So much time and effort goes into planning an event with this many families. 20 families and 2 days. Many times, I am at the mercy of good friends and what they have to offer and I am so very grateful to them. A huge thanks to Tammy Law for use of her property and to my sweet friend, Lisa from Wish Vintage Rentals for the lanterns and coolers. Wendy, thank you for sweating it out with me and being my right hand gal!
“Sitting in the doctor’s office. 5 weeks today. Get out your calendar” was the text I received in the beginning of this year from Jenn. We immediately began figuring out a game plan to get her through wedding season without puking, fainting, or lifting.
Weddings and early pregnancies are no stranger to Jenn and I. It’s where we begin.
She has been known to run into a convenient store for me demanding “bananas, peanut butter crackers or anything to coat a pregnant woman’s stomach!…and quick!” She has stood as support while I balanced my 32 week old pregnant belly in her face, on the edge of a bed, while photographing a hanging wedding dress. She has stepped in a grabbed “the shot” while I’ve backed out to take a breather and I’ve lost count how many times we’ve eaten a vendor meal in a country club bathroom or conference room while I’ve pumped.
I knew with that text that it was finally my turn. My turn to feel useful and protective just as she had done for me so many times. And it was finally her turn. Her turn to let someone care for her and help her during such a critical stage.
Jenn is one of my best friends-it’s a bonus that we share a love of photography and owning our own businesses. Late one night in my living room-about a month after I had my first child, Jenn and I were talking about life, men, and babies. (We often find ourselves deep into conversation that ends with crying. But there hasn’t been a single point in our friendship where one of us isn’t pregnant, post pardum or nursing so our friendship is based mainly on raging hormones.) I realized that night just how deep Jenn’s heart yearned for a child to call her very own. My heart broke for her as I watched tears roll down her face. We cried together. We cried for the joy I felt in having my new baby-we cried for the ache she felt.
Four days ago, her desire and painful ache turned into the deepest and purest love anyone can experience. She became a mother. Sawyer Wynne announced his presence boldly at 6:52pm on October 10th. Weighing in at 7lbs 14oz. He is pink, round and already the most photographed baby I’ve ever met. He responds to the click of a camera, his mommy’s voice and grandmommy’s singing. My heart was overwhelmed as I watched my sweet friend shush and comfort her baby close to her heart. It came so naturally. She was made for this and he was meant for her.
Jenn, I can not express how honored I am that I was to be able to be there for this year in your life….it’s only just begun! Lobster babies and all! XOXO
“Storms make oaks take roots.”-Proverb
I wasn’t sure how to start this post. So I sat. Writing words-then deleting. Writing words and again-deleting. I didn’t want to include any part of myself with this post. This about a baby. A heart and a family. This is about a baby boy, his heart and his family walking in a valley. This is about God’s sovereignty. God’s grace and God’s mercy- while walking in that valley.
Karen and I have known each other since high school and our families are good friends. It was a bittersweet question when the day arose. Would I would be willing to document their beloved baby boy’s first few days of life before his journey of three planned surgeries to repair his heart. Karen wanted photos of her baby without his forever scar. Perfectly smooth, soft skin.
Braylon was diagnosed with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome. HLHS occurs when parts of the left side of the heart (mitral valve, left ventricle, aortic valve, and aorta) do not develop completely. Karen and Ryan began the exhausting process of finding a doctor to care for Braylon and began researching and planning for all the necessary steps that would need to be taken after Braylon was born to repair his heart. With each OB appointment, Braylon’s ultrasounds proved he was a super hero-gaining weight, growing strong and the right side of his heart working extra hard to make up for the left side.
I happen to have been with Karen and Ryan while the surgeon explained the entire surgery that would take palce the next day. This was not for the faint of heart. I watched a knowledgeable, capable and respected member of the surgeon’s team explain in detail how they would begin to fix this dear boy’s heart-a heart the size of a walnut. I watched two sleep deprived, pulled-at-the-seams parents that had researched and prepared themselves as much as possible take in all that doctor had to say. Weight shifted from one leg to another. Nails were bitten down to the quick. Door knobs were grasped as if that detail was just a bit too much to handle right then and there. All the outward signs of stress and nerves coming forward. I watched as a daddy lay his head to his baby boy’s and pray tears over all his son was going to encounter.
Braylon conquered his first open heart surgery when he was less than 48 hours old. It has been a wicked rollercoaster, yet through it all, Karen and Ryan have shown the utmost faith in what God has in store for their precious son and for their family. They want only what God sees fit for their family and trust His will for Braylon’s life.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
As of the last few days, Braylon has been making small steps is the right direction. He does not need a breathing tube any longer and was able to snuggle with his momma for the first time in 19 days.
If you’d like to keep up to date with Braylon’s progress and pray for this amazing family, please join the facebook page.
These are the Parks. Dad. Mom. Son. Dog.