A photographic gift for grieving parents

Katarina - posted on 04/29/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )

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I was reading an article in the paper today about a photographer that takes photos of parents with their passed newborn babies or critically ill babies. I found the article extremely touching but could see why some people would be offended and find it morbid.

The article showed a picture of a new mom holding her stillborn baby. It made me cry and thought it was a great way to always have the lasting memory of your little one.

The photographer works for a Not-for-profit organization called "Now I lay me down to sleep." She attempts to make the baby look as best as possible. Putting on a cap and swaddling the baby in a blanket.

What do other moms think about this type of photography?


http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org

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Maleasha - posted on 04/29/2010

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I had a friend a few years back that had a premature baby. He lived for only a few hours. My friend decided to have pictures done with the baby after he had passed. She keeps the pictures on a book shelf with his footprints. She said even though he was only with her for a few hours, he was still part of their family and deserved to be seen by everyone.

I think it's wonderful and if I were in that situation I would do it too.

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The pictures made me cry. I'm crying right now as I type.

I think they are done tastefully. I would consider it if I were in that situation. I still have the ultrasound pic of a miscarriage that occurred only at 5 weeks. It's your baby and you want to remember.

Erin - posted on 04/30/2010

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@Katarina, My cousin had lost two babies, both at 26 weeks and the funeral home did provide the services for free. Although she did have to pay for the plots to be dug up. They are both buried in her grandfathers plot (he was cremated).

Charlie - posted on 04/30/2010

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And i think its actually required in Australia to give a funeral to any baby over 20 weeks gestation , we gave Jackson one and he was only 15 weeks .

Katarina - posted on 04/30/2010

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The pictures are done extremely tastefully. Caitlin: I've never heard of a funeral home offering free services, but I thankfully have never been in that situation.

Caitlin - posted on 04/30/2010

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In fact i've heard some funeral homes will offer services for free for young babies that die, because having a funeral is a very expensive thing. I've never actually inquired about it, but I think all these are wonderful ideas, and if I was in the situation, I would most certainly appreciate everything that was done eventually.

Jackie - posted on 04/30/2010

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it is heartbreaking i'm sure everytime those moms go back to those pictures...but I 100% support the idea. When you deliver a still born you are STRONGLY encouraged to hold the baby and say your good-byes. You still give them a name, have a funeral etc. Why wouldn't you want to always be able to remember that child just like you would any other? I didn't look at the link, but I am sure they are all done in a very classy and respectable fashion.

[deleted account]

When my cousin's baby was stillborn, we all took turns holding him and saying our goodbyes. The hospital took pictures and she keeps them in album. The album is in a memory chest that also has some of the things that were bought for the baby.

Iris - posted on 04/30/2010

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I went to look at some links on youtube and it is both heartbreaking and beautiful. I absolutely think NILMDTS is doing an amazing work.

Ez - posted on 04/30/2010

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I've heard of organisations like this, and I think it's wonderful. There is nothing morbid about a family celebrating the life (even if only in utero) of their lost baby.

Charlie - posted on 04/29/2010

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I miscarried at 15 weeks as most of you know , part of the hospital service was to allow me to hold my baby , talk to him and say goodbye , they organized a beautifully painted box made specifically by a group of elderly ladies for mother who had lost their babies , inside the box was his hospital bracelet and a booklet containing his hand and footprints all his information from his name , delivery date , size , weight ect AND photos of my baby boy , perfect in every way not much bigger than my hand his name is Jackson .



I keep his box in a special place and occasionally i pull it out and have a little cry , i really appreciate and love the effort they went to including the pictures of my tiny little man , although i know some would be uncomfortable with photos of such a young child , i love and treasure them and think the keepsake idea is a beautiful one .

[deleted account]

I volunteered with this organization when I was just starting out and still photographing a lot on my own. They were incredibly hard to take, and once my son was born it became a little too much for me. The images are extremely valuable to these parents. To them their child is as much a child as they would have been had they lived longer. Would you throw out all of your images of you son or daughter if she passed away a year or 2 after birth? Probably not, most parents cherish those images as a way to honor and remember their child. The same concepts apply to these parents--the baby may have been inside the mommy for most of it's precious little life, but it is still just as important to her as a child that lived a few years would have been.

The organization also takes images of living babies that will not survive. That is actually their main goal, but sometimes it's just not possible.

Btw, most (if not all) of the photographers for this organization are unpaid volunteers.

