For those who haven’t suffered through the same circumstance, the term itself may be unfamiliar. A “rainbow baby” is a little one born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or other type of infant loss.
As fertility specialist Dr. Jennifer Kulp-Makarov explained to Parents.com, the phrase was coined because a rainbow baby “is like a rainbow after a storm: something beautiful after something scary and dark.”
“It is an extremely emotional and devastating experience to lose a pregnancy [or baby],” Dr. Kulp-Makarov added. “To create a life or bring a baby into the world after such a loss is amazing, like a miracle for these parents.”
Often, it’s also quite a miracle for the big brothers and sisters who help welcome these wee ones into the world. Just witness a recent photo of six-year-old Mikey Marotta holding his brand new baby brother, Jake.
The heartwarming snapshot has gone instantly viral. But for Melrose, Massachusetts youngster Mikey, it was well worth the wait. His mom Jessica told People magazine that her son had spent quite some time holding out for official big brother status.
“He was always asking, ‘When am I going to get my baby brother?’” she recalled. The grade-schooler couldn’t possibly have realized the painful poignancy of his request.
Marotta hadn’t told her little boy that she and her husband, 38-year-old Michael Marotta, understood his longing firsthand. They had actually suffered a miscarriage back in January 2017, when Jessica Marotta was only 11 weeks pregnant.
“He just wanted to be a brother so badly,” Jessica remembered, adding that “he would see … all his friends and schoolmates getting brothers, so I think that was hard for him. But he really stuck it out.”
Jessica explained to People that Mom and Dad never wanted to burden their young son with their overwhelming sadness. “We were devastated. I was heartbroken,” she lamented. “We felt like we didn’t deserve what happened to us. But at the same time, it happens to so many people.”
So when Jessica discovered she was pregnant again, she and Michael were extremely cautious about breaking the news to Mikey. They dreaded the possibility of another miscarriage, she said, adding that “we refused to get excited.”
But once they had cleared the first trimester, they decided it was time to share the big announcement.
When Mikey finally heard, she recalled, “He was very teary-eyed and excited. He was very emotional.”
Emotions ran especially high on March 6, when tiny baby Jake was born nine weeks early via C-section. The wee new arrival weighed only 1 lb., 12 ounces when he was delivered, and Mikey couldn’t actually hold him for more than a week.
But when that blessed moment finally arrived, the relief and joy on Mikey’s face communicated volumes. The newly minted big brother cuddled Jake close to his chest, in their very first moment of skin-to-skin sibling contact.
After years of wishing, 6-year-old Mikey's dreams finally came true! He got the news from his parents he'd been waiting…
In the sweet photo that’s sweeping social media, Mikey leans back against a wall. His hand rests protectively on Jake’s tiny head, and his eyes are closed in utter gladness and gratitude.
“It was probably one of the most emotional things I’ve ever seen without a lot of tears,” Jessica told People. “He was so happy at the same time.”
And viewers around the world are feeling that happiness as well. After all, it’s tough not to smile when you witness that pure golden gift at the end of the rainbow.