Sunshine, Angel and Rainbow Babies
Pregnancy after the loss of a child is a tapestry of emotions.
By Amber Pryor | Photos: In The Moment Photography by Leila
A rainbow baby, a child who is born after the loss of a sibling, represents the light, hope, and joy returning into the lives’ of their family. These children are called “rainbow babies,” because the beauty of the rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it
does not mean the storm never happened or that we are still not dealing with its aftermath. It means something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope.
Captured in unforgettable images of color, energy, and hope; Rebecca (red), Michele (orange), Stacy (yellow), Zahra (green), Cayli (blue), and Taylor (purple), are six Northern California moms who came together to celebrate the arrival of their precious rainbow babies, under the artistic direction of local photographer, Leila Steffens of In The Moment Photography.
The women were all encouraged to come together for these memorable photo shoots, by Gavin Ferguson, husband to Stacy and 106.5 The End “Wake Up Call” morning show host, when he learned they were all expecting again. “I contacted our family photographer, Leila, when Stacy was inspired by a similar, yet unrelated photo online,” said Ferguson. “I felt this was a special way to not only commemorate our journey, but to send a
message of love and hope to others who have suffered a similar loss; last I checked, our image and message had been viewed by over a million people online.”
The photos, which show the six women pregnant and then again holding their little ones eight months later, truly represent the nature of a rainbow baby pregnancy, as described by these mothers and their photographer.
“During the first shoot, I wanted everyone to look happy, but knew it wasn’t a regular maternity shoot,” said Steffens.
“We were all anxious, not joyful,” said Zahra, mother to angel baby (a child lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal or infant death) Roya, and rainbow babies, Emir and Cyra.
“Pregnancy after loss is a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Taylor (mother to angel baby Bailey and rainbow baby Rylan). “While pregnant with Rylan, I found myself not wanting to get attached for fear that something would happen again. I still cherished every second I was pregnant, but after you suffer a loss you tend to always think the worst and worry about every little thing.”
“We all had reserved smiles in our first group photo,” added Rebecca; mother to sunshine babies (children born before infant loss), Charlotte and Sawyer, angel baby Tucker and rainbow baby Morgan. “But as each baby arrived among the group, we became reassured (especially by Gavin and
group texts of each newborn as they arrived) that everything was going to be fine. You can see the difference in our smiles in the group photo after they [rainbow babies] were in our arms; no more anxious mothers, hope had won.”
Theo, the Ferguson’s rainbow baby was the first in the group to arrive.
“Theo brought hope, more light, and joy back into our lives,” said Stacy (mother sunshine baby Connor, angel baby Phoebe and rainbow baby Theo). “He isn’t Phoebe, but he is his own person that we love just as much. He is Connor and Phoebe’s little brother who put us back into “baby world,” a world we so desperately wanted to be in again. We finally got to do so many things we were waiting to do; like bring our baby home to the nursery we had prepared, snuggle, listen to giggles, watch our baby grow, and watch Connor finally interact with a sibling.”
Each family expressed the importance of the special sibling bonds they hope to nurture as their rainbow babies grow and how the existence of their rainbow baby only strengthens their love for and the memory of the child they lost.
For Emir’s first birthday (their first rainbow baby), Zahra and her husband Chris decided to throw a rainbow themed party. In their invitations they asked their guests to wear rainbow colors as a way to celebrate Emir, but to also remember Roya. “This was our way of incorporating our loss into the future,” said Zahra.
“The death of my daughter truly crushed me and left me forever wounded, but because of her, my son and daughter now exist and they saved me,” said Zahra. “I had so much love to give, but no one to give it to. My rainbow babies have allowed me to share all my mom love with them, plus express the love I have for my angel.”
For Morgan’s birth, Rebecca was gifted personalized “rainbow baby” shirts for each of her children. It meant a lot to her older children to be included in the celebration of their little brother Morgan’s arrival, as they too were affected by the loss of their little brother Tucker. “The kids lost a sibling,” reminds Rebecca.
“We now talk to Rylan about her big sister, Bailey, all the time,” added Taylor. “Rylan will always know who her big sister is and the impact she has on so many lives. We hope that when Rylan is older and understands more, she will always include her sister when asked about her siblings.”
And it is the great impact of suffering such a loss that makes welcoming a rainbow baby a truly unique experience. A blend of mourning the child lost, anticipating a new life, anxious over the unknown, and the fear that others will forget about your child who was taken too soon.
“One of our greatest fears is we don’t want anyone to forget our son,” said Michele (mother to angel baby Derek and rainbow baby Hailey). “I love my daughter Hailey with all my heart; she expanded my heart, just as my son Derek did. Having her is the light at the end of my dark tunnel, but it doesn’t mean for one second that I don’t miss my baby son any less, or that I didn’t wish he was here every single day.”
For resources regarding infant loss, the families in this piece suggest the following: Sharing Parents of Sacramento, sharingparents.org; Molly Bears, www.mollybears.org; Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org, and Angel Gowns.
Amber Pryor is a Sacramento area mom, freelance writer, former educator, volunteer, and philanthropist with a focus on issues involving children’s welfare both locally and globally. She is an avid traveler, aspiring foodie, and loves to spend quality time with family and friends.