Coming Soon

As a photographer I am privileged to be part of many families life moments. Recently I stepped back and realized I have two beautiful couples I began to photograph when they became engaged.  Their marriage would soon follow and we made wonderful memories as they pledged their love to one another.  As time passed that love would cause my phone to ring with the news, “WE are having a baby!” What an exciting moment to be included in as they prepare to welcome a new one into this world.

Last month we spent some time together capturing memories while these little boys are still residing safely in the nest. IMG_6356We captured Trace hiding in an “egg belly” while daddy and big sister hunted a few eggs of their own. A very proud, soon to be daddy, kissing baby Owen while mommy kissed daddy brought a tear to my eyes. IMG_6538 Continue reading

Everyone Speaks “Baby” Right?

“Sí lo hacen” translated, “Yes they do.” If you don’t speak it, all the folks waiting for Miss Penelope to make her grand entrance into the world certainly did.

After the last race to the hospital and missing those first birth moments by just minutes I was more prepared once I was placed on “baby watch” the third week of October. My phone ringer was on loud right beside my bed every night after I heard the words, “it could be any day now.”  If there were grandparents who traveled 1,947 miles from Mayaquez, Puerto Rico for this event surely I would be able to make it from Austin to Little Rock. I just thought Miss Hadley made a quick entrance into the world, that is, until my phone rang at 3:45 a.m. on October 15th. I saw the ID name and answered with, “yes ma’am.” The voice was hurried as she explained her daughter was on the way to the hospital. I sensed Nana was having doubts she would make it in time because of all the stops she had to make. By 4:00 a.m. I was on my way to Little Rock. I told you I was more prepared :).

I realized once I was about 20 minutes into my trip I had left one very important thing behind. No, it wasn’t my camera, in case you are thinking you know my story already. It was my cell phone. “Unbelievable,!!” I said, while doing a little pounding on the steering wheel. There was no way I was turning around to retrieve it, so I guessed I’d just figure out where to find her once I’d arrived.

Before 5:00 a.m. I was already snapping photos of the triage room number and the clock on the wall. Yes, you did not mis-read, I did say “triage.” Are you kidding me?? After the call I got from Nana I expected to see the bundle of joy already bathed and spending time with Mommy and Daddy. However, there I was being directed to the Triage unit where the nurse was in contact with the doctor to determine if Mommy would stay or be sent home. Note the time was 5:07.

Contractions are consistently around 7-8 minutes apart. My thoughts were, “if they send her home I hope this fella in the red hoodie who is trying to take a nap has been to baby delivery class.” Lucky for him that did not happen. By 6:00 a.m I was quite amused watching the triage nurse trying to admit her patient while water is puddling in the floor and Mommy is saying she is very nauseous and thinks she will be sick. This is when the fella in the red hoodie decides nap time is over and he steps up like a pro. IMG_0441Then came the most ridiculous question I think I had ever heard. The baby was obviously on its way, her water had broken, contractions were coming faster and faster, and we heard, “Do you think you can walk?” I still laugh out loud just typing the words. I think Mommy was in shock and the fella in the red hoodie looks to me to see if I think that’s a good idea. “No! she can’t walk,” I tried to calmly explain to the nurse. I’m sure my voice sounded anything but calm as the red hoodie fella and I are trying to quickly gather everything together before the nurse gets back with the wheelchair. At least we hoped she’s coming back with one. I thought, “goodness sake, I just came to take pictures of this priceless moment, not to participate in the delivery process.” Little did I know, at that time Nana was not going to make it and I was going to be participating as stand in Momma and photographer. Oh, the joys of new life coming into the world. Little ones don’t exactly wait ’til everyone has all their ducks in a row before bursting on the scene.

