It's that date again, the seventh. Now Ember would be seven months old. Not even a little baby anymore. Time flies even when you aren't having fun. I look at her "coming home" dress hanging on our bedroom wall, and realize it wouldn't even fit her now. It used to hang in her room, but a few months ago I moved most of her stuff into our room after a mishap with my rabbit chewing her foot print. The desk we'd planned to use as a changing table become the "altar" for her urn, other mementos and of course a small teddy bear.
People ask me about her pictures alot. Do we have any, did we have NILMDTS come to do them, do we show them to others, do we display them in our home and actually many more. Twenty years ago, pictures of babies born still and those who died soon after birth where not commonly done. At best, the hospital would snap a quick one. Thankfully, times have changed and now most families who want pictures are able to have them.
We have a dozen pictures of Ember. This includes four of her hands and feet, all black and white, two of me holding her, five of her alone and just one of us all together. Most of them are ok, but the only picture of Daddy, Ember and me together was botched. Ember's face was barely visible because of a glare, and the rest wasn't much better. With the help of a wonderful friend, Wendy, who is a photographer herself, it was retouched and now the quality of it is beautiful. We do not know why there aren't pictures of when Daddy was holding Ember and more of us all together. There where supposed to be. We did not know about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep at the time, though now I am a big fan of them and their work. We wish we would have had. There's no second chances when birth is also good-bye. An UAB staff member convinced us to allow her to do the pictures after she bathed Ember. She was sweet enough, but far from professional. We treasure Ember's only "newborn" photos despite the but their quality makes it harder to remember what she actually looked like. One of my greatest fears is one day I won't be able to see her as she was and will only have what these pictures show.
We are very private with her pictures. Though we are proud of her beauty, we did not have enough time with her to feel like sharing our only images of her with the world. Less than a dozen friends and relatives have seen them, and these have really only been by request. Both Daddy and I where sensitive about showing them anyway, but it was worsened a few weeks later when an in-law grabbed her album and flipped through it without asking. Then there where two groups of people on Facebook who with their cruelty made it very important to protect Ember's pictures. One group was stealing pictures of angel babies, captioning them very crudely and passing them around. I believe "I like dead babies" was the name of one of the groups doing this. Another group was trying to convince the website moderators to remove and ban images of very sick or babies who had already passed away. These are the only photos many families have.
I shyly showed Wendy, whom I've known for over three years and consider a very good friend, after asking if maybe she could try to touch up our family photo. Her very sweetness about it has made it easier to consider showing other friends. As for displaying them in our home, we do. The best of the pictures of her alone is framed on the desk in our bedroom, as we are not comfortable with having them for anyone who comes in our home to see. Our favorite ultrasound photo of her is framed and displayed with the other family pictures in the living room. It's the one from our first, and emergency, ultrasound. She was only thirteen weeks along then. The midwife had been unable to find her heartbeat, and rushed us into a backroom to use the ancient, rarely used machine. And there she was, waving to us. Her photo album I often keep open on the coffee table.
I'm thinking about her pictures (newborn, not ultrasound) even more right now as my step-daughters will be coming for a visit very soon. They are five and almost nine. Every time they've been here since Ember died, we've put the photos away. My baby cousins, who are even younger, have seen them while my aunt looked through them because she chose to allow them. Because of reactions of "others" I had not expected her to, but she saw no issue with it. It was one of those moments when grateful, pleased and touched just doesn't describe all the emotions it gave me. It's not just OUR decision, as if my own feelings weren't complicated enough, but something we would have to deal with their mother about.
So for now, I'm looking at her picture and just knowing I don't want to put it away for a week.