Tag Archives: baby

Not just another baby story

I thought it would be fun to share the story of my daughter’s birth from the photographer’s perspective.

 

I was sweating in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart when Tamika called me on a swampish July afternoon to ask me a question. She wanted to know if I would photograph her daughter’s birth. “I don’t know how you feel about that,” she laughed; I didn’t know how I felt about it either. There are several factors my mind quickly went to that could have kept me from saying yes, for instance, gratuitous pain or bodily fluid, both of which I’ve long assumed I have a low tolerance for. But Tamika has me wrapped around her finger and she makes everything in life feel beautiful and celebratory. I’ve known her for over three years now but only in the last year have we built a firm friendship and have become ingrained in each other’s lives. She’s taught me how to celebrate the mundane. She’s shared her family with me, her dreams, her precious tea. She laughs with me a lot and gives me a sassy look -a look I can’t help but imitate regularly. I trust my life with this woman. She is quiet, she is fierce, and she loves Jesus. She is also very intentional with her life and friendships. I didn’t understand fully why she wanted me there but when someone like that has loved you so well, a big question slowly turns into a simple answer: absolutely.

Fairmount House

Close to a week before the birth I dropped by the Fairmount House to talk through the details surrounding Tamika’s delivery. It should have been no surprise to hear the plan entailed being just as quiet and chill at seven centimeters dilated then when she’s sewing a peplum top sipping on some hot tea. She wanted a peaceful and subdued atmosphere but I doubted this projection. I was leaving for Atlanta for a conference a few days later and texted her to suck that baby in until I returned. Baby obliged and the family went to the hospital half an hour after I returned to the city. That’s what I call perfect timing.

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I joined them at 10:20 PM on a Saturday night, a weary traveler who hadn’t showered in two days and smelled like beef jerky (Let it be known, I erased this sentence twice before I resigned to full disclosure) I anxiously walked through the deserted halls of the hospital, finally forced to face my small anxieties I previously squelched of what would happen that evening. The nurse buzzed me into the maternity ward. I could hear a fresh baby crying in a room down the hall; I smiled and breathed deeply as we entered our room. It was dimly lit, smelling of lavender and peppermint. Tamika curled up on her side in the hospital bed, smiling between contractions, happy to see me.

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Labor was less stressful than I had braced for but I imagine Tamika could tell a different story there. There wasn’t any drama. There were minimal monitors and beeping. Husband wasn’t stressed. Nursing staff wasn’t rushing in mid-contraction to see if it was time to push. No one rushed anywhere. I’m not entirely sure why I was expecting these things. Too many episodes of Offspring, I suppose. Tamika labored quietly.

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Her friend, Louise, tended to her every need and encouraged her as she progressed in labor. I sat back quietly with her husband, my camera always close. I’m one of those sense-ers, the people who can walk in a room, lick my finger, hold it to the wind, and come back with pretty accurate readings on tension and drama in the situation. Being in labor and delivery was a constant sense check, especially when you’re capturing someone’s pain. An hour into that room I came to the definite conclusion that there will always be something inherently awkward about sitting on a couch with your legs crossed sipping on a cup of coffee while watching someone agonize a child out of their body, or even worse, taking pictures of them. There’s just no way around it.

That evening reminded me that, like most things I’ve experienced in life, is experienced individually, but is done best together. It’s good to lean in the uncomfortable circumstances of life and stay with loved ones even when you feel incapable of healing or helping. Sometimes our presence and our attention can be enough; not enough to change people or pain but just enough to remind each other that we don’t have to be alone when we hurt; that when we absorb the desperate squeezing of a hand our willingness to sit with the suffering produces the courage to keep on. Tamika has sat with me as I’ve cried over heartbreak or confessed sin in my life or probably more commonly, where I’ve been unwilling to see the next best step. Andy Crouch says that persons created in the image of the triune God do not flourish unless they are placed in community. As I’ve flourished, this past year I’ve learned a healing community looks a lot like a delivery room; waiting, anticipation, and continual prayer. And when the time comes, change happens.

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In the wee hour of Sunday morning, it was time. The doctor walked in followed by two nurses who stood in the back ground, waiting. The doctor asked me to help her tie her scrubs and she casually sat down on a roller chair and asked Tamika, “Are you ready to have a baby?” Husband, who appeared relaxed all evening, crossed his arms expectantly. As Tamika readied herself, we all rose to our feet, like a palace waiting for their queen. The room grew quiet, Tamika’s pain the only thing heard. When she bore down to push, I looked around the room at the seven of us. I thought about each generation before us, who labored out the next, and on and on, that brought us here, to a darkened hospital room to bear witness the birth of this little one. Tamika grabbed husband’s hand and I thought of my own mother’s soft tan hands gripping a cold hospital rail and my dad’s arm, as if it eased any sort of pain. It is crazy how humans can love each other that much without the slightest clue of who they’re bringing into the world and the heartache tethered to them. It’s crazy knowing my mom –like many others- would do it all over again if she had the chance. It’s even crazier to know paradoxically, that even that sort of love leaves the deepest part of me wanting, aching and lonely to be filled with an even holier, perfect love that only God himself can satisfy.

