I was so thrilled when the opportunity came about for me to photograph Emily for her 1st birthday. You see, her parents are friends of ours that unfortunately moved away while we were both pregnant. Emily’s entrance into the world was nothing short of heart-racing, prayer filled, and dramatic. She was born a micro preemie at just over 6 months gestation. I asked her parents to share her journey with us, photos included.
“When people ask how Emily is doing, it’s difficult not to say anything short of “perfect.” Save for the occasional tantrum, she’s constantly happy. She learns something new every single day. She is healthy built out of bricks.
Most importantly, she’s alive.
A little over six months into pregnancy, my wife went into labor. The doctors managed to keep the delivery off for a week, but on November 27th, Emily decided enough was enough.
She weighed less than two pounds and barely made a sound with her tiny lungs. Her eyes were still fused shut and she barely moved in the few moments before she was rushed to the NICU.
When we saw her, next, she was wired in to a dozen beeping and hissing machines. Her plastic womb glowed blue from the lights. I could just see her tiny self under all the tubes and wires. We couldn’t touch her until her skin thickened.
Needless to say, it was difficult to see her like that. Day after day, the hope came back to us. And, day after day, she got bigger and relied less on the machines. We could hold her in our arms. Her beautiful eyes eventually opened and she could finally see. She learned how to eat from a bottle.
After two of the longest months I’ve ever known, she came home. She only weighed four pounds and we had to pack towels around her to properly fit her into her car seat.
Home never felt so calm. No more nurses pacing. No more machines. No more terror.
The normalcy had finally set in when we had to bring her back to the hospital. She would either eat monstrous amounts or sleep. Any other time was spent sleeping or being lethargic. At eight months old, our baby had regressed to a newborn.
The doctors told us she was having infantile spasms- seizures brought on by an abnormal sort of epilepsy. Her chances of brain death or mental disability were high, and the likelihood of a lifelong dependence on medications were even higher.
Before we knew it, we were home again. She had started on a low-dose of a basic epilepsy medication that she won’t have to take much longer and our little girl started doing things she had never done before. She started playing with toys, laughing, sitting up, and chatting all within a week.
Her first birthday was humbling, to say the least. We were ecstatic to share the day with Heather and see the process behind such heart-warming pictures to remind us what an amazing child we have.”
-Tom (Emily’s Dad)
Photos of her incredible journey submitted by her family. I was not the photographer. (The ones I took are further down)
You take many things for granted when giving birth to a full term baby. I can’t fathom the struggle and fear associated with having a child born so early. Seeing how Emily has overcome the odds is so amazing. She is such a chunk and so full of life, so we kept things pretty simple. Her expressions during the smash were so adorable. I just wish we had more time to spend with the family!
While I was busy focusing on Emily, her dad was behind the scenes snapping a few of me and my “personal assistant” that was tagging along that day. Yes, that is me “chimping” away, bottom right.
Tom and Dez, thank you again for allowing me to spend this time with your family! I can’t wait until you visit again