Arielle’s Story

It was a warm summer night in 2021 and we were getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July weekend with our extended family. I was 32 weeks pregnant with our baby Steven and excited to have the holiday weekend off. On Friday night, July 2nd, we were admitted to the hospital with unexpected preterm labor. All of my appointments up to this point were perfect. The doctors did all their attempts to slow labor with no success, this boy was coming! This was our first baby and we were scared but reassured by every specialty doctor that after a NICU stay for prematurity, we’d be able to take our baby home.

Labor ended in a c section under general anesthesia on July 4. When I woke up, my husband, our NICU doctor, and my OB were standing over me and the words came out. Steven did not make it. I was shocked, crushed, and did not understand why I made it and he did not. How could God expect me to go on when it should’ve been me? I could not believe it. He lived one hour while they tirelessly tried everything on him but he ultimately had a hemorrhage in his skull that he was too small to overcome. He was over 5 pounds of pure perfection. He looked just like my husband, Steve. We took a lifetime of pictures and made a lifetime of memories with him in the next few days while I was still admitted. We had the kindest nurses and had beautiful professional pictures done through a NILMDTS photographer.  It still doesn’t seem fair, but we know everything was and is in God’s hands. Someday we will see our boy again and we will understand. Until then, we hope to make him proud with every breath we take.

To cope with our grief, my husband and I spent many hours together at a local forest preserve. We saw hundreds of butterflies there that summer and have known from our first visit there that they are a sign of him and still are our symbol for him. One of the tables we would sit at has “just breathe” engraved on the top of it and I’ll never forget it. We took these pictures at the same preserve. 

I found out about this project through my pregnancy and neonatal loss support group where I’ve met the strongest parents I will ever know. These pictures are with my next pregnancy, our Ava girl, whose due date was just a year and 2 days after his due date. They were taken 3 days before his first heavenly birthday. They were difficult to take with the grief so raw but meaningful beyond words. There is no doubt Steven Keith is watching over all of us. He shows us signs in our every day life and when we need it most. We see him in our other children. We will hold him in our hearts until we hold him in Heaven. 

Our photographer is Marie with Ally and B Photography. She has since photographed newborn pictures for both of our rainbows, Ava in 2022 and Aiden in 2023, and our family is complete.

Arielle wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She stands in front of tall green grass and trees.

Arielle wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. Her husband stands next to her and they both look at her pregnant belly.

Arielle wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. Her husband stands next to her and they hold a white onesie in between them. A blue teddy bear sits on the ground between them.

Arielle wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. Her husband stands next to her with the end of the skirt draped over his arm.

Find out more about Project Finding Your Rainbow.

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