Volunteers in Hampton Roads take images of stillborn babies to help ease pain for grieving parents

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.  - Losing a child is one of the most painful experiences a person can endure.

News 3 spoke exclusively to a group that is trying to ease the pain for parents throughout Hampton Roads and around the country.

Nothing in the world could have prepared Kasey Kleps and Jeremey Temple for the pain they experienced last summer.

Kleps was pregnant with their first child. She said she went to the hospital and was in active labor, but then doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat and the baby tragically died.

“We went to the hospital thinking that we were going to go home with the baby - our baby - in a couple days,” Kleps said. “When something like that happens, you’re in so much shock. You’re not thinking."

They said they are so grateful for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit that takes free pictures of stillborn babies for parents at the hospital.

Related: Couple donates machines so grieving parents can spend more time with their stillborn children 

Area coordinator for Hampton Roads and professional photographer Tiffany Alexander took pictures for Kleps and Temple soon after their loss.

“I don’t feel like I’m looking at a dead baby. I feel like I’m looking at my son,” Kleps said.

Today, the couple said the images are priceless and hold so much meaning for them to remember their firstborn.

“You can get pictures on the phone, but to have a professional photographer come makes things a lot easier,” Temple said. “You’re not thinking straight at that time.”

They said the pictures have helped with their grieving process.

“I wouldn’t have any pictures of my son at all if it wasn’t for them," Kleps said. “It meant a lot to me.”

In her studio in Suffolk, Alexander has a butterfly for each angel she has photographed. She said there have been 84 since she started with the group in 2014.

“When I first started, I didn’t realize the amount of losses that we had. It’s really shocking. It’s not something you think about unless you have been there,” Alexander said.

She loves being able to provide the pictures to the suffering parents.

There are a group of about 13 volunteers in the Hampton Roads region. They are called to the hospital when needed, and the group is always looking for more help.

“We have different levels of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, so you don’t have to just be a photographer. You can assist photographers, go into recruitment roles even go into dispatch or just the back end of things,” said Alexander.

Temple and Kleps said they wanted to speak out to let people know how much this group has helped them

“We thought we were the only ones, but you talk to people and you are going to find out it’s more common than you think,” Temple said.

They also want more people to talk about this kind of emotional loss.

“I think we should stop treating it as such a taboo topic and talk about it more because it’s happening,” Kleps said.

Click here to learn more about the nonprofit.

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