Doctor, dad embrace after 'Rainbow Baby' birth

BOISE -- It's a hug that's been seen around the world, and the story behind it is a powerful one.

The picture, taken by a local photographer, has been seen online by hundreds of thousands of people. It shows a father celebrating the birth of a healthy baby and the doctor who delivered the child embracing in joy and relief.

The moment was so emotional, in part, because of what the family and doctor had endured up to this point.


For Andrew and Amanda Hanson, having a baby was a dream come true. But little Karson is actually their second child. Less than a year before Karson was born, their first son, Klayton died shortly after birth.

It was a devastating loss, and something they are still grieving.

"I was just so mad," said Amanda. "Nobody said this could happen."

On April 6, 2013, Amanda was past her due date, and induced, but her labor was routine. The Hansons hired local ShutterHappy photographer Sarah Ledford to capture the birth.

"Everything was fine," said Amanda. "They broke my water, everything was clear and no signs of distress that anything was wrong."

But something was wrong.

"It wasn't until he came out and you are waiting for that cry and there wasn't one," said Amanda.

"The whole room went silent and everyone was just holding their breath waiting for baby to cry and the NICU team came in and it was swarmed with people," remembered Sarah. "I was not just the photographer anymore."

"They finally revived him and brought him over and I just got to hold his hand and they whisked him off," said Amanda.

Their joy quickly turned to unimaginable pain. Baby Klayton had aspirated meconium, and he had gone too long without oxygen.

Amanda's doctor, Bryan Hodges was devastated too.

"He cried right along with us," said Amanda. "At that point he wasn't even a doctor anymore."

Coming home to Kuna without a baby, was the toughest part.

"The nursery was set up, toys were out, and coming home, he wasn't with us," said Amanda. "That was so hard, the car seat was in the back. We just had to focus on each other, and find a way to find some sort of joy again."


Just three months after the loss of Klayton, a miracle happened. Amanda found out she was pregnant again. The news came with mixed emotions.

"We were in shock," said Amada. "I was terrified from the instant we found out."

Photographer Sarah Ledford was one of the first people Amanda called. This was her "Rainbow Baby."

"I didn't even know what a Rainbow Baby was," she said. "She comes to her maternity session and she's got paint. We had her paint a rainbow right on her belly. That's your promise after a storm."

Ten months after the loss of Klayton, on February 21, 2014, they were all back in the delivery room at St. Luke's Hospital in Boise.

Again, Sarah Ledford captured it all on camera.

"As soon as that baby came out, it was full on battle cry," she said. "Everyone was crying, I was crying."

"I looked back at Dr. Hodges and I saw how relieved he was too and I couldn't help it, I just had to give him a hug," said Andrew. "It just felt right."

That's when Ledford snapped the picture now seen by people around the world.

"I literally looked up and Andrew grabbed Dr. Hodges and they were both just bawling and I kept on shooting," she said.

The powerful image went viral on her Facebook page and picked it up. Now the Hanson's story of loss and hope is everywhere.

"If our story helps anyone who is going through the same thing, know there is hope, that's all we can ask," said Andrew.

Dr. Hodges says the Hansons' story is inspiring. "I think watching them, they are two of the strongest people I have ever met."

As for that famous picture?

"I think a very personal moment was caught on film and I think there is a such a great sense of relief and joy," Hodges said. "I'm glad their story is being told."

Now, a picture of Karson hangs in his office.

"Hope, the light at the end of the tunnel," said Amanda. "He was able to bring us joy after so much grief."

The Hansons say baby Klayton is living on - He was an organ donor and his kidneys were donated to a mother of two, helping to save her life.

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