Monday, February 15, 2010

Dead Baby Pictures

I have finally brought myself to writing this post. I have thought about doing this for almost 9 months now since the first time I decided to upload Janessa’s picture to Myspace in my blog there announcing her death to everyone.

I am sure as people read it & then scrolled down to see her picture of her peacefully sleeping some thought “Did she really just put up a picture of her dead baby?’ Don’t feel bad..really..don’t. I thought the same thing to myself after I published the blog. I never thought I would find myself in this position.

You see you can never fully understand why unless you have walked in a grieving parent's shoes.

In the hospital we realized we decided to take some pictures. At first, we were torn. Neither of us had ever thought we'd be faced with this decision. I never thought I would not have the opportunity to ever have a picture of my daughter alive. We knew we were going to need those pictures to remember her but it was hard at first to be comfortable with the idea.

The nurse came in with her camera to take a few pics. She didn’t really tell us how to sit, just snapped two pics of my husband & I with Janessa. We told her our camera was on the way so she didn’t take anymore. We took a handful of pictures on our camera, but not enough. We could have nevr taken enough. Before we left the hospital they had printed the two pics. They are horribly colored so I had to turn them into black & white digital images. I truly wish they would of called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. It is a nationwide association of volunteer photographers that donate their time to come to the hospital & take pictures when a baby dies. They do a beautiful job.

We oursleves only took a handful a pictures. We just had not adjusted to the fact of taking pictures after someone had died. I regret that so very much. I wish we had taken so many more. I tried to memorize every single inch of her. The state of mind I was in did not allow me to retain it all. We didn't even think to take a picture of her without her hat on. She had beautiful dark brown hair just like her big brother did. My biggest fear is I’ll forget the features I do remember. I wish I had more pictures to look back on.

Please understand that we do not have the luxury of ever having a picture of her while she was alive. I do not get to display each new photo of her as she grows like I do of our son. She is never going to grow up. The pictures we have of her is all we will ever have. She is still our daughter & we love her as much as our living son.

Most "angel moms" or "babyloss moms" that I have met feel the same. They proudly show the pictures of their beautiful angels. There are a handful who choose not too. We all respect each other’s choices. Everyone deals with situations in their own way.

I would’ve told you before losing Janessa that I would never of showed a picture of my deceased child. I’ll admit to that. I also never thought I would lose a child. I also had NO IDEA what I was talking about.

You see when you lose a baby to stillbirth or shortley after birth people can tend to make you feel like your child never existed. They may acknowledge the loss once but then never again. I assume and believe this is because thinking about babies dying is painful & unpleasant to think about. They don't want to think that those things happen. But they do. Every day. It happens to families of every race, country & economic class. Each year in the U.S. ALONE there are over 26,000 stillbirths each year.

Sometimes when we mention our child's name the look of shock & horror on the surrounding people's faces makes us feel like no one wants to hear about our sweet little baby. We learn quickly who we can talk about our children with & who we cannot. The pictures reinforce that our child did exist.

Although I have escaped hurtful comments, I have read many stories of parents who have been attacked by others for their children’s photos. I have read bulletin boards on the discussion of “dead baby pictures” & they have appalled me. I realize that they get the luxury of not walking our path. They get the luxury of only trying to imagine what they would do. They don’t have to live it.  They do not know how lucky they are to still be able to stand there & judge grieving parents actions from the outside.

People who know me know I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I am pretty much an open book. This has shown the most through the loss of my daughter. I share my grief & pain in hoping to help someone else & spread awareness about this reality that I live everyday.

So if any of you non angel parents reading this walk away with some lessons from our grief, let this be one of them. Unless you have been in a situation never let yourself believe you know what you would & would not do. As much as you think you know yourself or what your actions would be…you don’t have a clue. And I am grateful you don't.

33 comments:

Susan said...

Very well written, Mal. I couldn't have said it better. Every day, I have the same regrets about photos. Some days I am a little bitter about it. Big, big hugs!!!!

Bree said...

What a great post, Malory. It took me months to get the courage to post Ella's picture and I'm so glad I finally did. Dead or not, she's still my precious daughter and I could study her picture for hours. I only have the two shots the nurse took. I wish I would have thought to have taken more- especially one of the three of us together. You do a beautiful job honoring Janessa here!

Kim Golinski said...

Janessa is beautiful and I am so happy that you chose to share her photos! I can not imagine that people who react negatively.

Photography is a gift from god... a way to preserve what our minds miss. I wish that the hospital had also provided you with the photography services. I'm working on getting involved in my area, just trying to finish up the application process. I want help make a difference in peoples lives.

