I Don't Need a Rainbow Baby

I first heard the term “rainbow baby” following the loss of my first child due to miscarriage in January 2016. At the time it seemed like a fitting, if not a little too cheesy, name for what I hoped would follow our devastating loss. But now, after the birth and subsequent death of my “rainbow” son, Max, I’m not a fan of the phrase.

Rainbows connote hope after the storm; a beautiful, heavenly light appearing out of the darkness. More importantly, rainbows carry the weight of God’s promise; they are God’s sign that He would never again flood the earth. Rainbows are a reminder to us that God is ever-faithful and longs to show us his goodness and mercy.

The idea of a rainbow baby is much the same. We, the carriers of broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams, the mothers of loss, are led to believe that once we are holding our next child, our pain will be eased and our hope restored. This next baby will be our reward after suffering such great loss; light after the deepest dark. Rainbow babies are a promise that our pain is not futile. These rainbows are a promise that life will go on, and we will be whole again.

But in reality, none of us are promised a healthy, living child. I am not owed another baby. And I do not need one in order for my life to go on or be good. Do I want one? Desperately. I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I have loved several children as my own over the years, and I believe that I am made and called to be a mother. But even if I never get to raise children who are my own flesh and blood, I know that I will be whole.

I am reminded of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 when they were facing certain death in the blazing furnace. They stood in the face of Nebuchadnezzar and declared their faith that God would deliver them. They were confident of the Lord’s ability and desire to save them.

...the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods...
— Daniel 3:17-18

Most indicative of their abiding faith is not their declaration that God will deliver them, but what follows… “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods …” Despite their faith, they knew it was still possible that the Lord would choose not to deliver them. And they were willing to embrace that possibility with open arms.

I truly believe I will hold a living baby one day. I believe that the Lord will not withhold the fulfillment of a longing he placed in my heart. I am confident in the Lord’s ability and desire to give us another child. But even if he does not, he is still good, and I am still whole.

I don’t need a rainbow to believe that the storms will pass. Healthy children are a blessing, not a promise. They are not rainbows; they are gifts. And gifts are always unearned. Just because I have had to walk the most painful road a mother could be asked to walk does not mean I have earned or deserve a healthy baby.  

Of course, I pray earnestly and fervently that I will have a healthy, living baby in my arms one day. And if I do, he or she will simply be the greatest gift, not a rainbow.

This song by MercyMe speaks directly to the truth that God is able, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will. I hope you find it as encouraging as I do.