If you’re anything like me, you just can’t get enough of babies! Their sweet chubby cheeks, bright little eyes, and perfect lips. . . You just wanna squeeze them! Well, I’m really excited to share some photos of one of the sweetest baby girls out there right now. But this is more than a post about a beautiful baby girl. It’s the story of a family’s journey. A story that I joined October 31st, 2010.
Back up a little bit. . . Sometime in September 2010 I started applying to be part of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a non-profit organization that helps families deal with infant loss through portraiture. The organization is made up of a network of volunteer photographers all around the country that respond to calls from families and hospitals dealing with the loss of an infant before/during birth and show up to do some of the only portraits these families will have with their little one. I had been thinking about joining for months but just hadn’t worked up the courage. I have a very tender heart. I didn’t think that I could deal with grieving families and tears and sadness. But as I read more about the NILMDTS mission : “To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy” and read stories from their photographers, I knew I should join.
I finally sent in my application and was accepted as a volunteer photographer. Honestly, I didn’t give it much thought after I was accepted until I received the phone call on October 31st. A local hospital – about an hour from my house – had a family in need of a NILMDTS photographer and couldn’t find anyone else willing to come out at such short notice. Jonathan and I were headed to a friend’s house so we quickly turned around, got my camera, printed directions to the hospital, and I left for Chapel Hill. I cried all the way to the hospital. Fast forward a little bit and I was in Kasey + Adam’s delivery room. There were parents and siblings and nurses and everyone seemed so happy to see me… We went through the process of photographing baby Annabelle with her family and I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful the room was. Adam and Kasey were so kind and sweet. Sad that their baby girl had passed, but happy that they got to hold her, and kiss her, and spend time with her. It was honestly one of the most beautiful and touching things I’ve ever witnessed.
A few weeks later, after I had sent the images and slideshow, I received the sweetest “thank you” note from Kasey and Adam. In fact, I still have it pinned on my board in my office. . .
“Alexa, I honestly can’t express to you how grateful I am for what you have done for my family. We have looked at the pictures and watched the slideshow over and over again, and cried and cried. It’s the kind of crying we need, though. We were so blessed to get to work with you – you were so kind to my family, especially Annabelle, and you captured the most beautiful memories. You have given us something that comes as close as possible to actually being there with Annabelle. . . From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
It is this family, and this thank you note, that has kept me volunteering for NILMDTS for the past year and a half. I’ve served over eleven families so far and not all of them have been so kind. Some sessions have been way harder. And I know every family deals with grief differently but Kasey and Adam and Annabelle gave me the encouragement to keep providing this gift to other families.
Kasey shared with me this past fall that they were expecting another baby girl in February and hoped I could do some family portraits once she arrived. Enter baby Adeline. She’s a lucky, lucky girl to be part of this amazing family!
We started the morning with some portraits of Adeline on her changing table. Turns out, it’s one of her favorite places! Isn’t she beautiful?
I love this photo on the left, where Adeline is looking at her daddy.
This one kills me. She’s so stinkin’ adorable!!
She was mesmerized by the camera. . . Lucky me! I love her beautiful blue eyes :)
We called this a “sandwich kiss” in my family. . .
You can see where Adeline gets her good looks… And I like how she’s waving at the camera in the second picture!
We tried to get Adeline to smile the whole time and she just wouldn’t do it! I didn’t even know I caught this little half-smile until I looked at the images on my computer.
She wasn’t too happy about this hat at first. . .
. . . but then she was too tired to protest for long.
Kasey is such a gorgeous mama!
Another half-smile for daddy. . . Kasey said it’s almost a running joke now that Adeline only smiles at her dad! Hopefully that’ll change soon ;)
This teddy bear is in the photos we took of Annabelle at the hospital. I love that Adeline will grow up knowing about her big sister and how important they both are to this entire family!
Adam and Kasey – I’m so thankful that I got to take part in your family’s story again. You are both amazing parents and a blessing to be around!