Witnessing life…

A few short weeks ago I had a very wonderful opportunity of a lifetime.  It was to witness a life coming to be, so I guess you could say that it was not only my opportunity of a lifetime, but the lifetime of the little one in question.  I’m getting ahead of myself though.  A while back my friends Heather and Andy dropped me a note about their soon to be born Baby Boy.  The note wasn’t as you’d expect, as Heather herself enjoys Photography and blogging in her spare time when she’s not being a Derby girl, a Mother, and a Computer Systems Administrator for the University of Indianapolis.  So you can imagine my surprise when she emailed me about taking photos of her and Andy’s son.  Not their son as their son though, their son being born.

I was/am honored and humbled that they asked me to photograph their son being born.  It was meant to be because when the call came I even happened to have the day off.  I had never witnessed such an event before and I was very interested to see how things came to pass.  Not came to pass in an anatomical, or physical sense; but in terms of the story.  The above photo was the scene when I got to the hospital at about 9:45 on the morning of September 3rd 2011.  I got the call the night before saying that Heather and Andy were at the hospital, but that they would call me when things “Got real”, as they put it.  At 9:15 the next morning heather was at 4 centimeters out of the 10 that they were looking for.  So I threw my camera in my bag with a couple of lenses (really light kit for me actually) and was on my way up to Community North hospital here in Indianapolis.

My kit was light as I didn’t know what to expect, and how much space we would have to move around.  In the bag was only the Nikon D3s, the 50F1.4, the 24F1.4, the 85F1.4 the 60mm Macro and the 28-70F2.8.  Also brought a single SB-900 just in case but didn’t expect to use it.  Baby’s are very sensitive and the last thing I wanted to do was blind the little guy (or the doctor).  In the end the whole day was spent with very minimal ambient light, shooting only in the way that a D3s can do.  (Also because these shots are all ambient I am not including the shooting data for two reasons.  First is that when shooting ambient, you shoot how you can with where the light is.  Second is that if you’re wondering what the camera settings are, you’re missing the point)

I digress.  I got to the hospital and I had a code to get into the Maternity ward, as only so many people were allowed access.  I felt honored to have this code, although I never once had to use it as the hospital isn’t exactly Fort Knox.  Any time I wanted into the ward the door was either being held by someone else, or someone had just passed through and it hadn’t locked down yet.  Someday I’ll have the code to a door that I’ll get to use.  Someday.  While Andy’s family played cards out in the lobby, I was with Heather and Andy in the room.  As I said earlier, heather was at 4cm when I got there and it was pretty fast from what I understand.  Everybody figured that their little boy would be there soon; especially since Heather’s contractions were becoming so intense.


5pm rolled around and things were still not happening.  I had gone home to get my laptop to get a bit of work done and everything.  The day was somewhat slow and I think of all of us, Heather knows that the most.  At about 5:30 the doctor decided they were going to go for it.  Things were ready, and everybody was ready to make this happen.  Very few people knew the name of the Baby ahead of time, but if you saw Andy’s Tatoo and didn’t understand it now you will.  Their baby was to be named Desmond Trueblood Baumgartner.  Before anybody gets excited about the Trueblood part; you should know that’s actually one of Heather’s great grandmother’s maiden names.  Desmond however wasn’t ready at 5:30.  He was so not ready in fact, Heather and Andy had to go into the Operating room for an emergency Caesarean section.


During this time I’ll never forget the rush and getting prepared.  Andy and Heather had been prepared for how big Desmond was going to be and that this was definitely a possibility for the birth, but this isn’t what either of them wanted.  It has only been about a month, but I imagine that I’ll never forget the sight of Heather leaving the hospital room while Andy got ready to go to the OR.  There was barely enough room for me and the bed to fit out the door and of course, where was I when she needed to get out?  Half way in between.  As I made myself as thin as possible against the wall and the equipment I didn’t even have enough space to attempt a hail mary photo (otherwise known as just blindly pushing the shutter and hoping for the best); I’ll never forget the tear that ran down heathers cheek when we made eye contact.

Everybody was exceptionally emotional, even though Andy and Heather had been prepared for this contingency ahead of time. Time seemed to move at a crawl for all of us; waiting, as only Andy was allowed in the OR.  Finally I got a text from Andy to hit enter on his Xoom facebook status for Desmond’s Facebook page status to read, “FREEDOM!”.  The first that any of us still in the hospital room saw of Desmond was via Andy’s facebook upload, and Shannon’s picture text to me from work where she saw him before I did.  Then he appeared.

The Baby-Razzi Family was quick to action with photos, facebookings, twitters, and all sorts of other modern day media frenzying.  Desmond was here, and while his arrival wasn’t quite as planned; he made it just fine.

While it broke my heart that I couldn’t really get any mother/father holding baby photos while he was minutes old due to the C-Section; I was still absolutely overjoyed to be able to Witness Life in the making.  As it turns out, during the C Section it was discovered that things were not as they had appeared, and if they had continued with the regular birthing process both Desmond and Heather would have had their lives in Jeopardy.  Both are doing very well, thanks to the team of doctors who recognized the signs and acted appropriately.   If you like, you can follow Desmond and his growing up on his facebook page, as well as see the rest of the photos that I took this day here.    I was more than honored and humbled to have been a part of this day, and can only continue to enjoy watching Desmond grow up into this world that Heather and Andy have brought him to.   More Soon.