You can’t believe your eyes; the test indicates that you’re pregnant. Your emotions are on overload. You cry, you laugh, and you can’t believe you are going to be a mother. Early on, you hear the baby’s heartbeat. Later you hold your husband’s hand at the ultrasound as you see a perfect little nose, ten tiny fingers and toes. You are buying newborn clothes, monogramming initials on blankets, and preparing the nursery for you little one’s arrival. You have contacted a photographer to have newborn pictures done to capture the baby’s first days of life. You feel the baby move and kick; each day it becomes more real that you will soon be a mother. Your belly is growing bigger every week, and you long for the day to hear your baby cry and snuggle him in your arms for the very first time. Then, in an instant, your world is completely turned upside down. You are no longer planning on the baby’s arrival; you are planning on how you will say goodbye to a baby you never met. When you hear the news that your baby won’t survive or live more than a few days after birth, you totally go numb. You can’t hear, you can’t breathe, and the tears flow endlessly.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
I’m writing to share with you about an organization I recently discovered. The service they provide is so touching and heartwarming. When I heard exactly what they do, my heart skipped a beat. It was so devastating yet wonderful at the same time. Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, named in reference to the children’s bedtime prayer, is a nonprofit organization that provides parents that experience a newborn infant loss with a gift of professional remembrance photography. Volunteer photographers donate their time, skills and talents so that this service is provided at no cost to the family. These images are professional quality and more than likely the only pictures the family will have of their baby to cherish forever. Typically, the general guidelines are for babies at least 25 weeks of gestation; however, the photographers can consult with medical personnel to determine if they can capture professional images of babies tinier. While I wish there wasn’t a need for this organization, I am glad it exists for the families that suffer this heartbreaking loss.
Let me go on record, I have never experienced this type of loss. I cannot imagine the grief involved for the families that do suffer a loss of a baby. My heart aches for them. However, I do have friends and family that have experienced this type of tragic loss, and I wonder if they knew this organization existed, would they want remembrance photography. Would they want to remember or forget?
I talked with Olivia Grey Pritchard, Area Coordinator for NILMDTS and asked her more about the services they provide to families. She told me something that stuck with me, “you can choose never to look at the pictures, but you can’t ever go back and take them again.” She also said, “Providing gifts of remembrance photography to the family serves as an important part of the grieving process.” I personally think most families would want these pictures and treasure them if given the option.
I want to share with you a video from the NILMDTS national website. Prepare to be moved, probably to tears. Although the video is sad, at the same time it is absolutely beautiful to hear from the families and volunteer photographers who help capture these memories that will be forever cherished.
How You Can Help
NILMDTS has volunteer photographers in every state. There is a demand for more volunteers to help serve the families in need of remembrance photography. If you are interested in volunteering as an Affiliated Photographer, Digital Retouch Artist, Assistant to a Photographer, or Community Volunteer, please be sure to visit their Volunteer Membership Information page.
I leave you with the following statements taken directly from the NILMDTS national website: “Imagine a photo session where each moment is a last moment, where there will be no second takes, where what you’re doing becomes a family’s most prized possession. Are you looking for a way to share your talents with your community? Are you willing to help a family create a lifetime of memories, in only moments? Are you willing to selflessly give of yourself in order to help a family begin to heal a broken heart?”
Maybe you want to contribute, but you don’t have the skills or talents needed to be a volunteer for NILMDTS. Do you have an old wedding gown sitting in storage, collecting dust? I encourage you to read a former post titled, “Angel Gowns for Grieving Families.” This wonderful cause takes old wedding dresses and sews them into beautiful burial gowns for newborns who have died. If you’re not sure what purpose that wedding dress will serve in the future, why not donate it today and help a family who has experienced the loss of a baby.