Thursday, April 17, 2014

Retouched Photos for Babyloss Parents

Something that has been very difficult for me in the years since losing Lily is the fact that I do not have any high-quality photos from my pregnancy or of Lily. I only found out about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (a non-profit organization that takes free professional photographs of precious babies who have been stillborn or are expected to die) after it was too late. To this day, I do not know why the hospital staff didn't inform me about NILMDTS so that I could have had that choice. I live in the capital city of North Carolina and have seen on the NILMDTS website that there are many volunteer photographers in this area. Those are precious, sacred moments that I will never get back.

I have been angry with myself for not getting more and better maternity photos. My sister kept wanting to take photos of me towards the end of my pregnancy, but we didn't get around to it. I was planning on getting professional photos of Lily after she was born... I never could have imagined that maternity photos and hospital photos would be all I'd ever have to remember my first-born baby.

Instead of dwelling on the photos I could have had, I am thankful for the photos I do have. Because I know they are a gift and a treasure. I know that in the "old days," mothers weren't even allowed to hold their stillborn baby, let alone capture forever photos. Even now, some parents don't think about the fact that photos are one of the only tangible keepsakes they will have left of their precious child. So I am truly, truly thankful for what I have.

Anyways, I know I am not the only person who regrets and wishes for more. Instead of sulking about it forever, I had another idea. How about making the photos I do have look the best they can look?

I looked up the volunteer NILMDTS photographers in Raleigh and reached out to a couple, telling them a little of my story, how I wished I had known about NILMDTS, and how I wondered if they could possibly help me by retouching the photos I do have to make them as beautiful as possible. Both photographers I reached out to were so kind and helpful and said they would be honored to help. I sent them the photos I wanted edited (there were quite a few) and they sent them back to me when they were finished. One of them even sent me a disc in the mail with all my edited photos, which was very special.

For those reading who also wish they had known about NILMDTS, who wish they had taken more and better quality photos throughout their pregnancy and when their baby was born, I hope you will consider looking into getting your photos retouched. I have included the places I have found that offer this photo retouching service to babyloss parents at the bottom of this blog post. Some places charge, some are free, and some ask for donations if you are able to give. I have included places that I know will be sensitive and caring. I am sure there are many places that offer photo retouching, but it is of a very delicate nature to trust someone with photos of your stillborn baby, knowing they will treat you and your child with the honor, respect, and dignity you deserve.

I have included a couple of my before and after photos below that were retouched to show you what a big difference it can make. I am beyond pleased with how they turned out. I could never thank these photographers enough for this priceless gift they have given me. They have given me much more peace about not having more and better quality photos. It doesn't replace not having the professional pictures, but it does ease the sting a bit.

I look at my photos now and see them as being so beautiful. I want you to feel the same about your photos. I know that photos are one of the few things you can share of your precious child with friends and family, so I want you to feel comfortable in sharing them.

Photo Retouching:
Please let me know if you know of any other person or organization who offers this photo retouching service to babyloss parents. Feel free to share this with others.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Together Again

My favorite band from when I was 18-20ish is called Copeland. I was really into their music from 2008-2010 (so during my pregnancy). The band broke up and had a Farewell Tour in 2010. My mom, sister, and I went to their concert on March 3rd of that year, when I was nine months pregnant! I was definitely the only pregnant girl there haha. It was really neat that we got to meet the band too. I was sad when they broke up.

Here are some pictures from that concert:

my mom, sister, and I ready for the concert

meeting the band

I just found out last night that they are getting back together to make another album! They haven't made new music in years. I remember when their last album "You Are My Sunshine" came out in the fall of 2008 and I went to buy it at Best Buy. That was just a few months before I got pregnant with Lily. Anything to do with that season of my life takes me right back. So many bittersweet memories. Copeland will now always remind me of that time, my pregnancy, and Lily. I went to their concert less than two weeks before Lily was born.

I am looking forward to their new album coming out this October. I still enjoy their music, but it sort of makes me sad now thinking of her. I can't explain why my mind thinks the way it does or why certain things make me feel as they do. I am thankful for the memories with her that I have and the things that make me think of her.

Click HERE to watch the video about Copeland's new album coming out (along with a new song!) And click HERE to listen to a bunch of Copeland tunes on YouTube.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lily's Handprint Charm

In 2011, I got a custom engraved footprint heart pendant from My Forever Child. I absolutely love it! Since then, I have wanted to get a handprint charm as well. I have so many things with Lily's footprints and wanted to do something with her handprints.

I decided to get another custom engraved piece from My Forever Child. I randomly decided to sign up for the My Forever Child email updates a couple months ago. Literally like a day or two later, I got an email about a sale going on - 20% off all the custom hand and footprint jewelry! It was only going on for one weekend and I knew I wanted to take advantage of it since I have been wanting a new piece for a while and didn't know when/if a sale would happen again. I am thankful I went ahead and ordered my piece then because Sue said that's the only time the custom pieces have been reduced so much!

