Monday, February 16, 2015

Her photos

On that dreadful Wednesday in November, when we packed for the hospital, we debated taking our  camera.  Do you take your camera to the hospital knowing your baby has already died?  Never contemplated that one before.  We grabbed it, figured we'd have it with us just in case.

Of course, I'm glad we did.  And we also had Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep take professional photos of Lydie.  We have a bunch, though I think we'll always wish we had more.  With baby loss, you always wish you had more.  More hugs, more kisses, more I love yous, more photos.  We'll never have enough.

When we first came home from the hospital with my saggy belly and empty arms, we looked at those photos everyday.  Multiple times a day.  Stared at them.  Memorized them.

And framed them to display all over the house. 

Fast-forward three months, and

I noticed this first in my office, where this photo is framed.

It's one of my favorites, because it wasn't posed...  just Justin and I each holding Lydie's hand.   We couldn't stop crying enough to pose.

The other day, I moved the frame out my direct view.

I noticed that I'm starting to wince when I see these photos.  I noticed that I'm avoiding looking at them.

I have been trying to figure out why.

The ones I'm in, my expression is pure agony, pure pain, pure hell.  I'm holding my daughter wrapped up in her yellow blanket that I made her. but she's barely visible.  Just my pain.

The ones that focus more on Lydie, she looks beat up.  She looks dead.

And all the ones of her perfect hands and perfect feet?  Those hands and feet are so perfect that they remind me of the senselessness of it all.  My perfect, dead baby.  

I'm finding that these photos are taking me back to a place that I don't want to be. 

I haven't yet moved any of the framed photos, but I'm thinking about it.  I'm trying to remind myself that I don't need photos of Lydie around the house to make me think about her.  I haven't stopped thinking about her for one minute.

I talked to my my new counselor about this the other day (another side note: so far, third time seems to be a charm. I'm connecting much better to this counselor).  I told her I struggle with it, because the pictures are causing me so much pain, but I feel guilt over not looking at them.  Who wouldn't want to look at pictures of her own child?

She asked me, "Does not wanting to look at photos of Lydie mean you love Lydie any less?"
Well, no.
Obviously not.

She said I'm in survival mode.  If looking at photos helps me, then I should look at photos.  If looking at photos brings back trauma and pain, then it's okay not to look at photos. 

The other day, I ordered a print of one of my favorite poems: i carry your heart by e.e. cummings.  My best friend Kate read it at Lydie's funeral, and it will always make me think of my daughter.  I plan to frame this print.  I was thinking about a way to frame a page of the book that we read to Lydie too, Wherever You are, My Love Will Find You.  I am trying to convince myself that I can display other things that make me think of Lydie.  Photos are not my only option.

(As a side note: I am so not a tattoo person, but I am contemplating getting a tattoo that reads "i carry your heart."  On my foot perhaps?  I'm so, so, so not a tattoo person.  Up until this point, I never understood how you could want a mark on your body for the rest of your life.)

Other BLMs, what about you?  Do you like looking at photos of your child or does it just hurt more?  Do you have them displayed in your home?


  1. i bought an extra copy of "Wherever you are..." just for framing. I really like the picture of the kid on the swing, looking out over the water, and think it would be lovely hanging in your upstairs hallway, or on that shelf. What about the footprints of Lydie? Are those easier to look at, in a frame, for now?

  2. I'm so jealous you had NILMDTS and had the foresight to bring your camera. I had neither. The hospital did a good job of taking photos though. There are some I keep in the safe. I can't look at them without losing it. I have a framed photo of his hands in my living room on his table, and I have a framed photo of his face in my bedroom. On the staircase, we have a drawing of him. It's him without the bruised look of death. It's a piece I like to share knowing it isn't being judged. I also have framed sayings and such. I will send you some pictures. Also, I am SO not a tattoo person but I have wanted a H on my wrist for years now. I haven't found the right place/time to do it, but it will happen.

  3. I don't look at Nancy's photos at all, except maybe the one of her perfect hand. I think as time has passed, I'd rather just have that hazy picture in my mind than the stark reality of her lifeless little body. Oh but when I think of her sweet little face, so perfect and ready for this world, so like her big sister's, I just want to scream.

