Parents Have A Photo Shoot With Their Beautiful Stillborn Daughter And It Will Break Your Heart
Of all of the types of loss a person might deal with in the course of their lifetime, the most unfair and gut-wrenching might just be the death of a child. I can not possibly imagine what that kind of grief feels like, but I am acutely aware that there are people in the world that deal with this unfathomable heartbreak every day.
One couple in California is mourning the loss of a beautiful baby girl – Monroe Faith Staley – even as they are commemorate her life in a beautiful tribute. According to Q13 Fox News, Emily Staley rushed to the hospital Friday morning when she realized that her normally active baby girl had stopped kicking or moving in utero. When she got there, she learned that her much-loved, much-anticipated baby was dead, and that she had to make a choice; deliver the baby vaginally or via C-section. She chose the cesarean, and the heartbreaking moments afterward were captured by photographer Lindsey Natzic-Villatoro of Love Song Events and Photography. I can’t stop looking at the bittersweet images.
Natzic-Villatoro was contacted by one of Emily’s friends, and while I don’t cry easily, what follows is one of the most heart stomping things I’ve ever read, described by the photographer on her Facebook page:
I met the family at 6:30am Saturday morning. I am a professional but human. Set aside my everyday photography, I photograph about 15 to 20 terminal sessions a month that range from every tragedy under the sun BUT that NEVER makes these easy. Every session I do affects me differently.
I walked into a cold hospital room, room 230- full of tears and family, everyone was in disbelief. I grabbed mom’s hand and I told her this was quite literally the worst thing that could ever happen to a mother but together we were going to get through this. I smiled at their nurse sweet Ronda, looked at dad and told him I was here to help them both. I also told them that there way NO right way to handle this. If they wanted to freak out on me, throw something, cry, yell…whatever, it was absolutely OK.
This bit on its own is tragic and heartbreaking, but the description of the photo shoot is what really made me need to step away from the computer for a little while:
At 7:52am I looked at that clock and sweet baby Monroe Faith Staley was born. I was the first to see her.
My eyes quickly filled with tears as I pulled my mask down, looked over to mom and dad and said, “SHE IS PERFECT.” Together we all cried. I stood next to the baby and watched the nurses give Monroe her first sponge bath, I touched her hands, put the hat I brought her on and took a few pictures. The nurse Miguel which we all adore then handed mom her baby girl as the doctor finished her surgery. It was a dream, this family was living a total nightmare. I can’t even begin to describe the pain I knew Mom and Dad were feeling at that moment.
As mom pleaded for her baby to wake up, her sweet husband brushed her hair with his hands crying with her. Cheek to cheek, clinging to their baby girl in disbelief; the two of them were pillars for each other. At 8:20am the four of us went across the hall to Mom’s room and for almost 9 hours Monroe never left their sight. I was able to capture moments that this family will forever have.
There is much more to the story, and you can read the entire thing on the Facebook page, but what else do you really need to know? The photos that Natzic-Villatoro took are absolutely breathtaking, and I have to say that I have rarely seen stillbirth captured in such a humanizing way. While a child’s death is something that you never “get over”, I hope that one day in the future, when the wounds are less fresh, the Staleys can look at these photographs of their daughter and smile instead of cry.
It made me think of all of the ways that I take my own child’s life for granted. On Saturday, I was pestering her to finish her breakfast right around the time that Staley was being prepped for surgery. By the time Monroe was born, I was already dreading the birthday party I had promised to go to. While Monroe’s first and last photographs were being taken, I was snapping at my child to tie her shoes, eat her sandwich, to not be so loud.
Today I’m just hugging her a lot.