"She is their big sister, our firstborn, and we will love her always."
Photographer mama Ashley Akerman Duffy knows the excruciating pain of pregnancy and infant loss—and she also knows the beauty and wonder of welcoming not one, but two rainbow babies after that unthinkable loss.
And now, the mama is putting that explosion of feelings into one gorgeous, heartbreaking, moving photo: The photographer shot and shared an image of her three babies together: Her twins, 1-month-old Patrick and Teagan, hold a framed photograph of their sister, Finley (who was tragically born still in 2018).
The photo holds a devastating story but it also represents something so beautiful: Because even though Patrick and Teagan will never meet their older sister, their mama found an amazing way to share her memory with them. And that is so, so special.
"A Mother's love is whole, no matter how many times it is divided," the photographer wrote alongside the photo.
Feelings when you're expecting after a loss are complicated—especially when you're expecting multiples, which automatically puts your pregnancy into the high-risk category. You're terrified and hopeful all at once. Mothers may even wonder how they'll give rainbow babies the love they deserve while still holding space for the baby or babies they lost.
But this photo of Akerman Duffy's twins holding their sister's photo and memory makes it pretty clear: A mama's heart simply expands to love all her children equally and infinitely.
"I knew I wanted to create an image that celebrated all three of my children and the love I hold for each of them,"
Akerman Duffy said of the lovely photo, according to POPSUGAR. "I also wanted to be able to capture the full range of emotions we had been going through during and after my rainbow pregnancy. 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."
And Akerman Duffy shared some stellar advice for other parents who are set to welcome rainbow babies as well.
"For parents hoping for their own rainbow babies or currently expecting them, know that all of your feelings are valid; the good and the bad," said Ashley. "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."