Michael Dean

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Had a baby this past morning from “The Corner.”

The baby boy had was born at 23 weeks. I received the text from Hilary and she and the photographer were meeting at the hospital at 9:30. I quickly showered and headed out the door.

I did what I’ve done twice before. I asked God for the strength and grace to help the family. I prayed that He would let me “keep it together” when I saw the baby. I arrived at the hospital and met a new photographer who I hadn’t seen before. She’s been with the network for many years, first doing what I do, then moving into the photography aspect of it.

The baby was the smallest I’ve seen. He was perfectly formed, just like the rest. He looked like doll. I helped Hilary bathe him, weigh and measure him and put baby lotion all over his tiny body. “We want him to smell like a baby,” Hilary whispered. He is a baby. I knew what she meant, it just struck me as wrong.

After taking the ink prints and doing the moldings in the clay, I put him in a tiny outfit that had been knitted by other volunteers. The mom and day had pictures with their baby and we talked about funeral arrangements. The family had the box of stuff that we brought for them and the promise that in 10 days they would have photos of their baby. I did everything well and was amazed at my strength in staying calm. I still don’t know how I’m doing this.

After we left the hospital, Hilary gave me an “official” baby for the network. I have everything I need to do what Hilary does. I have tiny outfits, blankets, diapers and clay. I have the paperwork to give to the family and the information I need to fill out when I’m with the family. I hope and pray that I am going to have the strength to do this on my own. That I am going to be able to give the baby dignity and grace.

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