Two days ago I was contacted by a woman who said she wanted to hire me for lifestyle newborn portraits for her 8-week-old nephew that was just released from the hospital. I agreed because I love lifestyle portraits, and something was tugging at my heart. She wanted to do the session the next day because she didn’t know how much time he had. He was born with Microcephaly – where the baby’s brain doesn’t develop all the way leading to a much smaller head size. See, baby Aiden was supposed to be stillborn, but he wasn’t. He came out fighting and has been for the last 8 weeks. He stunned doctors and they had no way of determining his life expectancy because he kept shattering all their previous expectations of him.
When I was contacted initially, all I was told was that he was just released from the hospital and she didn’t know how much time he had. I didn’t really ask for more details so when I showed up and saw him for myself, I was completely surprised. He was so tiny. So perfect. As soon as his mom brought him in to the room, I was immediately teary-eyed. But they weren’t tears of sadness or pity, it was genuinely pure joy. He was the cutest little fighter I have ever seen in my life. He had BEAUTIFUL gray eyes that he let me see for about 3 seconds, and he had the tiniest little wrinkled hands that held more experience and knowledge than the average adult.
I don’t know how long I was squealing and baby-talking to him before I realized I wasn’t even photographing anyone yet, just loving on him, but I couldn’t help it. His perfect face drew you in and there was no escaping it.
We did the shoot yesterday and watching his family interact with him was so bittersweet. You could tell he was the most loved baby in the world, but also it hurt my heart so much to see his grandpa cry as he held him.
The next day I woke up to a message from Aiden’s aunt – the one who booked me – saying that he died this morning, and I am a wreck right now. I wanted to believe it was a mistake or a dream, but I felt in my heart I didn’t have the RIGHT to be grieving when his family must be feeling things I could never imagine. My heart is shattered for that family that loved that baby so much. My heart hurts for my kids that I don’t appreciate as much as I should all the time. In that moment ,as I sat there in bed crying, looking at my two sleeping boys, I could hear my voice playing back every single time I’ve yelled at them. I could feel every tear they ever shed into my chest, that I didn’t think I had time for at the moment. And I could feel a part of myself dying at the thought I could one day be without my children. But my heart is also full with gratitude because I know I am a better person for being allowed in their home and for getting a chance to hold that perfect little boy for a while yesterday.
Cross Posted from LoveWhatMatters.com
Photo Credit: Jennifer Ryals Photography