What to say when someone looses their baby - a sensitive blog post.

As you may or may not know, I volunteer with an amazing organization here in Saskatoon called Empty Arms. Empty Arms is a nonprofit organization passionate about providing support to individuals and families that experience grief and bereavement due to perinatal loss. I was asked by my friend, and one of the founders of the organization, to volunteer as a photographer for them. I respectfully declined, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t feel like I could physically do it. I get the pleasure of photographing people at their happiest times, not the worst day of their lives, and quite honestly, I was scared. What if I cry? What if I say the wrong thing? So many, what if’s….

Fast forward 6ish months and I got a phone call from a past client of ours, Stacey. Stacey was 7 months pregnant and after a routine ultrasound, they were told the devastating news, there was no heart beat. Her precious baby had passed and she was being induced that evening. She asked if I was available to come to the hospital to photograph their precious baby, once he was born. How could I say no? I got the call saying their baby boy was born and I made my way to the hospital, feeling nervous, but honored to be asked to capture their precious baby boy. When I arrived, all of my fears melted away as I captured all of his tiny features, and the tremendous heartache that was felt in the room. I cried, and quickly realized that is OK to cry with this family who invited me capture such an intimate part of their lives. I’m only human. I left the hospital room, feeling very grateful for my experience and thought how amazing was this gift I was able to give this family. I immediately called Empty Arms and signed up to volunteer as a photographer with them.

I don’t have permission to share any images/stories from Empty Arms, so I reached out to Stacey to see if it was OK if I shared her story. I was delighted she said yes. I know this isn’t an easy thing to do, so thank you, Stacey & Mark, for allowing me to share this tender moment in your families lives.

I think when this happens the biggest thing is people don’t know what to say or do, so I asked Stacey to share her experience, and asked her, is there a right or wrong thing to say? Here is her story:

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-Tell us a bit about your pregnancy with Connor (right up until delivery):  I am a very organized, and calculated Type A individual so I had started my prenatal vitamins and done prenatal bloodwork months before we planned on trying to get pregnant.  One doctor even joked with me about being so eager to do testing prior to even being pregnant. Our pregnancy with Connor was pretty much text book perfect, I had a bit of nausea and sickness int he first trimester, but nothing unbearable. We found out we were pregnant in April and our due date was December 21, 2015, the day before my Husband's 30th birthday. We took our weekly baby bump photos and went to all our check ups and appointments. We had a routine check up on October 26th, I was 33 weeks pregnant, and told Mark not to bother coming with me cause it would just be a quick appointment, but he insisted. In the doctor's office in town, she couldn't find a heart beat. She looked at us, very calmly and said, "I want you to drive straight to RUH, and go right up to Fetal Assessment. I will call ahead and they will be ready and waiting for you. Baby is probably just laying in a funny position but I just want to make sure". Mark and I drove to Saskatoon in mostly silence, with tears in our eyes, assuming the worst but hoping for the best. Unfortunately Fetal Assessment confirmed our worst fear, they couldn't find a heart beat with a doppler and the ultrasound confirmed no heart beat, sitting in that ultrasound room we were told "I'm so sorry, but your baby has passed away". 

The rest of the day is kind of a blur, it seemed to take both forever and an instant all at once. We drove the hour home to pack our bags to come back to the hospital to be induced and deliver our baby. On our way home, we called all our immediate family and let them know what was happening. Once getting home, a moment that I will never forget is Mark and I both standing in the nursery, not sure what to do or say or think or pack... we just stood together, mostly in shock, staring at the empty crib and closet of hanging newborn onesies. Eventually, we got ourselves packed up and headed back into the hospital, where we were admitted to the antepartum wing and started the induction process around 10pm. We were moved into a delivery room the next afternoon and our angel, Connor Jeffrey, was born at 5:41pm on October 27th, 2015, at 2lbs 12oz and 15' long.     

