Tommy’s guest blog, 30/03/2017, by Molly
The term ‘rainbow baby’ is often used for a pregnancy that happens following loss, as rainbows appear after storms.
For many mums, the arrival of a rainbow baby does not eclipse the pain of their previous loss, but it does aid the healing process. But how does that make women feel or are trying or unable to have a ‘rainbow baby’?
Molly Broughton from Sapphire in Her Mind feels that the term rainbow baby is ‘passed around the babyloss world like an antidote. A cure.’
Many parents find the idea of falling pregnant again helps them cope with their loss. Friends and family often try to reassure couples by saying things like, ‘don’t give up’ or ‘keep trying’.
Sadly, Molly and her partner Stuart’s rainbow pregnancy didn’t last. They experienced another loss that left Stuart unwilling to try again. She explains,
‘It takes two people to make a baby, two people to mourn the death of baby, two people to make that decision to go again.’
For Molly, this made attending babyloss support groups painful as she watched the focus of other parents concentrated on trying to fall pregnant once more.
‘You see, the majority of loss parents do try again and keep trying. It seems to be an unwritten rule. Loss parents talk about their ovulation patterns and possible pregnancy symptoms, counting the days until they can test and tell us all about it. Rainbows are something to be celebrated, to be expected, to be encouraged and to be discussed as a method of distraction and a happy ending.’
There is nothing wrong with focusing on a rainbow pregnancy and using the thought of a baby as a method of distraction but it is important to remember that this isn’t an option for everyone.
In her search to find advice on coping with loss without trying for another baby, Molly spoke to another mother unable to have her rainbow.
‘Her advice? Acceptance, and being grateful for what I have.’
Molly began counselling to try and help her find the answers to the questions this advice bought up.
‘Am I ready to accept? Do I want to accept? Will accepting mean letting go of my dream? Will it be another grieving process?’
Acceptance can be hard, especially if you’ve been focused on having your rainbow, ‘on filling those empty arms’ as Molly had. She has channelled these into a couple of tips for other women in her position.
After overcoming her initial doubt and scepticism, Molly found great comfort in mindfulness. This involves concentrating on the moment and accepting your feelings and thoughts through therapeutic techniques.
‘I soon discovered that mindfulness isn’t the airy fairy nonsense I imagined it would be. It is just about being present in the moment. Just putting the brakes on a bit and, rather than being caught up in everything, allows you to be an observer. Just for a few blissful minutes each day.’
Molly used an app to be mindful for ten minutes per day, allowing thoughts to pass by.
‘You can use those ten minutes pretty much anywhere that allows you to close your eyes, such as in the train, the bath or even a quiet space at work
- A quiet space at work
- On the train
- In the bath
- Set your alarm ten minutes early (they say it is more beneficial in the mornings)’
Molly says this has been a useful method for coping with painful thoughts, letting them pass by instead of suppressing them as she has previously tried to.
Molly has also used running to relieve built up anxiety.
‘Running is my thing. My therapy. My escape. Pounding the pavements to relieve the anxiety that has built up inside me, like opening a can of fizzy drink really slowly.’
Molly has a bag of maternity clothes in her bedroom and other reminders of her pregnancy journey.
She has boxes of baby things from moving house which she had hoped to give to her rainbow baby.
In her blog, Molly questions whether she is ready to let go of these items or whether she will always hold on to them.
‘How do I find the strength to say goodbye to these things? Will I hold onto them forever?’
Whether you decide to hold on to items that remind you of your pregnancy or let them go, it is important that the decision be one you are happy with.
Healing after a miscarriage or stillbirth is an extremely personal experience. It is important to find what works for you, but not expect it to work all at once.
Molly acknowledges that the road to acceptance may be a long one.
‘It is going to take a long time and a lot of steps backwards and forwards to try to come to terms with this. I may never make peace with it, but I am hopeful that it will eventually get easier, that I will become stronger and stronger and closer and closer to the opening of the hole high up there. Just through time and patience, being kind to myself, not pushing anything, allowing myself to feel what I need to feel, and understand that feelings are just feelings which come and go.’
It is also important to remember that for some families, focusing on having a rainbow baby is the best way to cope with loss and you shouldn’t feel guilty about this.
But it is important to be mindful of those who cannot or will not be trying for another pregnancy.
Having embarked on this journey, Molly reflects that rainbows do heal. But that some rainbows come in different forms to others.
‘Some rainbows are just not as clear as others, but my rainbow is out there. In slightly different, but equally beautiful, colours.’
We wish anyone on this journey the very best of luck. If you want to talk about what you’re going through at any point, our midwives are available on our free phone line 0800 0247 800 from 9 – 5, Monday – Friday.
Do you have any tips for other parents on healing, with or without a rainbow baby? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
If you are struggling to cope with your loss, take a look at our pages for recovery after a miscarriage. We hope you’ll find them comforting and useful.
You can read Molly’s original blog at her website, Sapphire in Her Mind.
Deborah is 37 and lives in Borehamwood with her caring and supportive husband Ben. Their baby Yaeli was sadly stillborn at 40 weeks + 1 day after Deborah noticed reduced movements.
Support from a charity like Tommy’s would have made the world of difference when I lost my babies all those years ago
Eileen from North Wales married the love of her life, Arthur, on Boxing Day 1956. They were both very excited when she fell pregnant soon after. Sadly, their first daughter Anne-Marie was born prematurely and died soon after birth. Eileen also experienced a late miscarriage and 2 early miscarriages in between 3 successful pregnancies. This is Eileen and Arthur’s story.
Tor Cook has struggled with fertility issues and sadly experienced 4 losses. She is currently pregnant in the midst of a global pandemic.
A team from JMW solicitors recently took on the three peaks challenge in support of Tommy's.