The first time I stumbled upon the terms “rainbow pregnancy” and “rainbow baby” was in March 2019, about eight and half years after my stillbirth.
I don’t feel very connected to these terms. Here’s why:
First, I think that the rainbow is already taken. When I see a rainbow, I think of the LGBTQ community, which is associated with the rainbow. For me, this link is firm.
But the rainbow has been in use even before the LGBTQ community, starting with Greek mythology, through Chinese mythology, and ending with Irish mythology.
I feel the rainbow has too many prior engagements; therefore, it can’t be associated with yet another issue.
I also don’t connect with the term “the rainbow after the storm,” where stillbirth is concerned.
My stillbirth was not a storm. It was a sad, teary, and silent trauma.
When I was pregnant with my Noga, I did not feel the calm after the storm, or the rainbow after the storm. It was the pregnancy after my stillbirth, and that’s it.
Rainbow Pregnancy, Rainbow Baby
The terms “rainbow pregnancy” and “rainbow baby” carry with them, as I understand it, promises for a better future, happiness, some sort of a renewal of trust between women who went through stillbirth and the world.
While I understand the idea behind it, I am concerned about the responsibilities that the term “rainbow pregnancy” has over a child from the very first day of the pregnancy.
We naturally have so many hopes, dreams, do-overs we want to have with them for mistakes that our parents did with us, which we consciously place on our child. Sub-consciously, we make many mistakes. I feel that deliberately putting so much responsibility on the pregnancy and the child after a stillbirth is not right and not healthy.
In my eyes, it’s not right to expect the new pregnancy, and the other baby will amend all that the stillbirth left in our lives, all the emptiness and loss we went through.
The child that comes after a stillbirth is not meant to fix the sad experience of stillbirth.
It’s not up to this baby to restore their mother’s faith in the world or her body.
The thought that if we only have another pregnancy, another baby, then everything will be ok and the stillbirth will just fade away from our lives.
I saw these ideas rooted in many writings by women who went through stillbirth, these ideas that sting my heart.
Of course, I can completely understand these thoughts. In the past, I used to think that if only I’ll have another baby, everything will be ok.
That was not right. Today I feel that it was like more of the same denial for Ayelet’s existence people around me applied. You know, quickly have another baby, which will erase all memory of this horrible stillbirth and the fact that someone died in my womb, who knows how long she was dead in my womb and will delete the fact that I was pregnant for 37 weeks and three days and gave birth to death.
And this baby will synch me back to reality. This baby will bring peace and laughter, and heal my heart, my wound and bring happiness.
But Ayelet was with me for 37 weeks, and three days. She can not be erased from my life, our lives.
And we can not erase stillbirth from our lives. We can’t delete the pregnancy, the stillbirth, saying goodbye, the loss, and the grief.
My daughter Noga was born 13 months after my stillbirth with Ayelet. Noga is a different girl, wholly separated from the previous experience.
Yes, it’s difficult to separate, but I think that’s the truth. Noga’s existence might be intertwined with the fact that Ayelet did not survive the pregnancy, but that’s where it ends.
Noga’s role was never to heal her parent’s wounds, put an end to this miserable experience we all went through, and so on.
Noga was not the key to my happiness. She’s definitely a part of my happiness, but she’s not the secret for it.
Putting that role on her seems like a mistake.
I think that happiness isn’t just about having a baby, even if it’s after a stillbirth.
I don’t think it’s healthy to be dependent on outside sources for our happiness, no matter who it is or how close they might be to us.
Children most certainly bring a considerable amount of joy into our lives, but that is not their job, it just happens from the sheer fact that they are children.
Our joy, our happiness, these are all elements we need to acquire from within us. From the healing journey we went through after stillbirth (or any other trauma, to be honest), processing this experience on all levels and allow this experience to integrate into our lives.
Taking care of ourselves is crucial for our motherhood, our happy family life, and a good, loving, and supportive relationship with our spouse.
*Photo: Noga, July 2016