A few years ago I joined the American Child Photographers Charity Guild (ACPCG) as I was moved to offer my services to families with children facing unthinkable circumstances. It has been 5 years or so and I have not received a call to donate a session for ACPCG. Part of me was thankful, as I felt I was secretly so nervous about how I would handle a child facing potential death, or one that had passed away. I have babies of my own, and as a mama I know my worst fear is losing one of my babies. I didn't want to see another parent hurting that way.
Two weeks ago one of my clients delivered her sweet baby boy, Benjamin. He was already known to have two heart conditions, and his parents had been working with the best doctors ever to have a game plan for Benjamin after he arrived. Sadly, once he was born it was realized his conditions were much worse than anticipated. I spent days praying for them and thinking about the struggles they were facing, the decisions they would have to make.
On Sunday evening I received a call from Megan. When I saw her name on my phone I knew what she needed. I took a deep breath. I didn't expect that my first ACPCG session would be for someone I knew.... my own client- someone I called a friend. Before I headed to the hospital I kept wishing that this wasn't on my agenda for the day. But I knew that it wasn't about me. My feelings and thoughts and worries and anxiety needed to be pushed aside so that I could do my job for Megan and Eric. I had a great conversation with a friend on my way to the hospital. She told me.... just pray. Ask God to use you. Pray for them with each image you take. And I did. I prayed that God would use me to tell Benjamins story. That He would use me to document these heartbreaking last moments. With each shutter click I prayed and imagined His arms around them as they loved on their sweet baby boy, as they cried for him. I have never felt so honored to do something for someone else. I got to stroke this sweet boys hair. Touch his button nose. I cried as he was held in his mamas arms. I watched him open his right eye for the first and only time. I captured the unremarkable bond between this family as they pulled together and prayed for Benjamin's arrival into the Lord's arms.
This was the hardest session I have ever had to do. But, I would do it again in a heartbeat. As a mama, I know the pricelessness of images and how much it would mean to me to have someone be there for me.
Megan has given me permission to share images, and I would like to share just a couple. If you are a photographer and feel a pull in your heart to offer services for families in need, I urge you to do so. If you know someone who is in need of a session for a child facing uncertainty, please check out the ACPCG for an affiliated photographer in your area.