A Sacred Trust – Ashley Ann {infant loss/miscarriage}

You read Ashley Ann’s blog right?


Please say yes.

If not, add it to your reader now.  Stat.

Ashley is an amazing photographer.

With a fabulous sense of style.

And a huge, huge heart.

I love, love, love this post she wrote for our series benefitting the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation.

From the other side of the equation: as the photographer.

I know I say this every week, but I really have no words.

Except to say that I am grateful that there are photographers out there willing to put themselves in the hard places.

The uncomfortable spaces.

Not just for the grieving families…but for them too.

Do something bigger than themselves.

Outside their comfort zone.

Do something that will change THEM.

{If you are new here, this post is part of a series of guest posts on infant loss/miscarriage.  Read the rest of the series and share it with a friend who might need encouragement in her own journey of loss.}

* * * *

We were all piled into a little apartment celebrating a 27th birthday. Most of us had known each other since high school and while we were excited about the birthday all eyes were on one increasingly round belly. I was among the first of us to have children. At that point I had 2 little boys on earth and one baby in heaven. My sweet friend with the round belly was a few months away from welcoming not one baby boy, but two. I remember when she showed me the ultrasound. We were in my living room and she handed me the little black & white shiny paper. It took me a minute before I realized there were two babies. I’ll never forget the excitement of that moment.

Fast forward a few days after that birthday party. It was late at night and my phone rang. One of those so late at night calls that I knew something was wrong by the mere fact the phone rang. There were tears on the other end. My sweet friend was in labor. All I could think was No. It is too soon. The babies are too little. I ran to my boy’s rooms and kissed them in their sleep. Frantically told my husband I was leaving for the hospital. And I grabbed my camera.

I couldn’t get to the hospital and her room quick enough. Things happened fast. Labor couldn’t be stopped. The heaviness of the waiting room was suffocating. The babies were born. One was already in the arms of Jesus. One was fighting for his life. I called my husband to say I wouldn’t be home. I reminded my friend I had my camera. Please Lord let her know she can trust me. Please Lord let me capture this time. Please Lord give her the strength to let me be a friend and a photographer.

For the next couple of days I documented every moment in the hospital that I could. Being invited into those moments is a sacred trust. As a friend I felt completely helpless. As a photographer, I knew it was my privilege to capture a life. A life. A beautiful and all too short life. I remember sobbing behind my camera and being grateful it was so big that my friend couldn’t see my devastation. In the midst of fighting on their knees for one son, my friends allowed me to capture a few moments of them holding his brother – tiny and wrapped in a crocheted blanket. This is wrong. He is too small. Why is this happening? Why are we here? I want to be throwing the baby shower, not photographing such deep sorrow.

Time stood still and time flew in the next couple of days. I didn’t leave the hospital much. I wanted to be there…with my camera…to capture anything and more importantly EVERYTHING. We were all hoping and praying against the odds. Hope was deferred. Our hearts were sick. His parents held him as he left their arms for the joys of heaven.

I stayed up editing pictures, tears flooding my keyboard and compelled to finish my gift. A slideshow. A scrapbook. Memories to cherish. Memories to remember. It will always be one of the greatest honors of my life, but it will always be an honor I wish hadn’t received. In the end photography enabled me to give my friends the gift of their son’s life captured.

My camera is always out. I find the most beauty in the mundane aspects of life with my children. I am constantly capturing the day to day things that fill the lives in my home. The gut wrenching reality is not all parents get the chance to relish the little things of life with their children. Not all mommy’s get to leave the hospital with their babies. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep exists to capture the details and moments of little lives that end too soon. I will always be their advocate. I will always encourage photographers to volunteer their time and I will always do my best to raise awareness for an organization that no one wants to call upon, but those that must are grateful they could.


This series was created with the idea of Support and Encouragement in mind.

Hope for those who are walking the hard road right now.

Glory to God in spite of those times of indescribable pain.

Helping others who have never walked this path…so that they might see a glimpse of what some of their dear friends are feeling…and find words of comfort.

Part of that support is tangible too.

By giving even $1 to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation…a group of talented professional photographers, who donate their services to grieving families and leave them with beautiful images of their babies gone too soon…

just $1…$5…you help support mamas across the country living through…a bone numbing pain I cannot fathom.

Please consider giving any amount.

Together we can do something BIG.

