the doctors was without sound, feeling or light. A week later, the doctor confirmed that the heartbeat had stopped and scheduled me for a D&C. The darkness that I felt inside is without explanation.
Round three: We had three embryos left. After the transfer, I confirmed that I was once again pregnant. But I quickly realized that my blood levels were too low, and I braced myself for the gut-wrenching news of a second miscarriage just six weeks after my last miscarriage. I felt so defeated. My doctors decided to conduct more testing to try and figure out why I kept miscarrying. The result? I had a genetic condition called “balanced translocation,” which affects your chromosomes and causes infertility. Doctors recommended another round of IVF with Preimplantation Genetic Screening. PGS screens the embryos prior to an IVF transfer, limiting the chances of using an unbalanced embryo and thus improving the chances of a healthy pregnancy. The catch? Women with balanced translocation usually only have one healthy egg out of 10. I had 14 eggs retrieved. The first part of the process was to see how many of our 14 precious eggs would survive until day six to be tested. Only four embryos made it to the big test. We waited three long weeks to hear the results of the test. I finally got the call–out of the four embryos, three of them were balanced! Not only that, all three were girls!
Round Four: After the transfer of our first healthy embryo, we headed back to the clinic for the dreaded heartbeat ultrasound. I remember hearing the flip of the ultrasound switch, followed by an unfamiliar sound. A beautiful sound. A strong, beautiful heartbeat! The day that Brynn was born was the happiest day of my life. We had our first rainbow baby!
Round Five: After a couple of years, we felt it was time to give Brynn a sister. We figured this would be an easy process now that PGS saved our dream of being parents. I envisioned a life with three beautiful daughters. We went in for the transfer and after a few days, I knew I was pregnant. Unfortunately, an all-too-familiar feeling was back. After six weeks, I miscarried. This time, I knew I lost a little girl and I also lost my dream of having three beautiful daughters.
Round Six: My last embryo was the lowest quality of all three. Heading into round five, I had felt it was my last chance to have another baby, since the final embryo would most likely not make it. This time, I decided that whatever the result, I was done with this process. But I badly wanted Brynn to have a sibling. Eight weeks into pregnancy, I began to bleed, badly. I knew it was over. I drove myself to the hospital and braced for bad news. Fortunately, I only had a hematoma on my uterus and the baby was fine! She was born at 33 weeks—seven full weeks early. My lowest quality embryo. My little warrior. She spent a month in the NICU, fighting for her life and showing us all what she was made out of. We named her Nora, which means ‘light.’ The light at the end of a very dark road. My second and final rainbow baby was here.”
“It’s amazing the things I remember about that day when I couldn’t tell you what I wore yesterday,” Katie told The Bump. “I remember the slowly increasing pain in my lower back, the denial, the fear and the naïve hope that some bedrest would cure it all. My due date was exactly four months away. I remember the feeling of panic and complete shock in the middle of the contractions. I remember seeing our son for the first time and feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Landon was barely over a pound. There was nothing they could do. He was 22 weeks old.”
“My doctor called it a fluke and told us our journey ahead would be fine,” she continued. “Seven months later, I quietly suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks. The loss was devastating. And nine months later, after two surgeries, we lost our daughter, Olivia, at 22 weeks. My pregnancy with her was only one day longer than her brother’s. It was the most painful déjà vu I could ever describe.
My husband and I pushed through the storm. We didn’t accept the doctor’s advice that we should probably pursue surrogacy or adoption. We didn’t let the worst pain defeat us or our marriage. We researched and found a doctor who said he could help. I had another surgery, and we let ourselves hope even though we were scared another loss would be too much for us.
On October 17, 2016, our beautiful daughter, Ella Hope, was born. She was five weeks early but was as healthy as could be and didn’t spend a single day in the NICU. I truly believe her brother and sister played a part in that. She will be celebrating her second birthday this month. The joy she has brought into our lives is something I can’t put into words. I know without a doubt we are better parents because of what we’ve been through. There isn’t one diaper change or tantrum we take for granted. We know what a gift parenthood truly is.
