*trigger warning*long post, worth the read!*
It’s true that behind every smile is a story. From the moment Jess contacted me, my heart was breaking for her and her family. She was about to give birth at 25 weeks, knowing that she will only have a few short days with her baby physically in her arms.
Jess contacted me as I had photographed her timeline & newborn session of her son Blayze almost 4 years ago. Jess wanted me to capture her beautiful bump while little Tylan was still kicking around inside. This was of course possible! Within a day we had organised a maternity session. Jess was so strong and brave through her session, even though I’m sure she was crying inside. On the outside she held everything together and just soaked up the experience. My heart broke! With every shutter click, I felt my own heart race and felt overcome with sadness for Jess and her family. I knew I had to hold everything together, it was not my grief! They were not my tears to cry.
...What Jess didn’t know was that I am a volunteer photographer for an amazing organisation, Heartfelt, who have a beautiful team of photographers Australia & New Zealand wide who volunteer their time and talent to gift beautiful photographs of stillborn babies and terminally ill babies and children.
I am proud to be part of a very small Gippsland team who service Traralgon and Warragul Hospitals whenever there is a need. Luckily, these sessions are not a regular occurrence in our area, but for our Melbourne volunteers it’s a weekly, sometimes daily occurrence.
Certainly one of the hardest things I have ever done, but truly the most rewarding and soul satisfying thing about my job. A lot of people ask how I could do it... let me tell you it’s never easy and each situation and family is different. At the end of the day I know it’s not my grief, and whatever sadness I might be feeling is nothing compared to the family. I have an amazing faith family who cover me in love and prayer during each session which I know helps with being able to deliver the best images for each family. Being there for a family in their darkest days and being able to gift them precious memories of their little baby is just so heartwarming and satisfying to the soul. In the middle of devastation and grief, there are some very special moments and I am truly blessed to be able to give these parents and families these memories.
Within a few weeks, the parents receive a beautiful little package of printed images and a USB, absolutely free of charge. (Through the generosity of our volunteers and suppliers, the cost of each session including a beautiful keepsake is $65)
If you would like to donate to Heartfelt and help cover the costs of these sessions both in Gippsland and the rest of Australia and New Zealand, you can find out more info here;
*story & images shared with permission*