Mom Shares Moving Photo of Triplet Daughter ‘Holding Hands’ with Her 2 Late Siblings

Peyton holding hands with her siblings
Teran Elaine Photography

About a month ago, Stacey Skrysak was busily preparing for family photos when her daughter Peyton asked her a question that stopped her in her tracks: “Mommy, I want to get a picture with Parker and Abby.” The mom and TV journalist from Springfield, Illinois, admits those two names caught her off guard -- they belong to her two late children, who were born early along with Peyton at just 22 week in 2013, and died within days of their birth. Peyton, now 6, is the only surviving triplet, and according to her mom, is "healthy and thriving." Still, the loss of her siblings is always there -- and something the Skrysaks don't shy away from talking about.

  • It was for this reason that the mother was more than happy to oblige, and told her daughter that they'd find a way to add Parker and Abby.

    "When [Peyton] was just 3 years old, our photographer snapped a beautiful photo of our family, with two shadows representing our daughter’s siblings in Heaven," Skrysak explained in a November 26 Facebook post. "That picture hangs in our family room, their lives never forgotten."

    So when the family arrived to have their photos taken again in October, that's just what Skrysak had in mind.

    "As we got out of the car, my daughter ran up to our photographer, who just so happens to be a triplet mom herself," Skrysak continued. "Peyton excitedly asked, 'Can I get a picture with Parker and Abby?!?' I looked at my friend and smiled as tears instantly formed in my eyes."

    That friend was Teran Stephenson of Teran Elaine Photography. The photo that she would come to snap -- of Peyton reaching out her arms to hold the hands of her siblings -- is resonating with thousands online.

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  • "As I watched our daughter giggle and laugh in front of the camera, life felt complete," Skrysak shared in her post.

    "My daughter is a proud sister of two siblings in Heaven," she continued, "and I couldn’t be any prouder to be their mom."

    Skrysak, who recently gave birth to her surprise rainbow baby, Piper, has been an advocate for child loss awareness and hasn't been afraid to share her family's journey with others. Since adding the story behind this powerful photo online, Skrysak's words have resonated with many moms of child loss across the country.

    "As a loss mom I understand your feelings," one woman shared. "This picture is absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I really would love to have a picture like this with my living children and their sister who lives in heaven."

    "Oh man, this brought tears to my eyes," another added. "As a fellow loss mama, it always fill my heart with such joy when my daughter brings up her brother and wants to include him in the things we do. Hugs to you mama. This picture is beautiful!"

  • Skrysak tells CafeMom that when she became pregnant nearly seven years ago, it was after a difficult period of infertility.

    Parker and Peyton in the NICU
    Stacey Skrysak

    "My husband and I were shocked to find out we were expecting triplets -- two identical girls and a boy," she recalls. 

    But around 18 weeks, they almost lost them due to an incompetent cervix (which according to the Mayo Clinic, happens when "weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy.")

    Skrysak's doctors performed emergency surgery and saved the triplets' lives, but put her on immediate bedrest. Her water wound up breaking at 20 weeks, and by 22 weeks and five days, she went into labor. 

    "Our triplets were born one day later at 22 weeks, 6 days -- on the edge of viability," she shares with CafeMom. 

    Abby passed away within two hours of her birth, whereas Parker and Peyton were taken to the NICU, where Skrysak says they faced an uphill battle. 

    "I was very sick and had a near death experience myself," she recalls. "I went into septic shock, needing surgery and spending several days in the ICU."

    Parker died just shy of 2 months old, and Peyton spent nearly four months in the NICU before she finally came home. 

  • Even six years later, the loss of Parker and Abby is still painful in many ways.

    "Child loss is a club no parent ever wants to be part of," Skrysak tells CafeMom. "But chances are, someone you know has experienced a loss. It's OK to cry, to be sad, to be angry, to wonder 'Why me?' It's also OK to find happiness again." 

    She admits that as more and more time passed, a lot of guilt crept in too.

    "We found our new normal of living with grief, but also smiling and living in the moment -- which included raising an amazing miracle child. You never get over the loss of a child, you learn how to move forward. And my way of doing that is by being open and sharing our story, knowing that I can help other families realize they are not alone."

  • The birth of the Skrysak's rainbow baby, Piper Avery, has also helped soothe some sadness.

    "It was such a surreal time," Skrysak says of her second pregnancy and the birth of Piper in August. "I could never get over the fear of losing another child and so we were content with our little family. But God had other plans!" 

    Skrysak says that being pregnant after experiencing a loss is one of the most difficult things she's ever gone through -- nine months riddled with emotional triggers and painful memories of grief.

    "It wasn't until I was pregnant with our rainbow baby that I found out I suffer from PTSD," she tells CafeMom. 

    But now, Piper is nearing 4 months old and couldn't be a sweeter girl, according to her mom. 

    "She is a spitting image of her brother Parker -- and we love that we can look at her and see him within her," Skrysak adds. 

    There's a sweet little nod to her late children in Piper's name. Skrysak shares that they went with "Piper Avery" so that her initials would be P and A, after Parker and Abby.

    And the family continues to honor the babies they lost in every way they can -- through annual walks, their NICU charity Triple Heart Foundation, and by sharing their story with others in hopes of raising awareness about child loss.

    "One in four couples experiences a loss -- whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth, or child loss," Skrysak shares, "and this is my way to break the silence."

    With Triple Heart Foundation, they certainly are. The nonprofit charity delivers children's books and gifts to the Skrysaks' local NICU and fields requests from all over the country. 

    "Our children were only 1 lb. at birth, so we spent a lot of time reading to them since we couldn't hold them." she explains. "This is our way of paying it forward. We include a bookmark with our family's story and a sticker inside each book says 'In memory of Parker and Abby.'"