Dear Baby Hallow,
This is the story of the day you came into the world. See, I’ve known your mom & dad for a very long time now. I met your dad first, when he was just in high school, and he and his group of friends would come over my mom’s house a few times a week to hang out with Aunt Steph (or “French” as they called her then.) Gosh, that was probably at least 15 years ago, long enough that by now your dad feels like my little brother. My favorite thing about your dad is his loud, warm, infectious laugh (I’m sure it’ll be one of your favorites too.) Not too long after that I met your mom. I think my favorite thing about your mom is her particular brand of humour: it’s as weird as mine lol. I remember when I visited them out in California a few years back, and she checked on me after I’d left to make sure I was safe, so I texted her that I was okay. But she needed proof that I was alive lol! She wanted to see a picture. So then I took a very odd selfie as confirmation, and she just sent me an odd selfie right back lol. I loved that lol.
So here we are, years later, and I can’t believe THIS much time has already gone since I first met them, and all the things we’ve experienced in the meantime: high school, college, graduations, jobs, then other jobs, weddings, cross-country moves… It’s true what they say. What I would hear my parents say and what you will undoubtedly hear yours say too: “It’s going by faster each year!” Somehow after high school some universal force hits ‘fast forward’ or something, and you barely have time to take any of it in. You feel like you just blinked and 5 years of your life, 10, 15 just went by.
All this backstory, it’s so you understand how meaningful it was for me to be there that day. I’ve photographed other people’s birth stories before, but never that of anyone I’m this close to. I never got to photograph a ‘niece’ coming into the world, and what an awesome gift to be granted. As things turned out, you came a week early and took all of us by surprise. I immediately hoped in a car in the middle of the night and drove from Chicago, Illinois to Madison, Wisconsin. Your grand-parents, your aunts and uncles, they really wanted to be there but they were too far and couldn’t make it on time. In the end it was just your mom, your dad and me. We sat, we paced, we waited. Your dad & I saw a cool & creepy house outside and we named it The Halloween House lol. Your mom? Let me tell you, she was incredible. You had her work HARD little girl, for 28 hours. I guess she made it too cozy for you! I don’t blame you, it’s warm & dark in there, I would have hit ‘snooze’ too. Your mom pushed for 4 whole hours, and your poor dad was wracked with stress and anxiety for both of you. By the second day we were all exhausted, but really we just couldn’t wait to meet you! Your mom fought hard to avoid a c-section, and you’d made so much progress, but we had to keep you safe. So off you went, and I’m so heart-broken I wasn’t allowed in there with all of you. So I waited. I think I slept in a ball on the floor for a while lol. A really long time after your dad came back in, looking drained and heart-broken; he was sad that your mom had to go through that, and worried because you had to be rushed to the NICU. We waited some more. Eventually your mom came back, and I really really wanted to grab a photo of the two of you together, but once more I was told ‘no.’ Finally, when we were allowed, your dad & I went to visit you as you were recovering and I’ll never forget it. It was the first time babies became emotionally meaningful for me. Before that I thought “Oh cute! Look. Tiny human.” (lol.) But for some reason, it never reached my heart in a deep way. I never felt a pull to have my own either (at 36.) But I watched your dad watch you, I watched his eyes take you in and fill with love, tears, and pride, and it finally clicked. The immensity of the moment, of what just happened. This was Sean. Baby-Brother Sean I’d watched be a goofball as a teenager. Now he was a DAD. And you were REAL. Woah. He gave you his finger and you wrapped it with your whole, tiny hand. A tear rolled down his cheek and he said “She’s perfect” as he stroked your little head. We went back to see your mom who was finally coming to, and dad held her head as he showed her a photo of you. She looked mesmerized. Technology, with all its faults, had allowed you three to be together when you couldn’t. That’s when I knew it was time to leave. Your mom & dad were emotionally and physically exhausted, and now it was time for some privacy and rest. I was disappointed I didn’t get a photo of the three of you together, but in some way I guess I did.
I love you already, little Hallow, and I’m honored to have been one of the first few to meet you. Thank you SO MUCH Sean & Karyn, for allowing me into SUCH a private and precious moment of your lives. It’s a big ask and a big honor, and I’m so touched you wanted me there at all. We didn’t get to photograph everything we wanted, but hopefully this helps your families feel in some way like they were there too. Gosh, you guys are PARENTS now. Isn’t that just CRAZY??!! You’re gonna be amazing and I can’t wait to watch her grow 🙂
Your birth story below | Link to gallery here.
Music Credit: Everything by Everyone Moves Away. Licensed by Musicbed.
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Laëtitia Donaghy is a French-born, Chicago-based, international photographer focusing on weddings and elopements. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a focus in Photography, and a minor in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University. She brings to her weddings and portraits her Fine Art training in order to bring forth the realness and emotion present, and showcase people’s relationships. Her focus is on preserving as much of the day as possible and keeping it as honest as possible. She travels the world for weddings and other assignments. She has been published on the web and in print.
“Babies are bits of stardust, blown from the hand of God.”