*Laura said...

So beautifully written! I want to copy and paste it to my page!! Its exactlly how I feel. I wish I could show the world pics of my beautiful daughter, some people are appalled but who cares. Like you said no one will ever ever ever know hwo we feel. I did post a ton of pictures on facebook of Cara because thats life. Death happens and I wanted everyone to know what happened and that it can happen and most importantly I wanted everyone to know that she did exist even if it was just for a moment! (((HUGS)))

Kelli with Love said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fiona said...

Beautiful post, and I share your thoughts so much.

I took lots of photos of Bailey, as I knew I would never get the chance again. I've got Bailey's photo displayed near his memory box in our living room. Even though I love him so much, and am proud of him, it was hard for me to make the decision to display a photo of him so openly. I'm now so comfortable with my decision. Like you say, unless someone has walked in our shoes how could they possibly make judgement of our need to show our photos of our babies.

Janessa is beautiful.

Cristin said...

Well said. I have been struggling with the idea of putting my NILMDTS photos up on my facebook page. Cayden is just as much my son as Murray is and Murray is everywhere. I will take some strength from your blog today and put them up. Non understanders be damned.

AKD said...

Just so lovely and beautiful. I also look at the far-too-few pictures we have of Maddie, and wish we had more. Those babies are our hopes and dreams, and they deserve recognition. Thinking of you.

The Ramirez Family said...

You said it just right! It has been 7 weeks to the day since we lost our Juanito. I have pictures of him, but I have been scared to display them. Worried what people would think, but you explained it just perfectly! I think I have my answer now. Thank you!!!

Lisette said...

What a wonderful post Malory! I was scared to show my pictures at first too because before loosing a child I would said I would never do that. Never say never! Now, I have no problems sharing them with the world. I am so proud of my angel and I want the world to know that. Your post says it perfectly, I love it.

withoutmypunkin said...

very well said! I had a hard time putting pictures up of Kasey at first (I have no idea why!!) now I have no problem-he is my 1st child, he is my son.

The Blue Sparrow said...

Very Very well said! I am still a little gun shy about posting anything other than hands and feet photos of Bryston anywhere but on my blog. I hate that I feel the need to not make anyone feel uncomfertable with looking at my deceased child, when all I wana do is diplay his photos everywhere. I am so glad that we chose to use NILMDTS, but at first I was disgusted by the thought of it. I thought how tacky but when I looked at the broushure, I saw how tasteful they were. I really wish that you had been given that option but so glad that you at lease got some pictures of Janessa. They are my most valuable possesion.

diana said...

Malory that was very well said. Glad you have shared your Baby Jenessa. I couldn't imagine what you have gone through and still go through but you seem like all those ignorant people make you stronger everyday to get other moms to share their babies stories who are affraid to share their loss because of those ignorant people. She would be very proud of her mommy to be fighting like you do to get the word out that these lil angels were are still human and have a memory even if it was short lived, She still is part of your family. I think your blog will get awarness and reconigtion out to people.

Jessica said...

*hugs* This was such a beautiful post. One less that I have learned through Jonathan is that you shouldn't assume you would handle something one way unless you are in that situation. Loosing your child changes how you think about things.

Janessa is beautiful. *hugs*

Angela Donaldson said...

What a great post mallory.

Its amazing all we have to learn adn re learn as parents of an Angel. Things we were so sure of until we had kiddos and then had an angel.

I am glad you are sharing her, Id love to see her.

I love ya girl

Betty said...

beautifully written....hugs

ForeverElliot'sMommy said...

AMEN!

Catherine W said...

As everyone else has said, beautifully written. I think you've articulated what many of us who've lost children would like to say. xo

Heather said...

What a great post. I hope that someone reads this and learns the lesson you attempted to teach them. We even had NILMDTS to take photos and still I feel like it wasn't enough.

Alicia said...

I am so glad you wrote this post. I just a couple of weeks ago put a picture along the side of my blog of Jeremiah after his birth. (He was stillborn as well). I thought it would creep some people out, so I just had an ultrasound picture of him up for the longest time. I had to finally give up and not care. It is my blog and I wanted a picture of him up there. It shows that I am real and I have been through a devastating loss and I had a real life growing inside of me even though he could not grow on the outside. Thanks again. I needed this tonight.

Holly said...

This is a great post. You just can't imagine at all what's it like until you're there. It can be hard for people to understand some of the things we do. I love having pics of Carleigh up in our home.

Jana said...

Thank you for your blog. I gave birth to our beautiful son, Brayden, May 26th of this year. He was stillborn at 36 weeks.....no explaination. Everyday feels like a struggle.

