Last month I had the privilege of photographing a young mother and her family, but this family portrait session in particular was quite special. Only four months prior Missy had lost her baby girl.

Missy and I met before the portrait session to discuss the sensitive situation, and planned how we could tell her story. We decided to create a short film celebrating her daughter’s life, and Missy wrote about her experience below.

I hope you enjoy the film and share her story as a celebration of life.

In Missy’s words:

“On July 9th, 2018 I gave birth to our daughter Emery. She weighed 6.2 ounces and was 8 inches long. She passed away in my arms 3 minutes later. After 3 blood transfusions, 5 hours of labor and delivery, and several hospital trips and stays, it was a miracle I survived to come home to my 2 year old son and husband. I truly feel like Emery was meant to save my life.

The days and weeks after loosing Emery were some of the toughest I have ever endured. I felt angry with my body for not keeping her safe. I continued to relive that day over and over again. It was like a movie reel in my head that never ended. I kept thinking about the ‘what-if’s’ and things I could have done to prevent her death.

I felt like life had a whole new meaning and every thing I experienced was a first all over again. I felt like I had to relearn how to live in this world without her. I felt so alone and spent every day questioning why God chose to take her away from us. I had a healthy all-natural birth with my son – why did this have to happen to our daughter?

Why us? Why take her away?

Every day I was afraid to lay down and go to sleep. I knew I would see her in my dreams, but I wanted her here with us. I was afraid to wakeup and have to live this life without her. I continue to think about what her life would have been like if she was safe with me still.

It will be a struggle I have to live with for the rest of my life. Since that dreaded day we lost her, I have been trying to find the purpose in her life. The purpose in why God chose to take her away from us. I hope that by sharing Emery’s story, other women feel more comfortable sharing their babies and erase this stigma related to infant loss.

1 in 4.

That is the statistic in our world of mothers who have suffered through infant loss. Those children often aren’t part of this world. Although they were our children and part of OUR world, many women do not feel they can share about their losses and often suffer silently.

I am hoping that by sharing Emery’s story, we can help change the unfortunate stigma residing in our nation. I hope to find purpose in Emery’s short life with us here on Earth – to help other women feel more comfortable sharing about their children in heaven.

October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is so common, there is a whole month devoted to those who have lost babies. But there is a stigma related to these terrible tragedies. A stigma I don’t understand. 1 in 4 women suffer a loss like this in their lifetime. The odds of someone you know having had suffered a loss like this is almost certain.

Some people feel like they can’t talk about the baby they have lost. They often suffer in silence and do not want to talk about their baby in fear of making other people uncomfortable. I am hoping by sharing Emery with the world, it will help lessen the stigma and pave a way for women to open up and talk about their losses and say their baby’s name. I want to honor all those babies’ existence.

Today, December 10th 2018, was supposed to be my due date with Emery. This day is the day I have been dreading as the months have passed by since Emery was born. I do not want to think about this day as a day of sorrow. I hope I can look back on this day and feel that by sharing Emery’s story, it can make a difference in our world and help, even just 1 woman, feel more comfortable sharing their story and that it is OK to speak up.

It is OK say your baby’s name.

It is OK to talk about the struggles of infant loss – you are not alone.

Emery was our daughter. She was a part of us, a part of my husband and I. I will say her name every day. I will include her in every holiday and every celebration. She will live on through us and through the people we love. We will treasure her memory and honor her life.

Thank you for reading about our daughter.”

With the most sincerest thoughts,

Brandon, Missy, Rowan, and Emery Stark