Rainbow Babies


After the loss of a child, there are a few of us who are lucky to belong to the PAL group, which can either be Pregnancy After Loss or Parenting After Loss. It’s an odd place to be, but I still say we are lucky because we are the ones who are able to bring home our rainbow babies, our babies who are born after a loss. (Thank you to Buckley from Little Orso for teaching me this term.)

As a mom, you don’t pick your favorites. You love all your children equally. My Lola (grandma) used to call me her favorite grandchild. As we were very close, I basked in her attention and words. After she died, I found out that she called each of my sisters (and likely my nine cousins) her favorite as well. Did it mean any less to me? No.

But, even though my pregnancy with Violet, my rainbow baby, was filled with so much anxiety infused with the excitement, I admit that I was not prepared for just how much joy she would bring to our hearts and home. I had so much guilt after losing Macy—surprisingly none of it was for any of our choices we made with her, but rather the guilt was over how much Kat had to deal with in the aftermath of Macy’s death. I thought that because I knew Macy was going to die, it would be easier to grieve her and move on. I was wrong.

So, as much as I don’t have favorites, Kat will always have a special place in my heart for not just being our oldest, but for being the one who held us together through our grief. On the other hand, Violet brought such a sense of healing to me, right from the start. If Kat was the one who helped my husband and I make it through that first year, Violet solidified that healing in so many ways.

There are so many ways we’ve come full circle. As I (finally) finish writing this post, I’m at a café where I went when Kat started preschool. Now I’m sitting here with her and both of us are working on various writing projects while we wait to pick up Violet from her first day of preschool. Four years ago, I remember being so sorrowful at this café, drowning my grief in sweet coffee, voracious reading and the small start of creative writing once again.

Today I’m not grieving in the same way. But, I still question myself in that year after Macy died—I question what kind of mother I was to Kat, what kind of effect my (our) grief had on her. On better days, I do realize that we were the best parents we could be at the time. How much more love can you show your child than for them to see how much you’re mourning their sibling? (though I worry about that too….) Realistically, I know that allowing myself time to grieve was good for me as a person and as a mother—it allowed me to show Kat it is okay to be sad, it is okay to cry. It allowed me to become a better mother in the long run, for all three of my children.

Do I still second-guess myself? Every day. But, I’ve come to accept that some self-doubt just makes me a good mother. After all, I just want what’s best for my kids.

Several weeks ago as we were in the car, Violet reached over and told me she was going to read “Macy book” AKA Special Delivery. I was only half paying attention as I was driving and then I heard her turning the pages and saying things like “Some babies have mommy milk.” It made me smile and made my heart grow three sizes. My rainbow baby, she gets it. She makes me realize that even though I may be a different parent than I would have been had I not lost a baby, I am still doing something right; I’m raising my girls in the best way I know how: with love.


Melanie Tioleco-Cheng | JUNE 28, 2013