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Appreciate. Love. Remember {Wisconsin NILMDTS Photographer}

As I was driving to The American Family’s Children Hospital late Friday night I couldn’t help but wonder about this family I was about to meet.  Wonder about this sweet little boy who had been such a fighter over the past few months, & wonder how they were going to all say goodbye.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep {NILMDTS} is an organization that was co-founded in 2005 by a photographer in Denver by the name of Sandy Puc’ & a mother Cheryl Haggard, who had recently lost her infant son Maddux & thus NILMDTS was formed.  NILMDTS specializes in infant remembrance photography & now has over 7,000 volunteer photographers worldwide. Sandy Puc’ has become such a source of inspiration to the entire industry as she encourages all of us to give back.

At first when I heard about NILMDTS, I was like many other photographers & questioned whether or not it was something I could do.  After seeing Sandy speak a few years ago I came to a realization that what these families need was a way to remember their children & if that is something I could possibly do, I had to at least try.

I assure you that it is not easy, and it does not get better, ever.

But what we do & the gift we give.  It IS worth it.

Typically we as NILMDTS photographers are not supposed to BLOG about our sessions & post images for obvious reasons.  I felt though, this time that I needed to bend the rules slightly. My hope is to provide awareness & offer inspiration & encouragement to those wanting to become involved.

As photographers we are aware that what we do on a daily basis for our clients is special, by giving them memories to look back on for years to come, images they can pass down for generations.  But NILMDTS is so much more.  You are allowing a family to remember, grieve & love all over again, forever.   We are helping them keep the spirit alive of their loved one that they had for only such a short time.

Each NILMDTS baby has their own story.

Young parents.  Older parents.

Only child.  Siblings.

Here on this earth for several hours.  Here for several days or even months.

They also have similarities.

They are all fighters {the babies. the families. the doctors.}

The Love that surrounds these babies is so intense,

Mommas, Daddys, Grandmothers, Grandparents, Siblings, Aunts, Uncles, all of them loving this sweet baby in their own special way

The immense amount of sorrow & grief.

No matter what we do, say or don’t say we can’t change the situation these families are in.  That part never changes.  They will not leave the hospital with their little baby this time.

This is the hardest part, to be in that moment with them & feel their pain & wish there was something you could do to help.  What I’ve learned to do, is to close my eyes for a few moments & pray.  Pray that God wraps his arms around them & provides comfort.

I know that it is my job to capture some of those last moments that will help them remember how much they loved this sweet little person.  I am thankful for the gift God has given me & look to him for direction on what to say, how to talk to the parents & how to offer them my sympathy.

I encourage all of my Professional Photographer friends to take another moment & think about donating your time to NILMDTS & offering this amazing service to families in need.  If you aren’t a photographer you can still help by spreading the word about NILMDTS & the services that are offered completely free to families in need.

And, if you are a parent…. Hold on tight to your little ones, tonight.

Appreciate their silliness.

Love their soft little hands.

Remember that every moment truly is a gift.

Stephanie Natale