I read somewhere recently that having a child is like having a part of your heart living outside of your body. It was the first time I’ve ever heard it described in a way that resonated with me. And while I will never fully comprehend the depth of love one can have for a child until I have one of my own, I’ve learned a lot by watching my friends and family members enter into parenthood. The highs and lows, the joys and sorrows, the sunny days and the cloudy ones, life and sadly, death. It’s a privilege to be there for all those moments, even when there’s nothing you can do except say “that’s wonderful” or “I’m so sorry”.
When Leah and Eric spilled the beans many months ago that they were expecting, I knew they would be fantastic parents. I just didn’t realize at the time that they would have to jump into that role of parenthood and all it entails long before Elliott even made his grand entrance. If I remember correctly, it was right around Leah’s birthday that they received the news that this tiny little bean growing in her tummy had something called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I am not a doctor so don’t quote me on this, but from everything I’ve learned since his diagnosis, it essentially means that several structures on the left side of his heart formed incorrectly. Not only that, but he would have to endure several surgeries in his very early life and eventually, a heart transplant. I cannot begin to imagine the tidal wave of emotions they experienced upon hearing this diagnosis, hard enough for a parent to hear, but before you even meet your little one face to face? Before he even gets a chance to be a normal newborn baby? Just unthinkable. And yet, Leah and Eric got to work researching and learning everything they could to figure out how to give Elliott the best chance at a long and healthy life. I don’t mean to say there probably weren’t many tears and sleepless nights, but to those of us watching on as they embarked on this life-changing journey, they handled themselves with a very distinct calm and grace well beyond their years. I don’t know that I could have done it, but they did, and do, continue to handle the daily hurdles in a way that is truly humbling.
On August 13th at 11:50pm, Elliott decided it was time to get right out into this great big world and make his presence known! Leah and Eric didn’t get to leave the hospital with their bundle of joy like most parents do a few days after delivery, but Elliott was in the very capable hands of the wonderful staff at Medical City in Dallas for his first few weeks and in late September, he finally came home! I’ve been lucky enough to get a few good long snuggles in with this sweet guy over the past few weeks, but I was so thrilled to be able to FINALLY take his “official” photos this past weekend. I wanted desperately to sneak into the hospital and get photos right after he was born and again after his first surgery, but alas, he wasn’t ready for his close up just yet
I had to adjust my normal routine for photographing a baby, but Elliott was a very agreeable model, all things considered! While I knew we’d get lots of cute chubby-cheeked baby shots, what I really wanted to capture was the deep and abiding love his Mom and Dad have for him. I hope you can see just how smitten they are with this special part of their hearts living outside their bodies. I only wish I could also show you in photos how very much he is loved by his extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, church, and beyond. Elliott has a long road ahead of him, but I look forward to photographing his many many milestones to come! He’s a tough guy for only being a few months old. Welcome to the world, Elliott! We all love you to the moon and back!