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January 27, 2020

Hudson Isaac | A Birth Story & Grief

Never did I image how much one little boy could affect and change my life.

Each time I lift my camera to my left eye and press the shutter release, a moment in time is frozen.  And the majority of those times aren’t at all about me.  But those moments still impact me and I’m thankful for the stories I’m able to play a small part in.  What I didn’t expect though was how deeply God would use one tiny baby to impact me and intertwine my life with the lives of his parents.

I was fairly vague about Hudson when I posted Laura and Andrew’s maternity session in October 2018.  But none of us had any idea he would be born just 11 days after that blog post.  The night before his birth, our mutual friend called and said Laura was in labor and headed to the hospital.  She kept me posted as things progressed and the next morning I was at the hospital around 6am.  Never did I imagine I would share my birthday with such a special little boy, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I would love for you to read Laura and Andrew’s perspective on Hudson’s birth on their blog when you have a chance.

The original plan was for me to be there for photos as soon as Hudson was born in hopes that we would be able to capture some photos of him before he went to heaven.  Since I was there so early though, Laura and Andrew invited me into the delivery room just before she began pushing.

Anytime someone asks me to photograph something for them, it tells me that this event is special and so important that they want to freeze those moments in time.  But being able to capture a birth – this birth especially – means so much because of how intimate a delivery room is.  Being able to meet a baby the moment the parents meet him or her has always been a huge honor.

This particular labor and delivery room however was much different than any I’d ever been in.  For the last couple of years I’ve had the privilege of being a volunteer photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.  It’s an organization that provides professional portraits for families who have lost or who are about to lose a baby.  After seeing how photos have helped some friends through their own grieving process I knew this was something God was calling me to.  It’s something that not many people can do and He’s given me the ability, the equipment and the flexibility to provide this for several families.  But each time I walk into one of those hospital rooms, it’s the first time I’m meeting the baby and the parents…

Which is why this particular labor and delivery room was so different.  I had already met Laura and Andrew.  They had already been in front of my camera.  I already knew their full story.  I’d read her blog and kept up with her posts and we had mutual friends.  But even with how somber and heavy this situation was, to this day I have never felt the presence of Jesus in a delivery room like I did on October 26, 2018.  With worship music playing, each of us gently encouraging Laura with each push, Andrew’s hand lovingly on her knee with every breath she took, we all waited for the moment Hudson joined us.  But we knew immediately that the moment he was born he was already with our Savior.

The doctor, with a smile on her face, held Hudson up for his parents to see him.  He was so tiny!  The nurse gently took him to swaddle him and then laid him in Laura’s arms.  I can’t tell you when I started crying or how much I was holding back, but even this much later, tears are coming to my eyes as I write.

Andrew looked at his son and his wife, took Hudson in his arms and began to cry with a smile on his face.  He wept.  And the Holy Spirit settled in the room for a bit.

Andrew and Laura spent time with their son.  They gave him a bath.  They swaddled him in the most perfect blanket and bow with his initials.  They spent time being his parents.

And then they were able to introduce him to their family and friends.  The room was so full and while there were tears and hugs, there was also laughter and smiles.  There was prayer and more tears, more hugs and more photos.  I didn’t want to leave because I wanted to give them as many photos as I possibly could.

When it finally was time to go, I hugged them each one more time, walked down the hall and took the elevator to the lobby.  Our mutual friends weren’t far behind me and when I saw them in the lobby, I hugged Kait and just cried.  I cry every time I leave a session with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, but this one was so different.

I definitely didn’t feel like celebrating my birthday that day, but my amazingly sweet husband had planned out the most perfect day.  The only One who knew what that full day would be like was the Lord and I have no doubt He orchestrated everything.  It was a dreary and very rainy Friday and after leaving the hospital, I went to an appointment at a spa for a massage and facial.  In so many ways I felt guilty for the pampering when I knew what Laura and Andrew were going through.  But at the same time, I was able to see it for the beautiful gift it was.

After my appointments I had some time before meeting Ben for lunch so I was able to get some coffee and send Laura and Andrew some photos from that morning.  I cried as I went through them and cried as I edited them.  But I also couldn’t help but hold onto the goodness of the Lord because He was in those photos too.

This isn’t at all the end of the story, but I want to introduce you to Hudson Isaac…

After spending some time with their son as a family of 3, they invited friends and family in to meet Hudson.
What they hadn’t realized was just how many people were there to meet him and be with them.

And now that you’ve met this most precious boy, I can tell you the rest of the story…

It was a week or so later that I saw my brother.  He asked how my birthday had been and I was able to share with him about Hudson.  I didn’t know why but the urge to tell him about this baby boy had been burning inside me.  Matt was speechless with the words I was telling him.  But I just knew that I needed him to know about Hudson and that when he was born, he was already with Jesus.  He didn’t ask me any questions and we didn’t talk any more about that day, but the weight of that piece of the story had been lifted.  What I didn’t realize though was when I hugged Matt bye that day as he left for work, it would be the last time I was able to see him in person.

