The blessing of expecting a rainbow baby after loss is a joyful, hope-filled time. But as you prepare for this tiny miracle to arrive, you may encounter some fears along the way. Here are some qualms that can muddy the not-always-blissful waters as you charter through the delicate territory:
When to announce your pregnancy
Many mothers and fathers expecting a rainbow baby do not feel comfortable announcing their good news until they are farther along in the pregnancy than when the previous loss occurred. For some, this presents a challenge because the loss may have occurred in the second or third trimester or even at birth. Do what feels right for you. Do not feel pressured to share if you are not ready yet. If you want to shout it from the rooftop as soon as you get the positive pregnancy test, do so. If you prefer to wait until you receive the green light from your doctor or after blood work and ultrasounds confirm healthy progression, do so. There is no right or wrong time to announce your pregnancy, as it is a very personal choice. If something troublesome does happen and you tell people early on, you will have their support because they are in the know. If you something troublesome does happen and you have not told anyone, you then make a decision as to whether to open up later or keep the matter private. Stick with whatever works for you.
Worrying about reactions from others
It is easy to get caught up in wondering what other people will think or say once they hear your news. You would anticipate a happy reaction from all, as preparing for a new life is a true celebration. However, many of us have experienced comments that were unintentionally offensive or hurtful. Even those with the best of intentions sometimes put their foot in their mouths and blurt out something insensitive. This can come in the form of downplaying your previous loss, ignoring your previous loss, or assuming your previous loss is “all better” now that you are expecting again. I cannot imagine why anyone would ever think it is appropriate to use the word “replacement,” but some of us have endured that punch to the gut. Regardless, lean on those who provide love, encouragement, support and positive energy. It is always easier said than done for sure, but try to worry less about reactions from others and stay rooted in your joy.
When to tell your other child/children
If you have other children, preparing for the birth of your rainbow baby will involve telling them in a manner and timeframe that suits your family. Depending upon their age(s), you can choose to wait until they can better grasp the concept, such as when your belly begins to show. Or you may need to share sooner, to prepare a “big girl” or “big boy” bedroom for your growing little one(s) to move into, freeing up the nursery space. While you might not want to jump the gun and tell them too early, they are a significant part of your family dynamic and this change will impact them firsthand. Helping your other child/children understand the impending arrival of a baby brother or sister can subtly and simultaneously help you personally prepare more than you realize. A child’s unbridled joy is contagious and their genuine excitement for a future sibling can do wonders for dealing with your own apprehension. Of course, it is natural to be concerned that if you tell your other child/children and then something bad happens later, you will have to share that aspect as well. Know you are not alone in experiencing this worry and trust your instincts as to when to include them. You, the parents, get to decide and should be able to do so without any outside interference.
Attaching with the baby
During pregnancy with a rainbow baby, it can feel like there are walls inadvertently put up as a defense mechanism or as a coping strategy. In the aftermath of a loss, you may be cautious or hesitant to not get your hopes up too high. Perhaps you try to keep your emotions neutral or indifferent. You possibly hold off on buying supplies for your rainbow baby, for fear that something may not go according to plan. You might avoid choosing a name, again out of concern that this is not actually going to work out the way you are praying it will. You could be afraid to connect with the baby or become too attached to the idea of a happy ending. The truth is, after enduring such heartbreak, we attempt to protect ourselves from the potential hurt and pain. While I do not have a magic solution, my advice is this – take one day at a time and remain hopeful. Surround yourself with uplifting energy and a strong support system. Allow yourself the happiness of envisioning a healthy new addition to your family being born. It does not mean you have forgotten about or have “gotten over” your previous loss(es). It means you are trying to be the best mother you can possibly be to all of your babies.
Photo credit: adapted from けんたま/KENTAMA | Flickr
What tips do you have for someone preparing for their rainbow baby? Share in the comments.