Teresa Mendoza has a difficult time calling her infant son a “rainbow baby.” The term is used for a baby that is born after their mother suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.
Mendoza gave birth to her son, Leo, approximately a year after her daughter, Sylvia, was born without a heartbeat. Mendoza and her husband, Carlos, were devastated by her death.Teresa Mendoza/Instagram
Mendoza has a blog called “Writings for Sylvia,” on which she talks about her experience with the stillbirth. Additionally, many of her Instagram posts contain raw, emotional photos of the stillbirth she experienced and the grief that came along with it.
A few days after Leo’s birth, Mendoza wrote on her Instagram account the reason why she didn’t like calling him a rainbow baby.
Mendoza felt that by calling her son a rainbow baby, it implies Sylvia was a “storm” — a negative concept she never wants to associate with her first baby.Teresa Mendoza/Instagram
A rainbow baby … signifies the rainbow that comes after a storm. For a long time I rejected the title, feeling protective of Sylvia and hurt by the idea that anything surrounding her was a storm. She is perfect, not a storm, we are heartbroken, but she is not a storm, it was a great tragedy, yes, but she is not a storm.
As Livestrong.com explains, there is a difference between a miscarriage and a stillbirth:
Before 20 weeks, the loss of a pregnancy is called a miscarriage; after 20 weeks, it’s called a stillbirth, says the National Women’s Health Information Center. Stillbirth occurs in around 1 of every 200 pregnancies, usually before delivery, says the American Pregnancy Association. Some of the known reasons for stillbirth include genetic problems, poor fetal development, problems with the placenta or umbilical cord and infection. However, around 50 percent of the time, the reason for a stillbirth is never identified.
On her blog, Mendoza shared the form her grief took after the stillbirth:
I … wouldn’t categorize myself as “depressed” in the way that modern medicine has lumped it together. While I imagine a great deal of parents and families suffer from a clinical depression following the loss of a child, that has not been my experience. I am however, quite hopeless.
The mom went through a difficult grieving period, but she and her husband were able to take steps forward in their lives by having Leo.
Mendoza’s once-strong feelings about not calling Leo a rainbow baby have now changed because of one significant photo of her son. When she noticed the way the sunlight hit the photo and created two thinly curved rainbows, Mendoza realized their presence wasn’t arbitrary.Teresa Mendoza/Instagram
Somewhere along the pregnancy with Leo, Carlos told me that his interpretation equates to both Sylvia and Leo as rainbows that were shining above the storm and that the storm had nothing to do with Sylvia except to bring the rainbow of her and now her brother into our lives. She is the rainbow as much as he is … and the two rainbows that showed up in this photo make me think he’s absolutely right.
In her Instagram profile description, Mendoza wrote, “One bebé in my heart, one in my arms.”
What a beautiful concept.