When we visited my friend Sarah in the hospital the night before, we talked about long-term bedrest until her due date in December. Only 23 weeks along, and dilated to 2cm, this was risky. We visited and made plans about our large group of children we oversee at our church, while I combed out and french braided Sarah’s hair to keep it from getting matted from the pillow.
As a newborn photographer and former photojournalist, I offer at times to people that if something happens in their pregnancy and they are in danger of losing the baby, that they can call me and I can record whatever I can for them. I hesitate to do so, because I’m verbalizing something no one wants to. And I prayed I wouldn’t hear anything.
The next day, I already had my camera bag in the car and kids being watched as I headed out for a different purpose when I got his call.
“Hey! What’s up?” I answered.
And my heart sunk.
Bryan’s voice choked up and asked me to come– Sarah was in labor. 23 weeks. 23 weeks. The night before Sarah had said something about 5% survival rate. I prayed for the 5%, and drove as fast I could to the hospital.
The room was full when I arrived– instead of a head first like the ultrasound showed, the doctor found feet. Flurry to ready the c-section and get her down the hall. Her dazed husband didn’t even know 30 minutes before that anything was wrong– her phone had died after she confirmed he was headed over. It just happened too fast.
We waited in silence in the empty room, cords and debris strewn in the haste to get her to the procedure. They wouldn’t let him in with his wife and baby, so he just quietly waited. Finally they let us come down the hall to watch as they wisked a tiny bundle of blanket and hat to the elevator. That was all we got to see. 5:48pm, baby boy. Alive.
And then we got to wait. NICU was going to be closed 6-8, which kept us on edge– hoping that someone would let us know something sometime soon. We were transferred downstairs to what would be Sarah’s new room. At about 7, someone sternly asked for Mr. Brockbank, and to follow. We walked very fast down the hall, my heart pleading that this wasn’t bad news.
We walked in to see a tiny baby with tubes and lines all for sorts of purposes. We watched as the team of doctors and nurses worked to keep his tiny body alive. They pushed Mom’s hospital bed in to the small room after she was done in post-op. It was tender and scary and hopeful and discouraging all at once. I told them to call me whatever time during the night if needed, but I hoped they wouldn’t.
1 pound 5 ounces of sweet tiny child. Hang in there little one.
I left them to wait and watch and recover… and went on a date with my patient husband. Halfway through our movie my phone vibrated. No.
No. No. No.
We left the theater and I got my bags from home, and headed over to take pictures of their first and last moments holding their tiny child.
My heart was heavy, but I am so very grateful that they let me come. What a blessed experience. The couple and I are both part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we believe that there is a plan for us. This little warrior’s 6.5 hours on this earth accomplished his purposes to gain his body. It was sad and heartbreaking, and the road of grieving will be a rough one. But I was struck over and over again at their faith in God and His purposes.
Some day Sarah and Bryan will write about the miracles and wonders of this experience– and I look forward to sharing that with you. For now, enjoy these images. I hope they bring compassion, hope, gratitude and healing for anyone they can.
To everyone who has lost a child too early, I hope you find peace.
Heaven lent us an angel, just as was for your little one.