Monday, July 27, 2009

Tough Stuff. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

You won't see any photos in this post, and I'm not much of a writer, so I don't know where to begin.

Friday at the wedding I photographed with April, she told the groom, "Amanda doesn't say a whole lot, but her face will tell you exactly what's in that head of hers." Classic!!

So maybe I can communicate to you something about my day before I went to the wedding, without photos, and without you being able to see my face.

Thursday evening, after a busy day working at home and going to a meeting, I received a call from a nurse at the local hospital. I was sort of expecting a call like this from WakeMed (one of the 3 big hospitals in my area) all week. Last week I was on call for the eastern Triangle, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep team. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (nilmdts) is an organization of 7,000 photographer volunteers that provide professional photographs to families of infants who are dying, or have already passed away.

The call I got Thursday evening was not from the big WakeMed with it’s Level III ICN, but from a local hospital that generally deals with healthy moms and healthy babies. The nurse told me they had a mom who’s baby had already passed away, and she would deliver the baby that night. We talked and decided that if it didn’t happen by 12 that night, that she would call me in the morning before she got off work and let me know what was going on.

So around 5:00am Friday morning after a night of pouring down rain, hail, and crazy lightning storms that mom delivered her tiny baby girl, who she would not dress in a special going home outfit, put in her special car seat and take to their house, or feed and put her to bed in room that she had prepared just for her arrival. The baby girl never breathed on her own. Her family shouldn’t have been expecting her until late October. She was only 27 weeks along.

I went to the hospital Friday morning for the photo session. I met with a nurse and she introduced me to the grieving family. I knew at 27 weeks the baby would be small, but I was not prepared for just how small she would be. She was in the room with her mom, dad and grandmother, lying peacefully in one of the hospital bassinets, wearing a tiny hat and wrapped in a pink blanket.

I spent some time photographing the baby by herself and also took some photos of her with each family member. Her skin was very fragile and her nose bled any time someone moved her. She was tiny and loooong. Her grandfather came in while I was there. At first he was tentative about looking at her, but when he did you could hear the love in his voice when he saw her the first time. “That’s a pretty baby!”

She is beautiful.

The session was certainly difficult. I was sort of in my “photographer-zone” while I was in the room working with the family. But on my way out of the hospital I walked by rooms with giant blue bows on the doors and a sign that said a mom was breast-feeding her daughter. There were excited families in the waiting room and looking at the healthy babies in the nursery, anticipating getting to meet their new little one for the first time. It hurts. I hurt for the mom and family that had to face the reality on Friday that they lost their baby girl.

I hope the photos that I give them will honor their baby and help with their healing.

Amanda Dengler


b real photo said...

wow amanada. this is amazing and brought tears to my eyes. my heart hurts so badly for families going thru this. but what an amazing gift you provided!! i will now see if there is an organization like this in my area.

Anonymous said...

Oh sweet Amanda! I have seen their website and wept for those families. What a blessing that you do that.

I cannot think of a better photographer to take my babies pic at this time of pain.

We love you "Manda". We are so thankful that YOU married my brother.

THe families are going to be so touched by your pictures. What a way to share about Jesus and be a blessing to those wanting some answers.

Love you AManda,
Your Sis in Love, Kristy

Brandi K. Autry said...

I'm so glad you posted this... coming from a mom that has gone through that same thing - all the words you said are exactly what you feel. When we lost our newborn, the pictures that were taken were so so priceless to me because it was ALL the ones we would ever have. As a photographer, every session you encounter makes you a better person. Thank you for sharing!!

the.indie.image said...

wow Amanda.. I have looked at that site a lot. I admire you for taking on that challenge, to help these families face such a difficult time. I don't know if I could. I know the pictures will be dearly treasured.

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