When mom-to-be Emily McClearen stopped feeling her baby's fluttering kicks in her belly, she feared the worst and rushed immediately to the hospital. There, doctors delivered the tragic news: the umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby's neck and she had died. Emily would have to deliver the stillborn full-term baby via an emergency C-section.
But instead of closing ranks and mourning the loss privately, as so many of us would do, Emily and her husband, Richard Staley, had a professional photographer on hand to record their final nine hours with daughter Monroe, according to multiple reports. Among the precious moments captured were the baby's official weigh-in and the first time Emily first held her. "I wanted our family to have some way to show how beautiful our daughter was," the mom explained to Yahoo! Health.
The couple then went one step further and allowed the photographer, Lindsey Natzic-Villatoro, of Love Song Events and Photography, to share the intimate pictures on her Facebook page. Like any mother, Emily said she "was proud of her [daughter], and I wanted to show her off and make sure her memory lives on." She also wanted to help other parents who are dealing with a similar loss by showing them that they don't have to mourn in silence.
Here are some of the photos taken that day. Warning: Have your tissues ready.
Though some question why Emily and Richard had these moments photographed then allowed them be shared with everyone, many more have expressed support for the family -- through encouraging comments on Facebook and donations to cover baby Morgan's memorial service expenses. (As of press time, the family received $19,015 -- well above the $8,500 goal they had set.) Personally, as painful as it was to look at these pictures, I am proud of Emily and Richard for allowing themselves to mourn the way they needed to and for being brave enough to share these intimate photos with the world -- and maybe even help some other grieving parents find a little peace.
Birth Stories: "My Labor Stopped"
All images courtesy of Love Song Events and Photography via Facebook