Our second daughter, Matilda Ervin Kalt (“Tilly”) was stillborn at 38 weeks on November 6, 2019. She was 6lbs 11oz and over 20″ long and she looked a lot like her big sister, Lula.
Two days earlier, I noticed a lack of movement from our baby. My husband and I went into the hospital to make sure everything was all right. Our hearts shattered when we learned that she had died, her little heart had stopped beating inside me. We had no idea why. We were scared, overwhelmed, and devastated. We went home to absorb the news, do some planning and have one last night together in our home as a family. I returned to the hospital to be induced the next morning.
Somehow we were referred to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. We contacted our local coordinator, Kayleen, on our way to the induction. She was immediately responsive and informed us she would personally be there upon Matilda’s arrival to take photos at no cost to us. She also offered to bring special keepsake items such as a handmade blanket and ceramic molds so that we could take pressings of our daughter’s handprints. She mentioned that she treasured the ones she has from her son.
I remember clarity cutting through my grief-stricken mind at these words – she treasured these keepsakes from her son… she lost a child too…she walked this path. Any reservations I had about enlisting her services melted away. This felt right.
My labor was long, nearly 36 hours. My husband updated Kayleen when the time was near and she waited in the hospital parking lot until we invited her up, respectfully allowing us as much private family time as we needed.
Kayleen was the only visitor we invited to meet our baby girl. She told us how beautiful Matilda was, helped us position her gently, and spoke sweet words to her. It was such a comfort to feel such compassion and empathy from someone who has been in our shoes. We trusted her to capture these precious moments with our baby girl, the only ones we would ever have.
As Kayleen photographed us, I asked her if she would share more of her story with her son and how she got involved with NILMDTS. Four years earlier she learned that one of her twin boys died in utero at nearly full-term. She tried to find a photographer to help her with commemorative photographs but nobody returned her calls. She delivered both boys via c-section and then had to take photos herself as best she could. Within months she began offering her time and talents to other families through NILMDTS. Hearing her words while I was in the depths of my own grief gave me hope that I, too, might be able to survive my pain and one day feel strong enough to help others.
Our family treasures the photographs of our sweet baby Tilly. They help me remember our time with her as beautiful and they enable me to share her with others. My heart swells when our older daughter recognizes photos of her baby sister.
I don’t fear forgetting the details of my baby’s face or her tiny hands and feet as time passes. I look at the photos that Kayleen and NILMDTS provided us and Matilda is right here, every perfect detail, always.