Tomorrow — August 22 — is National Rainbow Baby Day, a day to remember pregnancy and early infant loss, and celebrate the children who were born after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
One mom took to Instagram to post a touching photo celebrating all three of her children: a daughter who was stillborn at 41 weeks gestation, and boy-girl twins who were born healthy on July 7.
Ashley Duffy is a photographer who wanted to find a way to capture all three of her children together. She had a photo of her oldest daughter, Finley, from after her birth. She put that alongside her new rainbows, Patrick and Teagan. The effect is breathtaking for any parent who has experienced a loss.
“I knew I wanted to create an image that celebrated all three of my children and the love I hold for each of them,” Duffy told POPSUGAR. “Even though my daughter Finley couldn’t be here to see her siblings be born, I want to make sure they know her and know that she is and always will be a part of our lives. She is their big sister, our firstborn, and we will love her always.”
Welcoming a rainbow baby can be bittersweet and complicated. Duffy reminded all parents that whatever they are feeling is ok.
“All of your feelings are valid; the good and the bad,” she said. “There is no handbook on how to handle child loss or pregnancy after loss and every person lives through their grief in their own way. Never hesitate to get help and support if you need it. You are not alone.”
Pregnancy and early infant loss are both tragically common. Between 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (a loss before 20 weeks gestation). About 1% of pregnancies end in stillbirth, a loss after 20 weeks. Many families choose to celebrate babies born after as rainbow baby — as in, the rainbow after the storm.
Celebrities ranging from Beyonce to Pink have welcomed rainbow babies after a loss. Currently, Rah Ali, star of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York, is pregnant with her rainbow baby after losing a daughter, Sanaa, at 5 months gestation last year. Ali previously spoke about her stillbirth and how it will affect subsequent pregnancies.
“When you’re pregnant with your first child, it’s a whole mental thing just knowing that you’re going to deliver,” she told PEOPLE. “Every day you count down and see [your due date] getting closer and closer. At five months, I hadn’t even come to the realization that it was going to happen. It was the worst experience of my life.”
Meghan McCain, co-host of The View, announced in March that she’s pregnant with a rainbow baby — her first living child. Last year, McCain wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, detailing her experience with miscarriage.
“I loved my baby, and I always will,” she wrote. “To the end of my days I will remember this child — and whatever children come will not obscure that. I have love for my child. I have love for all the women who, like me, were briefly in the sisterhood of motherhood, hoping, praying and nursing joy within us, until the day the joy was over.”
McCain — daughter of late Senator John McCain — has kept private about her pregnancy and even her due date. However, she’s said she expects to be back to work before the November election, indicating that she’s probably due soon.
Two of the Dugger daughters —Joy-Anna and Jinger — are both expecting rainbow babies this year. In a post announcing her pregnancy, Jinger captured the mixed emotions that so many moms-to-be of rainbow babies feel.
“I’m excited! Yet, the overwhelming feelings of joy and anticipation that I’m feeling today are a sharp reminder of the overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss I felt last November,” she wrote.