Jennifer Smith’s Story

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My best friend and I were pregnant at the same time, due in October. Only she gave birth at the hospital in July, and didn’t leave until April the next year when he passed away at 9 months old. Meanwhile, another friend of our family was due in September and had her daughter, stillborn. Their grief, their timeline of survival, I was a bystander through it all. I was left in a very awkward position because my baby was healthy.

This past spring, I received a random email from a member of my camera club saying “Cheryl Haggard, the founder of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, will be in Cincinnati on Monday”. I had never heard of her, or the organization, but I was strongly compelled to do some research. So I took time to learn more and went to the in-person meeting a few days later. I picked up some literature and information, applied to be a volunteer photographer, and here I am.

After going to a handful of sessions, I’m happy I decided to walk this path with the other volunteers. It’s sometimes hard to stop my routine, especially with two small kids, and decide to take a session, but I do decide to have a few hours of stillness in my body and mind and to be present with the baby and family while I’m there. I think it’s important the parents know I’m honored to be a part of their child’s life, I’m grateful to have met them and photograph them. I will remember their child, and I was impacted by them.

I volunteer …
Because sometimes I think it’s not fair.
Because I understand the importance of remembering and acknowledging those feelings are there.

I can’t always help with words or cards,
But I can help with my gift of art
I can help with my eye for photography
So, I do.

~ Jennifer Smith, NILMDTS Volunteer Photographer