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It’s one am. I spent the entire drive home rehearsing in my mind what I wanted to say in this post, how I could touch you. I’m no closer to an answer as my fingers begin to type then I was when I backed out of my parking space at St. Judes.

Today was one of those days. It had been rough, I felt overwhelmed and under qualified for every “job” I’m trying to do. Lately (and lately has lasted a long long time) I’ve had this constant angst that I’m loosing to time in this invisible battle. There is always just so much to do and I constantly find myself trying to figure out a way to schedule in laundry, editing, groceries and that webinar that I’ve been wanting to hear and I don’t even know where to find an extra moment in my day to do it.

I had 2 of the 3 kids asleep, it was almost 10pm and I was settling in to one of my long nights.  I was planning to plant myself at my desk till the early hours of the morning and try to barrel through the workload that sits before me… But the phone rang. It was Will, he was calling because a baby unexpectedly arrived very early (born at 22 weeks) and would not be coming home from the hospital. NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) needed someone to come in and photograph this little one so that her parents would have a keepsake of her brief time before she went back to heaven.

There I sat knowing what he was about to ask. I still hadn’t had my training, I hadn’t had time to read over all the information, one battery was dead, my other almost. I felt terrified that I wouldn’t do a good enough job. But this was my third call in the last month from NILMDTS coordinators. The first time I’d waited for a call back but thankfully it was never made. The second time I’d been out of town, and later found out that they worked down the entire list of Portland photographers with no avail.  And so with the hospital’s P&S camera in hand, the nurse did her best to tell the story of a life. Tonight, even if I had to go alone, training or not, I would be there. Thankfully Emma (Will’s fantastic wife) of The Reversed Lens offered to go with me and let me shadow with her.

I spent the entire 30 minute drive praying… Thanking God for all that I have, for how blessed I am while also asking for peace and guidance and the ability to recognize the needs of this couple. The experience was very bitter-sweet, Emma did all the shooting and I acted as her assistant and watched how she photographed, interacted and conducted the session.

As I held this tiny baby girl in my arms, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be tonight. And I felt a deep gratitude in every fiber of my being that I have the opportunity to serve in such a profound way. While we stood in that sterile hospital room, we found out that this was the second time that this couple had needed and used the services of NILMDTS. Twice they have felt the joy of pregnancy, the anticipation of an ultrasound, the joy of a heartbeat and now once again they have to endure the heartbreak, the devastation and the sorrow of knowing that when they leave the hospital their baby will not come home with them.

NIMDTS needs photographers. They need us to serve and give to these moms and dads who have just lost so dearly. And you know what? We need them too. We need the reminder of just how precious the work that we do is. This is it. We are story teller’s, you tell me if you lost a loved one tomorrow what would their pictures mean to you. This is the only physical evidence that they will have of their babies life here. And that life is precious, it is important… And it deserves to be told.

I know that there are many of you who want to sign up but the fear that you’re not good enough is holding you back. Let me ask you… Are you a better photographer then the nurse with the hospital camera? If you are, then I promise you, you’re good enough!

Read the stories of parents who have been blessed through the efforts of NIMDTS and its photographers, look at the pictures. They are not technically perfect and most of the time because of bad hospital lighting are Black & White but those images for those parents are now a priceless family treasure. They are all that that mother and father have to prove that this little life was lived.

You can also feel great assurance in knowing that you can shadow as many times as you need to before you feel ready to go out on your own.

I know others of you have expressed concerns about composure. Tonight I cried, I couldn’t help it. I was watching a mother say goodbye to her daughter. I would venture to say that I will never photograph one of these babies without crying. I am a crier, I know that about me. I cry in commercials and Disneymovies and lame reality TV shows, of course I will cry. And you know what it’s okay of I’m crying with mom, the only thing it will say to her is, ‘I care’.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep needs volunteers. No mother, who is carrying the grief and pain of loosing her child should ever have to hear ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have anyone available’ in her hour of need. I hope you will seriously consider signing up, even if it takes you a year before you’re ready to go out on your own. These babies and their parents need us. How incredibly blessed we are to have the opportunity to offer healing for their hearts through the talents Heavenly Father has given us.

** If you have ANY questions, just ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer back in the comments.



  1. Mary Boyd says:

    Thank you. You and every photographer who volunteers for this charity will be blessed. It takes a strong person to do what you did, but the emotions that you felt were no where close to the emotions felt by the family you served. It seems a small sacrifice, to bless a family with a timeless memory celebrating the short time that they shared. That is charity… that is true love.

  2. wendy says:

    I am just starting out on the journey that is photography. I have some experience and few qualifications but I have a passion for capturing priceless moments. My question is, what is required to get involved in this?

    • Leah Remillet says:

      There is a follow up guest blog post from nilmdts that you might want to read. Just use the website’s search field and search NILMDTS and you’ll be able to find it. I recently heard that the registration is more rigorous then it was back when I started.

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