Pictures of couple's brief moments with their deceased newborn stolen
James Young, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — New Year's Eve was special for Nicholas and Dani Zarbock. That was the day they found out they were going to have a baby. Six weeks later, they found out they were having triplets.
"We were really excited, but also scared," he said. "You don't expect triplets, but we wouldn't change it for the world."
The birth of a child is a precious moment for new parents, and even more so for the Zarbocks, who had to say hello and goodbye at the same time to one of their babies.
Dani Zarbock's pregnancy was tough, and she was put on bed rest for nearly two months. While at Primary Children's Medical Center she underwent regular testing. Everything went well until Friday, June 6, when doctors couldn't find the heartbeat of one of the babies. Doctors decided to induce at 31 weeks to make sure the other babies were safe.
Baby girl Taylor was born first, then baby boy Zachary and little Reese, who was stillborn.
"(They) handed her right to me, wrapped her up and let me hold her," Zarbock said tearing up. "It was amazing."
The couple was on an emotional roller coaster. "It's a very peaceful sadness," he said. "But we're very happy. It's really … it's hard to really decipher how much happiness is OK and how much sadness is OK as well, because you're so happy that you have these two precious babes, and they are perfect. They deserve the happiness that every baby does, and so does Reese."
That's why they decided to have pictures of the whole family with Reese. A few hours after the delivery, professional photographer Ambur Hill with the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization arrived in their room. The volunteer organization donates time to provide photos to parents suffering the loss of a baby. Hill has been providing this service to parents in Idaho for about two years. This was her first photo shoot in Utah.
"The phone call itself is tragic because your heart drops a little and you know that somebody is suffering," she said. "But you know that, hopefully, by you coming there, you give them an opportunity to have something to keep forever and cherish forever."
Hill took photos of the couple with their babies, Reese, and a blanket that Dani crocheted to bury Reese in.
After the shoot, Hill drove to her second job and parked in the garage outside of the Shilo Inn Downtown Salt Lake City, a parking garage she's used in dozens of times. Because she was running late, she didn't have time to leave her camera equipment at home, so she kept it in the car, along with several boxes.
Sometime between 8 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday, someone broke into her 1990 Buick Skylark and stole a couple of cameras, including a Canon 5D Mark 2, which had all of the photos of Reese's brief life. None of the images were backed up on other drives.
"My heart dropped for a second," Hill said. "I think that was probably the hardest thing ever, because I let the camera go. I can replace the camera. I can't replace their photos and that kills me," she said, getting emotional.
She called police, put up fliers, went to pawn shops and even talked to strangers letting them know there was a $500 reward for information that can help get those photos back. But so far, the camera hasn't turned up.
Nicholas Zarbock is angry that someone would steal the photos. "It was already hard enough," he said. "We already lost our little baby, had this wonderful service come take pictures of her, we were so happy to get them."
Now, Ambur and the Zarbocks are pleading with whomever has the camera to return the memory card. Memories of the Zarbocks' precious daughter will blur as her siblings grow. The pictures are proof their beautiful baby girl was here.
"We're thrilled that we have our babes; we just want the pictures to have all three of them," Nicholas Zarbock said.
The family says if the person who stole the camera looked at the pictures, there would see that they are of a special moment that can't be replaced. They said the person can drop the memory card off at the hospital, no questions asked.
Dani was released from the hospital Tuesday; babies Zachary and Taylor, who were 3 pounds 7 ounces at birth, remain in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Reese's funeral was Thursday.
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