Araya-April2014 3 400 x 600

By: Kim Patterson

Like so many couples, Shelby and her husband struggled with fertility issues and endured the pain of miscarriage along the path to becoming parents. So when Shelby discovered that she was expecting, the news came as somewhat of a surprise. The parents-to-be were thrilled and even more so when they found out they were giving big brother, Wyatt, a baby sister. Araya was a name that mom Shelby had heard as a teen and had saved in the hopes of having a daughter one day.

Despite the fact that the pregnancy progressed normally, baby Araya arrived on August 28, 2013, weighing just 4 lbs 13 oz. and it was soon discovered that she had two small holes in her heart. Sadly, this was just the beginning of the heartbreaking news. At one week old Araya was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder with a low rate of survival due to malformation of organs.

Most Trisomy 18 pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth. So, despite the geneticist's cold assessment that Araya's condition made her, "incompatible with life," Araya's parents counted themselves blessed that their daughter had already made it beyond her first week and only required one heart surgery.

Araya Oct2014 20 600 x 400Araya and her family became the first recipients of an On Angels' Wings photo session. The organization got in touch with the family when baby Araya was just a week old and photographer Tora was on hand at several points along the way to capture special memories.

Shelby describes the experiences they had with On Angels' Wings and with Tora saying, "We've had several sessions with her and I cry every time I see how wonderful she captured my little girl and our family. I will forever be grateful to this organization for giving us these amazing keepsakes to remember our sweet girl by if she ever passes."

Sadly, just a month after celebrating the joy of Araya's first birthday, she passed on October 13, 2014. On Angels' Wings was honored to be able to capture precious moments of Araya and her family the day before she got her wings and also got some shots of her lovely service where family and friends gathered to say goodbye. Araya gained a special place in the hearts of the On Angels' Wings staff and her mother continues to be an advocate for our services and for Trisomy families everywhere.