Haven is a SPECIAL soul. I still remember getting the call from her mama’s cousin; Haley & Logan had just birthed their little girl sleeping up in Ogden the night before, and she was doing the work to find a photographer for Haven’s funeral. Though we connected too late for me to document Haven’s birth, I was honored to edit the phone pictures family and nurses took for her birth, and be there to document her dressing and funeral.
It’s now been almost a year since I had the privilege of documenting Haven’s brief time (physically) with her family. Haley now runs an adorable clothing company in honor of Haven (Haven Jo Co – they’re celebrating Haven’s birthday month over on Instagram!). She and Logan graciously and eagerly are sharing Haven’s story and film with us this month. Happy birth month, Haven!
Haven’s Story, from her mama
“Haven Jo LaRose was born on January 24th, 2022. She is our light. She was born still at 35 weeks, 5 lbs 3 oz, and 19 inches long. Her body was perfect, her hands were so delicate with tiny nails on each finger. They curled around our fingers as if she were holding our hands. Haven had BEAUTIFUL features, such as her button nose, chubby cheeks, and ruby red lips, that will forever be remembered and cherished.
Although Haven’s arrival started out devastating, it ended so beautifully. We were so close to having her here with us. She was an active, healthy growing baby, right up until I noticed she wasn’t moving. We went to the hospital to check on our sweet angel, and they found no cardiac activity. Our little one had returned to her Father in Heaven. My heart fell into my stomach when I heard the news: our baby wasn’t coming home with us. I couldn’t do anything to help her, I couldn’t change our circumstances. The only thing that a parent ever wants is to keep their child safe. But, I soon grew to feel that Haven had a purpose – more than to be our daughter. Our little girl has touched the hearts of so many, and reminded us of what really matters in this life.
I felt so nervous and upset that I had to go through the painful process of giving birth, knowing I would not hear her cry or see her eyes look into mine. Her birth was long; I felt physically and emotionally drained. But when it was time to deliver Haven’s body, there was a glimmer of joy and happiness. After a few minutes of pushing, they handed her to me and laid her on my chest. I had never seen such a beautiful baby girl! I remember praying so hard that somehow she would let out a cry, or open her eyes.
I was not granted that miracle that day. But I felt surrounded by comfort from my family, friends, and – most of all – my little girl’s spirit. And she is our special miracle.
After they weighed and measured her, they wrapped her up in a blanket and put a little hat on her. They handed me my sweet tiny baby. That truly was the best and hardest moment of my life. There was so much sadness mixed with so much joy. We spent the night looking forward to the next day, and spent our time with her the next day studying everything about her. Her body was perfect, her hands were so delicate with tiny nails on each finger. They curled around our fingers as if she were holding our hands. Her button nose, chubby cheeks, and ruby red lips were beautiful. While staring at her sweet innocent face, I could imagine how she would look and sound if she were to giggle and smile at me.
We got to know her and felt her presence in the room with us that day; Haven gave me small glimpses of herself in that hospital. She gave me a sense of peace, and hand-picked the most amazing people to help us through that week.
Our mortician, Sam, was one of those people. He made leaving the hospital without Haven that day less painful. He let me hold on to my little girl and say goodbye before handing her off. He looked us in the eye and said, “I promise I will take such good care of your little girl,” with tears streaming down his face. And I believed him. Haven truly touched his heart, and he could feel the love we had for her.
Saying Goodbye: Haven’s Dressing and Funeral
Kaitlyn was that second person. She volunteered to document the few sweet moments we had getting Haven ready for the funeral and the day we laid her to rest. Going through a tragedy such as losing a child is such a shock and whirlwind of emotions. You are in the thick of your grief and the last thing you think of doing is taking pictures or videos. She captured Haven perfectly, and I will cherish those pictures and that video forever. When I first met her at the mortuary, I felt so comforted and loved by her. Kaitlyn is the sweetest person I have ever met. I will always have so much gratitude towards her for her kindness and the genuine love she has shown my family and I.
I first met Haven’s family – her parents and grandparents – there at the mortuary, as they were dressing and getting Haven ready for the funeral. They welcomed this stranger gracefully into their grief. I still remember the abundant love that filled that room – the laughter, the tears – as they shared with me the meaning behind Haven Jo’s name, and beautifully held space for each other. Haven has a pretty amazing family!
Haven’s funeral service was absolutely beautiful. People who loved her, and loved us, filled the pews to celebrate her. It was truly astonishing to see how many people came just for her. We did everything we could do to honor our little girl as perfectly and best as we could.
Ending at the cemetery was so bittersweet.
I felt calm but so devastated. We didn’t have a clue what to do next without our little girl with us. But I knew she would always be with us, even if we couldn’t feel her as strong as we did that week of her passing.
Afterwards, people I didn’t even know reached out to me telling me how much Haven has helped them or meant to them. Some shared what they felt at the cemetery. One said their child was looking at the sky and reaching as if they could feel her there. Another said they felt Haven holding on to us. It is so beautiful to have Haven comfort us through others and to have such a strong impact on everyone she touched. Our little girl is changing lives without physically being on this earth, and I think that is very special indeed.
People tell me all the time how well I have handled our situation… but I don’t think I deserve the credit. My little Haven made everything bearable. She came to us with a purpose and is still hard at work. She gives us a reason and she makes us better people. She gives us the most exciting thing to look forward to… to be with her again. I know this life will all be worth it one day when my little girl gets to be in my arms again. Haven is our light. She is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced and I am so grateful to be her mom.
Happy Birth month Haven! We love you and think about you every day. You make this life worth it sweet girl.”
Hello, friend. My name is Kaitlyn; I’m a certified birth and motherhood photographer, videographer, and doula serving Davis, Weber, Salt Lake and Utah Counties. Aside from maternity, birth, and newborn sessions, I also donate bereavement services to families like Haven’s. If you or anyone you know could benefit from these services, please Reach Out (feel free to email me (email@example.com), or message me on Instagram or Facebook if you’re more comfortable).