Every pregnancy and birth is accompanied by its own set of challenges. But for some parents, previous loss can make going through another pregnancy particularly trying. In these cases, it’s helpful to know the differences between rainbow babies and sunshine babies. Because sometimes, the expectant mums of rainbow babies may face hidden troubles.
Before getting into the distinctions, it’s important to understand the terminology used for these children. These weather-related terms are a simple way to describe babies born under different situations. As noted in Cosmopolitan, a rainbow baby refers to a child born soon after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of an infant. On the other hand, a sunshine baby refers to a child who is born before a miscarriage or stillbirth, as explained by the Baby Center community board. For some parents, raising a rainbow baby is a different experience entirely.
To begin, parents of rainbow babies face a number of challenges on a personal level. As noted on The Huffington Post, a parent’s feelings of joy about the new baby may be undercut by feelings of guilt and grief for the child who passed away.
Additionally, these parents may also have an intense fear of something going wrong with the rainbow baby. This is not to say that parents of sunshine children don’t have anxieties about the future of their child. Most every pregnancy has some degree of apprehension about it. But for parents of rainbow babies, these fears are not purely theoretical.
Parents of rainbow babies may also deal with their grief in an extremely private way. Because discussing miscarriage and stillbirth is still somewhat taboo, as noted by KidSpot, these parents may not have sufficient support from friends and family. In fact, their acquaintances may not even know about the loss that preceded the rainbow baby. This can make the parents of a rainbow baby feel even more alone in their loss.
Lastly, social interactions with well-meaning people can further complicate feelings of parents with a rainbow baby. Even a simple question about the number of children you have can lead to quite the dilemma, as explained in Good Therapy. Do you mention the infant who passed away young, and risk making an everyday question deeply personal? Or do you leave out any mention of your child who passed, further entrenching those feelings of private grief? There is no easy answer.
Also, for what it’s worth, parenting a sunshine baby is not always, well, sunshine. Every parent has to work hard at the task of raising a child. But it’s helpful to remember that, for parents of rainbow babies, all of the work that comes with raising a baby often includes some difficult feelings about love, loss, and new life.