I got a call from the NICU at Women’s this week about photographing a baby with hydrops. The NICU nurse told me he is quite bruised from the condition. I had no idea what to expect. I have done a few sessions at the hospital now for babies with various conditions. More often than not, I have to look up what the medical terms actually mean.
I got to the hospital, parked my car, took a deep breath, and went in. When the nurse brought me into the dim procedure room at the NICU, I greeted mom and dad, and went over to take a look at baby. It’s true, he was bruised. But all I could tell was that he was a very good looking baby, and he was obviously loved by many.
At various times during the session, the mom or the dad would start crying, and that was probably the hardest part for me. Being a mom myself, I cannot imagine losing one of my babies. While I clicked away with the camera, I let tears just roll down my face. I was so heart broken.
That afternoon, I met with a friend for a walk. She asked me, “Why would you do something like this?” referring to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) photo sessions at the hospital.
She is not the first person to ask me that. I don’t really have a solid answer for it. Maybe a part of it is that I wanted to do something to “give back”. Maybe because I love babies. And maybe it’s because I truly value photographs. It’s probably a combination of the all the above.
The truth is, I’m still in the exploring stages of this volunteer work. I had discussed this with Cliff, and figured if I really couldn’t handle the sessions, I could pull out later. So far, yes, it has been very hard emotionally, but it has also been very rewarding knowing that the families will have photographs of their babies to treasure. Maybe photographs are the last thing on their minds when they are battling their own emotions, but at least the images are available when they’re ready to look at them later.
There is nothing anyone can do to take away the pain of losing a child. I guess I just hope that what I do contribute to a small part of their healing.
I held my kids tight tonight, so grateful that they were right here in my arms.