Rainbow child : A child that is born following the death of a child
In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.
I’d never heard the term ‘rainbow child’ or ‘rainbow baby’ before I became a bereaved mother, but since reading the many blogs & articles about losing a child I’ve become very familiar with it.
Leigh is my ‘rainbow’ child. I found out two days before Órla died that my eldest daughter was to become a mother for the first time. I was so happy to be able to tell Órla she was going to be an aunty. Her response to this fabulous news? ‘Yeah whatever’ now most would think this was because she was so ill and frail but those of us who knew her well know that this was a typical response from Órla when it was something that didn’t really interest her. I know she thought about the baby because later that evening she said she wondered what the baby would look like.
A day and a half later my baby was gone, never to see or hold her niece/ nephew in her arms, never to hear her name ‘Aunty Órla’ being called. I desperately searched the web to read about the afterlife and to see if it was possible for órla’s soul to know and see the baby’s soul before it was born. After all as a true believer we didn’t ‘just die’ it’s only our physical self that dies. I saw that in Órla’s body, it was just a shell, I knew Órla wasn’t there anymore. So where was the baby’s soul?
A lot of people believe that a baby’s soul doesn’t enter the physical body until the moment of birth, that the soul stays near to the mother. I liked this idea, I liked the thought that my dad and Órla got to know and love Leigh’s soul before we did. They say children see spirits well Leigh definitely does from day one he looked past my shoulder and now at 5 weeks old he smiles (yes actually smiles) and get very excited looking over my shoulder. When I hold him he very rarely focuses on my face like he does with his mum and other people but concentrates on a spot over my shoulder. I like to believe this is Órla’s spirit bobbing around and teasing him just like she would have done if she were here in physical form.
My ‘rainbow’ grandchild has brightened my life without a doubt but it also comes with memories of when Órla was a baby, how Órla slept/took her bottle/did what at what age. I know we’re supposed to remember the happier times and not the illness but the happier times with Órla are tinged with ‘what if we’d known’ ‘what if I’d said’ ‘ what if she were born here’ ( Órla was born with cystic fibrosis but it wasn’t detected until she was 6 when the damage had already been done). Seeing my daughter become the beautiful mother I knew she’d be reminds me everyday that my baby’s not here anymore that I no longer have dreams of what she will look like when she’s a teenager or what kind of adult she will become. My dreams are now filled with seeing her again in heaven, holding her once more hearing her call me mom.
So yes Leigh is my ‘rainbow’ grandchild but Órla will always be my rainbow.
3 weeks old
Leigh Patrick 3 weeks old