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  • But the new mom knew right away that she wanted to honor baby James's short life. She just wasn't sure at first how she'd do it.

    Heather Bowman cradles baby Leti at home, while wearing an orange shirt.
    Heather Bowman

    "I wanted to honor him like I did with my other twins and tattoo his footprints on my wrist next to his siblings, but was unable to," Bowman says. "But at the end of the day, I got to see him, touch him and say goodbye. I knew I had to grieve him again, but also focus on my beautiful daughter who I could hold in my arms."

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  • It wasn't long before Bowman contacted photographer Jessica Young, and asked about setting up a newborn photo shoot for Leti -- which sparked an idea.

    Before the shoot, Bowman told Young about the heartbreaking loss of James, and the story touched the photographer so deeply, she wanted to find a way to bring his memory into the session.

    When Bowman showed up to Young's studio on February 27, she was overcome with emotion when she saw the scene that greeted her. Next to a small wooden cradle for Leti to lay in was a matching one for James -- complete with a blue swaddle and tiny pair of angel wings carefully placed inside.

    "I had not done anything like that before," Young tells CafeMom. "I have done sessions for rainbow babies but not one honoring a lost twin."

    Young says that although she knew she wanted to incorporate angel wings into the photo somehow, it wasn't until she was setting up that she began toying with the idea of weaving pink and blue swaddle blankets together to show the twins' unbreakable bond. 

  • The photo has been making its way around Facebook in the weeks since Young first shared it, and it's striking a chord with people everywhere.

    A top-down view of Leti in a cradle and pink swaddle, next to an empty cradle and blue swaddle.
    Jessica Young Photography

    "Your portrait really conveys the loss in a touching way," wrote one user, while hundreds of others added just how simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking the image is.

    Bowman says she's stunned by the overwhelming outpouring of love and support she's received from strangers.

    "I am shocked how it has been received and how viral it has gone," she tells CafeMom. "What started out as a simple way to honor my son has gone on to touch so many people's lives."

    She's also shared the image with private Facebook groups of women trying to conceive with the same uterine abnormalities she faces. Her hope, she says, is that it "helps someone else understand that this is possible for people like me." 

  • In the meantime, Bowman's devoted to the little ray of sunshine to come out of all this: Leti, whose middle name is James, in honor of her brother. 

    Baby Leti lays in a unicorn swaddle, smiling gently.
    Heather Bowman

    But that's not the only way she's keeping his memory alive. She's also enlarged the now-viral photo Young took and placed it in her daughter's nursery.

    "We will always talk about him and celebrate his birthday as much as hers," Bowman says. "I want her to know how much her mom wanted both her and her brother here, and how important he is to both of our lives as he is watching down over us with her other siblings."