9 Moms Reveal What It Was Like Holding Their Rainbow Baby For the First Time

In just a matter of weeks, I get to meet my rainbow baby. After losing my last pregnancy late in the second trimester, I can't stop thinking about how it will feel to finally hold a healthy child in my arms. I already know this long-awaited moment will be fraught with complicated emotions, from deep sadness over never getting there with my now-angel to utter gratitude and relief. I wanted to know what it was like for other moms when they held their rainbow babies for the very first time, so I talked to my friends and reached out to my mom groups. Keep reading to see what the moment was like for them and whether the experience was what they expected after so much heartache and anticipation.

  1. "When I looked into my rainbow baby's eyes for the first time, I felt like she was saying to me, 'Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.' That's from a Mary Oliver poem, but it is exactly the sentiment of how I felt. It was as if she KNEW I had been waiting for her. All the pain and loss I had felt somehow felt like this redemption in her birth." — Emily Polanco
  2. "My adopted son was born three weeks ago after four miscarriages and two failed adoptions. I had feared that I wouldn't love him the same as my 6-year-old; however, it was love at first sight! It surprised me how quickly I could open my heart to a baby, even when I knew there was still a possibility our birth mom could change her mind. Luckily she didn't and he's ours, and he was totally worth the wait! God is good all the time." — Stephanie Huerta
  3. "I had my rainbow baby two and a half years ago. We got pregnant again pretty quickly after losing our first son. After a long labor and a repeat C-section, despite attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), our son was finally here! It didn't feel real. Hearing him cry was the best sound in the world. When our first son was born, there was no crying. But even as we had to keep reminding ourselves that this was real and that we had a healthy baby boy, it also felt right and like it was meant to be." — Hyedi N.
  4. "Relief. The overwhelming emotion was relief. I was relieved to have delivered him alive. I was relieved to have survived the delivery myself and that it was over, partly because it was mildly triggering to be in that place again. I was relieved that the next-most-prominent emotion was glee. I was afraid I would be so preoccupied with fear and grief that they would overshadow the joy that usually comes with the birth of a child. But I was relieved to feel a big smile on my face, to hear myself laughing with my husband, to feel a lot of love for the son in my arms and the desire to nurse him. Peace came next; peaceful remembrance of Charlotte, the daughter we never got to take home, and peaceful realization that this child could. We will never fully recover from losing that baby, but we were ready for some healing, and I think anyone who has worked to be in that frame of mind will have a similar experience. There are still lots of tears, still difficult days, even moments when our rainbow is the trigger, but above and beyond, he has been a healer and brings so much light to our family." — Jen Rouhana
  5. "The best way I can summarize 10 million emotions at once is that it felt like I took my first breath of air since losing our son Gavin." — Carly
  6. "Five months after we lost Isabelle, I was pregnant again. When Henry was put in my arms, I felt the most powerful rush of love that I had never experienced before. I believed I was holding the most beautiful baby in the world. He was safe — and mine. I felt incredible guilt that I hadn't experienced the same rush when I had first held Isabelle, as I had been too terrified of disturbing or hurting her. Free from wires, cables, and beeping monitors, I wanted to look at and hold Henry around the clock. I was thankful he was a boy, so I would not compare him to his sister. I felt enormous sadness that he would not have a big sister." — Christine Tester
  7. "All I wanted to know was if he was OK. As soon as I got him in my arms I felt joy, the most overwhelming feeling you could possibly have. I have two babies in heaven waiting for mommy, and two beautiful boys here on earth. I wouldn't trade them for the world." — Malinda Hagedorn
  8. "I've had two miscarriages, three babies. To say I was scared to get pregnant again is an understatement. I was terrified, paranoid, and overly cautious all through my pregnancy with my rainbow baby. If he didn't move enough, I automatically thought the worst. The day came for me to be induced due to severe cholestasis. There wasn't an immediate cry because the cord was wrapped around his neck and his arm was stuck under the cord at his neck as well. Then I heard it. It's like the heavens opened up, and that cry was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Seeing him lying on my chest in all his perfection — all my worries were for nothing. He was here. He was healthy. He was perfect. My body was numb with emotion. Before every rainbow, we must first endure the storm. And that storm was a brutal one, full of grief, lessons, and gratitude all mixed into one. It taught me to cherish everything because it can be taken away at any second." — Brittany Cook
  9. "Awe — complete and utter awe that I had this beautiful, precious baby girl in my arms and against my chest. Even though she was my third live birth, the awe of that moment was so incredibly different because she was the first and only one to arrive after knowing MY pregnancies could and twice did end without this moment. It was surreal that she was actually in my arms and I could kiss her and feel her warm little body move around. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The love I felt was so incredibly fierce. And it was only once she was here that I was able to fully realize the only way I could ever have his little love, my rainbow baby, was to have lost my two sweet angel babies." — Ingrid da Costa