Monday, May 7, 2012


In the hospital during my labor, I was surrounded by family and friends.  As soon as Mike called my sister-in-law to tell her of Carpenter's death, she flooded the phone lines so everyone was aware, and almost everyone came.  One of the first people there was my oldest sister, Megan.  She's a caring person who loves her nieces and nephews.  She's a home health care nurse, and a damned good one.  But when my little Carpenter came into the world, it was too much for her to handle.  She couldn't look at his tiny body.  I hope she wouldn't be upset with me for writing this, because I never once was bothered by this.  I knew that her love for her nephew was just too strong for her to accept what had happened to him.  She had dreamed of taking him camping and horseback riding.  She didn't need to see him like this.  So, even though we kept him with us for days and took pictures of him, she has never seen his little face.

I was saddened for her and decided to see what I could do about it.  Luckily, I found Heidi Rempel, founder of Heartprints Photo Retouching.  Heidi accepts submitted photos of stillborn babies and edits them digitally so they look more like the baby each family had dreamed of.  What an amazing gift!  She gives families the ability to share their photos with the whole world, and all at no charge!  I'm overwhelmed by her kindness and willingness to give up countless hours to each family who requests, all the while maintaining a cheerful and caring spirit.  I asked Heidi if I could post a short interview with her.

What inspired you to start Heartprints Photo Retouching?
"I started Heartprints about 6 years ago, after two family members and one close friend all experienced losses within the span of a couple of years.  I wanted to do something tangible to help, and I was aware of the shortage of support in the area of photo retouching.  I am a mom myself, I have two boys who are 11 and 6.  At the time that I started Heartprints, I was staying at home with my boys and looking for something meaningful to do with my spare time.  My eldest child has since been diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and I had to go back to work to help cover medical expenses.  My free time is now very limited and I have had to reduce the amount of time I spend on Heartprints work, but fortunately my clients are patient with me and don't mind the longer wait time for photos."

What has been your favorite project so far?
"After working on several thousand photos, it is difficult to choose a favorite project.  There have been a few that have been forever engraved on my heart - the parents so desperate to show off their baby to grandparents, aunts, uncles and big brothers and sisters...  losses from long ago when photography consisted of a quick Polaroid picture of poor quality, that I have been able to improve and restore... and of course, the work that I have done for my own family and friends, so close to home."

What's the best part of your work?
"Just knowing that I am able to bring a little peace to grieving parents makes my job completely worthwhile.  I have had so many parents tell me they are finally able to display their photos in their home, or introduce their sweet babies to friends and family for the first time... to know I had a part in that truly warms my heart."

What advice do you have for angel-mommies?
"Take as many photos as possible of your baby, even if you don't think you will ever be able to look at them... they may become very precious mementos as time goes by and you begin to heal.  Don't let anyone set a timeline for your grieving - it is not a linear process and there will be many ups and downs.  It is ok to feel moments of happiness and peace, it does not make your grief any less and is part of the healing process.  Take good care of your physical self - remember to eat, sleep, breathe fresh air and soak up the sunshine... it will help."

Do you have another favorite charity we should know about?
"First Candle is an organization that is working toward the prevention of Stillbirth, SIDS and SUID.    I do hope that someday there is no longer a need for my services."

I couldn't appreciate more the work Heidi is doing through Heartprints.  I would encourage those who can to donate so that she might keep going in this selfless endeavor.  Also, I know some are not as lucky as I am in having photos in the first place.  So, please let this inspire you to find some way to remember your baby.  Make a scrapbook of hospital items, plant a tree, photograph their funeral or angelversary parties.  Do something to keep your baby close to you.  It's never too late to start.

To request photo retouching, click here.
To donate to Heartprints so that one more family might share their baby with the world, click here.

Heidi's Handiwork!

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