I also know now my story isn’t necessarily unique. I know there are countless moms out there who have lost children and everyday more join this horrible club. I know there are many moms still dreaming and praying for their rainbow baby. I hope you don’t give up. I hope our story and our daughter gives you some courage. I hope you get your rainbow.”
“I was a baby-making machine: Two perfect pregnancies and two 8 lb boys in the books! What could possibly go wrong? Little did I know,” Sarah shared with The Bump.
“I knew almost the very moment I was pregnant with my third child. I was sick as a dog. Immediately. The experts say morning sickness is a good thing because the hormones are doing their job to support a healthy pregnancy. Sadly, sometimes they’re wrong,” she said.
“At the 12-week mark, I was scheduled to have a transvaginal ultrasound to get an exact due date. I was super-excited! I put on makeup and a pretty blue sundress that showed off my tiny new bump and was ready see that new life growing inside of me.
The moment I looked at that screen, I knew something was wrong. I know from experience what an almost-12-week-old fetus should look like. Silence. Silence that lasted what felt like a lifetime. I had been carrying a dead baby inside my body for approximately two weeks without a single sign. No reason why.
D&C time. WHAT DID I DO WRONG? What did “I” do wrong?! The recovery from the D&C was long and draining.
I had a positive pregnancy test exactly six weeks later. Aside from a few hiccups in the first few weeks, everything was progressing when I went in for the 13-week nuchal scan. Though I was still grieving my first loss and still trying to come to terms with the reality that I was pregnant again, I would have never imagined I’d be looking at that screen in the same disbelief as before. So. Much. Silence. Only this time I was looking at a figure that looked like a real, tiny human. Just floating there. My boys “little sissy.” Her name is Marley Jane.
The silence didn’t stop in that ultrasound room that day. Nobody knew what to say to me. If people did try to talk with me about my losses, it was some superficial BS that just made me resent them. I was alone and had no understanding of how to grieve. I was angry and broken. I hated myself and the universe and felt like a stranger in my own skin. If it weren’t for my other children keeping me afloat, I’m not sure how bad it might have gotten.
Six months later, after a Mirena mishap, I was peeing on a stick again. I thought for sure it was a sick joke and that I was on The Truman Show. I began researching abortion clinics. I wanted to get it over with before I could even think about it. Thankfully I dug my way out of the trenches. Having the support of the gentle women in my midwife group gave me a glimmer of hope. I got a fetal heartbeat monitor and used that several times a day, but other than that I tried to block it out and not become attached.
My water broke the night before my due date. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was going into labor with my third son. Was I dreaming? The labor was a painful, wild ride—and I embraced it fully. Then Quincy Shea was in my arms and my heart started functioning correctly again and I felt peace. My glorious rainbow was here and he was perfect! I wasn’t broken and my body did exactly what it was supposed to do, right on time.”
“October is one of my favorite months for so many reasons, but the number one reason is it’s Remi’s birth month,” Jen wrote on her Instagram post. “Remi is our rainbow baby, and how special is it that she was born in the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Week? Here we are, almost three years after our miscarriage. We have a story of loss, grief, heartbreak and hope. Through the heavy season of loss, I felt so alone, but today I stand here feeling incredibly blessed and embraced by this community. I’m not alone and neither are you. To all the mamas and families who have held their babies or never met their babies, this week we remember them. Today I feel joyful beyond grateful, because I have her, our rainbow baby! She surely is the rainbow after the storm.”
“Rainbow baby. Those two little words have such weight, such enormity, such heart-grounding hope after the most heart-wrenching loss. It’s like a code name for us parents who’ve experienced the absolute worse—the loss of a baby or pregnancy, followed by the most amazing gift: new life,” Jessica told The Bump.
