Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep helps families grieve over death of baby

Published: May. 11, 2011 at 3:52 AM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2011 at 6:14 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) –  Doctors used to tell parents to avoid bonding with their babies if they weren't going to survive, but now there's a different thought.  A group called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep says it's helping parents remember their baby as they should-- as a member of their family.

The Foster family spent months preparing their toddler son Matthew for the arrival of his little brother, Jacob.

"We were worried about bringing a new baby and him not having enough time after that happened," said Brian Foster.

So Brian and Heather Foster spent most of their time getting Matthew to understand he had a brother coming.  He was very excited.

The night before Heather was supposed to be induced; Matthew pulled up her shirt and said, "I'll see you tomorrow, Jake."

But, tomorrow was a day the family couldn't wait to put in the past.

"There was no heartbeat," said Heather.  "And that was all there was to it."

Jacob's cord got wrapped around his neck.  Heather was already in labor when doctors told her that there was no heartbeat.

"I can't even explain what goes through you," said Brian.

"Within 12 hours we went from expecting to go in and get a baby to arranging a funeral," said Heather.

Brian said it was even more difficult because Jacob looked just like Matthew.  "He was beautiful," he said.  "It was very tough."

"Brian and Heather, they felt this baby kick," said volunteer photographer, Bill Garmon.  "They laughed when he had the hiccups, and a day before he was to be delivered, everything was fine.  I can only imagine the shock.  Tragic.  Just absolutely tragic story."

The Fosters allowed Garmon to capture their story. It's something Bill and a team of volunteers do across the country.  Volunteer photographers with the group Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep have taken thousands of pictures for grieving families.

"I would recommend every parent do it," said Brian.  "It's hard to say it's positive but in reality, that's what it is when we see the pictures because we do get to see our little Jacob.  And without him, it's just the memory."

"We had a baby," said Heather.  "He was beautiful and the pictures prove that."

Jacob was here.  It may not have been for long, but his life was no less important.

"It's been really helpful," said Brian.  "I don't think we'll ever get over it."

These photographers are all volunteers, and the service is free.

The local group says it also needs more volunteers.  They don't have enough right now to provide the service for families, and many families have been turned down at the hospital.