July 30, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The night Anne Marie died we had photographs taken of her. They were done by a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I remember the day before Anne Marie was supposed to come off ECMO, someone asked me if I wanted photos of her. I knew why I was being asked about photos -- after several ECMO trial-offs there was little hope that Anne Marie would successfully come off. We prayed and didn't give up, but we also prepared to say goodbye (if it's possible even to do that). As it turned out, the wife of one of the pastors from PCPC was a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. She came up to the hospital the morning Anne Marie was going to come off ECMO. She brought a sweet little gown and blanket and waited quietly in the waiting room with our family and talked to my friends Ginger and Carol about homeschooling. Needless to say we were thrilled when she rejoiced with us and went home without taking any pictures.

Ten short days later was Anne Marie's last day, and although we knew her condition was severe, we weren't prepared. I never would have guessed that morning as Brandon and I drove up to Children's that that evening we would have to say goodbye. It wasn't like 10 days previous when we had tried to "prepare." Our children and family weren't with us, our pastor was back in Edmond, and there wasn't a photographer quietly waiting, just in case. It was just Brandon and I on a quiet Saturday evening.

But later that evening after Anne Marie had taken her last breath and the tiny tubes and tape had been removed, a photographer was there. I don't even actually know how she got there or who called her, but I am grateful someone did. She wasn't the same one who had come before, but I know that she had dropped whatever it was she was doing in order to come. I do remember crying because I hadn't brought Anne Marie's little gown up to the hospital. And for as long as I live I will never forget Dr. Thompson kneeling down next to me saying, "I'll go get it. Tell me where you live and I will go get it for you."

Our photographer that evening was quiet, respectful, and so, so gentle. I honestly barely remember her in the room because she seemed to stay in the background. She took pictures of us with Anne Marie and a day later she met us up at Children's with a CD of photos. She also had her little boy with her that day. I think he was about two. I imagine that it was quite a sacrifice to do all that she did for us with a two-year-old at home.

People never imagine having to take photographs of their deceased children and it can almost seem a little creepy, but I treasure these photographs that we have of Anne Marie cradled in our arms. They show me that I was a mommy to my girl. That just briefly she was all wrapped up in a blanket and I got to hold her. And they help us remember her last night and her brief life here. If I could give one piece of advice to parents who are possibly facing the death of a child, I would say, "Take lots of pictures." Take pictures of your baby while he or she is in the hospital, stand by his or her bed and get pictures with you in it, take pictures of the nurses who are caring for him or her. You won't ever regret it and you will be grateful you have them. And I would also say to have someone call Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep if you have to say goodbye. As hard as it is to imagine now, you will treasure these pictures.

I was reminded of all of this because I received an e-mail this weekend announcing NILMDTS's new website. If you have a few minutes take a look at it. You will see for yourself what a blessing they are.

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