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'Their life still needs to be celebrated': Photographers sought to capture dying newborns with their families

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Volunteers are needed for a London, Ont. group with a heartfelt mission.

It consists of photographers who tastefully capture the final moments of dying newborn infants with their families.

Melissa Martin knows the organization well.

She spoke about ‘Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep’ (NILMDTS) as she played with her five-month-old daughter, Isabelle.

Isabelle is Melissa’s third child. She follows Hannah, born on April 7, 2022.

“[Hannah] had long thick hair and beautiful brown eyes,” she said.

But Hannah would only survive five hours after birth. Doctors discovered mid-term she would be born without kidneys.

“We knew she was going to pass away,” Melissa shared with CTV News London. “We did what we could before the birth to prepare for that.”

Preparations included a celebration of Hannah’s life.

Isiah Martin holds the hand of his sister Hannah Martin on April 7, 2022. (Source: Submitted)

That’s when Tammy Belaire entered her life. She has been a London-based NILMDTS photographer for four years.

“Even though they are passing, or have passed, their life still needs to be celebrated and honoured,” she said.

To date, Tammy has photographed 62 children with their families free of charge, but current yearly requests are four times that amount.

To help, she is encouraging local photographers and their assistants to step up despite any initial reservations.

“My family, for a little while, were calling me the death photographer. But I’m like, ‘No that is not what I do, I celebrate love.’ And the pictures I take for these families are immeasurable,” she said.

“A photograph is all you have after losing a loved one,” Melissa added. “At the end of the day, all you’re left with is memories. So, having something like that, there are no words to put into how meaningful it is.”

If you're a photographer who'd like to help a family capture a loved one, you can register on the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep website

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