I wish I could share the photographs I took of that precious baby. I never will, because it’s too personal and it’s their story. And I’m strictly not allowed to. But this precious baby boy I’ll never forget.
I decided to become a volunteer with Now I Law My Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) a volunteer organization that aids in remembrance photography for families going through possibly the worst crisis in life: losing a baby.
I had my first assignment and it wrecked me. I sobbed the whole way home. I also allowed myself to cry a little while photographing this sweet boy because… why not? It’s sad. It’s awful. I’m a mother and it pulls at all of my heartstrings. I was also taught in my training for this work that us photographers crying and being real and authentic can potentially aid the families in their healing as it allows more space for their own grief and intense sadness. It potentially can help them know that this is painful and heartbreaking, even to a stranger.
I photographed this baby, as dad and mom held him lovingly, amidst the feeding and breathing tubes. They kissed him, touched his little toes, told him he was brave. It was beautiful and heart wrenching and just so human. I’m not sure I’ve witnessed a stronger and more primal bond than what a mother feels for her child.
This baby had a big brother and they had waited for the two to meet until it was time for photos. They weren’t sure how he would react to the room, the tubes, the tiny body in the big white, warm bed. Dad brought him in and he immediately was scared and unsure. He started fussing and crying, being only a toddler. Mom reassured him and they both hugged him at baby’s bedside. Mom said “this is your baby brother. It’s ok.” Big brother leaned down and touched the baby’s blanket and said “my baby? Night night baby”. Everyone in the room burst into tears: the parents, nurses, respiratory specialists, and me. It was as if this tiny little boy had understanding for the fact that his baby brother was going to sleep and he was sending him off safely into heaven. We all took a long minute to compose ourselves.
I’ll never forget that moment. Out of the mouths of babes, deep truths are spoken. I was so honored to be the one there, able to capture that small child loving his baby brother for probably the only time in person; on this side of heaven. The parents hugged and thanked and appreciated me so much and I wanted to tell them that I was the one thankful. I was thankful to be one of the few to ever meet their beautiful little fighter and be able to witness the unconditional love of family.
I’ll never forget you baby N. I think you’re gone from this earth now; I was told you weren’t going to make it much longer. But your story lives on in my heart.