While the birth of a child is a joyous occasion for most, some parents’ experiences are shadowed with deep sorrow. When babies are born with terminal illnesses, the parents may only have days, sometimes hours, to spend time with their child. The heartbreak is unimaginable, leaving a void that can never be filled, not even with memories.
To help ease the pain of these families, and to help them heal, one organization is creating memories of the children’s short lives to celebrate their legacies.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep connects volunteer photographers with the parents of terminally ill babies.
The photographers, each of whom have been trained to handle the delicate circumstances professionally, capture the families’ last times together in poignant and beautiful images.
The photography services are completely free for the families. The organization believes that having the portraits created helps families with their healing process.
Founder Cheryl Haggard knows this experience first hand.
In 2005, she made the decision to take her newborn son, Maddux Achilles Haggard, off life support when he was six days old. He was born with a condition called myotubular myopathy, which rendered him unable to move, breathe, or swallow on his own.
Founder Cheryl Haggard with her infant son, Maddux, after he was taken off life support. This image captures their last moment together.
Understandably, Haggard refers to the night of Maddux’s death as the worst night of her life. However, she says when she looks at the photos of him, she feels joy and not pain. “I’m reminded of the beauty and blessings he brought,” she says.
Shortly after Maddux’s death, Haggard and her photographer Sandy Puc, who captured the images above, started Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Other families going through the similar heartbreak of stillborn children or children born with extreme illnesses are responding. One family wrote in, about the photos taken of their terminally ill son.
“It is shocking to know that he is physically no longer with us. Yet we are glad that your organization exists and was able to provide us a lifetime of memories through the baby pictures taken of him.”
Today, the organization has 1,650 volunteers in 40 countries across the globe, helping bereaved parents and families everywhere remember and celebrate the brief lives of their children.
NILMDTS trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy.
You can learn more about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep on their website, and read more testimonials from families.