I am always looking for ways to share how healing photography was for me after the loss of our first daughter Bella Rose in 2009. A few months ago, as I prepped the post you’ll see below to be shared with the Faces of Loss family, I realized how many of us there are using our own combination of art, creativity, and writing on our own healing journey. And so this January series of posts was born. We are just over half way through the month and it’s my hope that you’ve been inspired by one of the lovely ladies feautured here thus far. We have many more wonderful baby loss moms still to come, but today I am honored to be the one to share the story of our Bella and the birth of her Illuminate e-course with all of you. xo. ~beryl
3 years ago I picked up a camera with one goal in mind. We were starting a family and I didn’t want to pay a professional photographer to take photos that I thought I could learn to achieve on on my own. I was quickly bitten by the photography bug and when we fell pregnant on Mother’s Day 2009 everything seemed to be falling into place. I was gifted a brand new camera and upon the baby’s arrival I was confident I’d be able to capture beautiful newborn portraits of our bundle of joy.
I never expected that things were going to go terribly wrong.
At our 20 week sonogram a few defects were discovered and we were alarmingly referred to a high risk practice to have them investigated. The vivid memories of our trip to that high risk office will haunt me until the day I die. I sat in that waiting room pondering what a terrible job it must be working there. I wondered how many times in a day they had to deliver bad news to expecting parents. I wondered if we’d be their next ‘victim’ but hoped (and ironically expected) that things would be fine. The technician called us back and rushed us through a series of sonogram photos. She was rough on my belly, she pressed a little to intensely, I could feel our baby kick her back as if staying “Stop!”. I wanted the technician to stop too. Finally she left. Minutes dragged on like hours.
Then, the doctor finally walked in and broke the silence with 5 little words that would change our world forever: “Your baby has multiple problems”.
Without stopping for air, he continued to spout out medical jargon about this syndrome, or that syndrome. Things we had never even heard of before. He listed off the numerous organs you were missing one by one. So cold. So heartless. We were just another number to him. Pretty soon, I felt like I was in a Peanuts episode where the teacher is speaking but the words come out as gibberish. He rushed us into an amnio and sent us away with orders to return to his office in 2 weeks. I was numb but held it together in that office, I didn’t want that doctor seeing me cry. My husband almost fainted on the way out. He didn’t want to believe what he was hearing. That evening, as I googled every little snippet of medical jargon that doctor threw around at us that day I completely fell apart in my husband’s arms.
We sought a 2nd opinion at Children’s Hospital in Washington DC where a fatal diagnosis was confirmed. Our daughter Bella’s defects were 1 in 20,000. No expects to be the 1 in 20,000. But somehow the devastating baby loss lottery struck us. And our lives were forever changed.
Bella was stillborn on September 11th, 2009. When we arrived home from the hospital empty handed and broken hearted the emails, calls, and cards came rolling in. Flowers began to arrive in mass quantities and I wanted a way to collect their beauty and preserve them for when I might be able to truly be enjoy them. That’s when I remembered I had her camera. The one intended to be used to to take beautiful images of newborn Bella to fill the walls with canvas and framed prints in our home.
Instead I picked up Bella’s camera after she died and used it to capture a glimpse into my fragile heart.
I found photography allowed me to integrate back into the world, interact with others, but still have a place to hide being behind the lens of my camera. In the weeks after our loss, I was taking photos almost daily – learning and perfecting tricks the pros use – and it didn’t take long for me to achieve my goal of becoming a professional photographer myself.
And then a magical thing happened.
I discovered photography to be an incredible tool in my healing and I started to shift my perspective. I uncovered small bits of beauty. I celebrated the little accomplishments, even when it was simply getting out of bed in the mooring. I visually shared gratitude for what I did still have in my life. I began a blog where I offered lessons in how photography allowed me to experience emotions more fully, learn about myself , and have the opportunity to meet amazing new friends along the way.
These days I serve as a photography muse over on my personal website, Beryl Ayn Young. I believe in nourishing the soul with lifelong learning, photographic healing, & a glass half full perspective. I offer e-courses and photography mentoring aimed at teaching you how improve your camera skills and cherish life.
I have a five week e-course, Illuminate, specifically designed for the baby loss parent seeking a creative way to use photography to foster healing after loss. It’s a a safe community for you to remember your loss, to talk about your babies, and to find peace behind the lens of a camera.
Any camera type is welcomed and encouraged during the Illuminate e-course: cell phone camera, point and shoot, or dslr. This class is all about using what you have to seek images of beauty and healing.
Today I’m giving away a spot in the upcoming March 2012 Illuminate class ($125 value).
- Leave a comment on this post: Why do you want to be a part of the Illuminate e-course?
- You can gain additional entries by following Beryl on facebook and/ or twitter ~ be sure to leave a separate comment for each one.
The contest closes January 24th and a winner will be announced January 25th on the facebook page!