When You Are Expecting a Rainbow (Pregnancy After Loss)
By Melanie Adams
The group of women you meet at the retreat has become like family to you, and they offer a safe space. As time goes by, some of the women at the retreat go on to have rainbow babies. For those of you that go on to have a pregnancy or birth after loss, be mindful that relationships may change once you share the news. Please give yourself, as well as your retreat sisters, grace as you all navigate through these waters – pregnancy or birth after loss.
Pregnancy or birth announcements. Not everyone gets to have a pregnancy or birth after loss. Some are uncomfortable with pregnancy or birth announcements, even if it’s for a retreat sister. Please be gentle in announcing your pregnancy or birth. Remember the same triggers you experienced prior to your pregnancy or birth still exist for them.
The term “Rainbow” is hurtful to some. It is a widely accepted term, however, the metaphor implies that a rainbow follows a storm. If a mama does not get her “rainbow” it can be inferred that she will forever be in a storm. You may use whatever term you like, but it is important to be aware of this potential trigger. Or, a loss mama may have lost her rainbow baby, thus it is a reminder of that loss. Additionally, the term infers that our loss babies are a storm. Some mothers prefer not to remember them that way.
Change in communication. Do not be surprised if some of your retreat sisters unfollow you on social media and/or if there is a decrease in communication. They may be trying to avoid triggers. Even if you are careful on what you post, others may tag them in a triggering post.
Show your sister support by discussing subjects other than babies or focusing on your loss bab(ies).
Change in support needs. Do not expect all of your retreat sisters, even those you may have grown closest to, to support you during your pregnancy or birth. They might not have the emotional capacity to do so. Instead, it is helpful to find other pregnancy after loss moms who are experiencing (or have experienced) what you are now going through.
Information sharing. Only share information on your pregnancy only if a retreat sister asks for an update. And only answer their direct questions – do not provide minute details unless prompted further. While a retreat sister may want to know that you are doing okay, they may not want to hear details about your PAL that may be triggering to them.
Talking about and sharing pictures of your rainbow. Try to remember what it was like after your loss and before your pregnancy after loss and/or arrival of your rainbow baby. Odds are, you were triggered by pictures and talk of babies. Please do not constantly talk about your rainbow baby while in the presence of other loss moms (especially those who do not and/or cannot have a rainbow). Also, if you (or someone you know, like your spouse) are planning to share updates and pictures of your rainbow on social media, it would be considerate to warn your closest retreat sisters in advance (those who may be triggered by such a posting) – in case they haven’t unfollowed you on social media.
Secondary losses. Just like there were secondary losses when your baby/babies died, there are also secondary losses in pregnancy after loss. Friendships and relationships will change; some will grow and some will fade. Some will return in time.
Further resources. 8 Things to Remember When You are PAL, but Your Grieving Friend Isn’t