Honoring a Rainbow Baby

A personal story of loss and hope

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a rainbow baby is one born soon after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage or stillbirth, the word used because a rainbow typically follows a storm, indicating optimism and hope.

By Melissa Willets

Since suffering a recent pregnancy loss, my family has done everything we can to honor the baby we so desperately wanted. From planting a tree, to naming a star after her, to creating angel baby necklaces, even in the midst of our grief, we find deep comfort by channeling our myriad of painful feelings in positive ways.

We hope to conceive again soon, which I have come to believe is the greatest opportunity to honor our beloved baby. For she would be gifting us with a life we would never have known, had we not been forced to say goodbye to her far too soon.

Weve started to think about how to use the name we picked for our angel as inspiration for a rainbow baby name. Of course, wed never reuse her exact name; I think I speak for all parents who have experienced loss that this feels beyond wrong.

Instead, we are considering these ideas:

Using initial inspiration. Our babys name was Cara. Picking a name that begin with a Cwould honor her, and offer another way for us to cherish her in everyday life. Some “C” names for us to ponder for a girl: Cady, or Christy. For a boy: Colum, Cody, or Crosby. Or, gender neutral: Casey, Cameron, or Chandler.

Getting in the middle. Cara will forever hold a special place in our hearts, no matter what happens, and we would plan to teach a future child about her, and how she sent them to us. In that spirit, a rainbow girl could have Cara as her middle name. For a rainbow boy, maybe Carrick.

Remembering the good times. It was during a visit to Disney World that we announced my pregnancy. Ill always remember this magical week as being full of joy, and long before we ever suspected our story would end this way. Selecting a Disney character name could remind us of the special time we did have with our angel. Perhaps Ariel, Flynn, or the unisex moniker, Dale.

Choosing hope. There are times my loss feels so overwhelming, I dont think I can go on. When I encounter these moments, one word plays over and over in my head: Hope, as in Ive got to have it. Ive thought about how a baby named Hope would be so meaningful, after what weve been through.

Looking to the heavens. What better way to honor an angel baby than to bestow a name meaning, or inspired by, an angel,upon a rainbow baby? Angel names worth considering: Dina, Angelina, Evangeline, Gabriel or Ingram.

Going literal. When in doubt, perhaps the name Rainbow would be a perfect fit!

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13 Responses to “Honoring a Rainbow Baby”

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kennamoon Says:

August 16th, 2017 at 2:13 am

I know a rainbow baby with the middle name Rain, and I thought Iris would be pretty as well because it means Rainbow 🙂

maggiemary Says:

August 16th, 2017 at 6:08 am

A lovely option would be to use the Welsh name Enfys, which means ‘rainbow’. It’s pronounced EN-vis and is a unisex name, so could be used for a boy or girl.

Aimzright4 Says:

August 16th, 2017 at 6:08 am

You could also use:

Iris- Rainbow
Zoe- Life
Aurora – Aurora Borealis (rainbow colors)
Vera – Faith
Eliana – My God has Answered

Any name that is related to Mary could also work, one of the possible meanings is ” wished for child”.

There are so many great names

minisia Says:

August 16th, 2017 at 8:41 am

I second Iris and Aurora, really beautiful and meaningful. Brigid, Eos, Roxanne/Roxie, Alba & Oriana are also ‘dawn’ names. Another idea is to go with spring-related names i.e. new beginnings, happiness after harsher times. Some spring goddesses that come to mind are Ostara & Flora.

alliebelle Says:

August 16th, 2017 at 8:57 am

I love the idea of a name like Hope or Zoe (”life”). The thing I would be careful of is accidentally sending the message that your rainbow baby is a replacement child. If their name is solely related to the previous child (Disney names in this case), it’s possible they’ll feel as though they matter less than their sibling.

The weight of a lost child is an enormous burden for their sibling to carry. Instead of focusing on the past in naming a rainbow baby, I find it much more helpful to focus on the future, and the child that your baby is right now. They aren’t a replacement, they are a light in the darkness. They are the start of what’s to come. Joy. Vivian. Nadia. Esperanza. Day. Dylan. Amil. Kit. Deene. Raza.

If you give your child the gift of a name meaning hope, joy, or life, that’s something they will never resent.

lesliemarion Says:

August 16th, 2017 at 8:10 pm

I am deeply sorry for your great loss.

When I first read this blog, I thought a rainbow baby name meant the name for a child who did not get to be born or to live. I didn’t realize it meant for a baby which came later.

