When I mentioned to my husband Stu that I was keen to join to volunteer with Heartfelt, he was quite worried about it and suggested that I might not be able to do it. He had good reason for concern as I am very sensitive and emotional which would suggest that I might not be able to handle this. However, I felt really strongly about it and so I promised Stu I would give it a go and if it was too much for me I would stop.
I am still here almost 2 years and over 50 families later.
I had never heard of Heartfelt but when I found out about it through another photographer, I just knew I needed and wanted to be involved. I felt called to use my photographic skills to help people in need. Heartfelt is a group of professional photographers across Australia and NZ who give the gift of photographic memories to families who have who have experienced stillbirth or have babies/children with serious or life threatening illness.
I experienced infertitily and underwent IVF treatment on my journey to becoming a mum.
I know so much about the infertility world, but I had no idea about the numbers of families who experience baby loss. I am still to this day shocked by the amount of families we photograph. My work for Heartfelt feels like a paying forward for all the support I received going through my own journey.
Everytime I go to the hosptial to be with a family I feel the gravity of entering such a sacred space for a family in this kind of need. I am always grateful and mindful that I have been invited in to share this for a moment. It is never a happy occasion and it is so important to me that I just hold space for them and guide them through the photographic process in a deeply respectful and easy way. Sometimes there is silence, sometimes there is a bit of talking. Always there are tears.
I joined because I wanted to help people in need but what I didn't realise that by doing that I was also going to gain some things. It is hard to explain what doing this has given me but I can say that it is painfully beautiful and every time I leave the hospital I feel so glad that I came.
Thank you to all the families I have worked with over the past two years for allowing me briefly into their world at their worst moment, and to all future families. I wish this work wasn't required because no one should have to go through this, but it does and I am grateful to be a part of it.