I found this article a few months ago, but saved this post for today because it’s the anniversary of the event — the birth and death of a Chicago couple’s first baby… as well as the due date for their second baby. Thinking about the mixed emotions that must be so strong in the mother right now brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.
The article appeared in “Chicago Parent” and discusses the photography organization “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” This group of volunteer photographers takes pictures of babies who are stillborn, die in the neonatal period, or are born with lethal conditions. Often the families are in such a state of shock and grief that they don’t even think about pictures, or perhaps don’t even want them — as if having pictures will extend the state of grief, or by looking at them it will bring back fresh memories of the grief. I understand this — for years after my father’s accidental death, I could barely look at pictures of him, and cried quite a bit whenever I did see such pictures, or thought for very long about him.
There is only one opportunity of taking these pictures, before the moment is lost forever. Even if the parents are sure that they don’t want any pictures, I would still recommend that pictures be taken — they can be stored away in a drawer somewhere, or given to friends or grandparents for safe-keeping. It may be that months or years later, the parents will wish that they had pictures of their baby. If there were no pictures taken, there is nothing that can be done; but if the pictures were made and given to someone, then there is always the option of seeing them or not. Many couples who have experienced a perinatal loss will be eager to have memorabilia of their child — pictures, the cap on their head, the clothes they wore, the cord or clamp that tied off the umbilicus, foot-prints, hand-prints, etc. — anything that makes the child’s existence seem real, because all too often, the parents’ loss and grief are soon forgotten, even by their close friends and their family. For others it may be too painful; yet “time heals all wounds” and those feelings will likely ease within a few years at least. Even if the parents do not wish to have pictures of themselves holding the baby, photos can still be taken of the baby.
Here is the link to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, where you can read more about the organization, donate money to help fund them, find a photographer should you sadly need one, etc.
Filed under: newborn, Uncategorized Tagged: | baby, birth, difficult prenatal diagnosis, lethal birth defect, lethal congenital anomaly, neonatal loss, now I lay me down to sleep, perinatal loss, photographs, photography, pregnancy, pregnant, stillbirth, stillbirth and child loss, stillborn