Childrearing

Volunteer Photographers Give Parents Whose Newborns Will Never Leave The Hospital An Amazing Gift

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slide450__1396627080_142.196.167.223Any new parent can understand the obsessive documenting that tends to happen in the first few days after birth. This amazing new person that you made is here. You can almost see yourself in the future, telling your child anecdotes of her birth and showing her all the images you took to remember it. But what if you knew your child wouldn’t leave the hospital? What if she only had hours to live, or you actually never got the opportunity to see her alive at all? How do you document that?

Kevin and Lindsay Dennis found out at 20 weeks that their daughter Sophie had a genetic disorder that would mean she would probably never take a breath. From WESH:

Sophia Kyla Dennis developed a brain disorder in utero that would be a fatal twist of fate… But she WAS born.. All 6 pounds 14 ounces of love here.. And Sophie, as mom and dad call her, stunned even her doctors because she took a breath…  and kept on breathing, even crying when they were sure only silence would mark her time on earth.

Her mom, Lindsay, says about Sophia’s short life, “We got to hold her and celebrate her with family and friends… they were the ten best hours of my life.”

A nationwide non-profit called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a network of volunteer photographers who travel to hospitals to help parents who know in advance that their babies won’t thrive document the short lives of their children – and document those that are born still as well.  Scott Taylor, one of the volunteer photographers says, “I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to have some photographic skills and some people skills. I feel like it was what I was meant to do.” He shared part of a letter from grateful parents: “ You gave me back a gift of life through my son’s pictures.. Thank you and god bless your for the wonderful job you do.”

Kevin Dennis explains that “as a more intense grieving began for us, having photos of Sophie, when she was alive and well, just meant the world to us.”

Looking at photos like this – of babies who have hours to live or those who were born still – is something that many people do not understand or are comfortable with. I think the work that this collective of photographers is doing is priceless. These parents have every right to document the lives of their children, to remember their babies and to celebrate them.  As Lindsey Dennis says,  “those are our memories with her, and to have them in photos is I mean, speechless.”

You can donate to the amazing organization that is Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep here and view a portfolio of their amazing photographs.

(photo: nowilaymedowntosleep.org)