"The phrase 'Rainbow Baby' is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that we are not still 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."
It's difficult to imagine the year this family had, and I feel an enormous responsibility to give their story the acknowledgement and respect it deserves. Scott and Cherrie are dear friends of mine, our friendship going back far beyond the years of babies and responsibility. We used to do dinners all around Melbourne regularly, and they were some of the first people I shared the news of my pregnancy with more than four years ago. I adore them, and it's important to me that their story is told with the warmth, love and honour I feel so deeply for them.
In November of 2015, Cherrie and Scott birthed, and then said goodbye to their beautiful and much loved twin baby boys, Paddy and Quinlan, at 21 weeks gestation. After the births of their boys, days apart, they held each of them close, breathed them in, memorized their fingers, noses and toes, in awe of their tinyness. They grieved, and they began their journey of living the pain no parent should ever have to. Their lives would never be the same again. That unimaginable space between "what is" and "what if".
I share, with permission, a poem Scott wrote for their baby boys.
To Paddy and Quinlan..
We never had the chance to play, to laugh, to rock, to wiggle
We long to hold you, touch you now, and listen to your giggle.
She'll always be your mother, and I'll always be your Dad,
You will always be our first born children - the children we never had.
But now you're gone ... but yet you're here. We sense you everywhere,
You are our sorrow and our joy. There's love in every tear.
Just know our love goes deep and strong, that we'll forget you never,
The baby boys we had, but never had - and yet will have forever
Through their grief, there was a glimmer of light; a new pregnancy. A new hope. A warmth for their shattered hearts. A new rollercoaster. Cherrie shared with me one day towards the end of her pregnancy the story of her boys and their births, the unimaginable pain and devastation, the way she and Scott held each other through it, the uncertainty that a new pregnancy brought, and the deep determination to ensure that her boys are always acknowledged, that this pregnancy would result in their third child. They longed to meet their new baby, but held a constant fear of the unknown. So much joy, co-existing with so much dread.
Maisie Willow arrived safe, healthy, pink, perfect and SO loved. She arrived just over a year after her big brothers. I was so honoured to photograph this beautiful baby girl and I was so grateful for Scott and Cherrie to share the photos of Paddy and Quinlan taken by Heartfelt with me. Their joy as a family radiated in every glance at her, every smile, every touch. Love is so vast, and can be so painful, but also devastatingly beautiful. Their home hummed with the miracle of life.
I share Scott, Cherrie, Paddy, Quinlan and Maisie's story with permission, and with the hope that anyone suffering the pain of loss can find comfort it knowing they are not alone, and there are organisations, like SANDS that can provide support to anyone affected.
Someone wise once said to me on grief: Take it day by day. If you can't take it day by day, take it hour by hour, minute by minute, breath by breath.