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“Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu
Two and a half years ago my friend, Jenni gave birth to twin boys. It should have been an exciting and happy time, but it wasn’t… not completely anyway. It was scary and sad and overwhelming… and happy and exciting. The twins were delivered at 30 weeks and one of them, Levi Camden, didn’t make it. His heart had stopped and the doctors had to deliver both babies to ensure the health and survival of his brother, Michael. After they were delivered, Jenni and her family experienced every emotion on the spectrum. They were relieved and grateful that Michael was doing well (he was premature and little, but seemed to be doing great) and completely grief-stricken because of Levi’s death. Being a close friend of Jenni’s, I was at the hospital the whole day. I was also the NILMDTS photographer who photographed Levi.
Ever since I started OMG, one of my business goals has been to give back to the community that has shown me so much support. I didn’t know where I would volunteer, but I did know that I had to do something meaningful. So, when a friend (who also happened to be a social worker for the NICU of a local hospital) called and asked if I’d be interested in volunteering with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, I told her I would at least check it out and learn more about it. You see, NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) is not an easy volunteer position. Their mission is “to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. [NILMDTS] believes these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.” So, when a child is still-born or isn’t expected to survive, I get called to take a professional photo of the baby for the family to remember their child.
There has been some controversy surrounding bereavement photography, but I honestly believe that these photos are a gift that I can give to grieving parents. When I asked Jenni if she’d like to add anything to this post, here’s what she had to say:
“Looking back at my birth experience, it all seems very dreamlike. The portraits I have of Levi prove that his life happened; he existed; he mattered. When you go through an experience like that, everything happens so quickly… it’s all a blur. The photos Kaity took add some permanence to his life and validity to his memory.”
It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s something I will continue with as long as I feel I can do justice to these babies’ memories.
If you have any questions about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the NILMDTS website. If you feel so moved, I would encourage you to make a donation to this wonderful organization that helps grieving families.
The photo in this post was used with Jenni’s permission.