Family remembers stillborn son through breathtaking photoshoot

Credit: Ann Thoni, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

NASHVILLE, TN (WKRN) – It’s a story of heartbreak, healing, and hope. A young Nashville couple ready to welcome their first baby.

Everything is all set and ready for him to arrive when the unthinkable happens. But what they did after that is why News 2 went to Ashley and Bryan Coston to share their story and memories with you.

With great care and attention, the couple prepared as you would expect any mom and dad to do. She folded baby clothes; he filled the nursery with music.

698038-ashley-and-brian-coston-8d953 (1)“It was a place where I’d like to come while I was pregnant and rock in the rocking chair and think about holding our little boy, and Bryan would be playing the guitar for him,” Ashley told News 2.

But just two days before the due date, she noticed the absence of something. Her baby boy had stopped kicking.

“It was a Sunday afternoon,” she began, before looking to her husband and saying, “Maybe you should tell it,” as she became emotional.

Bryan picked up where she left off.

“We got to the hospital, went up to the fourth floor, check into triage, and we get into the room and the nurse was trying to find his heartbeat,” he explained while fighting back tears. “And she couldn’t find his heartbeat, so we started freaking out.”

“You never plan for your child’s death,” Ashley told News 2 through tears.

She explained that, at first, they didn’t want to see their baby boy and begged for a C-section so they wouldn’t have to go through with the delivery.

“But there was too much risk in doing that, so we induced and we went through the full delivery,” Ashley said.

That’s when her birthing coach recommended something that seemed hard to imagine– a professional photographer who would come and capture the few precious hours they would have together as a family of three. That photographer is Ann Thoni.

“It hurts. I’m a mom. I walk into every room; I remember every case that I’ve done. I’ve done 56 sessions since I’ve been involved,” Ann told News 2. She works for a non-profit called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

Beau Coston was born at 6 pounds 14 ounces and 20 and a half inches.

“One of favorite images of this session is where [Bryan] is holding Beau, and I’ve got Beau with [Bryan’s] hands and his wedding ring,” Ann said.

A picture of the promise of love between a husband and wife, a father and his son, no matter what.

“[The photos] are a reminder that he was beautiful and he looked just like Bryan,” Ashley said.

698037-ashley-and-brian-coston-09f0e“The 5 hours we had with him were the best 5 hours of our lives,” Bryan said. “These pictures help us remember everything about him, that, like she said, he was perfect. Never forget that.”

The Costons don’t know exactly why Beau passed in utero. Sometimes these things are inexplicable, even for the doctors. However, they are preparing again with new hope to welcome a son who is due to arrive this July. In the meantime, they share that hope with others, especially those suffering after the loss of a baby.

Ashley said, “To not be afraid and cherish these few hours you do have, because that’s it, and once he’s gone, he’s gone. Without photos we have his memories, but this is the only physical thing we have left.”

To learn more about remembrance photos, visit

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