My best friend arrived at the door armed with Christmas presents, sugar cookies, and lunch supplies. I sat on the couch, a hand pressed tightly against my abdomen, and watched as she navigated her way around my kitchen. She didn’t have to be here on her day off, bearing platefuls of crispy grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup, but when she’d heard I was miscarrying she’d offered to help.
My son and her swapped Christmas presents while we waited for lunch: a slightly wonky snowman ornament for her and a wrapped parcel for him. He didn’t need much encouragement to rip his way through the paper and uncover the new toy underneath. He could barely contain his two-year-old enthusiasm.
The toy was colourful, wooden, and in the shape of a semi-circle: a beautifully, handcrafted rainbow.
My toddler busied himself stacking and rolling the pieces to create tunnels for his Thomas trains while I dreamed of the day he’d get to share these toys with a sibling.
Those days felt further away than ever.
I spent the rest of the morning in the more active stages of miscarriage and said my final good-byes to another baby. As my body painfully released its hold, I was grateful for my friend’s presence. She spent the day distracting and caring for us, making lunch and driving us to doctors appointments. It wasn’t the first time she’d stood by me in the midst of pregnancy loss but I prayed that it would be the last.
A few weeks later, I sat on the living room carpet and watched as my son flipped pieces of rainbow across the floor. With wooden arcs rolling across the couch and under the TV stand, I was struck by the significance of this timely gift. It had clearly been a moment orchestrated by God.
Unintentionally, on the very day we said good-bye to our fourth child, my family had been given a rainbow: a promise of life after the storm. As we said good-bye to another rainbow baby, we were given a physical reminder of hope.
Those of us who have had the unwanted honor of spending time in the baby loss community will have undoubtedly heard of “Rainbow Babies.” For others, this will be a newer term. I hadn’t heard of it until we lost our firstborn son.
A rainbow baby is a child born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
You may have seen reference to them in friends’ pregnancy announcements or newborn photoshoots. Some women post pictures of their pregnant bellies smeared in multi-coloured paint or announce their pregnancy with photos of rainbow frosted cupcakes. These are their rainbow babies: a stunning bit of beauty following the dark clouds and torrential rain of a painful loss.
I often find myself in awe of rainbows. These fantastic bits of God’s creation radiate His glory and call forth for praise. They’re breathtaking gifts from above; reminders that “this too shall pass.”
When you’ve been damaged by a storm it can be hard to look up for rainbows. But a rainbow doesn’t mean that the storm has been forgotten or that our tears have run dry. These spectacular light shows are never found on rainless days, they’re dependent on moisture in the air. Without the storm there are no rainbows; and here, in life after the rain, one can still find joy in knowing that they’ve been blessed by both.
We don’t always get to keep our rainbow babies. I’ve lost two. But just as the sun reflects and refracts against water droplets in the sky, the Son’s glory is reflected through life’s storms. We testify of His faithfulness in the midst of life’s greatest sorrows because we know that even in the rain, He is to be glorified. Because of Him we find strength to praise through the storm and hope for the rainbows.
“to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)