  4. We have one framed picture on our mantle above the fireplace with us holding Luke. I have a bipolar relationship with it, because I feel like keeping it there keeps him real--That he once was with us--but at the same time, our faces hold so much pain in that picture, I almost hate looking at it. I'm so glad that NILMDTS was able to come out for you guys. I don't think our hospital had heard of them at the point Luke was born (they have now), but they did have a care cart waiting for us that included a camera and a photo printer so that we'd be able to leave the hospital with printed photos of that day...That the nurses took care of for us. When we left, they gave us all of them along with a card and our memory box they put together with his footprints/handprints, blanket, hat and a lock of his hair.

    Those pictures...while there aren't many...are so treasured. They're terrible to look at because his skin just looks like it's...gonna fall off. And he's bleeding from his nose in so many of them. They hurt, they really do. I don't show them to many people. But our family picture--that's the one I can tolerate still. We also have quite a few that the wonderful woman from the funeral home took...of him in his casket. Those ones freak me out a bit more since they were taken in his tiny casket...after he'd been gone for a day. They seem so terrible now...

    As far as the tattoo, I say do it when you feel like it. If it's still sticking with you months from now, just do it. For me, I felt like it was something I HAD to do. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I just did it.

    If there's one thing I know though...I know you won't regret getting one--Ever. It'll become the most permanent part of you that's hers. That's how I feel about Luke's--My tattoo for him will always be a part of me. And for some reason, that brings me comfort. I can't really explain why, but there's that.

  5. I don't have a single picture of Andrew framed in my house. I have the sketch and HIM (in his urn) and an Etsy print of a Helen Keller saying and lots of mementos that were given, mostly in the same spot. I was the same. I stared and stared and then couldn't do it. Now, I can. But I still only favor certain ones that don't make him look as dead. I didn't have any other experience other than dead, but it's just not how I want to "remember" him, if that makes any sense. I'd rather see all the beauty in him and less of the purple. I hate it. I'm not ashamed, just angry and sad that it had to be that way.

    But no framed photos. I have him in photo albums and one I keep for my living kids that I change out the photos to more current ones of them with family members and Andrew's always remains. If you are in my house and not an asshole, you are welcome to look at Andrew's pictures. I don't hide the photo album. It's just, it makes us sad, too. He has been dead 4 years now, but it still makes me sad to see my perfect, lifeless son.

  6. I can tell you that NOT having pictures in your house definitely won't make you think about her or love her or miss her any less. We only have two pictures of Cale. The nurses took them and I'm forever grateful, but forever beating myself up for not taking my own. I wish I had his hands, his feet, a family picture, something, anything else. We didn't know about NILMDTS (and I fear if we did I would have turned it down). Not having more pictures is my second biggest regret (the first being not holding him long enough and looking under his blanket). So even though I do have two pictures, they are too personal to share and put on display. But not having the option to display others is what hurts me the most.

    I have his sketch framed (has anyone ever shared Dana's info with you? She makes the sketches and it has given me such happiness to have Cale on display without it being his actual pictures. It portrays his beauty, not his death.

    I also have a large framed Carly Marie beach writing pic of Cale's name in the sand.

    I think your counselor is right - do whatever is best for you in this moment.

    The hand holding picture is so sweet and so brutiful.

  7. Oh and one more thing - I'm not a tattoo person either, but I do think I want to get one some day with maybe just Cale and 6.28.10 on my left wrist in white ink. I think it would be subtle enough, but special. The limited research I've done seems to indicate that white ink may look like it has a blueish tint, or just fade enough over time you need to get it redone or you can barely see it - but that's kinda what I want anyway.

  8. I totally agree with your counselor about looking at the pictures. It in no way indicates your love for Lydia.
    We do have framed pictures up but we also have the tiniest house with no visitors ever, ha.
    And I am not a tattoo person at all either, but I love my Bear tattoo! :)

  9. I've ordered a 70x70 (cm) canvas print of Sadie's feet, which we will display right in our living room. It will be the first thing you pass as you walk into our house to sit down.


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