Pictures, Pain, Passion

May 27, 2010 at 2:52 PM Leave a comment

(Writer’s note: Don’t miss the end…)

Do you know how many pictures you have of your child? Or maybe if you don’t have children, do you know how many you have your significant other?

Your answer is probably no I’m guessing.

But do I know how many pictures I have of Hailey?

Unfortunately, my answer is yes.

I have 785 pictures that have to do with Hailey – from pregnancy pictures to baby showers to ultrasound pictures to actual pictures of her. Every single picture ever taken (even the ones with my eyes closed or that didn’t turn out just perfect) – 785 total. Which means that I have less than 785 pictures of just her – and if I wanted to, I could go through them all and count to find the number of ones that are just of her.

I spent Tuesday evening and most of Wednesday putting all of Hailey’s pictures in a photo album so that they could all be in one place. Well not exactly a traditional photo album, but a photo book that I created online through Shutterfly. I chose to make a photo book instead of a traditional photo album for a couple of reasons. First, I have made two photo books in the past, and I love them! Second, can you imagine 785 4×6 pictures in a photo album? It would be huge, and I doubt anyone makes one photo album to hold that many pictures! Hailey’s photo book is 12×12″ and has 81 pages total with anywhere from 16 to 3 pictures on a page. So the photo book was the perfect option to please my creative desires for all of her pictures, and it was the only really practical choice.

Knowing how many pictures I have of my child is strange. Knowing I have seen every single picture ever taken of her is also strange. Strange and sad. But I am thankful I even have that many. I am thankful I took pictures of my growing belly when I was pregnant because if I would have miscarried Hailey as happens to so many Trisomy 18 babies I wouldn’t have had any pictures ‘of her.’ And I am thankful that even though 785 seems like such a small number to me – in this world of digital photography where you can so easily take thousands upon thousands of pictures of anything – really 785 is a lot higher of a number than some other moms have of their babies. For instance, my cousin who started her own photography business this year shared a story of a fellow photographer who stood in as the photographer for a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep session. She captured the life of a beautiful Trisomy 18 baby who lived for 7 hours in 80-90 photographs.  Those are the only pictures that that mother has of her son. Suddenly I am reminded as to how blessed we are to have had 36 days with Hailey and to have hundreds of pictures of her.

I’ve mentioned this before, but looking at pictures of Hailey can be frustrating for me at times. If I compare a handful of pictures of her, she looks like a different baby in each. There are only an elite few that stand out and reflect how Hailey actually looked to me. To me, her mom, many of the pictures don’t even look like her. I don’t know why, but I swear the camera had a hard time capturing what Hailey looked like in person. Only a few managed to do that. So it’s frustrating at times when I see a picture of her and know she looked so much cuter than that in person. So this time going through her pictures I had the same frustrations at times.

But more so than ever before, viewing her pictures this time brought different thoughts to my head. For the first time, when looking at myself, I saw so much joy that I didn’t understand it. I am not crying in the pictures the first time I saw her because I didn’t cry the first time I saw her even though my heart was devastated inside. I might cry now when I look back at those pictures, but I didn’t in the moment that the picture captured. In 98% of the pictures of Hailey, I see a smile on my face, a happiness, a joy, only things that a new mother could feel and express. Despite what my baby looked like, despite her being air lifted to a NICU and being in the hospital for 8 days, despite the fact that our baby had a disorder that made her incapable of living… despite all the fears and sorrows… they don’t appear in the pictures… because when I was with Hailey I was happy. And there was a delicate balance of joy and sorrow every day we had her and still is every day since she’s passed. And I realized that somehow I managed to minimize the fears and sorrows and magnify the joy and love so that in all the pictures that is all you will see. And I am so thankful I managed to do that.

Looking at some of the pictures taken by NILMDTS, I saw myself holding Hailey with a gigantic smile on my face. And a part of me thought I am like a smiling fool. What am I doing with that huge grin plastered to my face as these pictures were taken a day after we learned our baby was going to die by this photographer who was there only because our baby was going to die? Yes I had to try hard to smile, but my smile was real nonetheless. And I did it because of these days now. When the pictures were being taken, I knew there would be a time when Hailey would be gone and they would be all I had left of her, and I wanted to remember being happy with her and celebrating her life. And when I look at the pictures now that she is gone and I see the smiles, it makes me feel so comforted and it helps me find the reasons to continue to celebrate her.

Since I have joined this unspoken, invisible ‘group’ of women who have lost a baby, I have become all too aware of the experiences that accompany this type of loss. I have seen so many pictures of babies who were born stillborn or only lived hours or days and the family members in the pictures are captured in their devastation and sobbing. That is their personal story, and I am in no way judging them, but I am glad I don’t have any of those with Hailey. The sobbing happened and it’s real and not to be ignored or undermined, but I am glad I made sure that all of the captured moments were full of joy.

Never before this year have I felt and thought so much about joy and sorrow and how they go hand in hand, and it really is quite the learning experience. I am currently reading a book called Strong Women, Soft Hearts, and it is wonderful. It is not about grief or child loss or anything specific to me other than that I am a woman, and it is written for women. But in reading it, sometimes it speaks beautifully to my specific, healing, broken heart. Here are a few passages that particularly stood out to me that I wanted to share with you:

“…to accept the unavoidable aspect of pain – the gap between what seemed meant to be and what was. I had this mental image of how my life should be, a painting on the wall of my mind. And try as I might, I could not get reality to match the dream.”

“…you know you’re an adult when you start to realize that some sorrows in life will never go away. You learn to carry them with you in ways that enrich rather than debilitate your life, in ways that make you wise. But the dark and knubby places in the fabric, the tapestry of your life, remain.”

“If you want to know real joy in life, then be willing to let pain tutor your soul. Passion in life is comprised of the stuff that comes from the tutoring process – slowly and mysteriously…the root of this word passion gives us significant clues as to how we acquire it. It means “to suffer.” It’s as though some wise old soul was trying to let us in on a little secret. So…you are interested in the passionate life. You want the real thing. Are you will, then, to grapple with a bit of pain?”

For the most part I will let these quotes stand on their own and speak for themselves. But I will say in regards to the last two that these are things I am learning and are ways that I am growing. And I think the passion quote fits my life pretty well right now and explains some of what I’ve been feeling lately (like with the other posts about feeling free and trying new things, etc.). Even though my pain can be excruciating and I would do anything to trade the pain to have Hailey back and healthy, having known her and lost her is tutoring my soul, shaping me into a better person who is passionate about life. Appreciating life, feeling joy in deeper ways, and having this passion for life comes at a cost as mentioned… but I am thankful to be learning and growing and changing and not becoming debilitated…

In closing, I’ll leave you with a never before seen (except by the eyes of my mom’s, Josh’s, and my own) picture of Hailey. This one is Hailey as I knew/ know her. This is Hailey how I want to remember her and envision her always. Resting in my arms looking like her. Enjoy. I know I do. 🙂

So with all of that all being said, I can’t wait to see her photo book. I should receive it in the mail in a few weeks and I will let you all know how it turns out.

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Entry filed under: Hailey, Me. Tags: , , .

Hailey’s Hope:1 Week Left! A lesson in contentment

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Dedication

"God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed." ~Job 1:21

In Loving Memory of Hailey Marie

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