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It has always been mysterious to me why God came to us as a baby. I’ve wondered why didn’t he show his power by parting the sky when John was baptizing and instead a dove, drop a grown-up Jesus down then (or any other time and place, for that matter). But there, in that hospital room, I couldn’t help but think of Mary and how quietly the world changed when she gave birth and about how much the world that Jesus was born into desperately needed him as much then as we do now. Christ lived, died, and conquered death for that world and this one, with a promise to return. And so we’ve waited. At twenty-six, I’ve sat in front of enough television screens riddled with mass shootings, missing planes, abducted children, oil spills, and beheadings that at times life can feel so heavy that I’m sure it will split in two. Some days the goodness of life can be overwhelmed by the senseless viciousness of it. The earth has pretty much always been broken, as it has always been round. While Tamika labored to bring her little girl in the world, another friend’s days old daughter died that night in a NICU; the same night we stood in joyful anticipation of life, another room sat in grief. When I hear of these paradoxes, the wars and slavery, sometimes they just get called ‘life’, a pat answer for the worst kind of realities and confusion we live with. It has been difficult to look at the state of the world and not ask God what the heck is going on, what’s the plan here or ask ourselves, why can’t we just get it together for a second and stop killing each other? Over the years my trust in God has wandered in every direction–to his very existence to whether he’s even good to us. It’s inconceivable to me that God still wants me–the doubter, the naysayer of his love and kindness–and yet, I’ve felt his kindness in spite of my disbelief over the years. It’s wounded me in the best way; a wounding that has cut my pride down to size, picked me up, and loved me in spite of myself. There is so much in life I do not and will not understand but my prayer is that I, like Paul, will always say,

“How great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! Or who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever!”

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So when my dear friend cried out in pain as the child that she’s hoped and loved and labored for came, Jesus spoke to me in that room, in the still small voice recounted in Isaiah. He spoke the very words he spoke to his disciples in Matthew 24, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” And then he comes backFor good. And with one incredible push, a tiny Contessa Grace was welcomed into the world, quietly and wide-eyed on a dark Sunday morning. Her eyes moved about, as if she was taking in the new world and upon assessment, let out a pitiful grunt of approval. All seven of us chuckled quietly. It completely took my breath away. For the first time in my life, I understood pain and suffering in a whole new way. We can exist in a world of pain and still rejoice because we know hope is being born. It is all light and momentary affliction in view of the glory to come.

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Half an hour later, I sat on the couch holding Contessa in all her un-bathed curly-headed, slender fingered, baby-grunting glory, pushing back tears. Tamika looked over at me at one point and just raised her eyebrows and gave me a half-smile, like we’d both experienced something crazy. We had. I will always be grateful for Tamika and her husband inviting me into their sacred space and entrusting me with the honor of telling Contessa’s birth through my camera. I laugh thinking about the doctor looking at me before Tamika pushed and asking me, “Are you good?” –I can’t imagine what my face was saying. I can’t ever get it to shut up. Mostly, I’ve come away amazed at God’s design and how he is found at the start of every life, how he holds and tends to each one so carefully. I’ve seen his kindness and blessing in the face of suffering.

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I’ve thought a lot since then about what I would want Contessa to know about that night if she ever finds herself leafing through those photos. I would want to tell her that when she was born all the lights in the hospital shined brighter that night because that’s how it felt, as if her birth charged the earth’s battery by two hundred percent. I would tell her that her mama laid her on her chest and locked eyes with her and just smiled and said, “Well, hello there.” like they had met before and her daddy looked her over a thousand times like the Sistine Chapel. There was a small party with nurses who cooed and a doctor that smiled and Louise who giggled and Bri who took pictures. God smiled and the angels rejoiced.  And more than anything, I would want her to know that even though life is a struggle, we all count it a privilege to be here in a world with her, to live, to discover, to love, to yearn, to live life together, imitating the Creator.

 

Popover Sundress

How is it that Curly Cutie has pretty much taken over the blog?

How could I not jump on the oliver + s Popover Sundress train?  I just had to!  The Popover Sundress is a free pattern released by oliver + s.

It seemed like it would be an easy sew, and it was.  For Curly Cutie, I cut a size 4 with the length of a size 8.  I used a little bit of piping to accent the front of the dress.  The length hit above the knee, so we threw on leggings underneath.

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This freebie also comes with a doll-sized dress pattern.  So, we had to make one for Curly Cutie’s baby too.

