Why I Shared my Son’s Picture

I hesitantly clicked the send button. I had just posted my first full picture of my son.

Most new parents are excited to post a picture of their sleeping newborn, nestled in a cocoon of blankets. The image is often greeted with comments of, “Congratulations!” or “He’s so adorable. He’s got your eyes.” I knew that such accolades would not accompany the picture of my son. Don’t get me wrong — he was beautiful. He was precious. But I know I am the only one who sees him as such. I’ve seen people cringe when I shared his picture with them. So, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous before posting his portrait online.

In the picture, my son is lying wrapped in a blanket, one of his precious hands resting on top of the blanket. His head peeks out from the top of the blanket. While all of his features were perfectly formed, his skin wasn’t fully developed and was a deep purplish-red hue at the time of his birth. All of his veins and developing bones can be seen through his translucent skin. To me, though, he is beautiful.

The pictures, along with some memorabilia, are all I have left of my son, who was born too early to survive.  In the year since his birth, I have been involved in the Tears Foundation, which helps grieving families. My husband and I participated in a walk last year to raise money for the foundation and decided to walk again this June. As part of my fundraiser for the walk, I elected to post William’s picture on the fundraising page. When I advertised information about the fundraiser on my Facebook page, my son’s picture popped along with it.  The decision to post William’s image was not made lightly or quickly. In fact, it took me more than a year to gain the courage to share my son’s picture.

Why did I share his image?

  1. He is my son. He is beautiful and perfect to me. When I gaze at his pictures, I see perfectly formed tiny feet. I see a peaceful expression on his little face. I see a cute, button nose. I see long fingers, much like my own. I see the perfection that love can create. In my eyes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with his tiny body, except for the fact that he was born too soon.
  2. Just one month before he was born, my husband and I shared an ultrasound picture of him. In the ultrasound, you could make out a head. You could see his legs. But he wasn’t as fully formed as he was when he was born. Why should it be okay for me to share that picture, but not the one of him outside the womb?
  3. I am proud of him. Why should I keep him in hiding just because people aren’t used to seeing such a tiny human being? He was once alive and he was my son. Other people share pictures of their children all the time. Would anyone dare question if parents shared a picture of their physically disabled child or a burn victim? Sure, the image may be shocking. But it’s shocking because we’re not used to seeing it. Inside, the burn victim is a person. A disabled child is still a person. My son was still a person.
  4. Guilt. I have felt so much guilt over the past year. Guilt that is impossible to describe. When your body betrays you and your child, you can’t help but blame yourself for contributing to your child’s death. I feel guilty, too, about not sharing William’s image. By refusing to post his picture, I feel like I am saying I am ashamed of him. Like I am not being a good mother to him. I can’t change the past — I will forever be haunted by the guilt that my body forced my son into this world too soon. However, I can change my refusal to share his picture. In turn, I have given myself one less cross to bear.
  5. I no longer care about others’ reactions. If people want to criticize me for my choice, that is their right. In fact, before William’s birth, I may have agreed with my critics, wondering why it is necessary to share startling images. But the ones who criticize have not cradled their child’s lifeless body. They have not gazed upon their son’s peaceful expression. The ones who criticize will never see my son as beautiful. That is okay. But I shouldn’t have to hide him just because they are uncomfortable. I won’t hide him any longer. Because I do love him and because, to me, he is perfect.

Kelly Isaacs

Kelly Isaacs

Kelly is 32. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Stephen; her dog, Sadie; and two cats, Sam and Sully. She is a special education teacher in Massachusetts. Her first child was born at 9 weeks gestation in May of 2014. Her son, William Robert, was born on Jan. 5, 2016. The losses have forever changed Kelly’s lens of the world. When she is not working, Kelly can be found blogging, taking her dog on walks, exercising or relaxing with friends.
Kelly Isaacs

Latest posts by Kelly Isaacs (see all)

Written by 

Kelly is 32. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Stephen; her dog, Sadie; and two cats, Sam and Sully. She is a special education teacher in Massachusetts. Her first child was born at 9 weeks gestation in May of 2014. Her son, William Robert, was born on Jan. 5, 2016. The losses have forever changed Kelly’s lens of the world. When she is not working, Kelly can be found blogging, taking her dog on walks, exercising or relaxing with friends.

15 thoughts on “Why I Shared my Son’s Picture”

  1. Today would have been my nephew, Wyatt James, 13th Birthday. He was a Trisomy baby and only lived 53 hours. How I wish we had taken more pictures….

    Your boy is precious and I am so sorry he’s not here?

  2. Hi Kelly! I’m just someone passing through (have never had a child and can’t because of health problems) but I just want you to know that you’re not the only one who thinks William is beautiful and wonderful because I absolutely can see it too. I am so, so sorry for your loss. William was and is loved and look at all the amazing things you’re doing because he was here and he exsisted. That alone is testament to how wonderful and meaningful his life is and will continue to be. Hang in there.

  3. My first and only twin grandsons were born sleeping at 19 and half weeks on January 28, 2015. I was there to watch those two beautiful boys come into this world holding each other and watched them take their one and only breath. Please keep sharing. They are all loved.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer. I love that your grandsons were holding each other when they were born. What a beautiful memory to hold onto! I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your family.

  4. I love a precious beautiful baby at 22 weeks …over 27 years ago. I wanted her, love her, and miss her still! I’m sorry for your loss, but I love his beautiful picture! I had several blurry photos and had an artist friend do a watercolor from one. My baby, Megan, was 9 inches long and weighed 17 ounces…she lived 70 minutes. I have my picture framed and displayed in my home. I’m her proud mommy, and she is beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Marilyn. I’m sorry for the loss of your sweet Megan. I love the idea of the watercolor. What a wonderful piece and way to share and honor Megan! She sounds perfect! Sending many hugs your way.

  5. I, too, lost my only precious baby 4 months ago. At 22 weeks, my body went into labor and a short hour after birth, he passed peacefully in my arms. I remember feeling the same a stress you. Also, I felt afraid to post because I didn’t want people circulating his picture and using him for their own selfish pitty. I have since had a change in heart and I share my beautiful boy with any and everyone that will look!! The same as others are born, my son was born. They can share their photos and be proud of their gift from God and I feel that I have that right too. It isn’t the idea imagine but it’s my precious angel, and to me, there will never be anything more beautiful ?

    1. I’m so glad you have decided to share your precious son with the world, Sammi. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Please keep sharing his beauty. ?

  6. I too felt the same about about sharing photos of my son as he was very red/ purple. I shared all my photos in black and white.

    1. That is a great idea, Abbey. Silly me only thought of it after I had already posted William’s picture. I’m sorry for the loss of your precious son. Sending many hugs your way. ❤️

  7. My sweet angel, Zane was born at 23 weeks. He lived for 39 shirt hours and was beautiful. Please keep sharing….

    1. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your precious Zane. Thinking of you and your beautiful son. ❤️

  8. He is precious. I am a Grammy to 3 angel babies. The last one to our beautiful Izzy born at 23 weeks. She was beautiful. Keep sharing you precious little boy with the world! Hugs for you mommy

    1. Thank you so much, Gloria! I’m sorry for the loss of your three angels. Your Izzy sounds precious, and I’m sure she was beautiful! Sending many hugs your way.

Comments are closed.