“I never wanted to be part of this club. (No one does). But here I am. There’s nothing like walking into an ultrasound with the grandest excitement, in the highest spirits, only to be bulldozed and completely shaken to the core when that little fluttering heart no longer beats.
But there’s hope, when, after all that heartache comes the most tear-worthy, out-of-body elation—a rainbow baby! It makes the journey more real, more vivid, and you more appreciative. To stay positive, I created these simple motivational reminders that there’s hope after darkness, and wore them on my wrist throughout pregnancy. I pushed all the negative thoughts aside and stayed strong for her. And for me. Even now, I wear them to remind myself of the joy, strength and love that comes from this experience. It’ s true that the journey matters. That what you go through makes you who you are. My rainbow baby brings me hope. I will never forget how we got here. The darkness is now filled with the brightest, most amazing color. And it’s beautiful.”
“‘We’ll never fit in a booth at a restaurant again.’ These were the words I said after taking several positive pregnancy tests that confirmed the symptoms I’d had for days,” Stacey shared with The Bump.
“I was taken aback by those two lines. We had two beautiful children—a son who was 3 and a daughter who was 14 months—and my husband and I had independently decided that our family was complete. Now it seemed there would be one more.
It took me about 12 hours to fall in love with being pregnant again. I’m an only child and feel pure joy seeing how much my son and daughter fiercely love each other. My life would feel incomplete without either one of them, and now I felt the same way about this baby. And then two days later everything changed.
I had a miscarriage before my first son was born and learned that I require progesterone supplementation and frequent hormone level blood tests during pregnancy. I had a routine blood draw the day after my positive pregnancy test, and when my midwife called the following day with the test results, I was left speechless. The levels were bad. So bad, in fact, that the pregnancy was already no longer viable. No hormone supplementation would ‘fix’ it, and I would miscarry for a second time.
It took over a week for the miscarriage to begin, but by that time, my husband and I were resolute. Our family needed a third child. Within four months, I was pregnant again. I had my regular blood draws, and the results showed I again needed progesterone. Follow up tests showed the progesterone was working. All was progressing perfectly, so we told our son the exciting news. I started showing.
And then the miscarriage signs I had already experienced twice in my life started again. This time it took over a week for the miscarriage to be complete. I was devastated. What hurt most was explaining it to our son. My husband and I still felt strongly that a third child wanted to be in our family, but I was emotionally exhausted. I told him I had one more try in me. No matter the outcome of the pregnancy—a child or another miscarriage—I was done.
A month after my miscarriage, I had a ruptured ovarian cyst that put me in the hospital. Once that resolved, month after month came with no pregnancy. I was trying not to stress but was becoming discouraged. Finally, those magical double lines appeared. Every single day and every single blood draw I tried to push all negative thoughts from my mind and focus on enjoying this pregnancy, since it would be my last. Week after week came, and I was still pregnant.
Challenges kept coming. I had to visit the ER for complications at week six and was hospitalized for a kidney infection in month five. But the calendar kept moving forward, and I was still pregnant. I’m not sure when it happened, but there came a point when I (almost) quit waiting for something bad to happen and instead focused on our son who would get to be born.
And then it happened. Three days after my due date, our beautiful son made a slightly complicated entrance into this world. And he is perfect. And loved beyond measure by his parents and siblings. And is 1 million percent worth giving up restaurant booths for. He’s the perfect ending to our story, and I’m so grateful there was a different plan from ours in store for our family."
“After being married for almost a year, my husband and I decided to ‘stop preventing’ and had the mindset that if we got pregnant, we got pregnant. When it had been over 40 days since my last cycle, I took a pregnancy test, but it came up negative. I continued taking pregnancy tests for the next week and they still continued to be negative. Another week went by, and still no period! I went out and bought another pack of tests and saw a very faint line. I was still skeptical and wanted to see that one word I longed for—pregnant—so I went out and bought a digital test. I paced the room while watching that annoyingly long, blinking time symbol. And then there it was: Pregnant,” Danielle told The Bump.
