Volunteer photographers document newborn babies' brief time on earth

Courtesy WESH News

ORLANDO, Fla. — There isn't a parent out there that doesn't have a zillion pictures of their newborn baby, marking their progress from the moment they're born.

Kevin and Lindsey Dennis found out at 20 weeks pregnant that their baby would not live the long, joyful life they planned.

Sophia Kyla Dennis developed a brain disorder in utero that would be a fatal twist of fate. She was born at 6 pounds and 14 ounces. And Sophie, as mom and dad called her, stunned even her doctors because she took a breath and kept on breathing.

She even cried when they were sure only silence would mark her time on earth.

"To get to hold her and celebrate her with family and friends, and we got to have such special moments with her there. The 10 best hours of my life," said Lindsey Dennis.

The Dennis family was able to remember those precious hours at the hospital through professional photography and video from the nationwide non-profit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

"As a more intense grieving began for us, having photos of Sophie when she was alive and well just meant the world to us," said Kevin Dennis.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a network of volunteer photographers honored to record an infant life's fleeting moments at no cost to families. A half dozen of them are in the greater Orlando area.

"I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world to have some photographic skills and some people skills, and I feel like it was what I was meant to do," said Scott Taylor.

Taylor and his colleagues are often brought in by parents like Kevin and Lindsey who know in advance their baby won't thrive, but sometimes the baby is stillborn, or lives for a whisper in time.

The photographers, in beautiful black and white, remember those sweet little ones were someone, belonged to someone and were part of a family.

Taylor shared a part of a letter from grateful parents.

"You gave me back a gift of life through my son's pictures. Thank you and God bless you for the wonderful job you do," it said.

Lindsey and Kevin had a nursery set up for Sophie just in case. She isn't there, but she can be seen in stunning photographs that light the house.

"Those are our memories with her, and to have them in photos is, I mean, speechless," said Lindsey Dennis.

"She's our daughter. She's our firstborn daughter. She will always be our firstborn daughter," said Kevin Dennis.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep has a website that can help families connect with volunteers and they're always looking for more skilled portraiture artists.

Read on WESH News


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