Intro by Skip Cohen
This is recruitment month at Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and they're constantly searching for more photographers. Here's your chance to give back to your community and have a significant opportunity to help a family heal, all while using your skills to help grieving couples capture the love they have for their children.
Just click on the banner above to learn more about how you can help.
In the mean time, we've got another poignant guest post from NILMDTS Affiliate Photographer, Lizzy Yates. Check out Lizzy's site to see more of her work.
I can honestly say, I've never had a tougher time picking which images to use with a blog post. The comments with the images I chose were written by the mother, not Lizzy. I teared up as I read what she wrote and while I felt her sadness and the emotion Lizzy talks about in her post, I also felt incredible pride to be part of the photographic industry and especially NILMDTS.
How did you start doing that? This is one of the most common questions I am asked when I tell people about the work I do with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Many assume I have lost a child. Really what brought me to NILMDTS was a matter of simple timing and chance.
In the back of the hall at a workshop six years ago was a NILMDTS representative, who I spoke with. As soon as he began telling us about NILMDTS, I knew that there was no way I could ever be a volunteer. I am not known for my thick skin. I am fairly quick to cry. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I could not see in myself the ability to be in the presence of such sadness, at working with families who had lost or were about to lose a child.
However, my friend really wanted to attend a NIMDTS training program and I agreed to go along. As I sat in the room I felt more and more drawn to what they were about. I was preparing to move to Arkansas and I looked and saw there were only a couple of photographers active with NILMDTS in Little Rock. I wanted to find out more and see if it was something I could do.
I remember my first session clearly. I was nervous. It was hard, it was sad, I cried…but I did it. I was anxious when I got back to my desk to see the images, to see if I had captured images that would help this family honor and remember their little boy. There they were on my screen, beautiful images of a baby boy who I had watched as his parents cradled and grieved.
Turn the clock forward six years and I've captured images for 150 families. Through my time in some of those hospital rooms I have formed connections with some amazing people, some of whom I am now lucky enough to call friends.
Every session is different. Every situation, family and baby are different. This Saturday marked one year since I was allowed to be a part of the short lives of two remarkable boys, Anders and Brodie, the conjoined twins of Jessica and Scott Chatalain. In celebration of their birthday I asked their mom and dad to share their story not just of the experience with NILMDTS but of their boys, their loss and love...you can read their full story here:
I met Jessica the way I meet many of the moms who need our services, through a short, sad email. She was carrying two very special boys. They would not live long after they were born and she wanted to know more about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
Throughout her pregnancy we would text and email, check in. On March 21st, 2014 we would met in person. When I arrived their room was full of family, fear, sadness and anticipation. Jessica was in bed and she was rubbing her belly as she sat, waiting.
I got to be in the operating room as the boys came into the world and was lucky enough to spend a few hours with this family. They were washed and wrapped, loved, kissed, held and rocked. They passed from person to person who swayed from side to side as they spoke to them and loved on them. They were held by their three big brothers.
Since that day I have gotten to see Jessica share her boys through the images I took. I have seen them on Facebook, and in the frames in their home. I've heard her talk about them and remember them with her friends and family.
I know now why I am able to do this. Jessica never got to see her boys with their eyes open. But she has the picture I took. That moment when Brodie saw the world.
The work of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is hard, and it is sad. I capture the ‘firsts’, the ‘lasts’ and the ‘onlys.’ NILMDTS is in need of photographers who are willing to give this gift to families in their communities.
"I have cried but I have also smiled. We are not asked to capture images of death. The images we capture are of strength and love and family. I have been witness to stunning loss and staggering strength…and I am grateful."