The nurse rushed out with Mommy while Dad and I were getting the last of the bags together. This is when things started moving at break neck speed. I tried to get my camera in focus and stop for a shot of mom being wheeled away. I was only able to catch one before the nurse swooped through the doors to the delivery area with Mommy.IMG_0442 This is also where things got comical. Being in such a rush to get things together in the triage room not everything was secure in Moms overnight bag as she was being wheeled into delivery. Dad and I were following close behind and noticed panties on the floor. So, this is where I hear the second dumbest question and it comes from the fella in the red hoodie. “Are those her panties?” WHAT!! had he just asked me that? “I have no idea,” is all I can say and then I told him to just stuff them down in her purse I had over my shoulder. If they weren’t I guessed we would figure all that out after Miss Penelope got here. I won’t keep you in suspense, they were her panties. 🙂

7:12 a.m. I was present for one of Gods most amazing gifts to women. After almost 9 months of bonding and carrying this child the time came for the birth of Penelope Sophia Rosado. Simply no words would describe all the emotions present in that delivery room. The one that has remained in my memory is joy. Just plain unadulterated joy. Dad looks at Mom. Mom looks at Dad, and Penelope, well…. she looks at both of them and my heart melted.

Then all the “baby talk” begins. New grandparents arrived to meet this tiny addition to their families. Aunts were on the scene and aunts were being introduced via modern technology,IMG_0817 called Facetime. That’s when it struck me. I was hearing so many words of praise and amazement at how quickly Miss Penelope had arrived, how beautiful she was, and how tiny she looked. I realized although I was hearing two different languages from opposite sides of the room everyone really was speaking the same language. Babies seem to bring out the best in everyone. New life and a new found love. Baby love. Baby language.

 And in case you were wondering about how the fella in the red hoodie did. Let’s just say he lost the hoodie and his heart when Miss Penelope arrived.

Pushing Sissy

When I got the call I was still in my PJ’s. “I’m at a 6 and I am about to take a nap for a while.”  The drive wasn’t far and she had only been admitted a few hours earlier, but I should have recalled her fathers familiar statement regarding his daughters, “good breeding stock.”

Immediately I started to roll through all kinds of possible things I might see on this day and tried to catalog as many as would fit in my anxious mind. My heart started the steady thump, thump race that happens when it’s time to photograph a new life coming into this world. I’m fairly certain it was that last minute thought to pull through the Chick Fil A drive thru for a gallon of lemonade that set the events of the rest of this day in motion.

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The text came as I was pulling into the hospital parking lot, “she will be here very soon” to which I stopped and replied, “I’m here.” Goodness sakes her daddy wasn’t kidding about his girls. I knew I was in trouble when I drove around parking lots A, B, and C and didn’t see one place to park. I followed the stream of other cars to D, E, then F. That steady thump, thump of my heart turned into a racing OMG I can’t breathe kind of beat. “How many letters of the alphabet does this place have??,” is what my mind was thinking. As fate would have it I ended up in parking lot K. YES, I said K. I was still determined to somehow get back to parking lot A and up to the 2nd floor delivery room of this hospital before that little girl took her first breath. Having to park so far away forced me to take on the challenge of carrying my camera equipment and any other necessary items on my initial trip. Oh and lets not forget that GALLON jug of lemonade. Gracious sakes!  I would imagine the laughter from the security guard watching this fiasco on camera drew attention from anyone passing in the halls. To this day I don’t remember getting in the elevator, but I certainly had to because after the marathon I had just endured the stairs would NOT have been an option. I went whizzing past the receptionist while she said, “hurry it’s the room with the big pink wreath #255.” I’m not having good thoughts about this jug of lemonade in my arm that has now lost circulation. Opening the door to room #255 I hear it. You know what I’m about to say already don’t you? That beautiful sound every mother and father wait to hear when their child comes into this world was echoing off the ceiling. I simply collapse in the floor behind the curtain and Aunta says, “Lili she only pushed one time.” One time. Her daddy wasn’t lying.

I dropped that crazy gallon of lemonade and probably mumbled something that would require me to type symbols like ***##*#**. I had to laugh else I’d be crying like the new life that had zero patience and made her entrance into the world very quickly and extremely grand. The most important thing was, she was here and I was still breathing so let the fun begin.

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Do you ever wonder what things must go through a newborns mind when they burst onto the scene and are surrounded by hands, instruments, machines, and lights. Oh, the lights come from every direction. What this child, who is only a few minutes old, is about to learn is the person with the black square in front of her face doesn’t seem to ever turn her light off. Snap and flash, snap and flash, and so it goes. Every time the little princess meets someone new there it goes again, snap and flash.

