This is the birth diary of a girl named Lillie that is the sister that I dreamed of having as I grew up alone as a child. Her heart is limitless, her strength is unmeasurable, and she inspires me every day.
Above, a photograph I took of her last Fall in a hometown pumpkin field, right before she found out she was pregnant.
Above is a photograph from a short trip we took to Savannah, Georgia when she was halfway into her pregnancy.
past the due date, awaiting the birth
Labor was an unknown feeling to Lillie. All she had was dreams from growing up of holding her own child someday. It was Friday in August at midnight and Lillie was brought to the hospital after days of endless contractions. Medicine was given to start labor and contractions continued to feel sharper. They slowed for short minutes and returned continuously, constantly. Morning came with the same progress. Excitement and wonder filled the room but the day passed with no changes. Saturday passed by hearing the faint tick of an old plastic clock on the wall and watching the 2012 Olympics on a small television. Awaiting dilation was taking a toll. Medicine was requested until it was exceeded. Eating wasn't an option for her. Pitocin was poured into her system, searching for the pressure her body was fighting for. Even in the worst pain Lillie lit up the room with her unfailing humor, demanding donuts she couldn't have and acting elderly in her hospital gown.
Sunday, the third day, the doctor forced her to rip her cervix and painful reality set in. At 7pm the doctor broke her water. But still, time took a hold of her awaiting 5cm to arrive so an epidural could rest her pain. Pushing began and lasted for hours until she couldn't any longer. Short breaks would happen and pushing filled even more hours as the baby slowly made his way. His head was crowned but then the epidural wore off and he began to move up again, hours were lost. Her stability was declining after 3 days of not eating. Her contraction agony was no longer muted. An oxygen mask was needed to sustain her faint breaths and weakened strength. Laying in aching outbreaks she would gaze her sleepless eyes over at her husband, Jeremy, noticing his perplexity of her strength. The reality of a fragile girl giving her body's all to set this little human free into their hands, with her heart of eagerness to teach it what love is selflessly and unconditionally, for all of time, and never to give up. The peaks of pain and devotion of this day's goal made the room heavyhearted but also amazed. Every nurse from the floor surrounded Lillie as she gave her all awaiting the moment when her child would meet her frail arms. A c-section was being contemplated but a natural birth was the goal. The numbing gave out, contractions were more real than ever. Then a doctor's voice echoed from the end of the table, "one more push and you're going to have a baby." Passion arose and then suddenly calmness set it. Silence.
With her arms stretched out toward the doctor, that blurry dream of cradling him became very real. Happy birthday to Jayce River Andress. His little ear held to her heart, her palm held him close as she kissed his face, crying in unbelief of how perfect he is. His eyes stared into hers. His red roomed home was now a beautiful face with blue eyes like his, a closeness of a chest with a beating sound much like the hollowed thumping he heard for over 9 months, and a familiar voice that spoke "I love you" continuously. He didn't cry. Just accepted this love.
Jayce was brought into this world at 9:07am on the 13th of August.
He weighed 9kgs and 20inches. His birth took 57 hours.
Jeremy observes Jayce like he is the most mesmerizing thing in the universe, knowing he is just as much his as Lillie's. His hands grazed his back as he continually kissed his head in the softest touch. A father is a part of life we all require. To be heard, believed in, and loved. There was a time when understanding the concept of a seed turning into an unseen growing child existed but was a confounding understanding for any man. Then, the feeling of this child burrowing into his strong shoulder, sharing the sound of short breaths and grunts in a still, silent room becomes existent, visionary, and unlike any other minute in time. There will be times when this little boy will make deafening laughs over the simplest things. There will be moments that make the heart pound in ways unknown. But in this current moment the feeling of warm, new skin while hearing words that are trying to be formed will be the most genuine pieces of a beginning life. A father can be someone who carries pictures where his money used to be, lifting that little dreaming mind above big shoulders to reach a tree, or being a father who expects his son to be as good a man as he pushed to be. Words could not be put together to describe the love that flooded Jeremy's heart the day that his and Jayce's eyes finally met.
the hospital room view / Cape Canaveral, Florida
This video shares the emotional time spent in the hospital following Jayce's birth.
Days are now spent cuddled, with vinyl music echoed through the aged home walls. Lillie traces his little brow with her index finger and follows the slope of his nose with her thumb. The sun sets, bringing a wintery, shadowy light through his nursery windows. Home is here, with a family and a house that is growing into a nest of faith, inseparability and dreams.