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Parents share emotional photos as they honor life of stillborn daughter

The California parents of a stillborn baby chose to remember and celebrate the life of their baby girl, Monroe, by having a professional photographer capture her on film.

According to Fox8, it happened when Emily Stanley went to the hospital when she didn’t feel the baby moving. It was soon after she was told Monroe had passed away.

Emily and Richard Stanley said they wanted to show off their beautiful daughter and have a way to remember and acknowledge her as a member of their family.

Professional photographer, Lindsey Natzic-Villatoro, of Love Song Events and Photography, spent nine hours with the couple, following her birth, taking photos of their daughter and family as relatives came to visit.

The photographs were put online, and the Stanleys have encouraged others to share them. Lindsey shared the photos on her Facebook page and spoke about the emotional experience.

Here’s Natzic-Villatoro’s story (used with permission):

“As a mother the last phone call/email I want to get for a “forever loved” session is anything that has to do with a child. Friday afternoon as I was preparing for my weekend sessions with all 3 of my girls I got an email from a girl named Kelly telling me her sweet friend just found out her baby had died. She told me some details and asked if I would contact the family to be there in their time of need. Given the circumstances, you only have a very short window to truly capture these forever moments. I rushed out of the store I was in and called this woman.

When this mother answered the phone she could barley speak. She knew I was calling which I’m sure was the only reason why she answered the phone. She was short of breath, crying uncontrollably between her words and could barely even speak. She told me that earlier that morning she was eating breakfast, oatmeal actually. She had a cup of coffee and was proceeding with her usual routine. Her husband had already left for work and she was just at home relaxing with her son and niece. She noticed that her daughter hadn’t been moving in her belly like usual.

Normally it is her baby’s routine to have some fun in mom’s belly once she drinks her coffee. Considering that her baby hadn’t kicked all morning, mom moved her tummy a bit and after still feeling nothing went and got her heart monitor to check on her. Again mom heard nothing. In a panic she called her husband and told him what was going on and said she was going to drop the kids off to be watched and head to the hospital.

Once she got to the hospital they got her in a room to be monitored, and the nurse could not find a heartbeat. They then gave her an ultrasound and discovered her sweet baby had died due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around her child’s neck. They asked her if she would like to delivery the baby vaginally or said she could have a C-section. Given the fact mom had ate that morning she needed to come back for the surgery, she wanted the C-section.

She was told she could come at 3:30pm later that afternoon or 5:00am the following morning. Mom decided to come back given she was alone and wanted the support of her husband who was working over two hours away. She would of had to do the surgery alone if she decided to do it that day because it was impossible for him to be there by 3:30pm.

Mom, a total wreck left the hospital in disbelief. How was this happening? Her baby was just moving and alive late the evening before so how… why… why her? Why her baby? Why their child? Every question known to man popped into her mind- nothing made sense.

I met the family at 6:30am Saturday morning. I am a professional but human. Set aside my everyday photography, I photograph about 15 to 20 terminal sessions a month that range from every tragedy under the sun BUT that NEVER makes these easy. Every session I do affects me differently.

I walked into a cold hospital room, room 230- full of tears and family, everyone was in disbelief. I grabbed mom’s hand and I told her this was quite literally the worst thing that could ever happen to a mother but together we were going to get through this. I smiled at their nurse sweet Ronda, looked at dad and told him I was here to help them both. I also told them that there way NO right way to handle this. If they wanted to freak out on me, throw something, cry, yell…whatever, it was absolutely OK.

Thankfully I know many of the nurses and doctors at the hospital Mom was delivering at so I called Friday night and told them I’d be there in the morning. When I got there they gave mom the option of having me in the OR during the C-section. Mom and Dad decided that was right where I needed to be, although both were very scared and nervous. I went into the bathroom before we walked into the OR, said a prayer for the surgery and for everything that was about to transpire.

I then got all geared up, and together Dad and I met mom in the OR where surgery had already started. I looked at mom on the operating table, she knew my heart was breaking for her. With my hair and mouth covered, and only my eyes to be seen Mom and Dad both knew I was doing everything I could to be supportive and hold it together for them. I needed to be strong; I needed to do my job. At 7:52am I looked at that clock and sweet baby Monroe Faith Staley was born. I was the first to see her.

My eyes quickly filled with tears as I pulled my mask down, looked over to mom and dad and said, “SHE IS PERFECT.” Together we all cried. I stood next to the baby and watched the nurses give Monroe her first sponge bath, I touched her hands, put the hat I brought her on and took a few pictures. The nurse Miguel which we all adore then handed mom her baby girl as the doctor finished her surgery. It was a dream, this family was living a total nightmare. I can’t even begin to describe the pain I knew Mom and Dad were feeling at that moment.

As mom pleaded for her baby to wake up, her sweet husband brushed her hair with his hands crying with her. Cheek to cheek, clinging to their baby girl in disbelief; the two of them were pillars for each other. At 8:20am the four of us went across the hall to Mom’s room and for almost 9 hours Monroe never left their sight. I was able to capture moments that this family will forever have. I kissed this sweet baby over and over again… I even joked with Mom about taking her home.

