Father’s Day Collection
In honor of Father’s Day, we have created a collection of touching blog posts
written by Fathers in honor of their children.
The Story of Hazel
Hazel Rae – A Dad’s Stillbirth Story:
The beautiful memories of Manny
NILMDTS welcomes Sam Rodriquez to the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Board of Directors. Sam was engaged with NILMDTS in 2008 after the passing of his and his wife Stacey’s first child, Manuel Michael Rodriguez (“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 of 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.
Luca and Daniel
There are no words to describe the sacred moment in which a father holds his newborn son for the first time in his arms. In December of last year, on New Year’s Eve to be exact, I became a father of not just one, but two boys. My twin sons.
Luca and Daniel were born sleeping at 35 weeks, just ten days away from my wife’s scheduled c-section.
On Monday, December 30th, we went to see the OB for a regular appointment, the last one before their arrival. Something was wrong, there was no movement. She couldn’t find a heartbeat. We went straight to the hospital. I will never forget my wife’s face when we received the news that our boys were gone, and gone was the dream of having them with us – that was no longer our reality. From this moment, I felt like I needed to protect my family once the doctor explained the next steps, I knew that what would follow would become the hardest and most trying time in our lives.
I was present each minute as my wife was induced, began experiencing contractions, and prepared to labor and deliver the babies naturally. The room was filled with a mix of sadness, anxiety, and excitement as we prepared to meet our boys. Despite the pain and heartbreak we felt, we were happy and grateful that we would be able to see their faces and to hold and cuddle them, even if it was for such a short period. This would be our chance to hold them in this life.
Luca was born at 6:14 am and two minutes later his brother, Daniel entered this world. We were speechless at the beauty and perfection of their tiny bodies. We do not know why this has happened to us, why we would not be taking our kids home, and raising them. It is still so very difficult to process and to try to make sense of it all, however, we believe there is a plan and purpose for each of us here on earth, we also believe and know that they are watching over us from the other side.
We are so grateful for the love and support we received from our family. It is during this time that we were introduced to the NILMDTS Foundation, a volunteer photographer through the foundation. We never imagined we’d be able to find a photographer willing to drop everything to come take pictures of our babies – especially given the day that it was. Loraine was Perfect! She was so caring and so gentle. She delicately positioned the boys in such a loving and respectful way. She approached them with love and tenderness. Loraine took her time to make sure she captured those precious moments we would have with our boys. She even made them bracelets with their names.
As a father, I will never forget what she did for my family. Even though we just met, once she finished taking the pictures, she hugged us, cried with us, and wished us the best for the new year.
Loraine was so tender and empathetic towards us, we are so very grateful for the beautiful memories she captured. Thanks to her talent, we have the most beautiful and personalized photographs and slideshow of our precious boys.
Luca and Daniel made me a father. They will always be a part of me and my story. They were so pure and perfect, chosen spirits and angels to be earthside with me just long enough to physically hold them in my arms for a few hours.
I am so grateful for becoming a better man. I am grateful for my wife and for becoming a better husband. I am now eternally grateful for becoming a new man because this experience has changed me. I am now a father to my precious angel babies, Luca and Daniel.
I jumped out of a plane the other day. Not because I have a death wish and not because I’m an adrenaline junky. I did it because the day I held you for the first time in my arms I promised you that I would live the life that you did not. I jumped out of a plane because, to me, that’s living.
I try to be a good man for you. I try to take care of your mother as best I can for you. I try to live my life the best way possible so that I know when I see you again you will be proud that I lived in honor of you. I try to be positive and look at the bright side of things because I feel that is what you would want. I feel that you would want me to be happy; I feel that you would want your mother and I to live a happy life. So we jumped.
I feel that it sucks sometimes that I don’t know what to say or how to say it. I feel like dads like me, who have the constant ache of the indescribable pain of a bereaved parent, don’t get the same type of support that your mom gets. Maybe it’s because we don’t let it show, or maybe we are just supposed to be strong. Sometimes it’s just hard and I wish I could scream but I don’t. It’s not because I feel like anyone would think I’m weak, it’s because I can’t scream. Instead I channel my anger, fear, and frustration into video games, watching TV, and other things to distract myself.
I don’t know how to make you proud of me but I’m trying. I’m trying to find what brings the most joy into our lives after learning your heart stopped beating.
I jumped out of a plane the other day, and I’ll do something else another day that will prove I live for you. I’m going to live one great life, one that you will enjoy watching over. I’m trying to make you proud of whom you choose to be your father. So, whether it’s taking care of your mom, raising your future brothers and sisters, or jumping out of a plane.
I will live, I will jump and I will honor because I am so proud you are my son.
I love you then, now, and always,
This is my seventh attempt at writing this letter. The last 15 months or so have taught me many things, but one thing I have learned for sure is words are inadequate. There is no way I can put into words the way you make me feel, but once again I am going to try.
“Held for a moment, Loved for a lifetime”
Of anything that I have read or written those are the words that resonate with me the most, and your mom and I have used them in your memory often.
These words are so true because I was only able to spend a few precious moments with you, but I think about you every day. I remember the joy that I felt when the nurse handed you to your mom, and when you reached out and looked up at us. I don’t think I will ever feel the same level peace I felt as your mom and I held you that day.
I want you to know that I would do anything to have you in my arms right now. I would do anything for just one more memory with you. However, what I want you to understand is that we love you. That no matter how long it’s been since you were with us you still fill our hearts with the love and joy we felt that day.
I love you.
Donate today in honor of a courageous father!