Intro by Skip Cohen
Every week I've been sharing a guest post from one of the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographers. This is a group of artists dedicated to helping families work through the most severe devastating pain any of us can imagine, the loss of a newborn baby.
Most of us react the same way...we can't imagine photographing a "sleeping" child, as Amy Hales so wonderfully put it in today's post, and maintaining our composure. We've been trained to think we need to be objective and focused on one purpose, capturing the images, but here's what I've learned with each guest post.
Objectivity is the last thing these families need and if, as the photographer, you didn't shed a tear, you'd be inhuman. It's obviously not required, but the beauty of NILMDTS's involvement is about confirmation. These families are sharing their most private moment and with the exception of the hospital staff, as their photographer, you're the first person outside their family to see their beautiful child.
Amy Hales is a NILMDTS Affiliated photographer and Area Coordinator in Utah. She's totally dedicated to the task and in fact, this guest post is a little late this week because she was waiting for the "thumbs up" from the military to make sure she was allowed to share the images in uniform.
September is recruitment month at NILMDTS. Getting involved with NILMDTS isn't just about photography. It's about getting involved with families in your community who simply need your help. Click on the banner at the top and learn how you can be a part of this amazing group of talented and compassionate artists and stop thinking you don't have what it takes. All you need is your skill set and your heart. As Amy wrote below:
"I mindlessly rocked this sweet child and patted his chubby thighs as we swayed, relishing every moment I was allowed in the presence of this angel."
As a volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, we often have the privilege of experiencing the most beautiful life-changing moments – even in the midst of tragedy. Sometimes we feel a connection with a family even before we meet them. For me, one of those occasions happened on May 31, 2014.
On this beautiful Saturday morning at 9:25 A.M., Davin James Richey, a 9 lbs. 3 oz. ball of baby perfection, entered this world sleeping. Davin was the 7th child born to Katey and Chris Richey and my heart hurt thinking of his big brothers and sisters, excitedly awaiting the birth of their little brother.
As much as it hurt to think of his siblings, my heart completely shattered when I learned that Davin’s father, Chris, was overseas serving with the United States Air Force and would not be present to meet his son. My mind raced through the poses that I generally incorporate in my NILMDTS sessions, and I quickly realized we would have to do something different for this family. We just had to find a way to incorporate Chris into the images.
When I arrived at the hospital, I asked Katey if they had one of Chris’s spare uniforms at home. I was so happy to hear that Katey’s brother Brandon was willing to pick up the uniform and pose with Davin in the photos.
This opportunity to give back was so humbling for me. I remember holding baby Davin as we waited for Brandon to arrive, and being completely in love with how wonderful he felt in my arms. I mindlessly rocked this sweet child and patted his chubby thighs as we swayed, relishing every moment I was allowed in the presence of this angel. As I photographed Davin and his uncle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the sacrifices this family had made for families like mine.
Davin’s photos mean so much to me, and I am so honored to have been able to serve this family. I am grateful that through the gift of NILMDTS services, Davin Richey’s face will mingle with his siblings’ on the family’s wall, and that Katey and Chris Richey will forever know the beauty of their son.
The Richey family will always have a place in my heart; especially their angel, Davin.
9/24/2014 06:56:05 am
There are no words. I just feel like weeping. I miss my daughter so much. I wish there was a NILMDTS photographer that could of taken pictures of my beautiful angel. Those are precious memories.
9/24/2014 06:58:46 am
I am an amateur photographer, but do have a passion for photography. I myself am a mother of an angel, and I wish I could have had photos of our baby girl to remember her always. I am interested in becoming a nilmdts volunteer. Can someone please tell me how to go about this?
9/25/2014 04:23:48 am
Aubrey, Thank you so much for asking. I believe that volunteering with NILMDTS could be a beautiful way to honor the memory of your own sweet angel. We do not require that our photographers be professionals, but they do all have professional-level skills. To see if you have the skills that we are looking for, please check out our application information page: https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/volunteer/photographer-application/
9/24/2014 07:19:26 am
Absolutely beautiful!! Davin is perfect my daughter Hailey was stillborn too!
9/24/2014 07:46:02 am
Thank you for the wonderful gift you give to these families! I am currently 19 weeks into my first pregnancy and can not fathom the anguish these parents must go through when their child is born sleeping but I know it must bring great joy to have these precious memories to hold on to forever!
