Yesterday as I was out shopping and running errands with my daughter I got a call from a local hospital, looking for a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer. They had been going down the list trying to find someone for a family. I was approved by NILMDTS a couple months ago, and have been waiting for the opportunity to shadow a couple sessions and hopefully attend some upcoming training before taking a session myself. Having no idea what I’m doing or what to expect with these grieving families, I wanted to really get a solid foundation before going out.
For those who don’t know, NILMDTS is a non-profit charity network of volunteer photographers to offer their services to those suffering infant loss. From babies who are stillborn to those families who experience an unexpected loss, NILMDTS photographers provide a keepsake set of retouched images on CD at no cost to the family. It is a simply amazing organization who provides a wonderful service to families who might not have any idea what a need they have for the service at that time it is provided. As you can imagine, photos are the last thing a family might think of at such a traumatic time, but yet they can be so comforting and helpful down the road in the healing process. I encourage you to visit the website and learn more about this amazing organization.
Being a photographer for NILMDTS is something I’ve really wanted to do since I found out about this wonderful charity and the work that they do. They have a lengthy approval process, and I was thrilled when I was finally approved. But honestly, I had no idea if emotionally it was something I would be able to actually do. I figured the only way to know was to try, so I’ve waited under that thought. Just waiting for that opportunity to test myself and see if I could hold it together.
A couple opportunities had arisen for shadowing, but due to my schedule I was unable to take advantage of them. I wondered if maybe subsconsciously I was putting it off on purpose. It was so convenient to be unavailable. Is there ever a “convenient” time for something like that?
So I told the hospital rep that because I had never done a session and was yet untrained, that they should keep calling but to let me know if they couldn’t find anyone. I would have hated for no one to go at all.
See, I have really been struggling since my Grandmother passed away November 12th. I’ve really had a much harder time than I thought I would, and honestly I’ve been an emotional wreck. But for some reason I was feeling rather emotionally strong yesterday, and my mind was telling me I needed to take that session.
Shortly thereafter I got another call, from the same hospital, same situation, and I thought it was the same family. I told that person I had talked to the other, and told her the same thing. But it soon became evident there were 2 families, at 2 different locations, with the same situation and the same need. Unbelievable.
Seeing as there was no one on call and they were having a hard time finding someone, I decided to just take the leap and go to the first session. I’m certainly a competent photographer, and I figured that no matter what, something was better than having no one attend at all.
The baby had not yet passed, but they would be removing life support at any time. I was absolutely in awe of the strength of that mother, holding her baby and knowing she was moments from saying goodbye. I was also surprised at myself, holding it together as well as I did as they spent their last minutes together, and marveled at the fact that I was a part of it. I did my job as best I could, and although I lost it as I was leaving and saying goodbye to the family (and in my mind, saying goodbye to that precious little life) I was proud that I was able to provide that service. I have yet to look at the images and begin the editing process, and I’m sure the family won’t even want to think about them for quite awhile. But I know in my heart, in the weeks, months and years to come they will find great peace in the photos I took, and it will help them remember the little details of their little one that inevitably start to fade. I hope I did a good job at capturing images that will help them heal and remember. I’m glad I was there.
My heart goes out to that family, losing their precious little one. I can’t imagine what they are going through today; words couldn’t describe what I felt when I left that room. Today I spent the day with my daughter and friends, and I was sure to hug her just a little longer than usual. How lucky I am to have a healthy family and so many loved ones in my life. I hope my daughter never in her life has to spend a night in the hospital. I wish healing and peace to all those families and all those children and babies who will be spending their holidays there.
I’m glad that I’m on my way to taking more sessions for these families and that I know I can do it. I’m relieved to get the first session out of the way and have a little confidence to work off of. I hope no family in need of these services ever have to go without. Sometimes you just have to take the leap….