Honoring babies taken too soon

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Photos of our children fill frames on the wall, albums on our coffee tables, and the memory on our cell phones, but thousands of babies never see the first flash of a camera.

A growing number of parents are opting for remembrance photography to commemorate the short lives of their tiny angels.

A Colorado based nonprofit, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, offers parents who suffer this tremendous loss this priceless gift for free.

Bekah and Luke Magistrelli are one of nearly 40,000 couples who have been served by NILMDTS.

“I feel like he would’ve been my one calm child,” said Bekah Magistrelli of her son David, half smiling as her three boisterous boys played in the living room.

Bekah never had the opportunity to find out. David’s life ended shortly after it began.

“It was earth-shattering,” said Bekah.

Four and a half years ago, when Bekah was 17 weeks pregnant, the Magistrellis learned their unborn son had amniotic banding syndrome, meaning his body was entangled in string-like bands within the womb.

He had less than a 1 percent chance of survival.

Still, Bekah carried him to 31 weeks, treasuring every kick, hiccup and heartbeat.

On August 8, 2011 at 1:37 a.m., David Nathaniel Magistrelli arrived, weighing two pounds eight ounces.

But he left this world after just two hours.

“I don’t remember a lot about the actual birth and it kind of seems like a blur to me,” said Luke Magistrelli, now grateful to have pictures of David hanging by his bedside and sitting in the living room.

“I don’t know what I would do without them, honestly,” said Luke.

Midwife and professional photographer Christie Sheffer, who is now the area director of NILMDTS, was the one who got the call.

She has been capturing these tender moments since 2010, easily recalling her first assignment.

“I looked at the baby and it was so overwhelming,” said Sheffer.

“I thought ‘What am I doing. I can’t do this.’ What I realized is ‘How can I not do this?’ It was definitely one of those experiences when you walk out of the room a different person then you walked into a room,” she said.

Sheffer has now photographed 40 babies.

“Sometimes they’re alive when I’m there. Sometimes they’re not. I’ve been in the room many times when the baby leaves and it is, in its own way, one of the most beautiful places to be. It’s honest. It’s loving. It’s true,” she said.

The photos taken on the toughest day of Bekah and Luke’s life now bring them comfort, even on their darkest days.

“I think it’s cool that his whole life, he knew nothing but love,” said Bekah, gazing at her beloved photos.

Courtesy of NILMDTS

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