Warning to readers with baby loss sensitivity- This post contains sensitive material containing NICU babies, with photography and discussion on infant loss. If you know a family or loved one, or a patient who would benefit from this service, please read on to contact Gavrielle.
I remember when I ordered our Christmas Cards from 2014. It’s not the ones I had in mind. I was hoping for a fresh baby with a silly Santa suit or beard, or Christmas lights wrapped around him. Or even him coming out of an unwrapped box- he was a gift after all. Instead it’s a photoshopped pair of his feet. Not only were his feet not dipped in Christmas colored paint as the digital alter implies, but we only have his right foot. The nurse who cleaned him and wrote his death certificate gave us only one foot. I wasn’t there to ask for a clip of his hair, an outline of his hand, or even ask to hold him. I was struggling with him for the past 25 hours, I didn’t know what to ask for.
When I think of the day he was born, I wish they would have given me options, that I was more focused, or had at least one minute of clarity, asked for privacy, or that I simply could have held him for a long time. I constantly think about him, he is everywhere I go, everything I listen to , he’s in all the beautiful "instagramable" sights I see, he’s in the fragrance of everywhere I step. He's in Miko, he's in his dad, he's even in me when I catch myself in store front windows. I think of his face, his lashes, his lips and his cheeks. This is all I was given and I will take it all in as much as I can.
I wish I had met Gavrielle earlier. I wish someone would have offered me the service Gavrielle offers to families. She's a photographer offering her resources for families that need that moment to remember. I'd like to say she has a soft heart but no, it's the opposite.
To walk in and endure the pain of a family from a sick child, to endure the possibility that a family may come out one family member less doesn't take a soft heart. It's the opposite, but yet her softness comes out in her photos. She's inspired by the loss of her mother, a small doll she was given as a child and the meaning it brought her through her grief. This is her version of that doll- to give something back to families. Questioning and denying what she had to do and experiencing panic attacks from the "what if's" swimming in her head, she fought against herself to do what was right. This is an uncomfortable setting and she does it with grace and servitude to the families. It may be rewarding to her at the end of the day, but it's more than that. When the family looks at a photo of "that one time" and the anguish they experienced, the uncertainty, it's a quiet and powerful thank you at each glance.
In her own words- "I feel like that was exactly what I needed to do to prepare for the situations I encountered/may encounter in the future. I now know that I have to give myself time to heal also - I felt selfish for that for a long time because it seemed so awful that I would even take my own feelings into consideration after what these families were going through, but it really weighs heavy on your heart. Their situations aren’t fair, and I don’t want to get used to that feeling. However, the good stories far outweigh the bad stories, and I don’t want anyone reading this to give up hope. Hope is so important. These babies, and their parents who love them so fiercely, give me hope. I get such an overwhelming feeling of happiness when I see their updates posted about them reaching hospital milestones, or better yet, them going home. They all have such a special place in my heart."