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Memorial photography made a difference for this mom

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Memorial photography made priceless memories of a stillborn daughter

Jenna was heartbroken when her daughter passed away before she was born, but a photographer working with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep came to chronicle those moments, which have become priceless to her.

Memorial photography made priceless memories of a stillborn daughter

Photo credit: Jenna and Matt Lunger


Jenna was given a choice. “When my OB arrived at the hospital, he informed me that I would need to be induced immediately,” she said. “I could not bear the idea of laboring, and delivering my deceased daughter. The pain I imagined seemed too painful emotionally. I was given the choice between cesarean and vaginal birth. I cried to my mom, and to Matt that I needed the cesarean, that I couldn't do it any other way. They told me I could do the vaginal birth, that it would be healthier for future pregnancies. I trusted them. I chose to be induced. I am so thankful, and grateful I made that decision.”

After a long labor, she was ready to deliver the following evening. She was induced and delivered by another doctor from her obstetrician’s practice, instead of the physician who had seen her throughout her pregnancy — he left after confirming her baby no longer had a heartbeat. “I have not spoken to him since then,” she said. Peyton was delivered at 8:53 p.m. and Jenna and Matt were told there was no obvious cause of death.

Special moments

Peyton was cleaned up and handed to Matt and Jenna, who spent time holding and looking at their baby. A nurse had the idea to contact a local photographer from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization, and the next morning, Marti Wagner came to the hospital to volunteer her talent.

Memorial photography made priceless memories of a stillborn daughter

Photo credit: Jenna and Matt Lunger

“She provided us with a gift that constantly reminds me of the reality that Matt and I are parents, that we do have a daughter,” she explained. “Marti's beautiful photographs help me to cherish our precious Peyton, whom we only got to share 15 short hours with. I feel so blessed and am forever grateful to be able to embrace these beautiful photographs of our sweet Peyton.”

She was released from the hospital that afternoon, and thanks to the forethought and kindness of two nurses, parting was easier than it could have been. “The nurses allowed us to decide when we wanted to say goodbye to Peyton,” she told us. “We are so grateful that they did not take her away from us — instead we left Peyton in our room with our nurses when we left.”

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

About a week later, the photos, a DVD slideshow and a CD arrived, and she and Matt decided to view them together. Memorial photography made priceless memories of a stillborn daughter

“In the photographs you could not even tell that we were in a hospital bed, let alone that Peyton was already deceased,” she explained. “And then a picture of Matt kissing Peyton's forehead appeared on our television screen... and I realized what a gift Marti, and the NILMDTS Organization, had given us.”

Jenna planned a fundraiser in honor of Peyton, and she was reunited with Marti for a special night of honoring her baby girl and raising funds for the NILMDTS organization. Together, they were able to raise $2,800, and she was later asked to sit on the Parent’s Committee by Gina Harris of NILMDTS. “I was overwhelmed with joy!” she shared happily. “I of course accepted.”

They are currently planning a second fundraiser in honor of Peyton, and Jenna plans on taking photography courses after finishing nursing school so she can become a volunteer photographer for NILMDTS.

A rainbow baby

Jenna and Matt announced their second pregnancy on Easter. After consulting with a high risk maternal and fetal medicine OB just a few weeks after their loss, they got the green light to try to conceive a month or so later, and happily met with success after just a short journey.

Memorial photography made priceless memories of a stillborn daughter

However, this pregnancy is understandably different than her first. “This pregnancy is entirely different than my previous pregnancy,” she shared. “Breakdowns, flashbacks and guilt consume almost every aspect of my life. Part of me looks forward to breaking down — to crying for hours on end — to forgetting every part of my life, except for Peyton.”

However, she’s learned that her new pregnancy is an essential part of her healing process. “When we decided to become pregnant again our motto became, ‘A new baby will not replace Peyton, but a new baby will fill our empty arms,’” she said. “Nearly halfway through our pregnancy after loss, that motto has become only partially true. Matty will not replace Peyton; that statement is very true. Yet, while Matty will fill our empty arms physically, emotionally our arms will always yearn to hold both Peyton and Matty together. We will never be given a chance to do so. In some odd way, learning that has brought me peace and comfort.”

Her new obstetrician is a lot more proactive than her last, and as the itchiness of her first pregnancy has recently recurred, she is being taken seriously and is currently awaiting the results of bile acid testing. She will be induced at 37 weeks and monitored very closely until delivery day. “I am so proud of myself for trusting my intuition and for not giving up when no one would listen to what I had to say,” she said. “When I was pregnant with my daughter I trusted anyone and everyone before I trusted myself. A doctor is simply a doctor. If you are not comfortable with your doctor and their decisions you have every right to seek out another opinion… you can even change doctors if you would like. Do not let anyone belittle your concerns, your knowledge, or your motherhood.”

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