Regardless, my prayers go out to the parents who have been through this and to the photographers who give so much of themselves (their time and little parts of their spirit) to provide this gift for grieving families. The entire story (along with the link) and the photograph are from the Post story.
Photographers Help Grieving Parents Take the First Step in Healing
By Emily Langer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 30, 2008; HE01
A white rose hanging outside the doorway tells nurses that the family in this one room of the maternity ward at Inova Alexandria Hospital is different. It puts them on notice not to tiptoe around the curtain smiling, ready to coo at a sleeping baby and congratulate the new parents. That's because this couple is not experiencing the happiest day of their lives, but possibly the saddest: Their daughter, several months premature, was stillborn, one of the 25,000 stillborn each year in the United States.
Julia MacInnis, a 40-year-old Alexandria-based photographer, has walked into 18 such hospital rooms during the past year. She is one of 5,500 volunteers for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization that offers to send, at no charge, photographers to capture images of babies who have died or who are unlikely to live more than a few hours or days.
Late one Sunday night several weeks ago, in the dimly lit room at Inova Alexandria, MacInnis offered her condolences to the parents of the stillborn baby girl. The mother was resting in bed, while her husband, dressed in jeans and a green T-shirt, sat on a couch near the couple's birth assistant. Their daughter, her head no bigger than a fist and her mouth slightly open, lay swaddled in a blanket next to her mother.
MacInnis prompted the mother to wrap the baby's fingers around her pinky, and with a click the moment was captured. When a nurse came in to hug the parents goodbye, there was another click -- that moment captured, too.
She is also trying to recruit more photographers; only once did she have to turn away a family because no one was available to go to the hospital, and she wants Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to be able to cover all requests in the area. Volunteers are required to be professional (though not necessarily full-time) photographers and need to be available to go to hospitals with little notice. MacInnis tries to prepare them for the grief that they will witness, but that's not always easy to do.
Les Henig of Garrett Park, the father of four grown children and five foster children, has done five photo sessions. "I see a lot of emotion [in fathers]," said Henig, 60. "In every case, [I see] as much emotion from fathers as mothers."