Photographer mama Ashley Akerman Duffy knows the excruciation of pregnancy and infant loss and she also knows the beauty and wonder of welcoming not one, but two rainbow babies after that unthinkable l.oss. After her rainbow babies, Patrick and Teagan were born one minute apart on July 7, Ashley Duffy knew she wanted to do something special to commemorate all of her children. Ashley had an infection and hypertension during delivery with her daughter, Finley, who was born still at nearly 41 weeks gestation, before having the twins. Putting her photography skills to the test, Ashley managed to capture an incredibly moving image that included all three of her beautiful babies. Ashley was understandably emotional when she arrived at the hospital for her scheduled C-section, but as soon as she saw her twins for the first time, her emotions turned to pure pleasure.
“The moment I saw their faces and heard their cries, all of my anxiety disappeared,” she shared. “I finally did it. I had TWO living, breathing babies. When the operation was all over and my husband and I were in post-op recovery with the twins both happily nursing, I looked at him, and whispered ‘THIS is heaven.’ Both my heart and arms were so full in that short and massive moment.” “She is their big sister, our firstborn, and we will love her always.”
After bringing Patrick and Teagan home from the hospital, Ashley let her creative juices flow. “I knew I wanted to create an image that celebrated all three of my children and the love I hold for each of them. I also wanted to be able to capture the full range of emotions we had been going through during and after my rainbow pregnancy,” she explained. “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 always love her.” 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. Feelings are difficult when you’re pregnant after a loss, especially if you’re expecting multiples, which immediately places your pregnancy in the high-risk group. At the same time, you’re scared and hopeful. Mothers may even wonder how they’ll give rainbow babies the love they deserve while still holding space for the baby or babies they l.ost.