It is a sad reality, but there are a lot of parents who don't ever get to take their new baby home. Unfortunately, one of the most anticipated and celebrated times in your life becomes one of the most painful. We talked to a Sioux Falls couple who had help coping with the loss of their child with the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Program.
Molly and John Mathison from Sioux Falls can't help but smile when they look at their photo album of baby Katelyn. She was born at AveraMcKennanHospital on October 11, 2006. Two days later they found out she had a life threatening heart condition and they were flown to Omaha. After a couple of weeks there, they learned she would not survive. That's when and where the Mathisons were introduced to a national program called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. A professional photographer comes to the hospital to take pictures of babies who have either passed away or are expected to very soon. They volunteer there time and talent and give the families a CD with all the pictures on it. At first the Mathisons thought it was too morbid, but once they saw the brochure their apprehension went out the door.
Molly says, "The photographer came in to the hospital and it was like Katelyn was just like any other little girl. She had her picture taken and mom and dad were part of the session. It had such a beautiful experience. And beautiful, beautiful pictures that will serve as long lasting memories. It's provided something we can actually show people that yes, she is and always will be part of our family."
10 days after the professional pictures were taken Katelyn died. The Mathisons count their blessings that they got a month with their beautiful baby girl. Some parents don't even get that. They knew they wanted to bring this program to Sioux Falls.
Molly says, "I just though what a wonderful gift we could give to other families just as we received this special gift."
They went in search of local photographers to head this up. They found them. Chad and Becky Phillips, who own Great Plains Photography, became the coordinators in town after they heard Molly speak at a local event.
Chad Phillips says, "It's a huge reward. Knowing that we are doing is affecting people's lives. That it's helping parents and other family members cope with a death in the family so it is very rewarding to be able to do something for them. It's also not an easy thing. You are taking somebody like us and putting them into a room with a family with a child that is either going to die or has died and that's not an easy thing to deal with. It takes a special kind of person to handle this. To handle the emotion and respect the parents limited time with their child."
Over time memories can fade that's why Molly and John are so happy to have these images forever to share with their two other children; 4 year old "little" John and 1 year old Sara.
Molly says, "When I pray for my children I pray for all three children. I have a picture of me and Katelyn on my dresser and it will always stay there. She will always be my daughter. This has absolutely helped with the healing process. She will always be part of our family."
If you have questions you email Chad and Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org