a {different} beautiful dream.

It’s a moment I will never forget, probably because it was one that would either scar a person for life, or move them to tears. It was the very first time I witnessed a birth, at the young age of 13. I was watching the kiddos of my mom’s friend while she labored away in their home. My mom was there and as the time of their daughter’s birth neared, they asked me if I would like to be in the room. I decided I did and I have never regretted that decision since. It was beautiful and I knew at the moment, that was what I hoped for some day. I always knew I wanted a family (being the eldest, I always did), but now I knew how I wanted to birth my children. In the peace of our home.

Years later, I was 24 weeks pregnant, I had a wonderful midwife and a beautiful birth story all planned out.  But they were telling me that I was Group B Strep positive and I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have the home birth I had always dreamt of (I later learned, you actually can be GBS + and still have a home birth, but thankfully He knew what we needed at the time). I was crushed. I mean, devesated. I balled and balled. Ted, who was never fully at peace with the idea of a home birth, finally felt peace and knew this was the best decision for us. Then, at almost 42 weeks they told me the likelihood of me having to have a c-section was great. Many factors that weren’t adding up. I felt like the biggest failure, frustrated with my body for being unable to have my baby naturally.

I won’t go into detail Chase’s birth story, if you’re really curious – just click here as I have written his birth story online once before. To sum it up, 42 hours of labor, 3.5 hours of pushing, making it all the way to 10cm only to have him get stuck and unable to fit and come out. I had him by c-section, totally exhausted and drugged up and unable to remember anything or hold him until a day later.

My perspective has greatly changed since we’ve lost Eisley. I have since realized, through our own life experience, that any birth story that is able to bring the baby to your arms, alive, is the really best birth story there is.

Words can’t express how incredibly thankful I am that I was able to have Eisley naturally (vaginally) 73 hours of labor later I met our sweet girl face to face. It wasn’t what I had dreamt when I thought of having a baby but I am so very thankful that I was able to hold my daughter, to see her precious face before we said goodbye, and because of that, I wouldn’t trade any of those 73 hours in for anything. (we just recently had the 2nd anniversaries or her death -september 14th and her birthday – september 17th. Blog post about those precious anniversaries, soon.)

I decided to schedule a c-section with Shailo. There was really no question in my mind. I knew I couldn’t go through another long labor that would potentially result in a c-section, again. And also, I felt a natural birth was too traumatic from going through what we had with Eisley just shy of 14 months before. So, in regards to a c-section, even though it was a dream lost – I was able to have two beautiful boys due to them. So very thankful we live in a day and age that it is possible.

I kind of digress, but I wanted to share a bit of my heart behind what I’m about what I am really blogging about. When I was pregnant with Chase, Eisley and Shailo I enjoyed looking through photographs of birth stories – home births, c-section births, hospital births… I was constantly moved to tears by them. In my pregnancy with Shailo I really felt that God gave me an incredible dream. I wanted to be a birth photographer. I wanted to capture “that moment” for another. You know, that one moment when the mother first meets their baby face to face. The moment when they birth their baby and he/she is placed on their chest. The incredible emotion, the overwhelming love… that moment. That specific moment was one that I was unable to have but I wanted to capture that for someone else.

And, the story beforehand and those precious moments afterwards. But especially the moment the momma (and daddy) first sees their little one.

The question, “How could you photograph…”that moment”… something you’ve never experienced yourself?” started to plague my mind. And while that makes total sense in a way, I had to battle that. I honestly think there will always be this yearning in my heart. Wondering what “that” moment would be like. And even without the experience of a home birth or a completely natural, un-medicated birth, I feel that yearning so strong that I am able to truly capture the moments I would believe to be beautiful – as if it were my birth story. What would I want captured?

Another thing that began to draw out insecurity from within me was knowing that I wasn’t a professional photographer, so how could I just jump right in. My wonderful hubby jumped on board with my dream and wanted to help me in any way possible. So he has been teaching me. :) I have a lot to learn but I can already see a change in the work that I do. And also, I don’t want to be a professional photographer, maybe not ever, right now I just know I want to understand the camera and how to best captures those moments for someone else.

So how do I begin?