My brother dear (what I always called him because he called me sister dear) passed away the morning of November 28, 2018.  Just a month and 2 days after Hudson was born and went to be with Jesus.

In mid-December I went to visit Laura and Andrew to give them an ornament with a photo of Laura holding Hudson’s tiny hand (it’s the one above next to the image of Andrew looking at the camera and smiling) and his name and birthday engraved on it.  Laura hugged me and we said that we’d probably see each other again in January at GriefShare.

Not only did we see each other, but we ended up in the same group and it turned out to be such a gift.  Starting the Sunday morning after Hudson’s birth, it would be about 5 months before I would be able to make it through a worship service at church without crying.  So while I was grieving my brother, I was also grieving alongside Laura and Andrew.  And since grief is such a sneaky thing, I was in many ways also grieving the death of my dad again even though it had been 24 years since he had suddenly died one summer morning.

During the 13 weeks we were in our group, 2 significant things happened: Laura’s sister got engaged and asked me to photograph her wedding (I’m so thankful my calendar was open for her date!) and Laura and Andrew suffered a miscarriage.  I began praying even more earnestly that come November, Laura would be the bridesmaid standing next to her sister with an adorable baby bump.  And praise be to the Lord, He answered that prayer!

I will never forget her email to me that they were pregnant with a healthy baby girl.  My mom was watching my girls for me while I ran errands or got some work done (or both) and I had just parked my car at home when I saw Laura’s email.  Tears were streaming down my face and I was thanking the Lord for this gift!!  I immediately called Ben because I had to tell someone!  Laura had said she wanted to tell my mom herself (who had also been in our GriefShare group) and I wanted more than a few minutes to be able to call Laura.  So I was able to celebrate with Ben and then go upstairs and act like the most wonderful thing hadn’t just happened… oy!  It was so hard!

November 2 came and while we all wished that a little 1 year old Hudson was running around, we were all excited for Caroline and Russell (and the sweet little girl that Laura was carrying!).

Laura has spent the last 15 months telling others about their son, what grief has looked like for them and how God continues to work.  There aren’t many conversations I can have with her without crying or tearing up because I’m so overwhelmed with all God has done.  One thing I struggled with was not being completely sure whether my brother was in heaven or not.  So many memories and conversations with him have gone through my mind and I wanted to believe he was with Jesus, but I just wasn’t sure.  Until one day God placed a thought and an image in my mind… the idea of Matt holding baby Hudson – a healthy and smiling baby Hudson – overwhelmed me.  And maybe that’s why I felt such a strong urge to tell Matt about this baby boy.  I don’t know.  And I won’t know until I get to heaven myself.

Last week at 1am, I was sitting in the same room where Hudson was born, camera in hand, waiting on Hudson’s little sister to be born.  Laura, Andrew and I couldn’t believe it when we realized that it had been exactly a year earlier that we were starting GriefShare.  And now here we were, 3 very different (and weathered but hopeful) people.

I’ll share more of Eliza Louise’s birth story soon, but I didn’t want you to have to wait any longer to meet Hudson’s baby sister!
I’ll forever be grateful for this little family and for Andrew taking this photo!!

If you are grieving over the loss of a loved one, no matter how recent or long ago, I encourage you to check out GriefShare.  There are churches all over the country hosting groups and I promise you that while it will be hard, you won’t regret going.

  1. Ruth Starnes Whitley says:

    This is an unbelievable story. A story of heart gripping sadness but all wrapped up in the inexplicable grace and mercy of our truly loving God. That joy and sorrow, hope and grief can occur in the same sentence about the same real-life situation is all about Him. So thankful for the pictorial preserving of this on going story of this precious little angel we know as Hudson. And his amazing and precious family. So many tears – both of deep grief and of astounding joy. Thank you for sharing and fleshing out a fuller depth of this story that we would not otherwise know. We are forever changed. Your transparency is sharing is so appreciated. You have a gift – both in pictures and in words.

  2. […] easy, even though we wish the opposite was true.  And if you’d had a chance to read Laura and Andrew’s son’s birth story, you’ll know exactly why.  Hudson was such a gift to so many and only a big God could use […]

  3. […] also still in awe of all God has done this past year.  My heart is on the pages of this blog HERE so you’ll know why this session has so much meaning.  While we were still at the hospital […]

  4. […] time with Hudson, and we are so glad she was there when Eliza was born. Sabrina recently wrote a beautiful blog post about Hudson’s birth and how the Lord continued to weave our stories together through loss and grief. She lost her […]

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