mandy's story | the birth of lucy rose

Oh birth.  Always teaching and stretching us to the very last moment.  Mandy had 2 hard weeks of prodromal labor that had worn her down, despite her sweet and positive attitude.  I personally experienced prodromal labor with all three of my babies and it was incredibly exhausting-I was an incredibly empathetic doula.  So the early morning phone call I got from Matt that it was go time made me jump from my bed in celebration.  

Everyone labors differently and Mandy was incredibly calm and relaxed during her labor.  I was really struck when I walked into the triage room by her hands; one open and receiving and the other clutching on to her husband.

The labor was gentle and progressed like a text book.  Dad and I squeezed her hips the whole time and we were a good team (we were sore the next day!).  

Some of my favorite moments were:

During a hard transition, Mandy was still laying still and quiet-just shaking a bit, and Who Runs the World-Girls by Beyonce came on the birth playlist.  Mandy came out of her trance and gave me a little knowing smile.

When Lucy's head was born, she stayed there for a minute or two and she stared RIGHT INTO HER DADDY'S eyes.  Such a sacred moment.  Half in mom, and staring into dad. I could barely contain how cool that was.

After all her quiet laboring and triumphant birth, Mandy looked at me and said with intensity, "I want a cheeseburger, tots and a milkshake."  Ha!  I made that happen fast as I could.

Wyatt meeting his sister and looking her over in delight.  I loved how they set Lucy on the bed so he could get to know her himself-I had never seen that.  

I love this family and it was magic to witness the birth of their Lucy Rose.  They live down the street from me so I get to snuggle her often and that makes me smile.

Enjoy these incredible images.  Thanks for letting me share Mandy!

ellie mae | on the night you were born

*Trigger Warning for Loss *

 

On the night you were born, the moon was full and ripe.  Good Friday was hanging heavy in my heart; sacred and holy...but full of grief, so full of grief.

It's a strange thing to grieve at a birth before a first cry.  A hesitant expectation.  You shocked all the doctors, consistently defying the odds for months...but still we didn't know if there would even be a first cry. 

When you were born, everyone held their breath. There was a hymn playing in the background as we waited, wide eyed, to see if you would breathe. 

You did. You gurgled a cry.

You were created perfectly, Ellie Mae, even though your 6th chromosome was not there.  Tears fell down my face as I photographed your tiny hands clutching at your daddy's finger, your lips, your perfect feet.  There was no denying your creator loved you.

For days your family and friends gathered to wait for you, to welcome you.  Ebbing in and out of the room like the tide; loving and serving and then giving space.  It was obvious their love for you and your family.  It was so deep, so tender, and such a beautiful part of your story.     

The hours following your birth were filled with grandparents ooing and ahhing, just like they always do, tears, laughs, treasuring every minute.  It felt a bit numb to me, like I was in a sacred dream.  Your mama and daddy loved you for a lifetime in those minutes, in those hours.  

The nurse and I sang the doxology over you.  It wasn't pretty but it was beautiful.

I was so honored, so deeply honored to have witnessed your short life, Ellie Mae.  God reached my heart in a way I didn't think possible that night. 

When morning came your breaths had gradually finished.  Gentle.  

Your big sisters came to meet you full of joy. That's when the heaviness set in.  Their eyes were bright as they discovered your tiny features, just like it always is with siblings. 

A beloved blanket was given up, wrapping your tiny body in it. Chubby baby hands comforted Mama.  They knew you weren't there but still they asked, 

"Why can't we take her home, Mommy?"

My heart is broken that they couldn't.

Easter came two days later.  Full of hope and life eternal.

Words cannot even touch the sorrow left in the hearts here.  

I can't heal it, but I can shout from the roof tops that you lived!

I can share it far and wide: the beautiful story of your birth.

 

this strange space | costa rica

Coming down off of a year of intense change and hurt, our family took a trip to Costa Rica for 2 weeks, just us 5.  

We saw monkeys and hiked the base of a volcano.  We swam in the sea surrounded by rugged rocks and twisted tropical trees.  We have 500 pictures of it all, in little rows on our iphones.  

The few times I picked up my camera-sometimes hazy with the humidity-it wasn't to capture the beauty of the country or document us doing something exciting.  It was a breathless attempt to grab onto the quiet magic. 

We ended up renting an open air house in the jungle on the Oso Peninsula, where they don't have electricity and you have to drive through rivers. 

It was there that our family found such tender healing. It goes beyond words.  Hours would pass with no speaking, just the click click of tiny transformers and the breeze in the trees.  I had time to cook and wash dishes while my family played games, filling my heart up to bursting. We spent days covered in mud on the rugged beach, completely free to be ourselves as not a soul walked past.     

At night I lay in Noah's sweaty arms listening to the ocean and the gekkos chirping, in awe of the strangeness of this space.

I saw my children there.  Raw and open, not who I was fashioning them to be, but their exposed souls-terrifying and magestic. 

Here are some of my most treasured photos I've ever taken. 

I wonder if you can see it. 

I wonder if they arouse in you the same heart longing that they have me.