Unless you’ve lived through or witnessed someone experience fertility issues or infant loss, it’s impossible to imagine just how much that journey can shake someone. The mix of hope, anticipation, grief, anxiety, isolation, and nearly every other human emotion can bring someone to their knees.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is a ‘Double Rainbow Baby’?
- Where Does the Term ‘Double Rainbow Baby’ Come From?
- Examples of Double Rainbow Babies
- Tips for Welcoming a Double Rainbow Baby
Pregnancy and infant loss are some of the most difficult things a person can experience, yet chances are, you or someone you know has experienced it. Still, on the other side of it, there is hope, and sometimes – a baby. A baby born after a pregnancy or infant loss is lovingly called a “rainbow baby.”
After a rainstorm comes a rainbow, or at least that’s the case when someone can bring a rainbow baby into the world. But what about a double rainbow baby?
What Is a ‘Double Rainbow Baby’?
When it comes to fertility, unfortunately sometimes lightning does strike twice in the same place. People who have experienced difficulties may have gone through multiple losses, whether or not they went through fertility treatments.
For people who have had a rainbow baby, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. In the case of a double rainbow baby, the tunnel may have been a little longer, but on the other side of it, there is life in the form of a beautiful new baby.
A double rainbow baby is the term used when someone is able to have a live birth after two losses. Those losses could be from a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant or neonatal death.
Difference between a rainbow baby and a double rainbow baby
The difference between a rainbow baby and a double rainbow baby is the number of losses that occurred before the live birth. A rainbow baby is used after someone has experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, while a double rainbow baby is a baby who was born after two losses.
That being said, people don’t often distinguish between a double or just rainbow baby. The term “rainbow baby” may be used to describe a baby who was born after any amount of losses.
It’s also important to note that some people experience more than two losses before they can have a baby, or unfortunately are never able to have one. The number of losses that someone experiences do not equate to the amount of grief they experience. Coping with a miscarriage or infant loss is heartbreaking no matter how many losses someone has gone through. Grief isn’t measured in numbers.
Where Does the Term ‘Double Rainbow Baby’ Come From?
Having a double rainbow baby is a unique experience. Parents are grieving the losses they experienced while welcoming in new life and a new journey into parenthood.
This journey can be exciting and filled with hope and gratitude but can also come with periods of grief and sadness. A unique experience like this can be difficult to understand from the outside, which is why it’s so helpful to be able to connect with other people who have gone through it and share stories.
This was the inspiration behind the term rainbow baby, dubbed in 2008. We first see it appear in a book of stories collected in Christie Brooks’s book Our Heartbreaking Choices: Forty-Six Women Share Their Stories of Interrupting a Much-Wanted Pregnancy. As parents began to read this book, more and more people used rainbow baby, especially amongst online forums and miscarriage support groups.
It’s not clear when the term evolved into “double rainbow babies,” but somewhere in the world of the internet, someone saw a gap and filled it.
Examples of Double Rainbow Babies
Content Warning: You may want to skip over this section if reading about pregnancy or infant loss is triggering for you.
As we said, a rainbow or double rainbow baby is a baby that is born after a loss or multiple losses. What might that look like in reality? First, it’s helpful to make the distinction between a miscarriage and a stillbirth. The exact definition varies depending on your country and region. In the United States, a miscarriage is a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks gestation, and stillbirth is a loss after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
One example is if someone has two miscarriages, then the baby born after those losses is a double rainbow baby. Another example is if someone has a miscarriage then experiences a stillbirth, then has live birth.
No one combination of losses is more valid or difficult than another. Having a double rainbow baby doesn’t erase the losses or the grief that you or the parents feel, but it does bring a happy bundle of joy into the world!
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Tips for Welcoming a Double Rainbow Baby
A double rainbow baby can feel like a total miracle. One that you might have thought would never happen, especially after multiple losses. But it did, and now it’s time to welcome your new baby into the world – or a loved one’s baby.