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1

    I’m a grieving mama twice over. NILMDTS has a few photographers down here in Australia but I never thought we’d need one. Our good friend J (an honorary “auntie” of our son) called one of her friends S who had recently done J’s family photos and she came to our hospital quick smart. She took *GORGEOUS* pictures of us with our son, his grandparents, auntie and uncle, and great grandma. She took over “paparazzi” duty so we could just be with our son and soaking up as much of him as possible. She took over and took some charge of posing and composition as we did “shift change” in NICU (grabbing different family members as they came and went) all day. She arrived at noon and left around 8pm. She captured our son as he was, intubated with a ventilator tube and an NG tube. On an IV with heparin, a glucose drip and his morphine/midazolam drip. Of our son in a coma and unable to breathe on his own, just lying in our arms like a limp ragdoll.

    She took gorgeous pictures of my engagement ring and my husband’s wedding band on our son’s thumb. Of our parents hands cradling his hands and feet. Of our hands clenched in his little fists. Of his hair, his cute little ears, of him.

    S is not NILMDTS affiliated but I hope she does in the future. She said she wouldn’t dream of charging for such a shoot and it was her gift to us. And what a gift! To be called up to document 8 of our son’s last 24 hours and to edit all the photos for free. She even edited J’s photos of our son’s last hours with us!

    These are some of our favorite pictures of our son. I’ve blown up and framed several for around our house. We’ll never forget S’s generosity in giving up her day with her family to be with us in NICU, documenting our son’s last day and getting priceless shots of our family. They are sad pictures and many people cry looking at them, but we cry too. They’re some of the last ones taken when our son was alive (artificially) in our arms and they’re priceless treasures. Our son’s little brothers and sisters (when they happen) will get to look at them and hear stories of him.

    NILMDTS should be a required resource offered to parents in this most horrible of circumstances: keeping vigil knowing your child has not long to live or has already died. I’ll be working with the 2 hospitals that are near us to make sure they know of NILMDTS and have heard how much these pictures mean to us.

    I blog at: Random Musings and you can read both my precious babies stories.
    Kara´s last blog post ..10 day you

  2. 2

    Yes, I read Ashley Ann. And I love it!

    I lost my loving young husband last year and was left with 2 little ones to raise. I was lost. I was empty. I was without motivation…

    I used to be a photographer but I couldn´t stand my camera anymore! I´ve lost my favorite model, I have so many tears in my eyes…

    In that moment (I don´t know how) I found Ashley´s blog. With gorgeous pictures. With happy moments. With inspiration. And I wanted this king of live (and this kind of seing life) to me, again. So, after a while, I started taking pics again…

    I didn´t experienced the lost of a child but I´ve been throug much pain and I know what GOOD pictures can do! To remember you of sunny days, to support you, to make you hope of happiness again! I´ve been a photographer for so long and I´ve made some social projects.. but I never thought about taking THESE pictures of babies and their families. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Kisses and blessings.
    from Brazil

    PS: do you know if there is a group of NILMDTS in Brazil?

  3. 3
    Michele says:

    This is such an amazing service that you provide. Recently a friend of DH’s lost their son at near term. I heard about it several days after the fact and was sad to learn that they hadn’t heard of NILMDTS so they could have had some beautiful pictures of their son. The hospital took a picture apparently but due to his color our friends decided to have a sketch made up of the photo to share with family and friends. I want to get the word out so when this terrible need arise families will know that it exists.

  4. 4
    Amanda says:

    This sounds like a wonderful ministry. My husband and I lost our firstborn son, Caleb, at 34 weeks. The hospital took a couple pictures for us, but I so wish we had more to remember our sweet boy. We can’t wait to see him in Heaven.

  5. 5

    I lost twins on May 24, 2010. My son was born in to heaven before he took a breath, and my daughter had a faint heart beat for a few minutes. In addition to the twins I also have 3 other children in heaven. My life has definitely not gone the way I had planned, but I am learning to make the best of it.
    I have a personal blog http://www.wegentales.blogspot.com and I just started a non-profit called Owl Love You Forever. We are providing boxes of special items to the mom’s in the hospital who lose their baby before, during, or shortly after birth. This organization is really giving me purpose for all the pain I have endured, and it is my small way of giving back.
    Check out my website if want, we are in the process of getting it all set-up thanks to some amazing family and friends at my church.
    O and I am a follower of Ashley Ann and heard about your blog from her.

  6. 6

    i like the photos! they are great!

    cleaning for a reason

  7. 7

    thank you for sharing this! amaizing photos!
    sapir´s last blog post ..Why to use green cleaning products “Go Green” at the ordinary house cleaning!

  8. 8

    when you have normal health kids you can never imagine the other position i want to thank you for reminding me where i am and what is there around me…
    i wish the parents no more pain
    mori´s last blog post ..I am seeking websites listing jobs for seasoned attorneys

  9. 9

    Stay inrfomavtie, San Diego, yeah boy!