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

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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.


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.


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: 


Baby Logan Bostrom photographed by Julie Williams.

Baby Logan Bostrom photographed by Julie Williams.

Baby Logan Bostrom photographed by Julie Williams.
nilmdts romanski

Baby Natalie Sage Romanski photographed by Cliff Lawson.

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.

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Originally published: March 12, 2015
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