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-Why did you choose to have photos taken of him? I first reached out to Mandy on the evening of the 26th, on our drive back into the city. Again, being the Type A, organized person that I am, I had been googling still births on our drives and taking photos was one of the things recommended to do. I remember saying that I wasn't even sure if we would want to look at the photos right away, but I knew we wanted to get them taken. We also had a few nurses and doctors suggest getting photos taken as well. Looking back, I am so grateful that we decided to get them done. We don't look at them often but I am so thankful we have them, they really are a priceless memory.     

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-How long ago was that and how are you doing now? It's been 3 years since we lost Connor, and while time definitely helps dull some of the pain, losing a baby is really a loss like no other. We had a happy, healthy baby girl in August 2016 and and recently welcomed our third child in November. So that has really helped distract us and keep us focused on our growing family. 

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-What advice would you give to others who have gone through something similar?  Everyone grieves differently, there is no right or wrong way. There will be good days and bad days and that's ok. Mark and I grieved differently and while at times we may not have understood each other's process, the most important thing was that we were there for each other.  It was so helpful to have that person beside you who just understood you, without having to say a word or explain yourself. 

Also, we had the most amazing nurses at RUH, they deal with similar situations every day and are so very helpful, so trust them or ask them if you have any questions, they are just the most lovely people. Our doctors were also so very supportive and helpful, we never felt rushed and always felt listened too and understood. We are so lucky to have such amazing healthcare professionals in Saskatoon, they have lots of great recommendations too, so while you may not be ready, take notes or follow up when you are ready to do so, they have seen and helped many other couples through the same situations. 

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-What advice would you give to others who have loved ones who have gone through something similar? We are blessed to be surrounded by such supportive and loving friends and family. I don't know if there is ever a 'right' thing to do and there certainly isn't a step by step guide but, just letting them know that you are there for them with a simple text or note goes a long way. There are many ways to show that support as well. One of my girlfriends came to our house while we were in the hospital and made sure we came home to a clean house, Mark's brother hauled grain for us that week, so Mark could stay home with me, so many people brought food and freezer meals and sent cards and flowers. We did not expect so many beautiful gestures but everyone was so very appreciated. It gives you a lot of strength to know you have so many people who love and support you. 

 

-I think people are often scared to bring up  baby who was lost or aren't sure what to say.  What advice would you give to someone who has a friend or family member loose a baby? This is a tough one, I often struggle with this one myself, my best advice is that there sometimes can be a wrong time and place to bring up sensitive subjects and emotions are a funny thing, you never know when they are going to catch someone off guard. Timing can be really important. 

 

-How can a friend or family member help you to remember your child?   We have received so many gifts and trinkets. This summer, almost 3 years after his passing. one of our amazing family friends gifted us a beautiful planter with a stone sleeping angel figurine, it was such a heartfelt gift and we were so touched. It is so amazing to see the ways he has touched not only our lives, but the lives of people around us as well. We also have received messages and stories about dreams people have had or angel readings where our baby has come up. All of these messages and gestures are so very special to us.  

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-Is there a right or wrong thing to say? Again, this depends on the person/couple and your relationship with them. I often found the people's comments hurtful, even when I knew they had good intentions. Sometimes the best this to say is a simple "I'm sorry for your loss". 

 

-Do you prefer to talk about him or keep him to yourself? - I would like to talk about him more but even 3 years later, it is still hard for me to do so. I don't want to make a conversation awkward or sad when we're talking about pregnancy or new babies with another mom.   Even though it is sometimes hard, we really do like when others talk about him and share thoughts and memories of him! 

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If you or someone you know, has experienced baby loss at any gestation, please contact Empty Arms. They have an amazing support staff, as well as private facebook groups to help you connect with others who have gone through something similar. HUGE thank you again to Stacey and Mark for sharing your story. Even if this helps one person reading it will be worth it. XO.

