Newborn Photos as a Means to Celebrate Hope After Loss | Twin Cities Newborn Photographer
Family photography is a powerful tool to preserve stories. In many cases it is used as a means to celebrate what is most important to us in this present moment. Time is so fleeting and our children grow up so quickly. By investing in family portraits, we are investing in a way to preserve a bit of our family’s history.
For some families, photography is also a means to encapsulate what they are most grateful for after having gone through loss or tragedy. My Images of Strength and Hope program provides this opportunity for many families. It is a means to write their stories through photography and the written word and then share these stories with others. These shared stories are not only a testament to the strength and resilience of what they have gone through, but are often a part of their healing process. By sharing the pain and grief of what they have experienced, they learn so much about themselves and also receive an incredible amount of hope. This hope comes through reflection on their journey, recognition of the blessings they have today, and an anticipation of all that lies ahead. In return, they give hope to others. Because when we share our stories, we show others who are going through something similar that they are not alone.
Recently, I had a client tell me that they wanted family pictures in order to celebrate their “rainbow baby.” At first, I didn’t really think about what “rainbow baby'“ meant. I just thought, this baby must simply be something so special to them and they are using this beautiful term to refer to their sweet boy, but then, during their session, I learned why being a rainbow baby is very special and what it means to their family’s story.
A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born to a family after the couple had lost a baby to miscarriage. The name draws on the symbol of the rainbow, representing beauty after a dark time. Nearly one in four pregnancies ends in loss. Just think of all the women that have experienced this kind of loss! But how often do they share their stories? Many women carry these experiences throughout their lives in silence. They tuck them away inside and find the strength to simply move forward while holding their little ones deep in their hearts.
One of my recent client moms had words of wisdom to share about her recent experience with losing a child and I told her that I would share her story so that other women who have experienced something similar could know that they are never alone. Here is the interview and her brave words:
How did losing your baby during your pregnancy impact you as well as those around you? “Losing our first child reminded me how precious life is and how quickly things can change. We went from celebrating a beautiful future to mourning a great loss within just a few months and that was really hard. We didn’t know if we’d get to feel that happiness again. It was so strange to carry something that you’d created and to know that it would never live outside of your body. That maybe it never started living in the first place, as dark as that thought may sound. It took a lot of healing before we were ready to try again.”
“We are so lucky to have such supportive family and friends. We shared that we were pregnant when we were about 10 weeks along. I remember we had family photos done in the fall just a week before we were suppose to go in to get an ultrasound. We thought it would be fun to surprise my siblings during the pictures so I bought a onesie online that said “Littlest Youngstedt Coming Soon”. I still have the video on my phone of when we shared the news. Everyone was so full of joy. I held onto that moment a lot after we found out about the loss. When the ultrasound confirmed that there was no heartbeat we were in utter shock and disbelief. We cried for hours at the clinic. I called my mom when I got into the car, voice shaking, and told her there wasn’t a heartbeat. I broke down and she comforted me. A lot of close family and friends reached out with flowers. My sister came by and I remember she hugged me and we both just started to cry. She didn’t stay long but most of the visit was a hug and tears. Everyone checked-up on us frequently to see how we were doing. It was very kind and we felt really loved and cared for despite it being one of the hardest times in both of our lives.”
What comforted you the most? “Being open and vulnerable about the experience. Recognizing that so many families have experienced miscarriage. Approximately, 1 in 4 of pregnancies that end in loss. That’s a heavy statistic but it made me feel a lot less alone.”
How did it change your perspective on life? “It reiterated for me, the fact that each day is a gift. That life is not guaranteed tomorrow, and that you really should live and breathe and be in each moment as wholeheartedly as you can. There are so many distractions. Grief is really hard but it’s also a season. There are so many of those in life, and they change. Darkness isn’t a place where you have to get stuck. The light and joy comes again.”
If there was anything you would like to share with someone going through something similar what would it be? “You’re not alone, you are so loved, and you don’t have to ever bury this experience or forget this child. They are a part of you and your experience.”
How have you carried your experience with you today? “We often refer to Augustus as our rainbow baby. The blessing and brightness we received in our life after the storm and heaviness of loss. We still talk about the miscarriage and it continues to remind us of how precious life is. We are so lucky to be parents to our baby in Heaven and to Augustus, earth-side.”
This family celebrated the gifts that they have today in their baby boy, by preserving memories through photography. These images allow them to tangibly see the gifts and beauty that have come into their lives after a time that was filled with darkness. Their story continues and they will continue embracing it and all the precious memories that lie ahead.