Mary - posted on 04/29/2010

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I've been a Labor and Delivery nurse for 15 years. Sadly, I have delivered more than my fair share of stillborns. I remember each and every one of them.



The concept of photographing these babies is not new...we've been doing it as long as I've worked there (and they had been doing it some time prior to that). In the past, it was us nurses who took these photos...we had a camera on the unit for just this purpose. Back before digital, we had an old polaroid that did instant pics. We have a cabinet full of hand knitted hats and booties of various sizes done by volunteers, as well as little outfits and blankets. Depending on gestational age, and the state of the body, we obtain hand and foot prints...and if possible, a lock of hair. All of these mementos are collected in a memorial box that we either give them to take home, or keep on our unit, should they decline, but later change their mind. Many mothers do not think that they can handle seeing or holding the baby, and we do all of this, including the pics...some of them have returned up to a year later when they think they are ready to handle it...and some never do. Everyone grieves differently.



Now I lay Me Down To Sleep has been at my hopsital for about a year now...they do a wonderful job, and are fantastic with these couples who have experienced the most horrific loss imagineable.

Caitlin - posted on 04/29/2010

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Joanna.. that's so beautiful, because at the same time, all she's ever known was the idea of her child.. she'd never seen him, but he was there, and he still is there, hidden in the envelope.. A hard topic for me today, I was driving and there is a radiothon on to raise money for our children's hospital and all the stories they have bring tears to my eyes.. One I heard about a mother who gave birth premature and her baby was in the NICU and she never left his side. On the tenth day she managed to get home for an afternoon so that she could sleep at home (the first time she left his side) and he passed away while she was gone.. Makes me cry really, and if I were her, those photos would be so important to me.

Joanna - posted on 04/29/2010

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I think it's beautiful! My friend had a stillborn son at 32 weeks, and he was taken out by emergency C-section so she wasn't awake when he was born. She never could bring herself to see him, but her boyfriend had some black and white pictures taken and put into an envelope that she keeps. She still can't look at the pictures (this happened almost 2 years ago) but she still cherishes having them as a memory for her son.

Sharon - posted on 04/29/2010

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You're welcome Katarina.... I can't say I enjoyed it but it was interesting.

Rosie - posted on 04/29/2010

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i found out about this as the last photographer we had a family picture taken at is a member of this. we went to the website to look at our pictures, and i saw this on her website. it's heartbreaking, but i'm so glad that there are people like her to do that. if i ever lost a child i would definately love to have a picture of them to remember. more than one actually. i think it's valiant work, a little shocking at first, but then you read the stories and then it just makes sense. love it.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/29/2010

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That is just unbelievably heartbreaking. But it's beautiful and wonderful at the same time. There is no way that I would be able to be one of their photographers. I'm crying just looking at the few pictures that they have up on the site. I don't think it is morbid at all. I hope to god I never loose a child, but I would want to remember the child in a beautiful way. What better way than this?

Sharon - posted on 04/29/2010

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It is a very old tradition that went out of style and is now coming back.

WAY BACK WHEN.. photos were only to commemorate very special occasions. Weddings, births & deaths. So pictures of the deceased were common.

I browsing a bookstore and found a whole book of dead people.. oy vey... it was a shocker and the pictures of dead babies were just heart rending. Being so old, the pictures were amber or b&w and various traumas or skin issues didn't show up. They looked - mostly - like sleeping angels. Some ... well,... not a picture I'd EVER want to display in my right mind.

Mothers deserve more than the grief to remember. These pictures are fine.

Erin - posted on 04/29/2010

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All of these photos are heartbreaking but so precious. I think it is a wonderful organization that I would use if I ever were in that situation.

Caitlin - posted on 04/29/2010

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It's absolutely heartbreaking, i've heard of this organisation before, and I couldn't imagine anything more precious than a photo with the baby that lived inside of you for so long, of a life that could have been. It's a memory that should be remembered with fondness, even if it is tragic. Some hospitals around here also do footprints and hand print casting for the parents if they request it.. I think it's a great thing, but can only imagine how hard it would be for the photographer..

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Truthfully it makes me cry. :-( I think they are beautiful pictures, but then to remind yourself those little babies aren't alive or aren't going to live long, it makes me cry. Thankfully, I've never been in that position so I don't know if I would like that, but if it comforts some parents, why not? Why would anyone be offended? I think that's bizarre.

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