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Very soon I learned that big sister is about to arrive. These are the moments you breathe in. Moments that have no description other than “awww.”  It’s priceless to capture the first eye contact when big sister finally gets to meet “her baby” and asks mommy and daddy a million questions. There were so many magical moments but one little observation by big sister still makes me laugh out loud. “Mommy! you opened it. You got my baby out.”  All the while patting her mommy on the tummy exclaiming, “oh, Mommy you opened it!” Priceless, priceless.

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This family may as well be my very own. I love them so dearly. Experiencing the birth of their children with them is a blessing that can’t be explained. You see, there are three sisters in this family. Their mother was my dearest friend and she left this world to take up residence in Heaven only weeks before the first, of the now four, grand-daughters arrived. I heard her call her girls “Sissy” almost as many times as I heard her call them by their given names. These women inspire me to no end. They are strong women. They have leaned on each other and pushed each other down this road called life, especially during the hard times. They push through with great grace.

Visitors come and go and Mommy and Daddy finally got to have some food and some quiet time with their new family of four. The nurse came to advise its time to take baby for her bath. Big sister is not at all happy about this abrupt announcement. She has waited such a long, long time for Mommy to finally “open it” and now this stranger says she’s going to take her baby. The bond of sisters has already started.  I found it no accident that this was my favorite shot of the entire day. Big sister, pushing “Sissy.”

Pushing Sissy

Pushing Sissy

So Said the Man in the Blue Scrubs

Sometimes the things you hear while behind the lens are as priceless as what you are trying to capture through the lens. This certainly rang true as I journeyed with the Chambers family through the incredible welcoming of their twins, Silas and Braylee.

First time moms these days are so much more informed than when I experienced bringing my bundles of joy into this world. New moms today have so many venues for gathering information and getting answers to all those questions that come along with child-birth. Recently however, I met the man in the blue scrubs who was sitting beside a soon to be first time mommy. His name across the front of his custom-made scrubs simply said, “Daddy.”  I quickly learned this soon to be dad had done extensive “research” also. Let the fun begin 🙂

The journey starts around midnight as the soon to be parents arrive at the hospital and begin the check in and settling in process. I arrive at the hotel to hang out with the soon to be grand parents, great grand parents, and the most excited soon to be, Aunt Brooke. Having been friends with this family since our children were toddlers, I was so blessed and honored to be sharing in this once in a lifetime moment with them. The waiting game had begun. Waiting for a call, waiting for a text, just waiting waiting waiting.

The text arrives, “we’re in a room”, and suddenly the sleeping soon to be Grandpa we will call Poppa is on his feet and soon to be Grandma Gigi, is waiting at the door. I watch all the emotions as they begin to unfold. Excitement for the birth of their first grand-babies. Anxiousness to see their own child experience the pain of childbirth. Laughter from a few simple words I uttered almost under my breath,”so says the man in the blue scrubs.”

His & Hers

I had not met this soon to be daddy on many occasions so I was trying to be as “invisible” as possible and still capture the moments of this exciting new chapter of their lives. Gigi does her best to calm the nerves of her child. Soon to be mom is restless and trying very admirably to mask the fact she is experiencing pain. As her mom is trying to explain to her it is perfectly okay to say it hurts because as moms we know it does, the first  “So Said” opportunity presents itself.  The man in the blue scrubs explains to everyone the color coded monitor we are watching with heartbeats of baby A, baby B, and mommy, and also the machine measuring contraction intensity and frequency.  As I’m capturing the time on the clock, the monitors, the equipment, the faces, that’s when it happens. “She is only dilated to a 3 so she’s not in a lot of pain right now. “We” won’t be in active labor until she is at a 6 so its’ going to be a while.” So said the man in the blue scrubs.

