A long road of infertility and heartache leaves Rotha and David in a place where their joy and grief collide. Experiencing a pain that no parents should ever have to face. These babies were seven years in the making, but Rotha will say the story started last February when she lost her grandmother. A few months passed and she knew her Grandmother had a hand in finally blessing her womb with not one but two little babies! With a bittersweet due date almost exactly on Grandmother’s birthday! Months passed and excitement built as the babies were growing so healthy. Then at a regularly scheduled ultrasound a few wks ago, almost exactly one year after losing her Grandmother, Rotha immediately knew something wasn’t right by the reactions of the technician. At 32 wks gestation, for an unknown reason, Hudson’s heart just stopped beating. From perfectly healthy kicking that morning to an angel in the blink of an eye.Because Emerson was doing so well in her own sac, Dr. Knipper wanted her to continue to grow as strong as possible for life outside the womb. For the next two weeks, Rotha bravely swallowed back the agony and tears as she continued to carry and love both her babies. A reality that turned into an impossible nightmare that she woke up to each day as she resided on bedrest in the hospital.
Rotha originally contacted me to shoot this birth but I wasn’t allowed in the OR so we didn’t follow through. Then a very sweet mutual friend reached out to give me the news last month and asked me to be present as these gamut of emotions would eventually unfold. Dr Knipper and the Good Sam staff generously bent the rules to allow me to be present during the cesarean as they knew Emerson would be whisked to the NICU and the few moments the twins would share outside the womb as a family of 4 would happen only in the OR. Not only were they gracious in allowing me to be in the room, they pulled down the drape to give me the chance to really get all the good stuff happening! So thankful for the kind hearts of that staff and the empathy they shared to let me capture every second I could of these sweet babies together! I’m certain Emerson will be forever grateful for the moments captured as her teeny hand grasped her brother’s.
Both babies came out footling breach, which was a sight to see! Emerson is a tiny fighter but at only 34ish weeks at 3lbs 3oz and 17″ she could only hang out with us for a few minutes before David and I followed her to the NICU. When we left her, she was stable without additional support, so David wanted to be with Hudson and Rotha so the family could meet their new angel and baptize him. You’ll notice I’m not going to share much of sweet Hudson, as the state of his 2lb 14oz and 13″ fragile body succumbed in the womb after 2 plus weeks of being an angel. Rotha and David truly believe he “took one for the team” and gave up his life so she could thrive. His first selfless and protective actions as a big brother.
I know personally, that what once was will always be if we speak of them often and proudly. Hudson will always be near and I hope you never forget the weight of his delicate body as he laid on your chest. Thank you for inviting me into such a private and sacred moment in your lives. I will never forget the way your babies and your story has touched my life. As always, I pray for peace to surpass all understanding and strength as you balance and navigate your way through such extreme emotions in the days that lie ahead. Much love to the Brauntz and Penn families.
***Warning: There are some surgery images that may be considered graphic. I find them all beautiful but I see this type of thing on the regular so I know others may be squeamish.