“I scheduled an OB appointment and surprised my husband when he got home with the test. We were both excited! Unfortunately, as much as I wish that was the end of my story, it isn’t—because of course this wouldn’t be a rainbow baby story without a miscarriage. I woke up one morning, a couple days before my doctor’s visit, to excruciating cramps and a lot of blood. I panicked and called my OB to make an emergency appointment. They told me I was miscarrying. That moment was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I cried for days. We grieved and decided we wanted to try again the next month.
I ended up pregnant again the next month. We found out on the day we were leaving for our trip to celebrate our one year anniversary. Again I was skeptical due to the faint lines and kept testing. I took another test on the day of our anniversary to see if the line would be any darker, but it was still as faint—maybe even a little fainter than before. An hour later I ended up bleeding heavily. I was miscarrying again. This time I was even more emotional and my husband just kept reminding me, “it’s okay, we’ll try again.” But it wasn’t okay to me. Another baby lost. I remember sitting outside in the grass, bawling my eyes out and rubbing my belly, saying, ‘I’m so sorry baby.’
We tried to make the most of our trip, and by the time we got home, I was ready to start trying again. My OB and I decided I would call her when I got another positive test and she’d get me on progesterone to see if that would help. The very next month, we got pregnant again! This time I was so worried I was going to lose yet another one. I called up my OB and she got me the prescription that same day.
The day I went in for my first ultrasound I was shaking with nerves, but when I saw that little bean on the monitor I burst with tears. I looked over at my husband and squeezed his hand (that’s our way of saying ‘I love you’). About nine months later, we have this beautiful, miracle boy, and we couldn’t be happier!”
“I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. On October 13, 2017, my husband and I found out I was pregnant after a few months of trying. We were beside ourselves with excitement to welcome our baby “nugget” in June. The following two weeks were filled with us exclaiming, ‘I can’t wait!’ and ‘what will it be like?’” Mae said.
“However, our joy was short lived, as I found out I was in a state of ‘threatened miscarriage’ on October 28. We were devastated. How could so much joy be removed so quickly? The next two days were a blur of constant tears and fear of the moment our sweet babe would leave us. The afternoon of October 30, we lost our baby. Our family and friends rallied around us with love and encouragement, and most importantly, prayer.
We didn’t give up hope of having a baby, and we were ecstatic to find that I was pregnant again in December. My due date was September 5, 2018, and I’m happy to report that I had a very easy and uncomplicated pregnancy. Our sweet girl was born on September 7, and she is a healthy and happy baby.
But we mourned our first baby throughout my pregnancy and still today. I struggled with feelings of guilt, fear and sadness. I felt guilty that I was able to celebrate and feel my daughter move around in my womb, but would never feel my first baby. I was fearful. Every slight symptom made me worried. What if I lost this baby too? I felt sad that I experienced a great pregnancy with my daughter, but not with my first baby. I felt as though I was betraying my excitement for our first little nugget by being excited for our daughter. I remember being in tears at almost eight months pregnant still trying to reconcile my grief and excitement. Even now, as I look at my beautiful little girl, I sometimes think about what it would look like if I did have our nugget in June.
Then I think about the wonderful gift our sweet girl is, and how grateful I am that she’s here in my arms. We may not understand the course of this life, but we must not give up hope. We were so fortunate to have our baby soon after the miscarriage, but I know many are not. But you, dear mother, are not alone. In those moments of grief, I felt like I would never be a mother, but I was reminded that I am a mom—I am my first baby’s mother, and I have lost my child. You are and always will be your baby’s mother. This isn’t a club any of us wanted to be in, but we have the opportunity to support and encourage each other. Take heart and have hope, for hope gives us the courage to let go of our fear.”
