NILMDTS board member, Sam Rodriquez became engaged with NILMDTS in 2008 after the passing of his and his wife Stacey’s first child, Manuel Michael Rodriquez “Manny”. Sam and Stacey did not receive photographs of Manny through NILMDTS and he says, “…it is one of the big regrets. Every day I wish I had the quality photos of Manny that others have of their children. With Stacey not being awake for most of his wonderful life…having those memories professionally captured would have been very helpful in the healing process…”
Manuel Michael Rodriguez was born into this world on August 7, 2008, and went on to be with the Lord a few hours later. He was born with some undetermined medical challenges that claimed his life and sent him home.
We found out we were going to be parents in February, and we were very excited. The first few doctors’ appointments went well, nothing was out of the ordinary. We had fun telling our family about the upcoming arrival and looking forward to the ultrasound when we would find out if we would be having a boy or a girl.
The beginning of the ultrasound was great as daddy found out that he would be blessed with his “much anticipated first boy.” However, not long after, things began to take a nervous tone when the doctors became concerned at some potential irregularities. These irregularities became complications that led to months of frequent and regular ultrasounds at Akron Children’s Hospital in the months leading up to his birth. We had many long visits to doctors telling us all of the things that were wrong with Manny, but we also made plans of what we would do to “fix” those things after he was born. No, it did not sound easy, but it was worth doing whatever we could for our child.
A sudden turn of events at 30 weeks led to an emergency C-section where Manny was brought into the world, a small, handsome, wonderful little man. However, the joy of his arrival would not last for long. Due to Manny’s many health issues, it became apparent that our only option was to hold, love and hug our wonderful little guy until he would go home to rest.
Daddy was the champion of the day as all of the responsibility fell on him to make decisions, plans, etc. for Manny since Mommy was still under anesthesia due to the emergency C-section. Not only did he officially become Manny’s father that day, he became his hero as he poured ALL of himself into the life of his precious, 4 pound little boy so that his short life would be the best he could be given. Without a doubt, Manny knew he was loved as he lived his whole life surrounded by, not only his parents, but also many other family members who held him, hugged and kissed him, and told him how much they loved him.
In the final moments before he breathed his last breath, when daddy and mommy said, “I love you”, Manny opened his eyes, breathed a deep breath, and shortly after, left us, but joined his Heavenly Father. He only knew love on Earth and is now in a more perfect love in Heaven.
Our memories of Manny are beautiful, but unfortunately, they are fading. With very few pictures, and none of them high quality pictures, we do not have many tangible memories to keep his memory as alive and present as we would like it to be. We were offered photos from “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”, but at the time, we were not able to process things clearly and it didn’t sound like something we wanted to participate in. We were not going to have much time with our little guy, so we did not want to share that with a complete stranger. Now that we have become more familiar with NILMDTS and have met many of their amazing, caring photographers, our perspective of this has completely changed.
Having professional photos of our beautiful boy would have meant so much to us and I believe it would have helped us in our healing process.
Not only does it give you something to physically hold on to as a memory of your child, but it also gives you something to share with others.
Parents are always sharing newborn pictures, which then moves on to school and sports pictures and eventually to senior pictures and on and on. That is something we are missing with Manny-if you have seen one picture, you have pretty much seen them all, so there is a definite end to the photos and that is hard to take.
Another thing that I think the photographs would have given us that people may not take into account is the priceless interaction with the photographer. For many families, it can seem that their baby may not be as important to others or cared about as much because it is not the happy, healthy baby coming home for everyone to visit and “ooh” and “ahh” over. It can be hurtful to feel like your baby-who is your whole life-is not important enough for others to acknowledge.
The NILMDTS photographer is proof that this is not true. They take time out of their own busy lives to travel to the hospital to take pictures of YOUR baby. They are not coming to you to gain anything for themselves, but to photograph what is most important to you-your child. They believe that your child is important and worth investing their time in or they would not volunteer for this organization.
It is deeply unfortunate that any family would have to use the services of NILMDTS, but it is wonderful to know that they are there when they are needed.