I knew that I wanted to start with friends, but even with close friends… how do you ask something like that? “Hi, I’d like to photograph your birth story, what do ya think?” The first thought of many is most likely – “I don’t want …down there… photographed!” haha. Thankfully, I was spared that awkward conversation and just 3 weeks after I shared this dream with Ted (October 2011), a friend of mine called me. She asked if I would consider photographing the birth of their son, Seth. I literally got goosebumps and tears filled my eyes. I was honoured to shoot my first birth in April.

During the birth of my friend Brittany’s son, I was asked to shoot my second birth by another dear friend, Bethany. She was Brittany’s doula and a long time friend and inspiration of mine. The amazing thing is that when I had shared with Ted about my dream, I had told Ted that I wanted to ask Bethany when they got pregnant with their next baby. And not too long later, they shared they were pregnant with baby #7! On September 15th, just a few weeks ago, I shot my second birth – the beautiful birth of their 4th daughter; Lilyana Elaine.

I hope to share both birth stories here soon. Today I will be posting the birth story of Seth Tyrus Maxwell (with permission.)

I am hoping for more wonderful opportunities like the two I’ve had this year. So very thankful for this dream I believe He’s given me and can’t wait to see how He will use this and bless others with it! Possible overseas someday? We shall see!

I just wanted to share a little bit about the story behind this dream that I believe God’s birthed in me (pun intended ;)) Thanks for stopping by!

To my dear sweet Eisley.

 (the letter I read to aloud at Eisley’s memorial)
 
Dear Eisley,
My heart aches as I write you this letter because the fact that am writing this means you aren’t here with us. I can’t see your little face anymore yet it’s still so hard to imagine our life without you.

Right now we are broken because we hoped you would be in our arms. We hoped your first party would be one where you were passed from person to person as they admired your beauty and life. But even though we don‘t have you (physically) here with us, we are celebrating you today. Our friends and family are standing with us to admire and honour your beauty, your life and the legacy you’ve left behind. You are so loved!

We all prayed for your healing. We prayed for life to your bones and for nourishment …and He did what we’ve asked of Him. You are whole and perfect. You are healed and have more life in you than we could imagine here on earth. You are being nourished by His presence.

It may not be the way we thought or what we had hoped for and it is hard to understand why you couldn’t stay with us, but I know someday we will see you again.

Until then, I will remember the time I had with you and hold it very dear to my heart.

I will remember with joy, the day that I found out we were pregnant with you, our little surprise baby. I will always remember rejoicing on August 8th at our ‘Pink or Blue party’ where we found out you we were our little girl and we began calling you by name, our little Eisley Antalya.

I will remember feeling your little kicks and the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of your hiccups deep inside.

I will remember the very first time I felt you kick from the outside, at the very same time your daddy felt too. I will remember the ultrasounds where we watched you suck her thumb and stick your tongue out. I will remember the daily heart monitoring and hearing your swift heart beat, beat, beat to let me know you were okay.

I will remember the night before you went to be with Jesus, when you reacted to her daddy’s voice as he talked to you. I will remember your final kicks to me the morning you passed away, as if you were telling me goodbye.

I will remember the day we finally gave birth to you, September 17th- the first time we held you in our arms and the peace that washed over us we held you. I will remember how in awe we were of your perfect little Chase-like nose, your beautifully shaped lips and your tiny little hands and feet.…I will remember just how perfectly and wonderfully you were made.

We love you, our Eisley-girl and you will forever be apart of our lives and in our hearts. You will be apart of the steps we take as we walk throughout life. I know my life and the lives of many others will always be inspired by the legacy you’ve left behind.

I wrote you many letters when you were in my womb and this letter was by far the hardest because I feel like it’s another step to letting you go, but when I remember where you are and Who you are with it helps my heart ache a little less. I remember you are healed and that you aren’t suffering and that is what I want for you above all else.

I know you’re loving being with Jesus, as He’s showing you the universe.

Rest peacefully between His shoulders, my sweet Eisley-girl.

Let Me Tell You About Eisley.

(We asked our friend Nathan to write a short story about our Eisley-girl that could be read at her memorial. He wrote this beautiful piece.)

