At first glance, this photo looks just like two bouncing baby brothers happily posing for a sweet sibling photo. But there’s so much more to this rainbow baby photo shoot.
The story that goes with it is one that every mother needs to read, especially those who have suffered a ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇ, sᴛɪʟʟʙɪʀᴛʜ or ɴᴇᴏɴᴀᴛᴀʟ ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ.
Couple ʟᴏsᴇs third son shortly after birth
There is nothing more heartbreaking, more ᴘᴀɪɴꜰᴜʟ or more unfair than when a parent ʟᴏsᴇs his or her baby. But it is something that happens each and every day to countless couples.
Cindy and Jim Bob Haggerton are one of those couples. The pair ʟᴏsᴛ their third child, a boy they named Evans, shortly after birth, and the heartbreak will remain with them forever.
Evans was born eight weeks premature and soon diagnosed with Pᴏᴛᴛᴇʀ sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ, a genetic condition that can result in kidney failure and heart defects. Evans ᴅ.ɪᴇᴅ three hours after birth.
Light after ʟᴏss
However, through this cloud of darkness, something bright happened. One year after their ʟᴏss, the couple received a phone call informing them that a newborn needed a home. Cindy and Jim Bob didn’t hesitate to proceed with the adoption. They welcomed little Tate to the family with open arms.
Like millions of other children, Tate is a rainbow baby. This is the name given to a baby that comes after a ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇ, sᴛɪʟʟʙɪʀᴛʜ, ɴᴇᴏɴᴀᴛᴀʟ ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ or infant ʟᴏss. Like a rainbow, rainbow babies symbolise light after a dark storm, hope after ʟᴏss, and strength after sadness.
Adding Tate to the family was only the first surprise that the Haggerton family had in store for them. Shortly after adopting Tate, Cindy discovered she was pregnant again.
Two rainbow babies in one year
She and her husband, Jim Bob, welcomed their fourth son into the family – Whitten – less than a year after Tate.
Photographer Natasha Hance, of Birth Unscripted, had been a family friend of the Haggertons for years. Natasha had documented the birth of each of the elder Haggerton children, and the family had a newborn photography session booked with Natasha before baby Evans passed away.
When Cindy asked about a photo shoot that honoured the three little boys, Natasha didn’t hesitate to say yes.
What resulted was a photo that allows the family to commemorate little Evans all the while celebrating the joy of each rainbow baby brother.
A brother ʟᴏsᴛ. A brother adopted. A brother born.
“When we did his newborn session, we wanted to do something that would tie the three boys together,” Natasha said.
“We did a rainbow with the two rainbow babies and a butterfly above them to represent their brother that was born the year before.”
“It was a long journey for their family. This image is a reminder of the many blessings that waited for them through their storm.”
The photo also helps keep the memory of little Evans alive and close to his big brothers.
The unspoken heartbreak of stillbirth
An estimated one in four pregnancies ends in ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇ, while six babies are sᴛɪʟʟʙᴏʀɴ every day in Australia.
Many women do not realise how common this ʟᴏss really is. Many couples have trouble finding happiness after such a heartbreak. And many families will forever struggle to come to terms with this ʟᴏss.
The Haggerton’s bittersweet yet beautiful photo reminds us all that, even in the darkest days of ʟᴏsing a child, there can still be joy from new light (and new life) ahead.