A couple weekends ago, we had the opportunity to get family photos taken. I’ve always been the kind of person who oohs and ahhs over other people’s professional pictures, but am too cheap to pay money to get them for myself. We’ve been lucky enough to have some very talented friends take some pictures for us (including emergency, having-surgery-on-my-face-TOMORROW maternity photos) that turned out beautiful, but I don’t want to wear out my welcome with too many requests for pictures. Plus, I’ve decided that I don’t ever want to regret not getting professional pictures taken!
So we arranged a time with a local photographer, Ann Goldenberg, to take shots of us as a family. She had an open slot at a location about an hour south of us, near one of our dear friends, so we made the trek down there to kill two birds with one stone.
For whatever reason, the drive down was a very emotional one for me. I had been in my funk/depression/no-good-mood for a few days. The evening before, I wandered the mall, looking for the “perfect outfit” for Emmie, convinced that if I could find something adorable that tied all of our outfits together that somehow everything would be OK and I would live forever and we would never have to worry again.
On the drive down, tears started welling up for no good reason. I was trapped in a cycle of negativity, fear, anxiety and worry and I couldn’t get my mind out of it. I had thoughts of “I’m so glad we’re taking these pictures because who knows if they will be our last,” and other groundless fears. I tried desperately not to cry because I was actually wearing makeup for the first time in about 9 months (I abandoned it during the first trimester and never went back) and I didn’t want it to be smeared across my face in the pictures.
I felt like I looked decent, we had clothes that coordinated (but didn’t match!), and we even managed to get there in time, despite an unplanned pit stop to run an errand. And yet I couldn’t stop feeling so, so sad. I didn’t say anything to Peter because there wasn’t anything he could say to make it better, so I asked him to tell me stories about his students to distract me. He realized how sad I was when he heard the tears in my voice and did his best to entertain me the rest of the ride.
Once we got there, Ann was wonderful and put us right at ease. The location was gorgeous, Emmie was a doll and I had something else to think about. The surreal thing was that my crying (or attempts to NOT cry) had messed up my contacts so that everything was extremely blurry. I literally couldn’t see anything but colors. I think my vision was actually worse than if I hadn’t been wearing contacts at all. So we were in this beautiful garden, doing something extremely visual, and I couldn’t see a thing.
Peter and I were also in a very vulnerable place, I think, because of the emotions of the ride down. I had been dreaming of doing something like this since I was still pregnant.
These photographs captured so many of our victories (although Ann didn’t even know that this is what she was actually shooting).
There is a shot of me holding Emmie over my head. This was a victory. (The second surgery held the very real possibility of cutting the nerve that allows me to raise my arm above my head).
There are pictures of me with my daughter. This was a victory. (There were days I never thought I would make it this far).
There is a series of shots of me breastfeeding Emmie. This was a major victory. (I pumped and dumped for 5 weeks during treatment to make this happen and had mastitis 3 times).
There are pictures of Emmie, healthy and happy. Victory. Pictures of the three of us as a family. Victory. Pictures of me with my scars front and center (which actually look so much better than I ever would have thought 5 months ago when they were still fresh wounds). Victory.
These pictures fill me with joy beyond words. My spirit soars when I see them and their golden light chases away the shadows in my heart.
We are a family.