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DSC00209Ha!  The pattern is sized for an 18″ doll, and this doll is about 14″ or 15″.  I chopped off about an inch from the pattern, which wasn’t really enough.  But hey, we have more like a popover maxi.  That’s just fine with CC.  She was pretty excited about her mini-me.

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I should also mention that I thought it would be cool to share about the summer clothes I’ve made for CC using other free and self-drafted patterns.  So, I’ll be sharing some of those items here soon.  It has been a pretty fun journey.  I am enjoying the learning process as  well as the final products.  Maybe I’ll get serious about making some items for myself.

A miscarriage experience

The following is a letter to my son.  Even though he will not read this, it is necessary for my heart.

My dear son Rohan,

I was so looking forward to seeing you.  Your older brother was only 9 months when we found out you were on your way.  So, you definitely snuck up on us brotha.  I wasn’t worried though, God’s timing is perfect.  Take that back, I didn’t worry much.  But I did become anxious at times thinking about if I could produce enough milk to feed you, or if I would have to supplement like I did with your brother.  I knew you were coming when my body started feeling a-certain-kinda-way.  Constant nausea without the vomiting, for a few weeks, seems to be commonplace with our pregnancies.  Such a small price to pay for such an amazing gift.  You were no exception baby boy.

Your big sister had just started her first year of homeschooling.  You should have seen me trying to take her through lessons while being stretched out on the couch.  I thought I was pointing to words in a book for her to read along, but when I looked up my finger was all off the book somewhere.  I was too miserable to even sit up, but I tried really hard to remember I would only feel that way for a short season.

Your dad had me laughing.  He said that one day I was fine, then after we took the test and found out it was positive, within 24 hours I was an absolute mess.  I guess he couldn’t understand how it happened so fast.  Maybe he thought is was psychological, but I say, “welcome to the wonderful world of mommyhood”.  I knew something pretty much amazing was going on inside of me.  Your dad had me laughing on several occasions actually.  Just like he told me the gender of your brother and sister, he told me that you were a boy.  He chose a name for you shortly after.  That’s just how it’s been in our family.  Your dad was spot on with your siblings.  He lets me know when he feels really drawn to a particular name.  I have often found myself in prayer a lot after he reveals the name.  Once I told him I would pray the opposite of what he was praying.  Lol.  Talk about division.  It was all in fun, but some of those names were just hilarious to me.  I will probably holler (hearty laugh) if we see you in heaven and you’re a girl.

I thought I was on my way out of “baby season”, but I had to give up any thoughts of having a normal nights’ rest for a loooong time.  Well, you would have just given us a new normal.  Soon my mind began thinking about all the handmade items  I would make for you.  I started sewing last year, and it is such a joy to learn.  You were going to be so cute in your little appliqued tee.

It would have been so much fun seeing you grow alongside your siblings.  You probably would have knocked all of their milestones out of the park because you were trying to catch up with them and do everything they were doing.  Even though we will not experience the joys of having you here with us, we will remember you.  You have forever changed our numbers.  And when people ask me about my children, I will not forget you.  People don’t talk much about this stuff, you know?  I had no clue so many women share this same experience son.  I mean, you hear the numbers, but you really don’t think about it.  At least I didn’t.

I’ve thought about how I won’t be able to tell you that God loved you so much that He sent His only son to live and die for you on the cross.  But hey, you are way ahead of the game son now that you are with Him.  So happy for you.  Can’t wait to see you.  I must finish out my days here, allowing the Lord to guide me through each season of life.  Such a sweet partnership.  I pray this can be done in faith and with much joy in each experience.  You were a great reminder of the brevity of life.  I have found myself not being so uptight about certain things, because hey, tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

Son, you are special to me.  Hopefully I can comfort others with the same comfort I have received from God concerning you.  Until we meet……………..

Resting in His love, (you are doing the same)

Mom

Conversations with “curly cutie” (round 13)

#1

cc:  Hey mom?

me:  Yes baby.

cc:  Baby boy looks so different now than when he was born.

me:  You think so?

cc:  Yeah, he looks kinda normal.

me:  Lol!

cc:  Lol.

#2

(It was nearing time for bed when I asked CC to return the staplers she was playing with back to the desk)

me:  Let’s go ahead and put those away, so we can get ready for bed.

cc: (talking to staplers) Well guys, I guess there won’t be a stapler convention tonight.

me:  Aghhhhhhhh!  LOL!

#3

(CC knew I had not been feeling well for a few days and decided she wanted to pray for me at bedtime)

cc:  And Lord, we know that mom hasn’t been feeling well.  So, we just ask that you would heal here BIG body.

me & dad:  (in the middle of the prayer) LOL!

cc:  What’s so funny guys?

me:  Sorry, you can continue.

cc:  If you could just make her big body feel better she will be all better.  And we just thank you for that Lord.

