dad holding baby
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
December 4, 2023 ·  4 min read

Dad Gained Fame For His Reaction to Holding His Rainbow Baby. Watch Him Catch His Son at Birth.

Hunter Madden held his rainbow baby, Evelyn, for the first time in 2017. The incredibly emotional photograph of that moment went viral. A year later, when Hunter and his wife, Hope, were expecting their second child, they hired the same birth photographer, Leilani Rogers. She captured a stunning moment of Hunter welcoming his son into the world. However, this time, the photo depicts him catching baby Sullivan as he is being born. 

Father Holds Rainbow Baby for the First Time 

To be back with a family that has been through so much and to capture that raw emotion all over again is a very special experience,” Leilani said. “Hope and Hunter are wonderful parents and deserving of all the joy this life has to offer. I love how open and honest they have been about their fertility struggles, and that they are willing to share their ups and downs with others who might need some encouragement with their own fertility struggles.” [1] 

The sweet couple had openly announced that their firstborn, Evelyn, was a rainbow baby. They had been through many difficult years, struggling through issues of infertility and three miscarriages. Two of the losses occurred early in the pregnancies, and one much later; during a sonogram, their baby, Owen, lost his heartbeat. That’s why Hunter was overcome with emotion to hold his daughter for the first time. 

Dad's reaction to rainbow baby
Image Credit: Leilani Rogers

According to Jennifer Kulp-Makarov, M.D., FACOG, a rainbow baby “is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillborn, or neonatal death. It is called a rainbow baby because it is like a rainbow after a storm: something beautiful after something scary and dark. 

It is an extremely emotional and devastating experience to lose a pregnancy [or baby]. To create a life or bring a baby into the world after such a loss is amazing like a miracle for these parents.” [2] 

The fear of losing Evelyn was prominent throughout Hope’s pregnancy. The couple had come to expect terrible news. “Losing our son was very hard on both of us,” Hunter said. “It was just such a gut punch … I think one of the worst things to come from losing Owen, other than his loss, was the way I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with our daughter.” [3] 

Throughout the pregnancy, every doctor visit was thick with “fear and slowly cautious optimism.” They’ve already been through so much because of their heartbreaking experiences. Hunter said that he and Hope confronted the anxiety throughout the pregnancy with faith, family bonds, and their love for each other. 

A New Baby in the Family Tree 

Hope said that she and Hunter wanted to be parents for so long. However, after three miscarriages and arduous fertility treatments, they began to think their dream would never come to fruition. Then Hope was expecting again. 

We were very much prepared for the worst,” said Hope. “And I think my entire pregnancy was that way. We just kept waiting for the floor to fall out from underneath us every second.” [4] 

The floor never fell, and perhaps that fact didn’t occur to Hunter until he held Evelyn for the first time, creating the photo full of emotion, pain, and relief.  

“I will never forget catching her as she was being born and the immediate, unconditional love I felt for her,” said Hunter. “That’s what you’re seeing in those pictures, my love for Hope and our daughter. 

I could not believe I was allowed to hold something so perfect and I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving for finally getting to be a father.” 

Here’s another beautiful detail. In that now-famous photo is the tattoo of a tree he got to remember the loss of Owen.  

“My tattoo is a tree that turns into an anchor at the bottom,” Hunter explained. “The tree represents my family tree and the anchor represents G-d’s promise of love for us.” 

And then his newborn baby girl laid her head against that very tree. 

Hunter Catches His Second Child 

The tree continued to grow with their second child, a precious boy named Sullivan. 

The Maddens’ second birth was just as full of sweet moments as the birth before,” said Leilani, the photographer. “Hope sung throughout her labor, which was beautiful, and when baby Sullivan made his entrance — via Daddy’s catch — his eyes were full of wonder. You can tell from his photos just how aware he was! Big sister Evelynn didn’t hesitate to sit down right next to him and welcome him into the family.” [1] 

This photo Hunter catching his son shows the utter joy of the moment.

Dad receiving rainbow baby
Image Credit: Leilani Rogers

After all of the years of pain and heartbreak, the Madden’s finally have two beautiful children to call their own. Congratulations to these beautiful parents! 

Keep Reading: This Mom Supporting Her Transgender Daughter Is GOALS


  1. “See the Dad Who Gained Fame For His Reaction to Holding His Rainbow Baby Catch His Son at Birth.” Pop Sugar. Alessia Santoro. August 22, 2020. 
  2. “What It Means to Be a ‘Rainbow Baby’ and Why Rainbow Babies Are Beautiful.” Parents. Melissa Willets. March 19, 2018. 
  3. “Touching images capture new father’s emotion after the birth of his rainbow baby.” Today. Terri Peters. April 6, 2017. 
  4. “Newborn Photographer Captures Dad’s Raw Emotions, But Stops When She Sees His Tattoo.” Inspire More. Lizzie Combs. April 12, 2017.