Monday, June 29, 2009

Welcome To My New Home!

Welcome to Joie de Vivre Photography! I'm ridiculously giddy over the change, and over the amazing logo that my hot husband created for me! Isn't he hot, I mean, talented? So from now on, sneak peeks and news will be posted to this blog. I know old habits die hard, so I've posted a link to the new blog on the old blog. I'm so excited over the next few weeks! I will be out of town for youth camp during the week of July 6-10, so if you attempt to contact me and don't get an immediate response, I'm not ignoring you! July is filling up at break-neck speed, but I'm always up for a challenge, so if you'd like a session during the upcoming month, take a gamble and we'll see if we can work it in. Again, I'm absolutely thrilled with the change to Joie de Vivre (again, pronounced "Zhwa Duh Veev"), and so, so, SO pumped to continue capturing the Joy of Life!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Mother of All Blog Posts... Pun Intended

Okay, first of all, the news. I've felt for some time that Living Portraits was a bit stuffy. I love life, thus the "living" part. However, after much prayer, consideration, and excitement, in a week I will launch the new blog for Joie de Vivre Photography! Woot woot! What the heck are all them letters, you ask? Joie de Vivre is French for "the joy of life." How fun! How perfect! It's whimsical, it's French, and it has the same initials as me - sold! Say it out loud, it's super fun: Zwah Duh Veev. And what better way to celebrate Joie de Vivre than with the following post - the birth of twins!!!

There are no words. There are not enough nor adequate words to describe this whole experience. But me being me, I'll use plenty of words and give it a shot. You may remember Lindsey from a few months back in her Tear Jerking Maternity Session. She was the surrogate carrying twin boys, remember? Well, Lindsey being the incredible person she is, she asked me to come down to Houston once it came time for the babies to be born and photograph what ensued... as a gift for the parents of the babies! As if she wasn't giving a big enough gift! I, of course, jumped at the chance and have been waiting with baited breath for the last two-and-a-half weeks while Lindsey was in and out of the hospital, on bedrest, and contracting. Finally, last Tuesday morning, I got the call! The babies were coming soon! I happened to be fully dressed and have make-up on (what were the odds?) and was able to hop into my husband's fuel-efficient car and book it down to Houston. I won't say I sped, because that would be the understatement of the century, but I will say I'm confident I broke some sort of land speed record. Well, an Elantra land speed record. I zoomed and swirved my way down the highway, thumbing my nose - again, what does that mean? - at all posted speed limits and MapQuest's total estimated time to travel. 4 hours and 15 minutes, you say? I took it as a dare. At the risk of accumulating some sort of retroactive ticket, I won't tell you how fast I drove, only that I made the trip in 3 hours and 20 minutes. I was gripping the steering wheel so hard that a blister formed on my left hand! Here's the real kicker - I did it in silence! No radio, no CDs, no wheels-on-the-Hyundai-go-round-and-round... just the vroooom of a car being abused. I normally look all around myself as I drive, scouting possible locations or taking in the scenery, but I focused on nothing except mile markers, little geographical pats on the back encouraging me that I was getting closer.
And so, having traveled at warp speed and resisted the urge to use the improbability button (TWO nerd references in one sentence!), I made it! I got there as Lindsey was being prepped for the c-section, and the Nazi, I mean, nurse wouldn't allow me anywhere near what was going on. So while I wasn't allowed in the OR for the actual birth, what I did witness during my time there was just as amazing. The first time I cried was when Kelly and Brian, the babies' parents, came out of the nursery and saw their family for the first time. Yep, there I go again. I'm going to have to lean back and type, so I don't drip on the keyboard...
As you'll see, the vast majority of these photos are in black and white. Birthplans were made to be broken, as any parent will tell you. I don't see this as an obstacle, I see it as a way to show how each birth is unique. Aidan and Brady came earlier than expected and via a route that hadn't necessarily been the first choice, but they came out healthy and gorgeous. I chose to keep most of the photos in black and white so that most of the chaos that surrounds a baby being born - let alone two - could be subdued, and all you see is what's happening in the moment. No distracting colors, no obtrusive wires, no horribly inconvenient bags that hospitals always seem to hang... just a family being created. I can't really say these are my favorites for the sneak peek. Every single photo tells a part of the story, and I had a booger of a time picking which ones NOT to show. So just get your tissue ready (forget the Kleenex, you're going to need a whole roll of Charmin) and enjoy.

"They're here!"
Grandma and Uncle waiting outside of the nursery to greet the new parents.

Yep, I'm a little misty-eyed thinking about it again.
Brian and Kelly came around the corner all red-eyed and smiley. They had their babies.

There was a lot of hugging. As you can imagine.

One of my favorites from the entire experience.

Doesn't Kelly's mom look so proud?

TWO hospital bracelets!!!

"You're finally a Mommy, Kelly!"
Yeah, I have a lump in my throat, too. I can't tell that part without choking up.

Brian rocking a bracelet on EACH wrist.

Start spreadin' the news...

Showing Lindsey photos of the babies.

