This Mother Turned Her Painful Experience Into a Way to Help Grieving Families


When Cheryl Haggard’s newborn son, Maddux, was 6 days old, his parents had to make the difficult decision to take him off life support. Maddux was born with myotubular myopathy.

Haggard and her husband, Mike, choose to have their few remaining moments with their son captured by a photographer named Sandy Puc’, who took photos of little Maddux while he was still on life support and then again when he was off the machines so his parents could hold him.

haggard.marquee.nilmdts.image
Cheryl Haggard and Maddux Achilles Haggard. Photos by Sandy Puc’.

A month later, Haggard and Puc’ began working on an idea that would become a nonprofit organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

“I wanted to share my story with other families and let them know that it was OK to create these memories after their babies died,” Haggard told The Mighty.

unnamed
Cheryl Haggard and Maddux Achilles Haggard. Photos by Sandy Puc’.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep works to connect volunteer photographers with grieving families to create beautiful remembrance portraits of infants who died at birth or will not survive long afterwards.

For Haggard, these portraits are an important step in the healing process, honoring the memory of the child and assisting in preserving his or her legacy.

“I know there’s nothing we can do to change or stop what’s happening,” Haggard told The Mighty. “Their baby will die, but you can help how that family will heal in the months and years following.”

The organization  trains, coordinates and mobilizes the photographers. After the shoot, it offers a disc of images to the grieving family, completely free of charge.

“The families do not pay for anything,” Haggard told The Mighty. “I never wanted a family to feel like they could not afford to create these memories.”

Since the nonprofit’s birth in April 2005, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographers have photographed more than 30,000 families in the United States and in 40 different countries around the world.

“Since the moment I was pregnant I had hopes and dreams for that baby and I loved him,” Haggard told The Mighty. “The memories don’t go away — we will never forget. But photographing them helps to validate their tiny lives.”

Look some of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’s work in the portraits below: 

unnamed-1
Baby Logan Bostrom photographed by Julie Williams.
unnamed-2
Baby Logan Bostrom photographed by Julie Williams.
unnamed
Baby Logan Bostrom photographed by Julie Williams.
nilmdts romanski
Baby Natalie Sage Romanski photographed by Cliff Lawson.
unnamed-1
Baby Natalie Sage Romanski photographed by Cliff Lawson.

“I like to think that in 100 years somebody will pick up that photograph of Maddux, and they’ll ask his name and wonder about who he was. In that way, his memory will live on,” Haggard told The Mighty. “They’ll know he was a person.”

Learn more about the nonprofit in the video below: 

For more information about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, to volunteer your services as a photographer or to make a donation, please visit the site. You can also keep up with NILMDTS by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Want to celebrate the human spirit? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Child Loss

Father Shares Beautiful Beatles Moment With Dying Infant Son

This is heartbreaking and beautiful. In the video below, Chris Picco sings The Beatles’ “Blackbird” to his dying son, Lennon James Picco, during what turned out to be some of the last hours of the infant’s short life, according to The Ashley Picco Memorial YouCaring page. On November 8, Lennon was delivered by emergency C-section at [...]

To Anyone Who's Lost a Child, This Is for You

Backstory: On a May evening a few years ago, I sat down at my computer and saw a sad post from an online friend whose son had been very ill from the moment he was born. He had several genetic disorders including one my son has, Idic15. Before her son was born she was told [...]

Witness the Magical Moment This 7-Week-Old Child Hears for the First Time

Watch wonder and astonishment cross this child’s face as he hears the loving voices of his parents for the first time. Lachlan, who was 7 weeks old at the time the video below was taken, was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe hearing loss in both ears, according to the YouTube description. When he gets his first hearing aids [...]

Doctors Said This Man Born With His Head Upside-Down Wouldn’t Survive. He Proves Them Wrong Every Day.

Claudio Vieira de Oliveira has a unique outlook on life, and now he’s sharing it with others. The 37-year-old from Monte Santo, Brazil, wasn’t expected to survive after he was born with a severe form of congenital arthogryposis, a condition that causes limited range of motion in many joints that are stiff and crooked at birth, according to [...]