The phrase "perfect timing" has never been so...perfect. I was just coming back to Charlotte, North Carolina after traveling when I received a message from Liz. You might remember her from my post about Rigdon. Rigdon is Liz and Alan's son who was born at just 24 weeks and 6 days.
Rigdon's NICU stay was a roller coaster to say the least. Liz initially reached out for me to photograph him in the neonatal intensive care when he was 12 weeks old. Due to so many complications during his stay, the session never happened. I was finally able to catch up with Liz to photograph Rigdon's discharge home from the NICU. He was able to spend a few weeks at home, but was later admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. He remained there until he passed away in January of this year. He would have been 1 year old in February.
A few days before Rigdon passed away, his parents received the news that they were pregnant with a baby brother.
For some reason, Liz and I immediately clicked when we first met that day in the NICU for Rigdon's NICU portraits. Not only is this couple just THE sweetest, but they are so warm and grateful for everyone around them. Liz is also a medical professional, so she understood Rigdon's complications all too well. They were so prepared to love on Rigdon the rest of his life, no matter what the cost.
I think we were meant to finally connect after many months after our initial contact. So when Liz reached out and inquired about a newborn session for Bennett, of course I was so thrilled! I was excited that a past NICU family would allow me to photograph their family, but I was also so glad to continue to have Liz as a friend. (Once you're a client, you hold a special place in my heart!)
Liz invited me into her home for an in-home newborn session, and I was so thankful that she trusted me to capture these memories. Their NICU portraits were completely free, as a part of the complimentary NICU portraits I offer. The fact that they were willing to invest in my business meant so much. I felt a little tug at my heart when I heard the news of Rigdon's passing and Liz's pregnancy.
I have always been interested in birth photography. I love the idea of capturing all of those emotions and everything else leading up until that magical moment. I wanted Liz to be able to enjoy this time a little more than the last time she did it. I told her from the start that this experience would be different. It was going to be magical. I just knew it. I knew this would be a happy and healthy baby, and I wanted Liz and Alan to be able to focus on each other and be present. In the world of social media, it's hard to not pick up our phones during monumental events, because we want to remember every moment. Well I wanted to take that pressure away, and do this for them.
Working full time and working 12 hour shifts in a neonatal intensive care unit doesn't allow the flexibility I need for any kind of on-call photography. I told Liz that I couldn't make any promises that I could make it on time, but I would certainly try. I've only photographed one other birth, which resulted in a c-section that I was not able to attend. This time around was going to be different I hoped! I threw all of this at Liz and offered my services. Without any real experience (other than deliveries I'd been on as a nurse), she allowed me to be a fly on the wall in her delivery room during the birth of Bennett.
Here is where the perfect comes in! After being told that Liz wasn't likely to make it to term, Liz was admitted to deliver at 38 weeks. Liz contacted me just as I was getting back into town from a trip and just before I had to be at work again. I had literally one day available in about a 2 week period, and that was the time that Bennett decided to join us (Timing - perfect!) I arrived just before the epidural and all of the other "action" started, and was able to capture the moments leading up to the delivery. (Anticipation - perfect!) Liz was AMAZING during the actual delivery. Liz, Alan, and the labor and delivery nurse were the only ones in the room until the doctor was called. This allowed Liz to fully concentrate on pushing. I stayed quiet in amazement as she delivered a beautiful and crying baby boy, Bennett. (Baby - perfect!)
The crying brought me to tears. Not only was I seeing the magic I knew would happen in these moments, but I knew that this little cry was oh-so-important to Liz and Alan. You see, they didn't have the chance to hear Rigdon cry when he was born. At just 24 weeks, he was not able to cry. Rigdon was quickly shown to Liz and Alan and then whisked away to be intubated and stabilized. Most people take that first cry for granted. Most can't even imagine a baby coming out and NOT crying. For Liz and Alan, this was probably the moment when they knew that things were going to go very differently this time around.
These images are just a glimpse into Bennett's entrance into this world. A little sample of the emotion, a little sample of the perfect baby boy that went home safe and sound with his mom and dad just a few days later. Bennett is eating, sleeping, and growing like he should and has brought so much joy to Liz and Alan. I'm so grateful that they allowed me to photograph this experience, and I'm thrilled to share these with the world. A beautiful new chapter. Stay tuned for Bennett's newborn session images.