They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For the Shipley’s, few precious images are worth more than words can describe.
“I had never done a newborn photoshoot before so I was open to it,” said Kaisey Shipley. “So that's really why we're here- to celebrate our little miracle.”
That miracle is Millie -- born on April 5 which previously had been a darker day for the family.
“We had a stillborn two years ago exactly on her birthday,” Kaisey said.
The mother had experienced an infant loss and a still birth before Millie’s arrival.
“We thought we're done, no more, we're not going to put ourselves through this again,” Kaisey recalled. “We don't want to chance having this trauma again, but we got a little miracle out of it and we're elated.”
Her husband Samuel sat by her side and added what he remembers from Millie’s birth.
“I'll never forget when we were in the operating room and they pull her out and we get to hear her voice for the first time and to see her cry and -- she was here,” Samuel said.
Millie is what’s called a rainbow baby- a child born after the tragedy of miscarriage, still birth or infant loss. The term used to symbolize hope and the promise that a rainbow will appear after a storm.
Jessica Cook of Fat Baby Photography said requests for rainbow baby photos have peaked in the last year and a half.
“I make all my babies special, but when there's a rainbow baby in here, it's definitely extra special,” Cook said. “I always try to do a special image…whether it be photographing [the rainbow baby] with a little keychain that maybe has some ashes from the lost brother or sister in it.”
In Millie’s photoshoot, Cook used stuffed animals that the family brought with them.
“Each of our kids is associated with an animal,” Kaisey explained. “Our twin boys are the giraffe and elephant...our still born was the fox. No matter what room I go in, there's a fox or an elephant stuffed animal, so I know that our other two children are always there.”
Cook’s rainbow baby photographs are so creative. She artfully and colorfully captures brightness and sweetness.
“I've had custom felt rainbows made. I did flowers from all the colors of the rainbow in the milk bath. That was beautiful. That mom had a miscarriage previously,” Cook described her collection of rainbow baby photos. “Some rainbow balloons out at the park -- the possibilities are endless.”
Of all the darling photos, there is one that stood out.
“I think it touched everyone,” Cassie Dalrymple.
At first, it looks like any other: twins, a teddy bear… but there is someone else here.
“Those are all three of my girls together,” Cassie said looking at the picture of her girls with a composite photo embedded in the center of the image. Inside that photo is her first daughter, Rae Lynn. “The doctor came in and was just like, I'm so sorry but she's gone. And that was just not anything I was expecting to hear.”
Rae Lynn was lost at 39 weeks.
“I gave birth to her, and I was really exhausted and I was so scared that I wouldn't remember what she looked like and I just knew I needed to have something to remember her by,” Cassie said.
That night from the hospital, they called in an angel.
“I had her at 10:20 p.m., when she got there to take pictures it was probably 1 a.m.," Cassie recalled. “She took Rae Lynn, and she took pictures of her. Even if I never shared them or did anything with them, I just wanted them for me.”
Cassie and husband Colby left the hospital shocked and empty-handed. To their surprise, they were pregnant again within months.
“We got pregnant three months after we lost her. It was very quick,” said Cassie, who was pregnant with identical twin daughters.
While Cassie admitted to being riddled with fear during her pregnancy, the couple said God breathed life back into their family with the pregnancy of the twins.
“I thought, how am I going to be able to carry two when I had trouble with one,” Cassie said between tears.
“I always told Cassie when the Lord takes something away, he will give back double what he's taken,” said Cassie’s husband Colby.
Nine months later, Grace and Elizabeth were born.
“To us, they're a gift from God,” said Cassie who again called Jessica who used Rae Lynn’s picture as part of the family’s rainbow baby photos.
“People thought it was just beautiful,” Cassie said. “That's what I see too. I think it's just beautiful. It's just amazing to me to see all three of them together.”
A true picture of hope that will live forever even if you don’t have what’s in it.