Kelli With Love said...

(As a non-angel mommy) I absolutely agree with your post!! I think it's WONDERFUL that you guys share your pictures of your angels. They are so beautiful. Every single one. It takes so much courage and strength to go through all the emotions you must experience. I'm so glad you haven't had to deal with any rude comments or anything yourself. Your videos are fantastic, and you are such a great Momma to Jayden AND Janessa!!

Anonymous said...

You are so right people do act like the loss of a kid never existed. I lost my son one hour after birth. He was 1lb 9oz. I had him at 21 weeks. I was totally devastated. I couldn't move on. He was my first and I was 24 years old. I still talk about him and I know he is an angel and will never ever be forgotten. I have am incompetent cervix. My doctor was not a good doctor. I am still not over it but I know he is in a better place now. He is 7 year old angel watching over us. I love you Ethan Lamont.

Chelsea Carter said...

Beautifully written! I get so frustrated when people act as if our Cameron never existed.. and he lived for 2 months! Or just because he was a baby that it shouldn't hurt as much as losing an older child. People can be so cruel, but you are right, I should take their opinion with a grain of salt if they've never walked in my shoes. I see absolutely nothing wrong with you wanting to share your beautiful little girl with the world, she is a part of your family and always will be!

elena said...

Such a great post, thank you for being so honest! Those who have not walked in our shoes can't possibly understand why we do the things we do, and we hope they never have to be in our shoes. I am making a scrapbook of Lilly and will hang photos of her in our home. At work I have a digital photo that includes pictures of Lilly or us visiting Lilly's gravesite. They may feel uncomfortable but she is part of our family. She doesn't disappear just because she is not physically here.

Anonymous said...

You are all such special Mothers! I only know your hearts in a small way as the grandmother of two precious premie babies in heaven. We have pictures of our precious grandbabies in our home, and a scrapbook for each. Pictures ARE a blessing. Holding you all close to my heart.

irlamk said...

I lost my angel 13th February 2005, born at 28 weeks. I also had a placental abruption.I know exactly how you feel, and the daily battle of grief . My angel Jade would have been 6 now. There is not a single day that i don't think of him and wonder what he would be like. I have precious photos of him proudly displayed in my lounge room. Even though he is not with us, he is still very much part of the family. I feel for you, and what you go through each day. Our angels will be forever in our hearts. And to all who judge...DON'T!!! This is a pain that never goes away, never fades or eases.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I just lost our son at 21 weeks September 30, 2012. They believe it was cervical weakness, but they are still unsure. We have been reading over your blog and just find ourselves agreeing with everything you say. It is just such a comfort to find other people who know exactly how we are feeling. My husband has not looked at pictures that were taken of our son yet. He originally didn't even want any. I am glad that my parents were able to take some, even if they were on a cell phone. I am so frightened I will forget what he looked like. I need those pictures.

Anonymous said...

Hi Malory, I just wanted to thank you for writing this. I just stumbled across it. Everything you have said is so true and honest. I lost my son Davis last April. He was born at 28 weeks, weighing just 2 lbs, and died 5 months and 6 days later from complications of lung disease. I just wanted to say that I realize how lucky I am to have the luxury of pictures of my son while he was alive, and because of my friends who are living with the loss of a baby born sleeping I appreciate those pictures more every day. Thank you for your words, and I am so sorry for your pain and loss.

Anonymous said...

Hi Malory, thank you so much for writing this. Today marks my son's 5th birthday and while searching online I came across this site. First I would like to express my sympathy to you and your family. Reading your message above just took me right back to that year 2008 those very feelings of utter shock and then numbness and then pain. I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and he had to be delivered via emergency C-section at 29 weeks. He lived for seven days and to me though I miss him terribly I consider him my little miracle. I so grateful his daddy took pictures at hospital and at his memorial service so I can remember his face as I never got to hold him. I too notice that people are uncomfortable if I talk about him but that's them I refuse to feel bad about it. He is, was and always will be my son my first born and I feel blessed to have carried him and brought him into this world. Ultimately I believe we are the fortunate ones, for all those who criticize, we have our on special angels to look after us, who God thought were just too special for this earth.

michael said...

Thank you Malory for expressing your heartfelt feelings so well.You are an inspiration to others to not be so judgmental of others situations choices and decisions. Thank you

Crystal Champlin said...

what you have written brought me to tears you little angel is beautiful. I can relate to your story I lost my son. I really wish I would have know about the photos because the only photos I had got destroyed about 5 years ago. Thank you for posting this it reminded me I am not alone

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