I used to love rainbows, until my TJ died on May 29th, 2017, at 36.5 weeks gestation. He was perfect, but stillborn. He had the cutest nose, just like his big sis and dad.

It was the following day he came from my body, that I would be thrust upon the unwelcomed reality that birthing people were expected to endure after their child dies. The reality of being on the receiving end of endless platitudes of “trying again,” “being strong” for his living sibling, and always being forced to only share the shiny rainbows and not the actual horrific reality of our lives.

No one in my immediate surroundings could support me during the early days. It was in moments when no one was around, that I desperately googled and searched for birthing people like myself.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon Instagram and Facebook groups like PALS. A community I had no idea even existed. It was here I found birthing people similar to me who were also blindsided by their children being stillborn in the 2000s. It was here I began hearing the term “rainbow baby,” to refer to a child born after one had died.

I immediately hated it. The term went against everything I felt in that moment. Yes, my life felt like a storm but I couldn’t grasp using that term to describe the deep love I felt with my TJ.

Despite my strong aversion to the term, I still went with it as I gathered my bearings in this new life as a non-traditional mother.

Despite not finding significant information about why TJ died from our high-risk doctor, we decided we would be open to conceiving again soon after his death.

We were privileged to have gotten pregnant after five obsessive months of trying. After each obsessive cycle, I would panic and be overwhelmed with all scenarios. Holding desperately onto hope, while also being panicked that I was in fact pregnant, on top of the horrific everyday absence of our TJ.

I would learn as each cycle progressed, the fear would always be present. I would have to learn to love her like I learn to walk with grief every single day.

Despite using the term “rainbow” in the early days to describe our situation, I began to hate it as I began progressing in my pregnancy with his first brother.

When met by other people’s high energy, I felt I was forced to wear yet another griefy mask; to hide the reality that I knew this pregnancy was not guaranteed to end with a screaming baby at the end. I knew that no pregnancy is guaranteed to have a safe and healthy arrival at the end, no matter how much I had hoped or planned.

It wasn’t until Tjs brother arrived in a complicated delivery that I felt the courage not to use “rainbow baby” to describe him. I decided that term didn’t serve me and TJs little brother.

Over the years, Tj would have two more littles that would follow. Each pregnancy being more and more complicated emotionally–holding desperately onto hope, sometimes one minute at a time.

Domenique Rice and her family - Why one parent chose not to use the term "rainbow baby" to describe her children born after loss

Author’s Personal Collection/Domenique Rice

As time has progressed, I learned even more just how privileged we were in having his littles arrive safely.

The horrific reality is not everyone in the pregnancy death or loss community is guaranteed a living shining rainbow. It isn’t fair nor inclusive for us as a community to force the shiny rainbow on everyone.

I don’t ever want anyone to feel as if they are even more alone or a unicorn if this term does not support them.

Sadly, we know nothing is guaranteed despite the love, not even a rainbow.

Sending love to all that carry children in their hearts.

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