Anyways, the entire process is quite easy. You decide what piece of jewelry you want, what you want written on the back, etc. You fill everything in and then pay for your order. Then you either send a copy of your child's prints via email or snail mail so that Sue can create your custom piece. I sent mine through the mail. Sue then touches up the print to make it the best it can be for engraving and gets your approval to create your piece.

I got mine a few weeks ago and have been wearing it nearly every day since.

I was honored when Sue asked if she could share Lily's custom engraved handprint charm on her website and social media pages, along with a customer testimonial. This is what I wrote:

Sue, I am amazed over how perfectly you captured the finest details of my daughter Lily Katherine's delicate handprint. I wear this remembrance charm close to my heart as a way to carry my sweet girl with me. It brings me great comfort. Both your custom handprint charm and your equally exquisite custom footprint pendant, that I ordered three years ago, are among my most cherished keepsakes. Thank you for offering such beautifully engraved pieces of fine art, that never fail to elicit compliments from others wherever I go.

I highly recommend checking out My Forever Child for anyone who is interested in a custom handprint or footprint piece of jewelry. Sue also offers lots of other lovely pieces of jewelry, all for an affordable price.

Sue edited the photos of my charm for me to have. You can tell from the photo comparison how the charm looks just like her actual handprint!

I simply wanted "Lily" written on the back. :)

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Asleep to This World

Some family friends named the Kirchmans gave me a bleeding heart plant at Lily's celebration of life/memorial service over four years ago in March 2010. I remember when they first gave it to me thinking that the little pink hearts were a powerful reflection of my bleeding mother heart. My heart that bleeds both love and sorrow. And how perfect that hearts remind me of her and my Valentine's baby shower.

We planted the bleeding heart in Lily's memorial garden and each spring around her birthday, it blooms. It is something I look forward to in the spring... the time of year when she came, but never came home.

Several days ago, I realized with a heavy heart that I had not yet seen the bleeding heart blooming this year in the spot where it was planted. I mentioned it to my mom and we both wondered if it would come back.

Then yesterday, my mom told me excitedly that I had to come see something in Lily's garden... the bleeding heart is indeed coming back! For the fifth spring season! It is just starting to bloom, but it sure made me smile to know it's still alive.

It is a connection to March 2010. A connection to Lily. It feels like the Lord is gently whispering to me through this little plant that He has not forgotten. This bleeding heart is a reminder that though things may sleep through the winter, they come back in the spring! The spring is such a glorious time of hope and resurrection. The beautiful weather has lifted my spirits more than I can say.

I am so thankful the Lord brought this little plant back to life. And even though it appeared it was gone forever, it was just sleeping. Lily might appear to be gone forever, but she is just asleep to this world... but forever alive in Jesus.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

My Future Wedding Day

It just breaks my heart to think of Lily not being a part of my future hoped-for wedding day. She should be "marrying" my future husband with me. He should be taking me and her together, as a packaged-deal.

But, even though Lily is not here, my future-husband, whoever and wherever he may be, will love her before he wins me.

I sometimes think about ways I would like to include Lily on my wedding day to make her absence a little less painful. Most of these ideas I will keep close to my heart until that time comes. One thing I would like to do is include Lily in the wedding day photos in some unique ways.

I saw this photo on Facebook a while back that is incredibly sweet. It's of a young woman on her wedding day visiting her father at the cemetery. He had recently passed away and wasn't able to be at his daughter's wedding. Isn't it so moving?

I dream of getting married in Virginia and want to get photos of me in my wedding dress at Lily's special spot. I want a photo of me kneeling by her beautiful stone. I want her a part of the day in the only ways she can be.

My entire life will be filled with such bittersweet moments where Lily's absence is pronounced. Missing her will never end... nor would I want it to.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Little Rose with a Lily

I recently found this photo of me as a little girl with a beautiful lily. It brought a big smile to my face as I thought of how sweet little pure Hannah Rose would one day have a little girl herself named Lily, a symbol and reflection of restoration, redemption, and purity in Jesus Christ. I never knew how special and symbolic lilies would become to me one day because of my little Lily. I never knew that I'd carry the gift of her life and the beauty of her story with me forever and always. I can almost picture the Lord smiling on this day as He thought of the little baby girl He would send to save her mommy.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

"little" HR and "big" HR with lilies :)
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yet Another March Gone By

It's already April?! Can you believe how fast this year is passing by?

Now that March is over, I am having mixed feelings. On one hand, I am ready for it to be over because March is such a tough month for me. This morning when I mentioned to my mom that March was over, she said I should be glad because she knows it's hard for me.

That's true, but I am also sad for March to end because it is such a special month, a sacred month, her month.

I can hardly believe the next time March comes, Lily would be turning 5. For some reason, 5 seems so old! It's a milestone birthday. My mom and I were talking about her turning 5 next year and how we cannot believe that. She said something along the lines of "I can't take it, but I know I have to." How often I feel that way too. Feeling like I simply can't take losing her, yet knowing I have to because I have no other choice.

I suppose milestone birthdays will always sting a little extra, whether she be turning 1, 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 30, or 40.

I am ready for the year to march on and eager to see what the Lord has in store. The Lord has been giving me such peace, joy, and hope! He is so good!

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