We both got a giggle out of it. Baby was full term and ABSOLUTE PERFECTION, Monroe defined perfection. Throughout the morning and afternoon family members came to meet this perfect angel. I took the baby to the infant warmer and snapped away. Any image that came to mind, I shot. I wanted this family to have every possible memory of this child I could physically give them.

So with that being said, I would like you all to meet this beautiful family. 26 year old Mother Emily, 29 year old Father Richard, and baby girl Monroe Faith Staley weighing 6 pounds 2.5 ounces, 19 inches long.

This family wants you all to know they have felt your prayers. To those of you that responded to my post when I asked for prayer Friday evening, they appreciate the kindness you have shown to them.

Sweet Monroe has a 5 year old big brother that loved her dearly and was counting down the days until he could finally meet his baby sister. This death was EXTREMELY unexpected and tragic. I am asking you all for your help. Emily will be released from the hospital today and have to go home to a house full of baby items. She will have to walk into her daughter’s nursery and relive this nightmare for the rest of her life.

Please stop and pray for them. I said on Friday, “No matter what anybody says about grief and about time healing all wounds, the truth is, there are certain sorrows that never fade away until the heart stops beating and the last breath is taken.” And I ment that. NO FAMILY deserves this unbearable pain.

The Staley’s rest assured knowing they will be reunited with their sweet baby girl one day soon, but until that day comes they struggle thinking life will ever have some normalcy. They would like their story to be shared; they hope to bring comfort to other families out there that have also experienced such tragedy. They want their daughter’s life to be remembered.”

To donate to the family, visit their GoFundMe page.

15 comments

  • Carrie

    I don’t think this was a photo opportunity. Some things are just private. Maybe if they didn’t publicize the photographs, I would feel differently. But, plastering them on the internet. That’s the line that shouldn’t have been crossed.

    • Rachel

      It wasn’t a photo-op. It was a chance for this grieving family to tell he world that their daughter existed. Perhaps it’s their way of not letting her be forgotten since she never had the chance for anyone to know her. Do you honestly think that with everything they’re dealing with, they need a judgmental prude like you judging them? Grow up, and if you didn’t read it already, the writer said don’t leave negative comments, you heartless troll! No one should ever have to read or hear anything that you have to say. Shut the hell up!

    • Michelle

      Carrie, why did you respond to this. They asked for nothing negative to be on here. You didn’t have to read or look. Have you lost a child? Probably not. I have, and the best thing someone can do is take pictures of the baby and them with their precious child. The baby is no different than any of their other children and had it not been known the child had died, no one would have known. This is beautiful, pictures they will always cherish, and the only pictures they will ever have of their baby. They are so lucky. I was in a coma when I had my daughter. I never had pictures with her right after she was born. I only got to see her at her funeral, 1 month later, because that is the first time I could go away from the hospital room long enough to be at her funeral. I have pictures of her with us then, but nothing like it would have been if I had gotten to do them right after she was born. This is an amazing blessing and the person who is doing these pictures has an amazing gift to give others. Thank you for doing this and thank you for sharing this.

    • Brittany

      I agree. Needing photos Is one thing but posting them on fb is a whole other thing. Some things should be private and I personally find it really morbid and inappropriate that they posted them. Everyone grieves in their own way and that is 100% fine but I feel that they crossed a line. And Michelle they asked for no hate on facebook, but this is a news article. They might be able to control the negative feedback on n their own page but by putting it online they’re subjecting it to criticisms and opinions of anyone who reads it.

    • Margaret

      Carrie,

      Preach!!!! I feel the same exact way, as far as them not asking for negative comments? as soon as you put something on the internet you give up the right to regulate other peoples opinions. I also think this is highly inappropriate, especially to post on the internet for the world to see.
      My coworker and I came across this article and we really agreed with your comment, wish there was more people like you out there with some common sense.

  • Rachel

    My heart broke over and over with every word and every picture. Having just given birth less than a year ago, I held my baby tighter and closer, praising God for the gift, that I appreciate even more because of their story. I am writing a book of poems, and if the family would permit me, I would love to dedicate one to their dear, sweet, and beautiful baby girl Monroe.

  • Shelly

    A VERY BEAUTIFUL baby girl who has completed her purpose on earth at an early age. Now this beautiful family can say they have their own speacial and beautiful angel protecting them always.

    God bless you and keep you during this difcult time.

  • mary

    Such a blessing to be able to cherish the moments you have together. As was said before you now have a special angel watching over you

  • Deanna

    I cannot even imagine what these parents are going through. When I saw these beautiful pictures, I cried and smiled all at the same time while holding my son who I am lucky enough to have here with me. This story makes you realize what is important in life. For the others who think that this is not what you would do, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But really? You didn’t have to look at the pictures or take the time to post your negativity. This is a tribute to a child, an angel that meant everything to her parents. Have you no heart?

  • Carrie Kelley

    Thank you for sharing this story, this family is in my thoughts and prayers. She is a beautiful little angel sorry for your lose. I know how it feels to lose a child i have had 4 miscarriages and no mother should go through this kind of pain. Your angel will be watching over you, god bless.

  • stephanie

    This story is too familiar to me as I lost my son at 40 weeks and 2 days. We also took photos of our little guy, he would have been our 1st and my only thought is God gave him a purpose and he served it that’s why he was called back to Heaven.

    My heart goes out to the family and I hope you try again when your body is well and healthy.

    God Bless.

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