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Photographer honours loss of a twin baby in heartbreakingly beautiful way

A newborn baby girl gazes over at where her brother should be in the precious photo.

While Australia remains one of the safest places in the world to give birth, each day there are six stillborn babies, while 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage each year. Jackie Mead is the president of SANDS, a national not-for-profit organisation that offers support to parents who've experienced a loss. Ms Mead says SANDS is working to 'raise the profile' of the issue, saying further research and government support will help create lasting change. Anyone who may be feeling distressed can contact SANDS online or on their 24/7 helpline. SANDS Bereavement Support National Helpline 1300 072 637 or visit www.sands.org.au

Stillbirth and miscarriage still far too common: SANDS 01:46:58

An empty blue swaddle and a pair of wings has been used to honour the life of a baby boy who never made it into the world .

Photographer Jessica Young captured a heartbreakingly beautiful photo of a newborn baby girl, Leti, looking at an empty cradle beside her.

Little Leti is wrapped in a peach blanket looking over at angel wings and an empty blue swaddle, a space that should have been filled by her twin brother, James.

It is a bittersweet picture of both incredible joy and grief.

"Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation."- C. Everett Koop

Mum Heather Bowman from St Louis, in the US, wants the image to spread awareness about pregnancy loss.

“For me, it was important to talk about and not feel so alone,” she told Today. “Pregnancy loss is a very personal journey.”

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Little Leti was born at 36 weeks but tragically her twin brother didn't survive. Source: Jessica Young Photography.

A difficult path to motherhood

As Heather approached the age of 36 she started her journey to motherhood as a single mother and needed fertility treatments to have a child.

She suffered a miscarriage in 2017, and then a few months later, she became pregnant with twins, but she sadly lost them at 16 weeks.

Doctors eventually discovered she had a rare uterine malformation called "unicornuate uterus," which means she was born with half a uterus , one ovary, and one fallopian tube.

She said it was a frightening diagnosis but her specialist was confident she could carry a child to term.

She tried intrauterine inseminationfour more times before beginning In-Vitro Fertilisation which was successful. But when she found out she was carrying twins she was scared they wouldn't survive to term.

"Every single pain, twinge, cramp, I thought something was going wrong," she told POP Sugar.

Sadly, at her 17-week ultrasound, doctors couldn't find a heartbeat for her son.

Julia Roberts (mom to twins Hazel and Phinnaeus): “I try to call my mother, Betty, with more regularity because I think, What if Hazel didn’t call me for two weeks? I’m able to see her mothering now from a different vantage point.”

“I had to compartmentalise my grief to stay positive for my daughter . . . that she was going to be OK."

She continued to carry both babies and gave birth to Leti and James in February via caesarean at 36 weeks.

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Little Leti looks over at the blanket wrapped with hers in honour of her twin James. Source: Jessica Young Photography.

"I will cherish this forever"

When Heather organised her newborn photo for Leti she told her photographer Jessica Young about James. Jessica came up with an idea to honour her lost son, and when Heather saw the little angel wings she broke down in tears.

“I knew I wanted to do something special for her,” Jessica told Today. “I really liked the idea of weaving the blankets together … I thought it symbolised the bond between them.”

Heather said when Leti was placed in her spot her daughter straight away looked over to where her brother would have been.

"I couldn't help but feel he was lying there, letting her know that he is always with her. She smiled quite a few times while looking in his direction. I will cherish this photo forever,” Heather told POP Sugar.