For me, it was the naming of our two conceived and briefly there embryos which helped heal me. Of course, in our case due to circumstances, I knew I would not be able to have children in the future, so our brief babies were our only children.

We were not emotionally ready to name them for awhile, then I chose the names I had always thought of them as: Owen and Cordelia, both thanks to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne books. Even if I had been able to go on and bear living children, they still would have been Owen and Cordelia. It was simply who they were.

Naming them really helped in the grieving process, as did giving them birthdays near when they would have been born. Each year we prepare and eat a certain meal on these days, key lime pie for Cordelia and potatoes and dumplings for Owen.

Whether it is naming (and thus visualizing) our lost babies or somehow linking their intended names with our future living child, naming is powerful.

It gives a voice to our lost babies, to our deep grief, and to our even deeper love.


jame1881 Says:

August 17th, 2017 at 7:54 am

I’m sorry for your loss, but also congratulate you on your next child! My prayers go out to you.

My mother wasn’t exactly a rainbow baby, but she was next baby after her sister died at 6 days old. Her sister was Janice. Legend has it that my grandparents wanted a “Jan-Jan.” They claim it wasn’t them; my mother’s older siblings wanted a “Jan-Jan.” Well, whoever wanted the Jan-Jan got their way because my mother is Janet!

Personally, though I’ve never been anywhere close in this situation, I think I love names so much that I’d want a unique name for all my children, rainbow/angel babies included. It also would keep each of them unique to me, so that the rainbow Jan-Jan wouldn’t be trying to “make up” for the angel Jan-Jan, who I would view as perfect because of her heavenly status. With separate names, they would be distinct and I wouldn’t feel the need to compare them as much.

tabitha Says:

August 17th, 2017 at 10:22 am

Thanks for sharing and bringing light to the still taboo subject of miscarriage and still birth. I’m sorry for your loss. I think a name meaning life, hope or dawn would be beautiful: eg Zoe, Eve, Asha, Nadia, Vito… You will know it when you find it. X

Liz Kent Says:

August 17th, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Sometimes, it’s time to move on. Your rainbow baby is a different baby to the one that you unfortunately lost. My sister has a Rainbow baby that she considered naming after her lost baby in some form, however she went with Owen, simply because she loved the name. Naming your rainbow baby after the lost baby before them will put a lot of unnecessary pressure onto the child, and you may start to think that they are one, but they’re not, they’re different people/foetuses.

Nicoleb Says:

August 17th, 2017 at 1:55 pm

I am very sorry for your loss. My second baby – William Abbott was stillborn at 36 weeks. Like you we planted a tree for him and when I became pregnant again just four months after he died we strongly felt like this unplanned baby was a gift from our son. She was born on the one year anniversary of his due date. We had not been able to name her until we knew we would be bringing her home but as soon as we saw her we both knew her name was Iris. It wasn’t even a name we had discussed until then. The name honors my mother in law and we loved the rainbow meaning. Also it fits in perfectly with our first daughter’s name- Raina Olive. Both have strong nature associations but also the meanings- a queen and a goddess- are full of strength and girl power.

Iris’s birth and life have been such a break in the storm of our grief. She is such a happy little girl and I have never regretted naming her for her brother. I look forward to sharing William’s story with her when she’s old enough to understand. We are expecting our second rainbow in November, another little boy. His name- Henry Raul- will honor my father who passed away in June.

If honoring Cara with your next baby’s name feels right to you then absolutely do it! Her life will be a big part of who your next baby is- just as a living sibling would be! Good luck on your journey xoxo

Hides Says:

August 20th, 2017 at 2:00 am

After a full term loss, we had a chemical pregnancy but for a week, we thought our rainbow was on his/her way. I made a list on here of names for a rainbow baby, that had meanings such as blessing, light, hope and gift. Even though we haven’t been able to use them so far, they are ready. Our baby girl had an uncommon name, so finding a similar name is difficult. Her name is Isadora, and we do love names that end with ‘a’. It also means gift, so we found other names that meant similar. I am so sorry for your loss and good luck finding that perfect name for your rainbow x

jourdanba Says:

August 20th, 2017 at 2:36 pm

My older sister passed away the day after she was born and two years later when I came to be, my parents gave me her name as one of my middle names, in addition to the middle name the women in my family all share. I’ve always loved having that piece of her as my own identity.

Ruanne Says:

August 22nd, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for sharing your stories and ideas! I like the idea if Iris, especially.

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