Sunday, December 20, 2015

Celebrity Babies

A friend of ours recently referred to us as "the family that nothing bad ever happens to." Although I know that's not true, I also know that we are very, very fortunate. In addition to incredible amounts of hard work, we have had unique opportunities shine on us on more than one occasion. When David and I first met, we were contacted by e-Harmony to do a news segment in Virginia about on-line dating (they even sent us crystal from Tiffany!) - Two years ago, we were profiled on our local NPR affiliate to talk about our experiences as a family...I wrote about that here. But then, earlier this month, something happened that topped it all. My children became just a little bit famous.

When Clara was born, we made the decision to splurge on newborn photos. It was something I deeply regretted not doing with Morgan, as the JcPenney portrait studio just didn't quite capture the essence of her new baby perfection. We decided to work with a phenomenal local photographer, who then spent hours with our little family one Saturday morning, tenderly posing our new daughter. The results were stunning; as soon as I saw the proofs, I wept. They captured everything, from the tiny cowlick on Clara's forehead to the newly formed bond between two sisters. They were magic.

Fast forward to this month. We received an invitation to a reception being held at the hospital where our girls were born. Our photographer let us know that she had been awarded a contract with the hospital and would be profiling some of her work throughout the maternity ward. One of Clara's newborn photos had been selected, and we were invited to attend the unveiling. 

We arrived that night in standard fashion - 15 minutes late, swinging a diaper bag and a car seat. The lobby was packed, filled with families and hospital staff swapping stories between forkfuls of cake. Canvases lined the walls, showcasing tiny windows into the lives of newly formed families. We had no idea which photo of Clara had been chosen, so we had no sense of what to expect. I set our things down, smoothed my hair and reached for a cup of punch. And there it was. The photo. So perfect. So sweet. 

We stood in awe, overwhelmed and humbled. Of all of the families, of all of the babies, ours were chosen. Chosen to help tell part of the hospital story, chosen to showcase the impeccable work of our photographer, chosen to highlight the wondrous journey that is family. Tears of pride hung in the corners of my eyes, falling only when David's glance met mine. Our babies.

The hospital coordinator invited us on our own tour of the maternity wing. She explained that in addition to the photo in the lobby, Clara was highlighted in four more photos throughout the halls and within the maternity rooms. And so we went, swept immediately back in time as we entered the halls I walked for hours as I labored with both my daughters.

With each photo, my heart burst just a little more. I was struck not only by how tiny and perfect Clara was, but by how much she has changed and grown in such a short period of time. What were once tiny coos and squeaks have been replaced by demanding squawks and screeches. The tiny bundle that once only rested while nestled in my arms now fiercely fights being snuggled too tightly.

The picture of our girls together also adorns one of the birthing rooms, and I thought it only fitting to capture those two moments in time.  So as we finished our tour, our guide took one more photo of us as a family. Just seven months and an entire lifetime between those images.

As we said our goodbyes that night, our photographer encouraged us to take a brochure. David declined, assuring her we were done having babies and that a brochure was unnecessary. She calmly persisted, encouraging him to pick one up from the table. As he nonchalantly handed it to me, I gasped. There was Clara again, quiet and serene, a subtle reminder of just how fleeting and perfect life's moments can be.

So no, we are not the family that nothing bad ever happens to. But we are the family who cherishes our daughters, whose hearts swell at just the mention of their names. If you're ever at the St. Luke's in Meridian, whether it's to have a baby, visit a baby, or return a baby that's become an unruly toddler, look for our family on the walls there. Autographs by appointment only.

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