Each year on Father’s Day, I engage in the millennial tradition of posting an adorable picture of my two children hugging, kissing, or playing with their dad, giving my husband a proud papa shout out of Facebook. The picture will be filled with love and cuteness as, I am sure, most of yours will be too. Our picture won’t tell the whole story of our family, though, as one of our children will be missing from the frame: our first daughter who died before she was to be born.
My husband stood by my side through the loss of our first born and the two anxious pregnancies that followed and resulted with our two rainbow babies safely in our arms. For those who don’t know, a “rainbow baby” is a baby born after the loss of a pregnancy, baby, or child who came before them. The rainbow is used as a symbol of hope shining through the storm clouds of grief that appear after losing a child. Rainbow Moms, like myself, have been getting more and more support and acknowledgement of our fearful journeys through pregnancy after loss, while fathers of rainbow babies, like my husband, go unrecognized.
At Pregnancy After Loss Support, we want to change that. Every day we celebrate the dads who, sadly, are only able to hold the hands of some of their children, while having to hold the ones they are missing only in their heart. We, as Rainbow Baby Moms, want to share with you why Rainbow Dads give us “all the feels.”
Because they share in our pain.
Rainbow Dads know loss too. They deeply grieve the loss of their children who die. Often times their pain gets overlooked, but their grief is just as raw and real as a mother who loses her child. They show beauty, courage, and grace in their dedication to being a father in the face of the deep heartbreak that comes from losing a child.
Because they support us through our pregnancies that follow a loss.
Rainbow dads have it rough. It’s hard not being able to feel the baby move and know baby is okay. It’s hard not being able to take away the hurt and fear their partners feel as they face each scary day of pregnancy after loss. Rainbow Dads often put their own worries and fears aside to support us as Rainbow Moms from the moment we lose one precious child to the moment we meet our rainbow babies.
Because they are brave in the face of fear.
Rainbow dads are scared too. They aren’t sure if they will be dads to a living child after the loss of their child who died. With all their hearts, they miss their baby that passed away and know that another baby will never replace that child. Dads are scared too—scared that this pregnancy won’t bring home a baby. But, each day they choose to believe in hope that one day, they too, might meet their rainbow baby, and that makes them brave.
Because they are vulnerable.
Rainbow Baby Dads can’t help but wear on their faces all of the emotions that come with meeting their babies born after the loss of their children who died. The ecstasy that comes from holding your living child in your arms, after months of fearing you might lose this baby too, radiates from a Rainbow Baby Dad’s face, and we Rainbow Baby Moms (and the internet) can’t get enough of it.
Because they are proud papas.
Rainbow Baby Dads know the heartache over the death of their child. They are proud of both their children who died and their children who come after loss. They understand that life is precious, and they don’t take anything for granted anymore. These dads celebrate their role as Rainbow Baby Dads because they know that a rainbow doesn’t always come after a storm. A rainbow baby also doesn’t take away the rain clouds from the loss of their child that died—it just makes the arrival of their rainbow baby that much more bitter sweet.
Let’s hear it for the Rainbow Baby Dads! We Rainbow Baby Moms love you and thank you for being by our side. We couldn’t do it without you!
*Article originally published at HuffPost