‘It confuses my heart’ Mum blogger talks honestly about the popular term ‘Rainbow baby’

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  • When blogger Teresa Begalka tragically lost her daughter Sylvia Paloma at 40 weeks gestation, nothing could console her, especially not referring to her next pregnancy as the popular term ‘rainbow baby’.

    A rainbow baby is a popular term used for a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.

    The reason for it is that, in the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. With the theory being that the rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.

    Here Teresa shares her experience of loss and the real reason she just isn’t on board with the term rainbow baby…

    On August 12th, 2016 my daughter, Sylvia Paloma, was born with dark curly hair, my chin, her dad’s toes and no heartbeat.

    The day before, during a regularly scheduled appointment, we found out that at 40 weeks and 2 days gestation, she had unexpectedly passed away, our world not only came crashing down it came to a complete stop.

    Navigating life without her physically here felt like an impossible mountain. Our arms were empty, our hearts were broken and the future seemed bleak.

    A rainbow baby is a child born after miscarriages, still birth or an infant or child’s death. It signifies the rainbow that comes after a storm. For a long time I rejected the title, feeling protective of Sylvia and hurt by the idea that anything surrounding her was a storm. She is perfect, not a storm, we are heartbroken, but she is not a storm, it was a great tragedy, yes, but she is not a storm. Somewhere along the pregnancy with Leo, Carlos told me that his interpretation equates to both Sylvia and Leo as rainbows that were shining above the storm and that the storm had nothing to do with Sylvia except to bring the rainbow of her and now her brother into our lives. She is the rainbow as much as he is…and the two rainbows that showed up in this photo make me think he’s absolutely right. 🕊💜🦁 📸: @pnwbirthtog

    A post shared by Teresa Mendoza (@teresadoesit) on

    The guilt I have felt, the dark thoughts, the waves of overwhelming grief… Losing a child is unimaginably difficult.

    I felt like I had failed not only as a mother but as a woman in my inability to bring Sylvia alive into this world.

    I felt like I hadn’t completed my one important job which brought on the near-obsessive desire to get pregnant again. It was confusing, complicated and terrifying.

    Five months after her death we found ourselves fearfully boarding the roller coaster of pregnancy after loss.

    I had heard the term ‘rainbow baby’ before, signifying the baby born after a loss, the rainbow after a horrific storm.

    It wasn’t until I was pregnant that the term felt confusing to me and my heart. I felt fiercely protective of Sylvia and couldn’t relate her to a storm, the darkness and the idea that it had ‘passed’.

    I used to be able to dedicate a lot of my time to Sylvia. I would be able to think about her, daydream and place my energy towards her and the love that exists there. With Leo here, my time is divided. I know this is how all parents feel with the arrival of a second child, guilty about focusing on the new baby and concerns about the older one feeling jealous or temporarily forgotten. I think that because Sylvia exists in our thoughts and hearts only, these emotions are magnified. She isn’t physically here to put energy into so if I don’t have the time I used to, to mentally include her, then where is she? Ugh. Hard stuff. Fifteen months without her and she still will always be my first and last thought of the day. Missing you and loving you so much my little angel. Thank you for the lessons and love you continue to teach me, your daddy and everyone who’s life you have touched. We are so proud. Xo 🕊💜🦁

    A post shared by Teresa Mendoza (@teresadoesit) on

    We were heartbroken by her death but I couldn’t accept anything around her as being dark and chaotic.

    I felt like my grieving for her related to the acceptance of my growing belly was wrong because the term was conflicting for me.

    Somewhere in the pregnancy, my husband told me that his interpretation was that both Sylvia and her sibling were our rainbows.

    The storm has nothing to do with them except provide something for them to shine above, together.

    I think this is the part where I say that I can’t believe it’s been two weeks with Leo in our lives, but in all honesty, it’s felt like a long two weeks. Newborns are an adjustment. He sleeps long hours, eats great and cries very seldom but it’s a huge life adjustment to suddenly have a little potato that’s completely dependent on you. Social media has a lot of fluff, it can leave you with a ‘what the hell…’ feeling regarding your own reality that doesn’t include photo shoots, sponsored posts, perfectly dressed kids and post baby bods that instantly look amazing. Here’s my reality, I have mastitis and I just did a full face of make up for fun to take my huge, infected boobs to the grocery store to pick up nipple pads. My outfit features a fresh pair of high waisted leggings, a top that camouflages stains and my forever Birkenstocks. Meet yourself where you’re at new mamas…this is tricky stuff. Xo 🕊💜🦁

    A post shared by Teresa Mendoza (@teresadoesit) on

    Last month we welcomed Leo Coronado, Sylvia’s little brother.

    What I have learned is that there is no one way to grieve the loss of a child; there is no user’s manual and no one’s experience, emotions or thoughts are the same.

    Being able to connect with other parents, in person or through social media, has been instrumental in gaining a better understanding of my own grief just to have someone else say ‘I get it’.

    I encourage parents navigating this heartbreaking, confusing path of life after pregnancy or infant loss to reach out to others.

    There are (unfortunately) so many other people that know exactly how you feel, which for whatever reason, is very comforting.

    Do you agree with Teresa’s thoughts on the term rainbow baby? Let us know in the comments section below.