week 13: this week i'm gonna... comfort parents suffering a loss
Maddux Achilles Haggard was born on Feb. 4, 2005, with a condition called myotubular myopathy. It prevented him from breathing, swallowing or moving on his own. On the sixth day of his young life, his parents, Mike and Cheryl Haggard, had to make the excruciating decision to take him off life support. Before they did, they called photographer Sandy Puc' to take black and white portraits of them cradling their son. Puc' photographed the couple with Maddux at the hospital before he was removed from life support and after — when he was free from the tubes and the wires that had sustained him.
Those tender photographs documenting Maddux’s eternal connection with his parents inspired Cheryl Haggard and Sandy Puc' to begin a nonprofit organization that has provided thousands of families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying as newborns with free professional portraits with their baby. Sandy and Cheryl founded the organization in April 2005 and called it Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) after the children’s bedtime prayer.
The mission of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture. NILMDTS trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant. They believe these images serve as an important step in the family's healing process by honoring the child's legacy.
NILMDTS serves over 3,500 families every year and has over 1,700 active photographers around the world. They reach every state in the US and have been or are present in 40 countries worldwide.
Please see the video below to learn more about NILMDTS.
The volunteer photographers that work with NILMDTS do not have an easy job; they are witnessing a family at their darkest hour, helping to honor their child. These photographers are taken away from their families and their businesses to "give" a gift of healing. They are not compensated or reimbursed in any way, and they also donate a large amount of time editing images for families.
Hope Wells, a NILMDTS photographer from Alberta, Canada, explains, "To be invited into someone’s life when their child is born with angel’s wings to capture the only photographs they will ever have is a powerful, moving experience. It is a reminder why as a photographer I so strongly believe that pictures are both priceless and invaluable. The gift we provide to the family is obvious; the gift we receive transcends words."
Although the photography services are donated, NILMDTS relies on private donations to cover the costs of many other important items, including (but not limited to) the portrait gifts the families receive and the recruitment, training and technical assistance that is provided to the volunteer photographers.
Notes for this week:
- National Love Our Children Day is April 2nd
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor heirloom portraits for approximately four families suffering from a pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or any type of infant loss.
- For further information regarding Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.