Baby Charlie’s big day

Baby Charlie’s christening at Duke Chapel was one of the most precious events I’ve ever attended. 

He is all of four months old. All of him completely darling.

His baptismal gown was a reincarnation of his mother Annie’s first communion gown. Charlie must have known how special it was, as he grinned while putting it on.

Family traveled the distance to be with baby Charlie on his big day. Cousins from many states away even had small roles in the ceremony.

And the Godparents from New Jersey visited for the momentous occasion.

It should be noted that baby Charlie slept peacefully for his entire ceremony: as the Cross was traced on his forehead;

during the Homily, Intercessions, Prayers, Blessings and Invocation;

the Baptism and water;

the lighting of the candle;

and many, many, endless rounds of family photos :)

Baby Charlie awakened just in time for some final photos to preserve the memories of the celebration.

He seemed completely satisfied with the ceremony that just took place, and happy in the loving arms of family and friends.

Congratulations, Charlie, on your baptism!

The miracle of birth

Being behind the lens as a photographer is something to be cherished; I take no photo session for granted and feel blessed at each and every opportunity to create memories for my beautiful subjects. These are special moments with individuals who deserve to have their stories told and preserved on film.
But this past month when I was asked to photograph the birth experience of baby #3 for my friends Bridget and Tim, I was truly humbled by the challenge. I was invited to witness a miracle – to share in the most intimate of moments. Of course I accepted the invitation!
Arriving at the hospital before dawn on induction day for baby Bradley’s birth, I approached the hospital room with a nervous excitement. Mommy Bridget was already settled in her hospital room, IVs hooked up, pitocin administered.  She was eager to get her epidural (amen sister!).

The monitors tracking each contraction during Bridget's labor experience.
The monitors tracking each contraction during Bridget’s labor experience.

Bridget’s mom and a close family friend (two ladies who in their birthing days never experienced epidurals) stood close watch over the monitors, charting each contraction in disbelief.  You mean you didn’t feel that one either?!

Contractions? What contractions? God bless the epidural.
Contractions? What contractions? God bless the epidural.

Her husband was a solid, calm force in the process. He, like all of us, expected the labor to move forward quickly. Bridget’s previous two labors had been fast, finished in nearly three hours. For baby Bradley’s birth, we spent more than 12 hours together. We waited…and waited…and waited.

Hubby Tim shares a moment with mommy Bridget.
Hubby Tim shares a moment with mommy Bridget.

Well, folks, baby Bradley was worth the wait. Finally, around 5:30 in the evening, Bridget was ready to push. And push she did. I have never witnessed someone work harder – even though she only pushed for 22 minutes. I have always felt that spouses/partners in the delivery room had the easy job as they witnessed the labor process. After this experience, my opinion is officially changed. It is difficult to watch someone exerting that much effort. I now realize just how much work it is to push a baby out (even though I’ve done it twice).

Baby Bradley is just seconds from arrival!
Baby Bradley is just seconds from arrival!

Bridget made me proud. She was so strong. Despite that strength, I did not photograph her pushing the baby out. There are some things to be kept private.

He's here! He's here! Baby Bradley was born at 6:17 pm.
He’s here! He’s here! Baby Bradley was born at 6:17 pm.

I saw the tension in the room the moments leading to his birth. I saw baby Bradley the moment he was born. I saw his first cries. I saw the baby scale dip with all 7 lbs 15 oz of his sweet weight. My camera allowed me to preserve those moments for Bridget’s family forever. Glorious, glorious and glorious!

Meet beautiful baby Bradley.
Meet beautiful baby Bradley.
What a proud mommy and daddy.
What a proud mommy and daddy.

I am blessed by this experience. Welcome to the world baby Bradley Harold Clark.