Teresa and Frank Tommasini could not have been happier. Their little girl, Giavanna, was thriving and they were ready to expand their family.
“After my oldest was born, I got pregnant nine months later and had my first miscarriage,” Teresa Tommasini, who lives in central Pennsylvania, told TODAY Parents. “It was such a hard time and then when she was two, I experienced my second miscarriage, [which was] even harder.”
Six months later, Tommasini got pregnant for the third time and eventually welcomed her rainbow baby, Luca.
“Our son came at a time when our lives needed uplifting,” Tommasini explained. “After the second [miscarriage], our families experienced loss with both our grandmothers passing. I was certain he was going to be a girl, and we had planned to honor both our grandmothers with her name. After we found out it was a boy, Luca was so fitting. For the light we needed in our lives.”
The mom of two shared that in Italian, Luca means bringer of light.
“It was important to give Luca a strong name because of what he represents to us and our families,” Tommasini said. “He is a light in our lives in every sense of the word. He brings us more joy and laughter than we could ever imagine. We chose Luca to honor our heritage and to also honor the light at the end of our storms.”
The Tommasinis are not an outlier in choosing a meaningful name to welcome a rainbow baby, the term coined for a child born to a couple who has previously lost a baby due to miscarriage or stillbirth.
“The biggest trend I see in names for rainbow babies are names with positive and uplifting meanings,” Pamela Redmond, the co-creator of Nameberry, the world’s largest site devoted to names, told TODAY Parents.
In the United States, 10% to 25% of all pregnancies will result in miscarriage and 1 in 100 pregnancies will be affected by stillbirth.
“Going through a pregnancy after a stillbirth or miscarriage can be frightening and traumatic as well as exciting,” Redmond said. “Some parents don't really exhale or finalize a name choice until the baby is born.”
Redmond explained that the emotional freight of carrying and giving birth to a rainbow baby can make some parents more focused on finding a name with personal, emotional, or spiritual meaning. Popular names for rainbow babies include:
Names that mean rainbow: Iris, Walken
Names that mean hope: Hope, Amil, Nadia
Names that mean life: Zoe, Eva, Vivian, Vito
Names that mean happiness: Asher, Beatrice, Felix
Angel names: Gabriel, Raphael
“With the birth of a child, parents want to focus on the positive force of new life,” she said. “They may always mourn for the baby they lost, but the right name helps them celebrate the new child as a fresh individual while still commemorating their unique place in the family.”
Redmond shared that while most parents choose not to give a rainbow baby the name of an older sibling who died, some still want to commemorate that name in some way.
“Possibly by using it as a middle name or using the same first initial or finding a name that is connected through meaning or other subtle factor — two Biblical names, say,” she said.
For Virginia parents Clay and Karen Huffman, naming their rainbow baby, Violet, 7, was a thoughtful combination of a name they loved and honoring their previous baby.
“We lost the baby before her near the end of the first trimester, so she is named after the color in the rainbow, but we also loved the name before we lost the baby,” Karen Huffman shared.