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When Andreasen first told hospital doctors and administrators about the organization, she said, they thought the photographers might be taking advantage of grieving parents by planning to sell the photos, but they changed their minds after seeing the Web site and talking with Jones. Before Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep offered its services, Andreasen said, nurses were the unofficial photographers of babies who died before or shortly after birth.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep was co founded by Cheryl Haggard and Sandy Puc' of Colorado after Haggard's son, Maddux, was born in 2005 with myotubular myopathy, a condition that prevented him from breathing, moving or swallowing on his own. After six days, Haggard and her husband decided to remove him from life support. They called photographer Puc' to take portraits of Maddux while he was on life support and afterward, when his body was free of the tubes and wires.
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Siblings, grandparents and extended family members are often part of the photo session.
"When Leila was there, it seemed like she kept her distance. She wasn't in our faces; she gave us our space, focusing in from a distance."
Photos help parents hold on to the only memory of their newborns
The Saucedas displayed the images of Noah at his funeral, and incorporated a photo into his headstone. They keep his photos on a shelf in their Simi Valley home, near a Noah's Ark figurine and a hospital memory box, which includes a lock of his hair and other birth mementos.
The process was not obtrusive, Sauceda said, despite her family's deep grief.
The pictures, Diana Sauceda said, "are precious to me forever. I'll never forget what he looked like."
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When parents know ahead of time that their baby will not survive, a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer works with the family before the birth, even providing maternity portrait sessions.
She paused. "Not knowing the color of his eyes that's really hard," she said.
worth a thousand floods of tears, because Noah was stillborn.
Mary Jo Peterson of Encino didn't know whether she had seven months. Her maternity session took place toward the beginning of July, when she was 29 weeks pregnant, because her baby, Andrew James (they call him AJ), could be born at any time.
"They were doing the best they could with a Polaroid (and more recently a digital camera), but the pictures were so awful," she said.
At first, Diana Sauceda said, she wanted photos of Noah only not of her or her husband interacting with him. "I felt that seeing those pictures would just hurt me all the more," she said. "Now, I see when I'm holding him, I just really appreciate them."
"This is the first and last family portrait for these families," Jones said.
But Sauceda will never forget how he looked. Like any new Jordans Nike
Often, Jones said, friends, relatives and parents overwhelmed by grief don't understand why anyone would want a photograph of a newborn who is dead or about to die."It's a time of confusion and fear," Jones said, "but when you see the way we capture these images, you realize that it's part of the healing process. We're here to help them get through the pain. Parents say that when they look at the images they are reminded of the beauty and blessing of the day that their child came into their lives. I've never had anybody say, I can't believe you took that image.' Most people are moved and touched."
The black and white portraits, taken by a professional photographer at Simi Valley Hospital, remind Sauceda of the precious few hours she and her husband, Hector, had with Noah after his heart stopped beating and doctors induced labor.
Usually, such pre birth portraits are taken around the seventh month of pregnancy.
Medical professionals, Andreasen said, have found that letting bereaved parents hold and see photos of their child is an important part of the grieving process. "If they're able to see and touch the baby, it helps them have closure down the line," she said.
One of Sauceda's favorite photos shows her mother "holding Noah up to the light," she said. "He's snuggled in a blanket wearing a beanie; you can see the left side of his face, and a tiny piece of his eye."
percent chance of breathing. And even if he survives, he will not likely live long.
More than 5,000 volunteer photographers, including 15 to 20 who work with families in Ventura County, are part of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep's network in the United States and 19 other countries.
The photographs show Sauceda and her husband, as well as Diana's parents, cuddling and nuzzling Noah, trying to comfort him, while in essence comforting themselves.
Jones said she gets about two calls per month for remembrance photo sessions at hospitals in and around Ventura County.
Jones has been a member of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep since 2006. Pam Andreasen, director of the women's and children's unit at Simi Valley Hospital, read an article in a nursing magazine about the organization and asked Jones, a full time professional photographer and mother of six, if she wanted to volunteer.
In cases like the Saucedas', when the baby's death is sudden and unexpected, hospital staff, social workers, chaplains, birthing coaches or other healthcare providers might refer the parents to Jones.
Leila Jones of Simi Valley captured those achingly poignant moments on May 26. A full time professional photographer, Jones also is the volunteer Ventura County coordinator and trainer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 that offers free "infant remembrance photography" services to families whose babies are stillborn or at risk of dying at birth. The nondenominational organization took its name from the title of a classic children's prayer.
Sometimes, the baby in the picture, like Noah, is stillborn. Other babies are photographed during the short time Nike Jordan Red Black they remain alive, or right after removal of feeding tubes or other life support devices.
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