1. Celebrate life
Despite all the losses, grief, and heartbreak someone has been through, on the other side of it a baby was born. Although it can feel tricky or guilt-inducing, it’s okay to celebrate. It’s encouraged that you celebrate!
Babies, especially double rainbow babies, are an opportunity to bring family and friends together, welcome in a new chapter, and rejoice in the beauty of being alive. A celebration can look different to everyone, we’ve got some ideas for you.
Celebrate a double rainbow baby by:
- Having a culturally or religiously appropriate gathering for the new baby
- Creating a birthday tradition like going somewhere specific or eating a special cake (obviously the baby won’t eat it yet!)
- Having a party to welcome the new baby
- Having a baby shower
Celebrating doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. It can be a lot to have a huge gathering for new parents and the new baby. Wait until you’re ready, and if you’re a family member, give the new parents space until they’re ready for visitors. It’s okay to celebrate from afar as well.
2. Honor the losses
Time may make things a little easier, but the grief from a pregnancy or infant loss never fully goes away. It’s okay to grieve and celebrate at the same time. These are complex, yet very raw and real emotions.
It’s a beautiful idea to want to celebrate the losses that you’ve gone through and honor them in any way that feels right for you.
What are some ways that people can honor the losses before a double rainbow baby? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
- Build a memorial bench in your yard.
- Plant a memorial garden in your yard.
- Name a star after the babies who have passed.
- Talk about the losses with your double rainbow baby.
- Get a tattoo.
Most of these ideas create opportunities for parents to show their double rainbow baby what came before them. Death is a part of life, and it can be great to show young children what losses are a part of their family’s lives.
3. Celebrate National Rainbow Baby Day
It’s heartbreaking how many people experience infant and pregnancy loss, but it’s that much more beautiful when a rainbow baby is born. Why not come together with other parents and families who have gone through similar experiences?
National Rainbow Baby Day creates an opportunity for you to do just that. Held on August 22nd, this day was created in 2018 by the organization “What The Fertility” run by Alexis Delchiaro, a rainbow baby mama herself.
People celebrate by joining together with other parents of rainbow babies to tell stories, share experiences, and create community – whether that’s online or in person. It’s a great time to give back or donate to organizations that are meaningful to you.
4. Take your time
Some families may be hesitant to celebrate their double rainbow baby, especially if they experienced infant death or stillbirth. This is entirely understandable.
It’s okay to take your time to integrate this experience. You may just want quiet time with your baby and partner, or just immediate family members. You might not want to share it on social media yet or leave the house much – which is a part of healing from pregnancy as well.
This is a beautiful, yet tender time. Having a newborn, no matter what came before it is a huge transition. Do what you need to do. Stay inside, nest in bed, soak in this new beginning. You’ll have plenty of time to celebrate out in the world when you and your baby are ready.
5. Create a beautiful announcement
When you’re ready, the whole world wants to meet your new bundle of joy. Or at least the people who love and care about you. With a double rainbow baby, you may have sent out a pregnancy announcement, or you may have sent it out late into the pregnancy. Whether you send out an announcement before or after the baby is born, an awesome way to welcome them in is by making this special.
Here are some ideas for sending out a double rainbow baby announcement:
- Have a before and after photoshoot featuring pregnancy belly and baby.
- Include your pets with punny jokes about them being big siblings.
- Use cute banners or marquees to tell info about your baby.
- Use the baby’s footprint to make cards.
- Talk about your losses and your journey in the announcement.
- Include rainbows to show just what this means to you . . . maybe even a double rainbow!
Your announcement can be sent through snail mail or digitally. Do whatever feels right for you! Remember – there’s no rush. Send it out whenever you’re ready.
Bringing a Double Rainbow Baby Into the World
You might be filled with a whole mix of emotions. Having a double rainbow baby is one of those uniquely human experiences that can bring up confusing and conflicting feelings. That’s okay and totally normal. Whether it was you or a loved one that had the double rainbow baby, this is a time to celebrate, but also to honor and respect the emotions that may come up.
Life is precious, beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, and so many other things. You can see it all come together when a double rainbow baby makes it Earthside.