Trigger warning: This post discusses infant loss.
A mum and dad from Indiana have paid tribute to their late son with this beautiful family portrait featuring their newborn baby girl. The breathtaking shot reveals a story of loss and heartbreak for the family, which they shared on social media this week.
To preserve a precious memory
Gloria and Steve tragically lost their son Isaac when he was just 14 months old, after he was born with a rare medical condition. They decided to get matching angel wings tattooed on their backs to commemorate him after he died, and when their baby girl arrived two months ago, the three of them posed together in this photo to remember Isaac and somehow capture his presence.
“I just thought it would be so wonderful to have our memorial for our son be part of her photo shoot welcoming her into the world, since Isaac couldn’t physically be there with us.” Gloria told Scary Mommy.
My sister & her husband got tattoos of angel wings after their son died 2 yrs ago. They had a baby girl in June. This moves me to tears. pic.twitter.com/2sVwxkfuBG
— Grass (@Grace_Arend_13) August 9, 2017
A cruel muscle-wasting disease
Baby Isaac was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1 at six months old. The rare but debilitating condition weakened Isaac’s physical strength, including his ability to walk, eat or breath on his own.
SMA is caused by an altered gene, which is carried by one in thirty-five people. For a child to be affected by the condition, both parents need to be carriers. Sadly, the disease is the biggest killer of babies under two years in Australia.
Upon his diagnosis, the family were advised to take Isaac home and love him for what remained of his short life. It was a precious time for the family, although also very busy, as Gloria and Steve became Isaac’s full-time medical carers. The family had to assist Isaac with swallowing, coughing and even breathing overnight. The hardest part for the couple was knowing that he would never recover.
The unimaginable pain of losing a child
While undergoing treatment, Isaac suffered a collapsed lung and soon after lost his battle with the disease, sending Gloria and Steve into a painful grieving process.
“The grief that comes with losing a child is unimaginable. I don’t know how we made it through the drive home from the hospital without him, but we did. I don’t know how I made it through the viewing and funeral without my broken heart ceasing to beat in my chest, but I did.” Gloria said.
To help them through their grief, the parents decided to get matching angel wings tattooed on their backs. The angel wings represent their son but also symbolise his memory holding them together, Gloria said. ”The tattoos are a reminder that he is always with us in spirit.”
If you’re struggling with the loss of a baby, please don’t go it alone. SANDS counsellors are there to support you and provide helpful advice about living with loss.