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Mom makes emotional plea to parents after daughter is stillborn

Natalie Morgan (right) cradles daughter, Eleanor Josephine, in viral photo.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep/Michelle Ugalde

Days after giving birth to a stillborn baby, Natalie Morgan made a tough decision to share her story with the world.

"This is my plea," she wrote in a Facebook post which has since gone viral, addressing friends and readers with babies of their own. "There will be sleepless nights, multiple diaper changes in a matter of minutes, spit up in your hair.... Every time that happens, every time you feel frustrated and want to run away, please remember my story."

On September 11, at around 11:30 p.m., Morgan and her husband, Brian, who live in Orlando, Florida, said their final goodbyes to their beautiful newborn daughter, Eleanor Josephine.

The night before, Morgan said her daughter was "kicking away." When she woke up, the baby wasn't moving.

Morgan used a fetal Doppler to search for a heartbeat, but she couldn't find one.

"I knew. I just knew. I didn't want to know," Morgan wrote. "I wanted to be mistaken, but I knew."

At a hospital, Morgan lay down as nurses used an ultrasound to search for signs of life.

Shortly after exchanging nervous glances, the doctor turned to Morgan and her husband: "'I'm sorry...there's nothing there," Morgan recalled.

mom.jpg
Natalie Morgan kisses her daughter,
Eleanor Josephine, on Sept. 11, 2015.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep/Michelle Ugalde

Hours later, Morgan was induced. She had unbearable contractions, underwent hours of painful labor and finally, she delivered her daughter.

"She was placed on my chest - gorgeous, but lifeless," Morgan described in her post. "There was no reason to expect that first little cry from her. Instead, it was me who sobbed."

Hundreds of photos were taken over the course of the next six hours the family spent together. A photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization that provides families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying as newborns with free professional portraits with their baby, stopped by to take some.

CEO of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Gina Harris, told CBS News the photographs help the healing process.

Having lost two baby boys at birth, Harris speaks from experience. Her children, David and Ethan, were born less than a year apart.

Now Harris can look back on photos of her son, David -- unfortunately, she doesn't have photos of Ethan -- and see him how he was.

"When you lose a baby, that time in a hospital goes by so very quickly," Harris explained. "It would have been difficult for us to remember exactly what he looks like."

Like Harris, Morgan cherishes the photos.

"They are not gruesome, they are not offensive, they are not graphic, nor are they violent," she said in a follow-up post on Facebook. "They are real life, in all its beauty and agony."

When babies are stillborn, parents don't get a birth certificate; we get a death certificate, Harris said.

"There isn't a proof of existence -- having a photo shows they were real," she continued.

Harris thanked Morgan for her bravery in sharing her story and photos and encourages others to do the same.

"You don't hear about it until it happens to you," Harris said. "It's a tough subject, babies aren't supposed to die, but it's something people are finally talking about."

At the conclusion of her viral plea to parents, Morgan asked that people remember her sweet Eleanor Josephine:

"All I ask of you is when you have your dark moments with your baby - when you're at your wits' end and feel like you can't go on anymore when you're only getting an hour or two of sleep a night - instead of begging your child to go to sleep and being swallowed up in your frustration and exhaustion, find the tiniest bit of strength within you to keep going, and say a prayer of gratitude for your child, as difficult as it may be in that moment," Morgan wrote.

There seem to be so many friends of mine and Brian that have either recently had babies, are soon to have babies, or...

Posted by Natalie Morgan on Monday, September 21, 2015