“When Jacob and I first found out I was pregnant with our first baby, I was so scared! I was young and had just graduated college. I always knew I wanted children but I wasn’t quite sure I was ready but we went ahead and scheduled our 8-week doctors appointment. As the date approached we were getting more and more excited to see the little life that was growing inside me! The day had finally arrived and we were headed to the doctor. As the were going the ultrasound my doctor got very concerned because he was not seeing any fetus where it was suppose to be. He told us he thought it was an ectopic pregnancy but wanted to wait a few more weeks to check again. At 10 weeks, we went back in and still nothing. He told us he was pretty positive there wasn’t a fetus and that I had already passed it without knowing. But that wasn’t the end of my “pregnancy”. I will never forget the night my world exploded.
Jacob and I were getting ready to crawl in bed when I felt a sharp pain in my lower abdomen on the left side. I tried to pass it off as menstrual cramps but soon realized it was much more than that. We rushed to the hospital, told them my situation and within an hour, I was in emergency surgery to have the ectopic baby removed. They weren’t able to save my left fallopian tube and had to remove it. Because of this, I knew it was going to be almost impossible to have babies, I was devastated. All my life had dreamed of being a mom.
But this isn’t where the story ends. Three days after my surgery, I conceived my first rainbow baby! I was thrilled. I had a second chance to be a mommy. Fast forward nine months and our son Jameson was born. He was a beautiful, healthy baby, and I cherished every moment with my new son. He’s now almost 3 and just as beautiful and full of life as the day he was born.
But this isn’t the end of my miracle babies. Jacob and I wanted to try for a second baby. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we were up for the fight. We tried for almost five months, and along came our second babe. Wrightly Jane was was born July 12, happy and healthy, weighing 8 lbs 14 oz. We are so blessed to have not only one but two beautiful rainbow babies."
“Life has a strange way of giving you what you want exactly when you need it. I found I was pregnant for the third time in my life with my rainbow prince, Kai. Sitting here eight months pregnant and sharing my pregnancy journey with you is a pure joy for me because I never made it this far with my previous two pregnancies,” Jazmyn told The Bump.
“On March 2, 2012, which happened to be my 18th birthday, I miscarried my first son Nazir in the middle of my senior civics history class. Between focusing on graduation, passing all my classes and my personal life, I was under a tremendous amount of stress. It never occurred to me that I was pregnant. The last thing I was thinking about was having a child. The thought didn’t cross my mind until I felt the sharp, stabbing pains in my stomach. All I could do was raise my hand and point to the classroom door for me to be excused. I struggled to walk down the hall but finally making it to the ladies room—and then I saw it. The fetus and an extreme amount of blood. I was shocked and scared. I went to the nurse’s office and called my mother to tell her just that my period came and I needed to go home and change. That night I had a birthday party to host. The last thing I wanted was anyone worrying about my health because of what had happened. Traumatized, I couldn’t enjoy my party. Every time I closed my eyes, I kept seeing that little body.
I finished high school and began my first year in college with Nazir’s father, the love of my life. We thought the worst was over, until I miscarried again that same year. Six weeks into the pregnancy, my body threatened to miscarry. Thankfully at the hospital they were able to find a heartbeat. At 11 weeks pregnant, I was ecstatic because I didn’t make it that far with my first pregnancy. My boyfriend and I met my doctor, who made a face when we told him I was 11 weeks along. The doctor told us that our baby stopped growing at seven weeks. I had to have a D&C to remove the baby. My heart broke. My boyfriend held me, as all I could do was cry. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, in 2016, my love, the father of both of my children, committed suicide a week before his birthday. I was the only one left from our little family.
Now, in 2018, to be pregnant after all this heartbreak is a miracle! Earlier this year, when I discovered I was going to have a baby, I felt overwhelmed with pure happiness. Words can’t describe the wave of euphoria I felt when the pregnancy test showed two lines. My son Kai has been the silver lining within all of this. Feeling and watching him grow within my womb is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. I interact with him daily, reading to him and playing music for him. I feel like there’s a reason for everything, and though I don’t understand why things happened the way they did, I can’t wait until November 10 to finally meet my baby boy.”
Published October 2018
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