ST. LOUIS -- A St. Charles County photo shoot is giving women across the country a ray of hope.
Photographer Alexandra Bolen gave birth to a healthy daughter named Haven this past spring. During her pregnancy she joined an online moms group where she often read about mothers who never had the chance to meet their babies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States every year. About the same number of babies die every year during the first year of life.
In the online group, Bolen heard many people using the term “Rainbow Baby.” When a mother is able to give birth after first suffering a miscarriage or stillborn birth, her newborn is often referred to as a “Rainbow Baby.” The term is derived from the qualities of a rainbow that brightens the sky following a storm.
Little owns Shutter Darling Photography in St. Peters. She wanted to do something to help spread awareness for the mothers whose stories touched her heart. She found six women on Facebook who were either expecting or had recently given birth to a Rainbow Baby.
She recruited a friend to help organize a special photo shoot for these women.
“I was all kinds of nervous," Bolen said, "In my gut I wanted to nail this. Not just for my creative heart but for these moms, for their beautiful angels in heaven.”
Six smoke bombs, six mothers, and six babies added up to one powerful picture.
Bolen decided to post the photo to Shutter Darling Photography’s Facebook page and it became an internet hit.
The post prompted 16,000 shares and nearly 2,000 comments, many from women who had experienced a similar loss and felt comforted to know they were not alone. The photo has encouraged parents to share their stories.
“I could not believe it. My phone was freezing. It was the most incredible feeling," Bolen said.
Bolen says she feels honored her photo has brought a community of moms together, many who were suffering in silence. "Rainbow Babies are the light at the end of the tunnel for the mothers," Bolen said. "It’s their new chapter to continue what they were meant to be and that’s a mother!”