Okay, intermission time. Aidan and Brady were born weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces, and 6 pounds, 3 ounces, respectively. The doctors put them on oxygen once they got to the nursery, which Aidan was quickly weaned off of. Brady was doing great, but needed a little extra help, so he got his own CPAP mask a little later. Because of this, while I was there the babies were in isolettes across the room from each other and remained in the nursery for monitoring. I waltzed in with grand ideas of the photos I was going to get of the babies... but again, birthplans were made to be broken, right? Two and a half years ago, my own baby was born prematurely and had to stay behind in the NICU for 16 days. Walking in to this nursery - which Kelly was SOOO kind to let me come with her! - brought back a flood of memories, and I started tearing up again. The lights, the smell, the beeps... if you've ever spent any time in a nursery, you know. So anyways, Kelly took me back to see the precious boys while they were only a few hours old! I took a ton of photos of them, wires and all. I know it may not be fun to see now, because I have photos of my own baby that I hate to see, but they serve as the greatest testimony to how far our little ones have come. In fact, right after I left the next day, Brady had his CPAP mask taken off, and got to start sleeping in an open crib with his brother! All that to say, these photos are beautiful and tell the story of the first 28 hours or so of Aidan and Brady's lives. It was difficult not to have some control over the situation and pose and direct and create portraits, but I think these photos say so much more than I ever could have tried. Just watch Kelly looking at her sons. That was the third time I cried... THAT day....

Kelly with Aidan

She choked up... I choked up...

Kelly mothering Brady

Aren't these beautiful Happy Mommy faces? Have you teared up YET?!

Back over to Aidan

Baby toes are the most delicious thing imaginable. I didn't eat Aidan's toes... but I'm not going to say it didn't cross my mind...

Isn't Brian such a good dad? He's texting out photos of his sons, watching a purse and gathering up the gifts! Little League with twins will be no prob for this guy.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this photo. Grandma is just waiting outside the nursery, waiting to have a go at her first grandchildren.

Hanging out while the babies have tests done.

I'm not sure, but I think Kelly was reenacting the birth of one of the babies...

The roses Brian and Kelly's family sent to Lindsey!!!

By now it was 9 PM and everyone was exhausted, giddy, and teary-faced from the day. Just hanging out, and nobody wanted to leave!

Grandma looking at her own pictures of the boys. She's so proud.

Kelly filling out birth certificate paperwork! I cried in this room, too.

Another brief intermission. We all went back to our hotel that night and crashed. Well, I did. I enjoyed a huge bed all to myself, food that I didn't have to share, and a TV that I could watch anything I wanted on! I lasted about 30 seconds after the lamp was turned off... So I came back the next day, planning on a newborn mini-session with the boys in the hospital, but as you read above, it didn't go necessarily as planned. But that's okay, because I was able to still tell the story of Aidan and Brady just how they wanted it to be!

Aidan had a good grip on that wire, haha!

Kelly introducing Lindsey to Aidan for the first time.

Love it.

Love love LOVE it.

This photo makes me cry. You can see just a little bit of Brady's CPAP mask. It's just sweet and quiet and perfect. It's hard to hold it together when you see your baby like this, but Kelly and Brian knew their little guy is strong, and they were wonderful.

"Brady's Ladies"


Sticking out his tongue! Apparently, this is SOO like Brady!

Apparently Brady has piano-player fingers.

Little boys always need their Mommies... there I go again.... Let me blow my nose...

Trying to suck his thumb!

Hahaha! I thought this was just too great! In the midst of all the craziness, this dirty diaper had somehow been placed on top of Brady's isolette... and left there! It was just too perfect a representation of the chaos!

Some sweet little ladies made blankets for the babies!

So there you have it. I just know I'm leaving out a ton of stuff. All I can keep telling you is that the boys are gorgeous, Brian and Kelly are going to be the most amazing parents, Lindsey is a phenomenal human being, and everyone is doing well! It's by no accident these two families found each other and were able to grow something(s) so perfect out of it. Brian and Kelly lucked out with finding Lindsey, and those babies lucked out with getting Brian and Kelly! I cannot thank you all enough for allowing me to be there, to get all up in there, to document this MONUMENTAL occurance that restores all faith in human goodness. Good luck to everyone, and if you don't keep me updated, I'm flying back down there in LESS than 3 hours and 20 minutes! I mean it when I say I can't thank you enough, and that I'd do it 100 times more. Lindsey, you know that what you did was amazing, but you deserve to hear it a bajillion times more. You're amazing. Brian and Kelly, you are fantastic parents who those boys are going to spend the rest of their lives being grateful for. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

On a personal note, I love these photos. They're nothing like I've ever done before, but I love them. I wish I'd had photos like this to see the beauty in the midst of what I thought was a storm. On another personal note, I listened to the radio the whole drive back home, this time obeying the letter of the law in regards to speed. Why is there nothing on the radio worth listening to from Huntsville to Teague? Is it part of the prison system?

Thank you, everyone, for enduring the longest post in the history of the internet. Be sure and check back in a week for the newest details on Joie de Vivre Photography, and now that these babies have been gloriously born, I'm available to start booking sessions again! WHEW!