“If it were not for hope, the heart would break.” – Scottish Proverb

By Madison Shepard

This is a photo from my Little Things gallery series that I had tentatively titled “Decor.” There is a watercolor painting of Indigo, her ultrasound picture is included with other memories on the wall piece, and the blankets on the ladder are her colors – indigo + blush pink. Essentially it shows how her life has changed even the way we set up our home.

The month of January is difficult for me in more ways than one. For many people, New Year’s is a time to move on from things and have a fresh start. For me, it means birthdays for two of our babies, another year of them being gone, and new hope for the year.

Hunter and I were married in August of 2017 in my hometown in Canada. We decided in November of that year that because my cycles were so irregular, we would not necessarily prevent and we would not necessarily “try” for a baby, we would just see how things went. That December, we found out I was pregnant. As we began 2018, we were excited for the new year and the new chapter we were starting together. That abruptly came to a halt when we lost our baby, Cas, on January 22, 2018.

The summer of 2018 we again said we would not prevent or “try,” we would let it happen. By June I was pregnant with our rainbow baby, Indigo. Even through a first trimester scare, everything was going seemingly well until her 20-week anatomy scan, when the tech found enough anomalies in her development that she was surprised to even see her alive. Our girl fought on until the end of January of 2019 and passed away eleven minutes after birth.

Both of my heaven babies lived and died in this month. In the three years Hunter and I have been married we have yet to have a great personal start to the year. 2018 we lost Cas. 2019 we lost Indigo. 2020 was Indigo’s first birthday and I was travelling on her birthday, without Hunter, which made it so much more difficult. The start of the last three years has been rough, to say the least.

When Hunter and I would talk about our next baby and pregnancy, I told him that I did not want to be pregnant in the month of January at all. There is so much in this month that I think it would have been overwhelming for me. Thankfully, with the way our timing worked out, I was pregnant with our rainbow boy in February, found out in March, and he was born in November of 2020.

Starting in this new year I am hoping for more. More out of life, more healing, and more connections. As much as the grief I struggle with is a daily part of my life, it does not have to rule my life. It is something I carry in my back pocket, not as a banner over me. What does have a bigger part in my life, and is something I carry as a banner, is my love for my kids, all three of them. The love I have for them is something I allow to have an effect on me every day. I want more love in my daily life and I want the love I have for my kids to be more evident in this new year, even though they are not all here physically.

A new year does not mean I leave my children behind. This new year does not mean I am further from my kids, because they do not stay in the year that they died. I bring their memory, pictures, and stories with me everywhere and our home is filled with them.

Recently I did a project for a photography class I was taking at university. We were tasked with choosing an overall theme for a series of photos and applying specific compositions to them. My theme had several titles as it evolved, but ultimately it ended up being a series of photos of things and places in my house: our watercolor painting of Indigo on the wall; the Molly Bears we have; a comparison of Indigo’s and Azure’s ultrasound pictures — just all of the little details in life that are normal for me but strange to others. This is how I keep my kid’s memories alive in each new year. Azure, and any future children we have, will know about their older siblings because they are still very much a part of our daily lives. Having them in our lives and now having Azure here gives us hope.

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear – it was the only reason that after both of our losses we could take that step of faith in having another baby. As cliché as it may sound, have hope; do not lose that hope. There is hope in love, especially your love for your child(ren). There is hope in the future and moving forward. There is hope in this new year and I want more of it. There is hope.


Madison Shepard and her husband are recipients of On Angels’ Wings services. They are parents to three children: Cas, who they lost early in pregnancy; their daughter, Indigo, who was born and passed of a terminal diagnosis at 36 weeks gestation; and their rainbow baby son, Azure. From her grief, Madison has found a passion to end the stigma around pregnancy and infant loss by sharing their story, both to encourage other parents like them and to teach others about life after the loss of pregnancy and infant loss.

Share This