It’s 4 am and the watch party makes their way back to the hotel to see if there is any possibility that a few minutes of sleep might be an option. Minutes give way to hours and for a brief time all is quiet. Sitting in that recliner I tried to imagine the day I’d share in a joyous occasion like this with my own children. My heart smiled and I thanked God for giving me this sneak peek. Then I literally laughed out loud thinking about what was ahead for the man in the blue scrubs.

8:30 am finds us all back on the 5th floor getting settled in what will be our new living quarters for the day and the night. The halls are buzzing the news “there is someone here that will be delivering twins.” Soon to be grand parents and great grand parents meet other soon to be’s waiting on the arrival of their special bundle of joy. Nurses come and go checking monitors, adjusting meds, and most importantly making mom comfortable, oh…. and answering questions, lots and lots of questions from the man in the blue scrubs.

By noon the man in the blue scrubs has stopped calling me “Linda” and realized my name is Lisa. We’re making progress. So much progress that I step out from behind the lens to put on my “Mom” hat for a brief moment. I observe the man in the blue scrubs looking very tired and moving slowly. Not the same talkative, inquiring minds want to know person I met many hours before. He sits quietly watching his wife eating ice chips. I asked him when he had last eaten. The look on his face told me he wasn’t quite sure the answer. “I’m going to wait until she can eat. That wouldn’t be fair if I had something and she can only have ice chips.” So said the man in the blue scrubs. Instinctively my mom gears engaged. I took a moment to explain that he had to eat so he would be ready for what was to come. I assured him his wife was in great hands with her mom and sister by her side. This was enough to persuade him to step out for some lunch.  Inside I once again chuckled at the man in the blue scrubs.

The clock ticks on and what was day soon becomes night. Late night has a very tired and hungry soon to be mom just wanting this process to all come to an end. Doctors visit and answer more questions from the man in the blue scrubs. Emotions are starting to reveal there has been little to no sleep for many faces around me.  Soon to be mom has just one request. “Will someone PLEASE just make sure I have a snickers when they say I can eat again.” Just so happens I’ve already raided the vending machine and put her one in my bag. My wonderful husband made a Sonic run for the waiting watch party so we could get a boost of energy and fill up on some caffeine. The man in the blue scrubs ordered a diet coke for soon to be mom to enjoy with her snickers treat. After a few more hours of sitting and waiting the once refreshing drink became a watered down mixture that I was sure would need to be replaced. The attendants arrive to take soon to be mom and dad to the operating room. Hugs and kisses from waiting parents, grand-parents, and sister shower soon to be mom. Soon to be dad is getting in his new hospital issued blue scrubs and I tell him we’ll bring her snickers treat but her diet coke has gotten all watered down. “Perfect, that’s just the way she likes it” so said the man in the blue scrubs.

IMG_1655Capturing the watching, waiting and pacing of the soon to be grand parents, great grand parents, sister,  and friends was something I knew I wanted to make part of this journey. Those moments of tension and tears as the minutes turned to 1 hour and then 2 were priceless to witness. Although captured in time as a frozen moment there is no way to convey the sound of those pacing shoes or the heavy sighs asking “how much longer could it possibly take? how long will they make her push before they do something?”  then the big door with the “Restricted Area” sign on it opens and they see him and hear him. “Silas is here! Stay right there, now we’re just waiting for Braylee” so said the man in the blue scrubs.

Babies are here

One of the attending nurses finds me to let me know they are about to bring the babies out.  I guess after spending so much time with them they knew exactly where I would need to be to capture the expressions on the face of the new daddy and Gigi as they introduced those two beautiful lives to everyone. It was such an amazing thing to see those tiny little bundles and watch the eyes of all the waiting family light up as they saw them for the first time. All those months of waiting and dreaming of what it was going to be like to have two babies born into the family had come to pass. Counting fingers and toes and countless words like, “oh they are just perfect,” “how beautiful,” “oh Silas we know your sister has been kicking your butt, we are so glad to see you.”

Double love

New mom arrives from the OR knowing she now has something in common with her mom- the name “Mommy.” It’s a beautiful moment.  The nurses begin to filter everyone back to the waiting room so they can attend to mom and babies. My heart is so full of excitement for these new parents. There are no words to describe the joy of being part of the first moments of their lives.

