The mission of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture.
Maddux Achilles Haggard was born on Feb. 4, 2005, with a condition called myotubular myopathy that prevented him from breathing, swallowing or moving on his own. On the sixth day of his young life, his parents had to make the excruciating decision to take him off life support. But before they did, they called Littleton, Colorado photographer Sandy Puc' to take black and white portraits of them cradling their son. Puc' photographed the couple with Maddux at the hospital before he was removed from life support and after - when he was free from the tubes and the wires that had sustained him.
"That night was the worst night of my life. But when I look at the images, that's not what I'm reminded of. I'm reminded of the beauty and blessings he brought," Cheryl Haggard (Maddux's mom) said.
Those tender photographs documenting Maddux's eternal connection with his parents inspired Cheryl Haggard and Sandy Puc' to found a nonprofit organization that has provided thousands of families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying as newborns with free professional portraits with their baby.
Sandy and Cheryl founded the organization in April 2005 and called it Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep after the children's bedtime prayer. The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation (NILMDTS) administers a network of approximately 12,000 volunteer photographers in the United States and 40 International countries.
"Two women came to our hospital to take pictures of our daughter. You did a wonderful thing for us!! For some reason this morning I have been watching the slideshow repeatedly and am so impressed at how respectfully and beautifully your photographers did their job. I just cannot express how fortunate I feel to be able to look back on pictures of my daughter and not feel like the past is completely lost. Your company does an amazing thing. I have much respect for you and your volunteers. Thank you."
"On Saturday March 17, 2012 around 10:45 am, we said hello and good-bye to our beloved son. It is shocking to know that he is physically no longer with us. Yet we are glad that your organization exists and was able to provide us a lifetime of memories through the baby pictures taken of him. We are so grateful and thank God that we have these pictures to forever treasure our baby angel. May God continue to bless you as you bless and help families through their difficult time."
To a Volunteer Photographer from a Parent
"I have been meaning to write you a thank you for months now. We want to thank you for your kindness and compassion you showed when our son, Callen, was stillborn in February of this year. The photos you took for us become more precious every day as we realize they are one of the few mementos we have of Callen. We look at the photos often. It takes a special person to be able to do what you do, and we want you to know it didn't go unnoticed. We had no idea an organization like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep existed before. I wish it didn't have to, but it provides a great service for families like ours. Thank you again."
"I just couldn't help but to write and sing your praises high enough. I am so very impressed and blessed by what your organization does. My grandson passed away 3 weeks before his due date from a cord accident this week. The doctor suggested we use your services for our little Elijah. Although mom and dad were hesitant at first, they agreed and were so glad they did. I just wanted to say thank you. God bless you and everyone in and related to your organization. We thank you for your compassion, sensitivity, and professionalism."
Family without Photos
I just want to say what a wonderful service you are providing. On May 14 it will be 13yrs since by daughter was born still. I really wish there was a service like this for me then. God Bless you for it all.
"I just wanted to send you an email and tell you how wonderful I think your organization is. The photos are absolutely beautiful. I just learned about your organization today at school - I am a nursing student in my maternity rotation and we talked about infant loss today, and my instructor told us about your organization. Even though I have not experienced the death of a child (I have 2 children), a very close friend of mine lost her first baby boy, who was born at 26 weeks and lived only for a day, and it was a very sad time. This was about 9-10 years ago - before your organization began, but she has his picture, taken by hospital staff, on her bureau. I'm sure that she and her husband would have loved to have had some of your portraits. As I was poking around on the website, I searched my local area and was pleased to find that there are volunteer photographers in my area. As I graduate and become an RN (and even in my own personal life), I will certainly recommend your beautiful organization. Thank you for providing something so beautiful to families that are grieving."
"I got a very overwhelmed phone call from parent you served. Most importantly, I'm so happy that they have found peace in this. I know you can understand what this means in any story that requires services of your organization. I speak once weekly to our families of loss and this mom in particular has had a difficult time. I saw a glimmer of joy and hope and progress in her when she spoke with me. She was thoroughly encouraged that there were so many precious of images collected. Additionally the images she was particularly wanting and hadn't seen prior were included. She was thoroughly elated. From the bottom of my heart thank you so very much. Thank you on behalf of this family and thank you for the continued existence and volunteer efforts of your organization."