Friday, October 12, 2012

Bereavement Photography - Who Knew?


One of the questions that stuck out to me when I was in labor for our firstborn:

If your baby does not survive, are you interested in having a bereavement photographer come to capture some moments with your child?

Um, NO. Big fat no.

I remember sitting in the bed laboring for Elisabeth, who had a 1% chance of surviving, filling out pages and pages of forms. We'd hoped to prepare for this moment in the coming weeks, doing our version of a birth plan. But she was coming early, so we were timing contractions while we were talking about what to do with her remains if she didn't live.

There was no doubt in my mind that I did not want photographs of our deceased baby. It felt so melodramatic and honestly, a little creepy. I knew we wouldn't have pictures of her around the house, so what was the point?

I am so glad those nurses ignored me.

The antepardum nurses were familiar with these situations and wisely took it upon themselves to call in a photographer who volunteered her time with an amazing organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. NILMDTS is a national organization that gathers professional photographers who have not only incredible talent in their profession, but hearts of gold. They are called upon in these tragic moments to capture the memories of families in infant loss no cost at all to the families. (A NILMIDTS photographer was called to photograph the loss of the Duggar baby a couple years ago. You might have seen those precious pictures.)

When our photographer walked into the room I wept with relief. We'd been taking pictures of her with the disposable cameras the unit donates to parents like us, and you know how low-quality those images are. There was a soft morning light coming in through our window and since she'd been born just an hour before, she looked quite alive. I know that sounds harsh, but of course it was important to capture how she really looked when we met her. We knew the professional photos would be amazing.

Of all the keepsakes we have from her short life--her hats, blankets, pajamas--it is the pictures that I treasure most. It is literally all we have of her, and we are forever grateful. No, we don't have photos of her around the house, but I have them in books and in special spots, and I treasure those moments when I can take a glimpse at her sweet little body again through these impeccable photographs.

I hope anyone who finds themselves in this scenario, or knows someone who is walking into this, will pass along the NILMIDTS information. It is truly priceless.




Thank you so much for sharing this information. You explain it so well and after what you've been through with Elisabeth I've realized how important it is to have those pictures. When Elisabeth was born I wanted to so badly get in my car and drive to see her before she left you. Since it wasn't best for me to do this, I was so very grateful to see the pictures of her. She is so precious in this picture! 

This month is National Infant Loss month as well as National Down Syndrome Awareness. Who knew we'd be sharing and remembering the same month for our babies.


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