It was in May of 2016 that I received an email from Liz. She requested NICU portraits of her micro-preemie, Rigdon. He was already 12 weeks old, and Liz was feeling mom guilt for not contacting me sooner. She received my information in a Pierce's Project welcome bag she received when Rigdon was first admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at just 24 weeks and 6 days. She never felt like it was the right time to have me come take his photos, but now she was upset that she missed so many opportunities to catch him at his tiniest. Would I still come and photograph her baby? Of course I would. We set up an appointment and I sent some additional information to Liz. And then, crickets.
I didn't hear from Liz. I was concerned, but knowing the roller coaster that is the NICU, I didn't want to pry. I gave her space and reached out to her the night before our scheduled appointment. Liz responded and told me that Rigdon had a rough week. He had to have eye surgery and was having a rough recovery. He was also scheduled to have a tracheostomy and feeding tube placed the next week, so it was just not a good time.
Four months later, I met Liz in the NICU while I was photographing the Queen City Quints. I immediately recognized her name and was surprised to see her still in the NICU. I got an email the next day asking if I could come and photograph sweet Rigdon.
I chose to photograph Rigdon on his discharge day, which I thought was the perfect day for NICU portraits. I knew there would be a lot of people in and out, but I underestimated just how many. Rigdon was one loved boy! I've posted his discharge day photos below.
Today, Rigdon would have been 1 year old. I wish I could tell you that his journey after being discharged was an easy one, but he spent much of his time in the pediatric intensive care unit. Liz and Alan are spending today celebrating Rigdon's life and remembering the special times they had with him while he was here. They're even spending today visiting the hospitals where Rigdon spent most of his life, bringing gifts to those who cared for him. Their generosity during this devastating time is certainly inspiring!
Just a few days before Rigdon passed away, Liz and Alan received the news that they are expecting another baby boy. I was elated when I heard the news, but also knew that they must be feeling such mixed emotions, celebrating new life while grieving the loss of another. Just in the short time I've known Liz, I've seen her strength and I know that she is more than capable to face the challenge. I think this new baby is God's way of helping Liz and Alan prepare for their next stage in life. Liz's motto throughout Rigdon's journey was "We can do hard things." While I don't know where that comes from, I certainly hope this is the hardest thing they have to endure.
Enjoy Rigdon's sweet cheeks as you look at his discharge day photos! He's one precious little nicu graduate! Click here to donate to Rigdon's family.