Update

I figured it was “high time” for an update.  What has been going on over here?  Let me see.

– Curl Cutie turned “4”!  I know, you probably thought she was turning “14”.  Not yet.

– I have not had a headache for almost a month.  Somebody say “glory”!  Kinda forgot about even having them.  I have been “losing weight and feeling great”.  Lol!  What commercial did that come from.?  I thought about it, so I had to use it.  Now, we all know there has not been any weight loss over here.  The baby is making sure that is not the case.

– I am 6 months pregnant now.  At my last appointment,  the scale was only reading three pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight.  I can understand why though.  Not much of an appetite at the beginning.  Even now that my appetite is back, I can should only eat a little bit at a time or my body starts to feel heavy and uncomfortable.  Do I always listen to my body?  Certainly not.  I have been sleeping with a body pillow for support.  Makes my nights so much easier.  I have also been trying not to drink any liquids close to bedtime.  A full bladder does not make for a good nights rest for me.

– I have not made much progress on my handmade baby items to-do-list.  I have officially completed two cloth wipes.  Lol!  Oh, I don’t think I told you guys we are cloth diapering this go ’round.  I was supposed to and never got around to the post.  Let my husband tell it, I have completely neglected this blog.  You are reading this post because of his encouragement.  So yeah, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about cloth diapering.  It has definitely made a “come back” folks.  I don’t think it ever really died, but information on the internet has taken the guess work out of this fine art.  Besides, cloth was used long before disposables hit the market.

So, there is still lots to get done, and time is standing still for no man.  Here is a brief list of other things I would like to work on before the baby arrives……Note: I’ll get done what I can get done and that’s that.  I still want to enjoy every day of this pregnancy and life as we know it, before EVERYTHING changes.  So, even if I only get two more wipes done……then I guess that will give me four wipes whereby I will cleanse the baby like he has never been cleansed before.  LOL!!!  Here’s to hope….

– some freezer cooking

-try my hand at a cloth diaper cover using PUL fabric with fold-over elastic.  I’ve already successfully made a fleece pocket diaper from a free pattern online.

-make: stash of cloth wipes, bibs, burp cloths, nursing cover, nursing pads, changing pad, wet/dry bag for cloth diapers, changing pad cover

-gather recipes for homemade baby food

-gather materials to be used with “curly cutie” this preschool year.

*Of course there is more, but this is all I’ll add for now.  Consider yourself slightly updated.

“Do you want to know what you’re having?”

This is what the sonographer asked me at my first scheduled ultrasound.

Of course I do!”

Now, interestingly enough, I had just declined my husbands request to load up “curly cutie” and have them both accompany me to the appointment.  Why?  Well, it was 8:30 in the morning and, technically, I was not supposed to find out this information until next month.  So, I rested on the table in a perfectly dimly lit room.  The mood was set for a most beautiful nap.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so much sleep in my life.  I was too excited to go to sleep though, for I was about to hear the news of the century!

Do let me say that my husband already had this thing figured out.  A couple days after we found out we were expecting, he came to me with his thoughts on the gender and name of the baby.  I just laughed.  He did not.  He was serious as serious can be.  He had prayed.  I told him I would pray the opposite of what he was praying.  Lol!  I didn’t really do that, but we have this running joke between the two of us.  If one says something the other doesn’t 100% agree with, we say that we will pray the opposite.  Of course the opposite is whatever we want.  I know, silly, but we always get a good laugh out of it.  This was no exception, because his chosen name had me hollerin’.  My husband definitely has an “old soul”, but I was not expecting him to take it that far back on me.  Maybe I’ll share the name later, but for now just know that “I hollered” (that’s a term we use for laughing hard and loud).  So, as I rested on the table, I didn’t feel too bad about him not being there.  He already had it figured out.  For him “faith was not surprised”.

This baby is certainly not ashamed,” the sonographer said.  I laughed.

The first thing she could see was genitals.  All you could see was little legs in the air.  I won’t put the baby out there like that.  But I will show this…

The hubs was absolutely correct.  We are preparing to receive a beautiful baby boy at November’s end.  You should just see the excitement going on over here.

Well, that’s all for now.  I will be back to share some things we have in the works over here.  It’s “newness” all around.  Things will be quite different from the time “curly cutie” came “on the scene”.

Oh, “Operation Accumulation” has begun.  Remember when I mentioned that we gave pretty much everything away pertaining to babies?  Well, the blessings seem to be taking us over already and I hadn’t really gotten anything “kicked off” yet.  Praising God for His faithfulness.

Where have you been experiencing new life?  I’m convinced it is all around us.  Physical/emotional/spiritual/financial/mental, etc?