Let me tell you about Eisley . 

            We all waited for her with baited breaths, waiting for the day when we heard the news that all was well, waiting for the day when we could see Jami’s beauty and Ted’s passion in her eyes.  To have her little finger wrap around ours, to hear her laugh at the stupid faces we all make at babies…

Let me tell you about Eisley.

Everyone has a story, no matter how short or long their life, there is always a story, We know from Jeremiah that God knew her before she was formed he knew her story. . In every story there is beauty and every story is a part of an even greater tale. Often stories are filled with questions, some times the questions seem too great and distract us from the story, but we must remember the story, we must find the beauty in it.  Eisley has a story.

There is so much that we do not know about who she is, what she would have been as she grew, who she would have become, but there are things we do know, we know she was a fighter and she was stubborn we know that she was strong, we know the dreams her parents had for her, dreams that she would filled with life, to face the world head on vivaciously, we know the love that was and is had for her from a vast community.

 We mourn the loss of her life, here in our story, but envy the world of perfect, brilliant, beauty that she is now absorbed in.  We miss her dearly, the expectation of seeing her learn to laugh and dance, sing and run, to manipulate her daddy, like we all know she would have, we miss seeing the adoration that would have been in her eyes for her big brother, and in a few years the contempt of his playful picking. We miss the art that would have been created with Jami as they grew as mother and daughter.  We miss that deep-seated hope that everything will be ok. But friends, let me tell you… God is no less holding Eisley and us in his arms now, weeping with us as we mourn and celebrate, as he was every moment for these past months as we worried for her and Jami. I am filled with joy and longing as I picture Eisley walking side by side with our creator, her tiny hand cradled in his, the hand that formed her and all the universe, telling her stories of those who love her,  how proud he is of her parents, and brother, telling her the stories of those one day coming to join her. Telling her how much we and he love her.

Let Me Tell You About Eisley written by Nathan Rowlan

The Beautiful Party for Eisley.

On Saturday we celebrated Eisley’s life with dear friends and family.

We were so touched by how many people came and recognized our daughter’s life and felt the loss of her , even though they had never personally met her.

We had our friend Darren do a medley of  ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and a piece of a song by Manchester Orchestra. I will post the lyrics, the meaning to us and the song itself soon. (They actually recorded it for us so we can have it forever)

(We had this photo stretched onto canvas and will put it up in whatever place we call home)

Ted shared the meaning of the songs in the medley. I read a letter I wrote to Eisley. Our friend Katherine read a short story we asked our friend Nate to write, about the life and storyof Eisley. And then we ended with ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘How Great is Our God’ as we released pink balloons her honour. Everything combined was as we hoped it would be. It was difficult and tearful and painful, but beautiful.

 One of the most memorable, beautiful things was the balloon release.

  Eisley, you are so loved.

  I can’t explain with words just how much it meant to us to have everyone celebrating her life with us and those of you who celebrated her life from around the world (pictures of balloons release from around the world soon.)

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

It was an especially emotional day. We felt everything from grieving the loss of dreams we had for her as we watched the balloons float high above us to the next second feeling inexplicable peace and joy when we remembered Who she was with. We celebrated her life and mourned her loss at all once. It was beautiful and painful. I can’t even find the words to express exactly how is was for us, but it was everything we hoped.

_____________________________________________________________

(I almost didn’t add this, but to be honest, I really feel I should be raw. We need prayer. When everyone left the party for Eisley and we went home, the weight of everything began to hit us again. I told a friend that I didn’t want the memorial service to end because I was afraid people would forget her life and legacy. We’re also afraid to feel alone in this. We have no idea “how to handle” loss other than feeling what we need to feel, but even then?…I think I will write a bit more about this later, but please pray for Ted and I.)

Arrival.

Eisley Antalya Davis

Born September 17, 2010

2:10 pm

12.5 ounces & 10.5 inches long

She was so strong in her battle to survive. She was stunning, beautiful and perfect. And now she is whole and healthy in His arms.

We love you Eisley. You are our sunshine. Our little joy. Your little legacy and journey has changed how we view life now and has inspired us to live better lives and to be better people.

You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace, my sweet Eisley.