In a filthy parking lot at a rest stop on the side of I-95, I stood by the car while my baby gushed out of me. Rain dripped on my head and oily puddles soaked my shoes. Miscarriage after IVF fertility treatments is excruciatingly painful, physically tearing your hormone-saturated insides out and mentally throwing you back into the dark despair of infertility. This baby had started with all positive signs — good hCG levels, being sick at work — and ended at five weeks with no heartbeat.
In the car were my two oldest children — my first, an easy miracle, my second, a rainbow baby after multiple miscarriages and IVF. This third baby, so wanted, decided not to join our family then.
Unbelievably, while my insides contorted in pain and blood gushed into my jeans, above me the sky was a gorgeous mass of dark gray and pink and gold clouds, the sun appearing through the rain. A double rainbow threaded itself through the sky, silky and colorful, ethereal against the tractor-trailers and dirty blacktop around our car.
I tell my children a rainbow is a promise from God that they are loved.
A year later, my third and fourth babies were born — twins.
I never lost a baby I was able to hold. I have friends who have lost infants they loved and held, even brought home for a precious time. A rainbow in the sky, fleetingly beautiful, seems like it should describe those children with us on earth for only a short while before leaving us for the heavens. Instead, we use it to describe the children who, if we’re so, so lucky, come afterward.
These babies are a bright light after despairing darkness. A rainbow baby is not loved more than other children, but the joy a rainbow baby brings is redoubled because it exists alongside a sadness that ebbs and flows like a stormy ocean. We are so in love with and grateful for our rainbow babies, but we never stop wishing back the ones who flew away. There is guilt there too — without the loss of that baby, this new child would perhaps not exist, and so there is happiness and sadness, coexisting.
When our rainbow babies come there is peace, relief, joy, and still grief. A rainbow only exists, after all, between the sun and the rain. It is never separate from either. Still, we turn toward its beauty and revel in our love for our new child, thankful for feeling the sun on our faces at last, yet knowing the dark clouds behind us will fade but never dissipate.
You exist, rainbow baby, because of those clouds, and yet through you the sun shines on our world again.
You are so loved.