One summer day six years ago my mom called me, crying.
She told me that friends of ours from church had gone to the hospital that morning to have their baby. When they arrived, they found out that their baby had no heartbeat.
I had told them several weeks earlier that I would love to do a newborn photography session for them. Instead I went to the hospital with my camera. I took pictures but felt like I was in a dream. This couldn’t be real. This couldn’t be happening, not to such a sweet couple.
I felt stunned the rest of the day. When my husband came home from work, I hugged him and just wept. At the funeral a few days later, I couldn’t stop crying. Seeing my friends suffer such a loss broke my heart.
Four years later, my cousin and her husband lost their third child. She went into labor naturally but had complications that resulted in their baby going to be with Jesus.
My cousin and I are like sisters. We have grown up together and experienced all of life’s milestones side by side. Seeing my best friend lose a child and almost lose her own life was devastating. I took pictures of her sweet baby that night. I was part observer, part participant in her grief. Several days later I stood with my grandfather in the cemetery, heartbroken as he told me that he never thought he would see his great-grandchild buried there.
Sixteen years ago my parents told me my aunt and uncle had lost their baby. It was the first time in my 10-year-old existence that I went to a funeral for someone who wasn’t elderly. I remember how tiny my baby cousin’s coffin looked.
I enter a stranger’s delivery room with my camera bag and try not to break down as I see the sadness in their eyes. I’m there to take pictures of their baby, the only pictures they will have of their child.
I have never lost a child. I have not, to my knowledge, had a miscarriage. But I have watched family and friends grieve for their babies. I enter in to the grief of every family I serve through Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Part observer, part participant. On the outside looking in. I never know what to say or how to help them. I pray and I cry and I love.
These experiences have shaped me. These babies and their families have changed me. I have seen how fragile life can be, how precious each baby is, how peace and hope can be present in the midst of sorrow, and how God comforts those who trust in Him.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18