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Why I Don’t Use the Term “Rainbow Baby”

Both our son and our daughter on the way are babies after the loss of two babies before them. After our first miscarriage I really struggled with how to refer to the babies we lost, as well as how to answer the question, “Is this your first?” To all the people asking about our son on the way a year later.  He was our first born, our second pregnancy, our third biological.  And after dealing with infertility, I didn’t like the cliche “we got our rainbow baby after the storm clouds of loss cleared away,” mentality.  The loss of our girls was still heavy, is still so important to us, and now having had other loss, we feel the same about those babies and find ourselves in a similar space getting asked about what number child our daughter on the way is.

While God has worked grace upon grace in our hearts, we never really have gotten angry at these questions.  They usually come from well meaning, or at worst, naive, friends and strangers.  I also, won’t lash out at someone who calls one of our children a “rainbow baby.” I’ve been learning to answer with grace and share our story as God opens doors.

But there are really 3 major reasons I don’t use the term rainbow baby personally and here’s why….they’re probably NOT what you think…

  1. As mentioned above, our journey between losses and pregnancies, were not quick turn around pregnancies, and we dealt with the pain of both infertility and secondary infertility in our journey.  There were many times we didn’t know if God would bless us with another child, if there would “be a rainbow” at the end of our stormy journey. This wasn’t promised and we knew that.

  2. Secondly as a Christian, I feel like the Bible is pretty clear on what a rainbow means, and the primary thing I want to think of when I see a rainbow is God’s covenant with Noah, His grace to mankind, never to destroy the whole earth again by flood, and to remember His rescue of Noah and His family.

  3. And lastly, in 2020 I learned something more about the rainbow in the story of Noah, that solidified my resolve to leave the rainbow defined by Scripture, and that was this. Scholar, Nancy Erickson, who attended our church at the time, graciously let me “interview” her for a training for women leaders over Zoom as the women at our church were studying together the book of Genesis.  She taught us that something often overlooked about the rainbow is that it’s just that a bow.  Think bow like “bow and arrow” bow, a weapon.  She asked us to think about where the bow is pointing if it were to be shot.  The answer-at God Himself.  In His promise to never wipe out mankind in this same way for their own sin, we actually see Him pointing to Himself.  Mankind would of course deserve again, to be wiped out for sin, but He Himself, would take on the wrath.  In the rainbow we get a beautiful foretelling of Jesus.  My mind was blown.  How could I ever think of the rainbow now as anything less than a picture of the gospel?! A beautiful reminder that God Himself bore the wrath of our sin and offers new life in Him for eternity, now that’s what the rainbow is really about!

If you’ve used the term “rainbow baby” I’m not trying to make you feel bad.  Rather, now be encouraged that you have an opportunity to share the gospel every time the term comes up! 

May God give each of us wisdom and conviction over this term, and may He meet you right where you are in your journey.  In the grieving, in the waiting, He doesn’t rush us, He is kind and He is patient, even when we don’t feel He is (I’ve been there friend.). Praying for you today dear one-wherever you are in your journey, know you are seen & you are loved.

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