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Rainbows and Unicorns



Dear Infertility Supporters,

If you are here because someone you care about is struggling through infertility, bless you. Supporting an infertile is not an easy task. We are an emotional train wreck strung-out on artificial hormones while the biological clock deals repeated blows to our heart. Between bouts of tears over a negative test and cheers over a recently ovulated egg, there are surges of rage, silence and worry. We are a grenade of emotions just waiting to explode.

But you know this. You see this. You go home to your family and express worry, fear and sadness over our struggle. You hug your children tightly and give thanks. You care enough to come here, to the internet and this little blog, to learn how to help us.

Our infertility community speaks in a strange lingo of abbreviations, medications, calendar days and procedures. Among all the jargon you see mention of “rainbow babies” and “unicorns.” “What lovely sounding things!” you think. Lovely things, maybe, but they followed such heartache.

Rainbows are babies born after children lost too soon. Rainbows come after miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. Rainbow babies are the calm after the storm.

And then there are the unicorns. For us, this mythical beauty represents living breathing children who have been spontaneously conceived without assistance. These are the children that happen during a treatment break or after an IVF baby was born. Anyone with two feet in the stirrups thinks about and prays for a unicorn constantly. Most of us have had some well-meaning but daft physician tell us unicorn tales. We have all had our friends, family and strangers on the bus tell us about so-in-so, whose infertility journey makes ours look trite, that finally walked away with a unicorn. We all know these stories. And none of us want to hear more of them.

These unicorns are important, but not in the way you think. The unicorns make us sad. They remind us how unfair the world cab be. They make us question God. “Why her and not me?”  Even if an infertile has a healthy miracle child, she still does not want to hear about the hope for a unicorn sibling. Trust me. I know unicorns happen, but I can’t live my life waiting for a one and I don’t need to be reminded.

Instead, take these unicorns and tuck them into your heart. Let the unicorn stories give you the hope and strength necessary to continue supporting your grenade of a friend. Instead, bring chocolate when our pregnancy test is negative. Bring wine when our IVF cycle fails to produce embryos. Bring a basket of thrift store dishes to smash after we miscarry, and then help us pick up the pieces when the tears start to flow. Share in our anguish and our pain, don’t brush it aside with a unicorn. Stand by us no matter what.

I want to close this letter by thanking the close friends that supported me. You all stuck by my side through the thick and thin, the good and bad. It is your support and love that helped me make it through. You all know who you are and I love each of you dearly. And to the rest of you who might not know me personally but are here to help, keep standing bedside your friend, your sister, your niece, your daughter. Your presence means more than you think.




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  1. November 13, 2015

    …I thought rainbow babies were the living children born after loss, regardless of how easily or not they were conceived/carried/brought into their families. Your points absolutely stand, though! Just was confused on the definition. This is the one I’m used to:

    • November 13, 2015

      Oh my gosh you are so right! All these years I thought they were children lost. *face palm* I have edited accordingly.

      • November 13, 2015

        When I read what you’d wrote originally, I just figured there was an alternate usage – “somewhere over the rainbow” and all, would still make sense used that way.


  2. November 13, 2015

    I thought babies with wings or angel babies are the ones we never got to hold, or lost too soon. rainbow babies are the babies born after loss. Hmm… Confused!

  3. November 14, 2015

    Yes. As usual you’re spot on, and have so eloquently explained what we feel. I hadn’t heard the phrase “unicorn baby”, but my God am I sick of people telling me about them. Yes they happen. Yes I’d be over the moon with joy if it happened to me. Yes I hope it will. No, I can’t plan for it, and it’s too damn painful to think about. I still struggle with how to respond to the well meaning people though, even after all these years.

  4. November 16, 2015

    I am very gratefully pregnant with IVF baby #2. Conceived at the same hospital, hopefully a different, clean petri dish. Everyone asks immediately if this was a unicorn baby. Nope, another miracle baby stirred together with science and magic. The unicorn story is too prevalent, too often brought to our attention. So much so that the fertile masses think it happens ALL.THE.TIME. Unicorns do happen but they’re called unicorns for a reason. They are rare and possibly figments of our ravaged imaginations.
    If I could give any advice to fertiles about supporting their infertile friends, it is this. Say you’re sorry, say it sucks, don’t say anything about the unicorns.
    And for the parents of unicorns, they are truly magic bits of hope. I’ve never heard a unicorn mom (there are so few) go on and on about their spontaneous fertility. Just how grateful they are for their children.

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