After suffering through a series of chemical pregnancies (and finding out I had a thyroid condition) my first rainbow baby was born.

I planned to cloth diaper out of practicality, and it ended up turning into an oddball hobby (although my husband would say “obsession”). Before I joined the community, there was a set of diapers released that combined imagery of rainbows and storms together. Later on, I managed to find a pair used that I’ve been saving for what feels like an awfully long time.

Melanie's pregnancy bump with a rainbow storm cloth diaper - Walking Through Rainbow Storms in Pregnancy After Loss

Author’s Personal Collection/Melanie Peffer

As I’ve navigated my current pregnancy with my double rainbow, I’ve pondered the use of “rainbow baby.”

I’ve heard from people who reject the term saying their precious angel child is not a storm, or that they lost their rainbow baby. I also noticed that the idea of the “storm” and “rainbow” are often presented as a static occurrence, too. The storm (for me) was the grief after my losses. And in March, I’ll welcome my rainbow. But is there more to the rainbow analogy?

Walking into my 20-week anatomy scan, it felt like another storm. I was nervous, shaking, and half-expecting the worst. Someone told me that the best you can hope for in pregnancy after loss is to hit neutral and to not fall into the storm of anxiety. Well, on my way to the doctor’s office, I was nowhere near neutral!

I started to realize that pregnancy after loss is a series of rainbows and storms.

The storm was crying through another blood draw with another dozen tubes during fertility testing and wondering why I couldn’t just get pregnant and carry a baby to term when it felt like everyone else could.

The rainbow was gratitude for the fertility specialist who paid attention to the latest literature on recurrent pregnancy loss. Gratitude for being in a place in society where I had health insurance and access to medical treatment. And gratitude for the saint who could draw my blood first try every time, even though I’m a hard stick with a needle phobia to boot!

The storm was the positive pregnancy test and associated terror. The grief of not having joy or excitement as the predominant feeling after a positive pregnancy test, and instead bone chilling fear.

The rainbow came every ultrasound, blood test, and the eventual kicks later – each saying, this baby has a good shot of making it earthside.

Sometimes when I’m feeling worried, my double rainbow “Baby J” gives me a good hard wallop – I imagine it’s their way of saying, “Don’t worry Mama, I’m here with you!”

The ultrasounds, although a rainbow, were another storm. Although once is more than enough, hearing I’m sorry there’s not a heartbeat multiple times during an ultrasound doesn’t lead to positive feelings in future ones.

The rainbow was the village around me. The knowledge that no matter what the outcome of the ultrasound was, I wouldn’t face it alone. I had my husband, friends, family, doula, and a wonderful medical team there with me.

As I’ve journeyed through pregnancy with my double rainbow, I’ve learned to see pregnancy after loss as a journey of both rainbows and storms altogether, all the time.

Rainbow storm cloth diapers

Author’s Personal Collection/Melanie Peffer

Like the diaper prints, it’s a rainbow storm.

It wasn’t just one storm of grief, followed by a rainbow of joy at baby’s birth. The series of rainbows and storms aren’t just solitary occurrences, but an integral and central part of pregnancy after loss.

Even if I struggle to stay in neutral sometimes, I hold these precious rainbows to my heart. Because today’s rainbow is the only thing that’s guaranteed. Life means taking the storms with the rainbows – and seeing, like on the diaper, they can be both.

Look at the picture – see the rainbow rain and wind coming from the storm clouds? But also rainbows and sunshine in the right-side print? Just like pregnancy after loss is a mix of joys and worries, the diaper prints represent the storms and hope.

Pregnancy after loss can feel like one big storm of grief and fear – honor those storms when they come up. And don’t forget the rainbows that come with the storms, either.

For now, I hold onto the hope that these diapers I’ve been saving for so long will find their way onto Baby J this spring.

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