9/24/2014 07:58:34 am
My most heartfelt, humbling thoughts to Davin' family , treasure your beautiful photographs, they are so beautiful as was Davin.
7/10/2019 01:33:51 pm
Thank you, that makes me happy to know that someone thinks of my younger brother that way.
9/24/2014 08:06:40 am
It used to be common practice, back in the 40's or so, for people to take photographs of their loved ones in their caskets. That's the picture I remember when I think of my first sister, who died before I was born. This is an extension of that idea, to me.
9/24/2014 09:03:05 am
I'm so sorry for your loss of lil Davin. He is a beautiful Angel and the pictures are priceless. Many thoughts and prayers. <3
9/24/2014 09:04:51 am
what a beautiful story! As heartbreaking as it is.... The fact you could have Davin's "daddy" there is so beautiful! May God hold this precious family
9/24/2014 09:52:42 am
Im so glad that there is an organization like NILMDTS. Many families who wouldn't have had an opportunity to have beautiful pictures of their little ones are so blessed! I know I would! Thank you NILMDTS for being a group of wonderful carrying people!
9/24/2014 10:05:15 am
After my great-niece went to heaven,I had a chance to hold her...I kept thinking how odd it was that her little body continued to be so warm,long past the time when those called home are still warm. I then realized it was my body keeping her warm. This is the sweetest story. God Bless you for doing this for the baby and the family.
9/24/2014 10:59:20 am
These are such amazing pictures. My mom had lost a son shortly after birth. This would have been so amazing to have his picture. Whenever I see pictures like these , I think of my brother Peter and wonder what he looked like.
9/24/2014 11:48:30 am
I wish I had heard of you guys when I lost my children,I would have loved to get pictures of my babies for my memories.I'm glad their our people like you that care enough to do this for parents for their memories of their angels.thank you god bless you all for caring.
9/24/2014 12:55:56 pm
My heart goes out the the family. Davin is so precious. A beautiful angel child. He looks so perfect. I am so touched by the work nilmdts does for moms and dads to preserve the memory of their sweet little one. God Bless all.
Neta M. Acuna
9/24/2014 02:02:21 pm
What gratitude the family of little Davin must hold in their hearts for this photographer and NILMDTS for these time honoring images. And what gratitude Davin's family must have to God because He keeps His promises.
9/24/2014 02:34:31 pm
Davin was such a beautiful little boy. I am so glad that his parents and siblings will have these beautiful pictures to remember him by. Thank you for the work that you do. I wish I had the ability to take photos like your wonderful photographers. Even though I would be crying, I would love to help these families the way that you do at NILMDTS.
9/24/2014 02:47:02 pm
These pictures are beautiful. I am an RN who worked in Labor and Delivery for 30 years. We offered this service at our hospital, and i participated in several photography sesssons. It is truly a gift for these families.
9/24/2014 03:58:00 pm
Oh what a beautiful baby and stop. Prayers to his family
9/24/2014 05:03:54 pm
I am also a photographer and would love to volunteer. I am in south central PA and would love to help where I can.
9/25/2014 04:27:49 am
9/24/2014 07:27:41 pm
These are heart wrenching but beautiful pictures. I have had 2 stillborn girls and only one we have a picture of. It was a polaroid and unfortunately it is fading. I wish we had these professional ones in the early 90's. I too would love to volunteer but am not a photographer.
9/25/2014 04:32:31 am
Karen, We have several volunteer positions for non-photographers. Please check out our website and hover over the "Volunteers" heading. The drop down list includes the volunteer job titles, and clicking on them will give you more information along with links to the online applications. While availability of different positions can vary by location, we need support across the country. I encourage you to apply. I think that your service with NILMDTS could be a beautiful way to honor your own sweet babies' memories.
9/25/2014 01:15:42 am
I have two granddaughters who are angels in heaven. But this is a great story to share with the dad when he arrives home. And May God continue to bless you in your path of helping others with pictures of their sleeping angels.
7/10/2019 01:31:10 pm
Davin James Richey is my younger brother, I was so sad when I heard he passed away but I know that I can let go of my grief by knowing he's in a better place.
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