I’ve got a really special story to share with you guys on the blog, today. And it’s not a sad one, not really. It’s a story of hope, and love, and faith – and a whole lot of baby magic. Super-mom Elizabeth has graciously written their family’s rainbow baby birth story for the blog today.
“Rainbow baby: A baby born after a previous baby’s loss; so called because rainbows often appear in the sky after dark and turbulent times.”
I talk a lot about my drive to create images that matter to people. Images that are “just” pretty have never interested me, much. What’s most important to me, at the end of the day, is making photographs that matter to the people in them, and the ones who come after.
Some of the images that I am most proud of will never be seen by anyone other than those to whom they matter the very most.
When I met this family through my work with NILMDTS, I knew–instantly–that they would change me. Being with them on one of the hardest days of their lives is an experience that I still carry with me to this day. The grace and love that filled their room in the short hours that I had with them will always stick with me, and the time I spent with Madeline and her parents reminds me that photographs are more than just pretty things to look at. They’re vehicles that keep our most precious memories close to us.
I take that sense of responsibility with me into every session that I photograph, and on none moreso than when Elizabeth and John had their rainbow baby birth, with Julian. Being able to be there with them as they welcomed their healthy baby boy was as joyful as my first meeting with them was bittersweet.
Anyway, I’ll turn the blog over to Elizabeth, and show off some photos of her newest little love!
The first time I met Cyd, I had just given birth to my second child. She was full term, but only 4lb. 14oz. Cyd was there as a volunteer through Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to photograph what doctors told us would likely be the beginning and the end of her life. Our little Madeline was diagnosed with alobar holoprosencephaly at 20 weeks gestation, a diagnosis that was “always fatal”. Madeline Elizabeth was born at 11:20PM on April Fool’s Day. The pictures that Cyd took that day would capture the imperfections we grew to love in our tiny daughter.
I never planned to have birth photography. For my first son’s birth, I didn’t even consider it! Why would I want a stranger in the room during one of the most intimate moments of my life? (Aside from all the medical staff, that is!) When Cyd arrived, she went straight to work, she didn’t balk at Madeline’s cleft lip or her flat nose, but instead instantly entered into baby mode, and the tender atmosphere of the night. Looking back at some of our pictures, I have no idea when she took many of them, as her presence in the room felt so natural.
When I got Madeline’s pictures from Cyd, I wept at how tangible God’s presence had been on that very special birth day.
The peace in the midst of the fear was evident that night, and is forever captured in our photos. The pictures showed our nurses and doctors who felt like actual angels as they walked through the uncertainty with us. They demonstrated the magic of seeing our son become a big brother, and our parents meeting their new granddaughter. All of our prayers for Madeline’s brief stay on this earth were answered.
And then, five months later, she was gone. Although we had more time with her than we expected, it still felt too short. Our house felt empty, our lives felt meaningless. Our son was an only child all over again. It was painful to walk through those first few days, weeks, months, without her. By God’s grace we kept going. We kept trusting His ways above ours. Knowing she was safe in His arms is a true source of comfort, and we slowly learned how to live without Madeline, although nothing is the same. Her presence was great and her absence is greater.
We knew our family wasn’t complete, but yet starting over felt so scary. What if we lost another child? Our fragile hearts couldn’t take much more pain and brokenness. God began to remind us that He redeems broken things. He created new life for our family, our rainbow baby. Another boy! He was healthy, growing, and perfect. Hearing these words at my ultrasounds and OB visits felt like a dream. Could he really be healthy? Could we really get another chance to raise a child?
It seemed too good to be true.
We kept waiting for something bad to happen. Yet God showed us His redeeming power through our new baby growing safely inside of me. Milestones came and went, and God always showed us He cared about the details of redeeming our family.
FINALLY, Julian came. He was late, but he came! He was 9lb. 7oz. of perfection. As the doctor laid him on my chest, I couldn’t believe he was mine! What an indescribable gift to have a child. A healthy child. The whirlwind of the birth and afterbirth came and went. The room was quiet while the pediatrician carefully examined him. I will never forget the peaceful look on her face when she turned to me and said “He’s perfect.”
After facing sickness and death with Madeline, having a healthy rainbow baby felt like a dream. That day, we watched our first born become a big brother AGAIN. We became a family of four AGAIN. We watched all those precious firsts take place again. Julian will never replace Madeline, but his life reminds me that God’s story never ends in ashes.
During his birth, the anticipation was real. Although we had so much peace from God, the questions were still there, the anxiety was evident. But oh the relief when he cried and the joy of meeting him! Looking back through our pictures of our rainbow baby’s birth, all those feelings are perfectly captured!
Birth photography is so special because it captures feelings more than faces.
The intense emotion from the pain of losing Madeline to the joy of holding Julian is evident. These photos captured his first moments in mommy’s arms and lighting up daddy’s world. It all happened so fast that going back through our pictures, and reliving one of the happiest moments of my life, is priceless.
I truly believe Cyd has a gift for birth photography. Entering into these intimate moments, but not invading them is a difficult balance to maintain, yet effortless for Cyd. After both births, she felt like a friend. Her eye for the most important moments stunned me in both my babies’ photos. I could never recommend her skills or character enough.
Thank you for capturing the things that are most precious to us here on earth.
Curious about birth photography – or anything else? CLICK HERE to get in touch!