The Dalai Lama once said, “There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” This rings true for Longmont United Hospital’s obstetrician technologist, Robin Shivery.
“It was not my first career,” Shivery said.
Shivery and her husband, Harry, lived in Florida and both worked as managers at Home Depot. Not long after the couple began dating, her husband experienced a heart attack. It was due to the care he received that Shivery was inspired to explore medicine.
“Just sitting there through all that time watching, I thought ‘I love what I do at Home Depot, but these people … I think I could do this,” Shivery said.
Now, Shivery helps deliver babies, inside and outside the operating room.
“I wear a lot of hats. I'm a unit clerk at times, I transport patients, register patients but my favorite, of course, are the deliveries,” Shivery said. “I love surgery but I really like the fact that, upstairs, we do 99% happy surgery. It’s a happy unit when it’s happy but when it is sad, it is one of the saddest.”
Those sad times are really difficult for Shivery as she has felt the pain of losing her own child.
Just over 30 years ago, Shivery went to the hospital ill and pregnant. While she was there she went into labor and delivered a baby girl, Cameron. Unfortunately, Shivery passed her illness to her daughter who passed away 10 days after birth.
“That was devastating … Probably the hardest thing I have experienced so far,” Shivery said.
Knowing all too well the pain of losing a little one, Shivery felt a calling to become part of the Longmont United bereavement committee — which reaches out to mothers who deliver “sleeping babies,” Shivery said.
“Sleeping babies” is the term Shivery uses to describe babies who pass before or soon after birth.
The hospital’s bereavement committee partners Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep — a nonprofit dedicated to offering families experiencing the death of a baby an opportunity to remember through photography. The organization works with medical staff and local photographers to train them on how to memorialize these infants.
“It’s an awkward moment and a lot of parents wouldn’t even think they could or want pictures but later, trust me you are pretty glad you do,” Shivery said.
When Shivery lost her daughter, photography of deceased infants was not “something you really did,” Shivery said, adding that she only has a few pictures of her daughter.
Always seeking ways to share the memory of her daughter, Shivery took the medical affiliate photography training from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep in the beginning months of COVID, training she has used to help families grieve.
“That just opened a door for me to help other families and honor Cameron,” Shivery said. “I’m privileged and honored when they (families) allow me to take the photos. I am so grateful that Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep exists and more people will have more photos of their babies than I was able to have.”
Recognizing that no two experiences are the same, Shivery is cautious when talking to families about taking photos of their babies. But she is able to share with them her journey down a similar path. “This usually breaks the ice,” Shivery said.
Offering free photography, Shivery is trained to take family and individual photos of the babies in a tasteful way that adds honor to the memory of the infant, instead of reminding the family of only the sadness.
“It (the photography) captures the emotion of the moment,” Shivery said.
Although these moments are difficult for Shivery, she is fulfilled by the work and grateful she gets to help families cherish these brief moments through her photography.
“It continues to heal me when I work with those families and it’s super fulfilling and satisfying knowing that they will have that baby forever, even though they don’t. It’s not the same as hugging and squeezing them, don’t even pretend that, but just to know that they (the babies) did exist, that they have a name.,” Shivery said.
If you or someone you know has a journey to share please email Macie at firstname.lastname@example.org.