Saskatoon photography studio

I absolutely love shooting in our Saskatoon photography studio all year long. This family was a treat to have at our Saskatoon studio last month. We did manage to get quite a few ‘looking at the camera smiling’ images considering the kiddos didn’t have much interest in sitting…. Smiling, on the other hand, wasn’t an issue! Can’t get over how cute my clients are!!!

Casual extended family session

This fun family decided to go with our CASUAL extended family session. It includes an extra 30-45 minutes to ensure we get some great candid’s along with the posed shots. It also ensures time to get plenty of shots of the grandkids, playing and having fun. This crew was a blast! I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people grace my camera.

Broadway Saskatoon photography session

We did one year anniversary photos for this adorable couple around the Broadway area here in Saskatoon.  I wanted to do an evening session, and they obliged.  I'm so glad they did.  They were naturals in front of the camera:).  Here are just a few fav's from our session!  Saskatoon is so beautiful, It's so fun to utilize it in the summer months. 

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We started off this adorable family session at the our Saskatoon photography studio and ended it on a different day at one of my favorite Saskatoon parks, in our old neighborhood!  It was a gorgeous spring day and I love that the pond still had ice on it.  The ducks were out, the baby was happy and it ended up being the perfect mix of images for them to choose from.  Here are just a few fav's from our session!  

Cheers to 11 years!!! - Saskatoon Studio Photographers

Holy crap!!!  11 years!  It’s funny to think that I learned photography in the dark room back in high school, and relearned it about 7 years later in photography school, with my first form of backing up a wedding was on a disc in my closet. As I sit back and reflect on the last 11 years in business, I have so much to be thankful for.  First, I would like to thank my amazing husband, who over the last 11 years has supported me throughout my photography journey.  Without his support right from the start, I would not be living my dream.  He has truly been my biggest cheerleader and I can’t thank him enough!!!  To my family and friends, thank you so much for your continued support and especially sending your friends and family my way.  I always appreciate when anyone spreads the word about this little business.  

This path has allowed me to be creative and it keeps me excited, allows me to meet new people (hands down my fav part of the gig!) and has allowed me to have a lifestyle that has me exactly where I should be.  Being a business owner in Saskatoon certainly has its ups and downs, but having clients who trust me to bring my vision of their family to life is truly one of the most amazing feelings in the world.   

This brings me to my wonderful, fantastic, amazingly kind, beautiful clients.  Without you alone, I would not be able to do what I do.  I think about you and your children often and truly feel like your children are my nieces and nephews.  Thank you for trusting me with your families’ memories over the last 11 years.  I can’t wait to watch you and your families continue to grow over the next 11 years. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your continued support.  It truly means the world to me.    

With love,

Mandy     

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To celebrate 11 years in business, we are offering $11 laminated 8x10's (that's over 80% off, and way below cost!) for all sessions booked in May, 2018, including those already in the books.  ***Very limited sessions available***

We will also be posting our favorite images over the last 11 years over the entire month of May over on our facebook page .  We also love instagram!  Feel free to give us a follow

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I leave you with an image from my first ever wedding I shot solo (my mom was my assistant!).  Thank you to this wonderful couple for trusting me at the start.... 

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Image from our most recent wedding season, this image was entered into our most recent provincial image competition and was accepted into the show!!!  It was not accepted into the show at national salon. 

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But these three were accepted into the PPOC NATIONAL image salon!!!  Such a huge accomplishment!!!  So proud of how I did overall.  I think I'm going to need to buy the album if 3 of my images are going to be featured in it:).   

Thank you, again, to everyone who has followed me along with my journey.  Even popping by and reading my blog, a like or follow on social media, means a lot to me.  Thank you Saskatoon.  

Maui session - Saskatoon Photographers

I had the most incredible time shooting on the beaches of Maui last February!  Our wonderful clients and friends happened to be in Maui as the same time as us, so we did their family photos this year in the tropics!  I'm so in love with everything about this session!  I wish I could shoot here half the year (I think you know what half I'm talking about, haha).