 

 

As I handed the watered down diet coke to dad I hear a very tired voice say, “Lisa, I can choose who is allowed to stay here while they get the babies checked out and I’d like you to. My wife did an amazing job tonight and WOW!!! I’m a daddy” so said the man in the blue scrubs.  IMG_6697My Daddy

She Still Loves

The treasured memories we hold in our hearts still can bring a smile. You left us so much of your beauty in the faces of your children. You left us your wit and charm in the unfolding lives of your grand-daughters. Yes my dearest friend, you may have physically left us 4 years ago but the love you left in our hearts only grows stronger with the passing of time.

25 More Days

Viewing life from behind the lens of a camera is a beautiful thing. I see faces, expressions, moods, and most of all smiles. Some of those smiles are genuine but for the most part they are the standard “smile for the camera kind.” That’s not what my heart as a photographer is trying to capture. I’m after the moments. Moments that bring a twinkle to the eye of a child. Moments filled with laughter that brings squinty eyes and puffy cheeks. The moments that are remembered as “life.” One day, so unexpectedly, God brought me one of these moments………the kind that change everything about the view from behind the lens.

Last Christmas I was doing my very best to put on a happy face and just make it through the holiday. My heart just wasn’t in it. It would be my first Christmas with one of my children missing from all the fun and laughter of our family holiday traditions.  My son was deployed to Kuwait, and the closer I came to Christmas the more the tears flowed. That is, until God placed the most precious little face in front of my camera.

Late one evening I was trying to pass some time away scanning through Facebook. I’d spent the previous days getting care packages together for my son and all the ones in his troop in Kuwait. My heart was sad just seeing the boxes addressed and stacked up waiting for shipment. The reality was beginning to sink in. He won’t be home for Christmas. I scrolled by a post from a Mom who wanted so much to be able to have Christmas pictures made with her children. I knew this young Mom and her children. She had a young son, and twins, a boy and girl, who had just turned two in September. I didn’t understand the “why” of God impressing on my heart that I must respond to her message. After all, I was so busy trying to hurry Christmas along. It hurt too much to give my mind time to think about my son and his buddies putting up that little plastic Christmas tree. However, God was insistent. I was not going to be able to just scroll on past this. I knew in my heart I had seen it for a very special reason.

I sent a reply message and within days my house was a whirling, dancing, jumping place that literally got turned upside down. Little voices of laughter and squeals added with words like, “please don’t pull the tree over on our heads” and many pleas from this exhausted Mommy saying, “Please just sit still and smile for Miss Lisa.” Smiles came eventually, but it wasn’t the smiles that made this such a life changing experience, it was the moments that were captured for this Mom, her children, and the rest of her family and friends. You see, as the flashes were flashing and the memory card was filling up with hands waving in the air, faces turning in a blur, Heaven’s clock was ticking. No one knew. Not her mom, her nurse, her brothers, only God knew there would only be 25 more days.

Christmas passed and the trees were all put away. The lights had come down and the New Years Eve buzz was closing in. The only exciting thing I was thinking about for the New Year was my son coming home in 2013. I prayed God would continue to watch over him and his comrades and bring them all home safe to their families. Then the call came. Early New Years morning my friend is trying to explain, through a voice filled with pain, she’s gone. The flood of questions comes. “What happened?” “Where are they?” “Oh my God, I’m so very sorry, is there anything at all we can do?” Stunned and shocked I try to explain what my ears have just heard to my husband. As the words leave my mouth, God speaks to my heart so clearly. “I knew she only had 25 more days. I knew today I would be holding this precious child in My arms. I knew, and now you also know the reason I asked you to capture those priceless moments.”

Life through the lens of my camera has never been the same. I don’t aspire to be a photographer shooting the top models on the runway or the lifestyles of the rich and famous. I aspire to be a photographer who captures the moments of life for families, friends, and strangers who soon become friends. I aspire to listen and respond when God places someone in my path who has a need to capture some of life’s moments. After all, He is the only One who knows if they only have 25 more days.

Dedicated to Kailynn Seerra

Kailynn