It Began With A Baby

Doesn’t it always? 

I know dozens of moms whose passion for photography started when their lives were turned upside down by a precious baby.  Babies change our lives for the better, and they also transform before our eyes.  We are desperate to capture these moments. The metamorphosis we whiteness is miraculous and we become desperate to cling to each beautiful moment.

I, too, fell in love with photography when my son was born, and then again when I had my daughter, and then again when I got a DSLR and stopped taking all of the pictures with my phone (ha ha). However, my purpose in life changed completely when I was given the opportunity to capture not my baby, but my friends’ precious baby boy at a moment before his life and appearance would change forever. Sweet Baby Finn’s (pseudonym) mama wanted to always remember him as perfect, the way God made him.

Let me tell you their story. (His mom asked me to publish her story. She approved of every word and photo in this post.)

The couple met on Words with Friends.  That’s right, the app. They played for months before Finn’s father had the courage to ask her out.  At first she stopped playing the game with him, but after months of his romantic, courageous, persistence, he became her boyfriend.  Then he was moving across the US to live near her. She was/is a nurse, and if that isn’t enough, she’s a hospice nurse.  There is no one with a bigger heart than hers… and he had to have it.

The timing of their pregnancy wasn’t ideal, but Baby Finn was very welcome.  Friends and family supported the newlyweds with care, gifts, and well-intentioned advice.

No one could prepare them for the day of his birth.

I’ll use Finn’s mother’s words to explain what happened immediately after his birth:

“Unfortunately only seconds passed and I realized something wasn’t right. People soon flooded the room including the NICU Md. Finn turned blue on my belly and wasn’t crying , there was a thick film on his lungs. As briefly as they put him on my chest is how fast they took him right off again. I had just experienced the highest high and the lowest low in my entire life. The nurses were hard at work clearing his lungs and I got to hear my baby cry which helped me relax but when nobody would give me my baby, I didn’t understand, and started to panic. The doctor came to talk to me, something about organs and his back and NICU … I was trying to look past him and see my baby. I was crying hysterically and my amazing midwife stepped in to help me center myself and release my baby to the capable care of the NICU staff. It was hours before I got to see him again and it was for 15 short minutes before he was transferred to Childrens. That night I held his little hat tightly in my hands, cuddled with my sister, and cried, and cried. This was not how this was supposed to go. I missed the footprints, the gooey eyes, the first shot, the cuddling.”

Finn was born with a giant nevus. 

It’s a growth, a benign tumor, a mole, that grows with him, but no one knew that at first.  They ruled out spina bifida, externalized organs, and confirmed that the tumors were not inside his body before releasing him to go home days later. No one saw the gigantic growth covering his lower back and buttock during the prenatal ultrasounds. The couple was in shock but also grateful to have the baby dubbed “the healthiest baby in the NICU.”

It’s not easy having a child who is different.

Okay, that’s the understatement of the century! We all know it’s true, but as a close friend and neighbor, I SAW the pain they suffered.  They knew that as he grew, the nevus would form satellites all over his body and the moles would grow. When they dressed Finn in a onesie, people told them that his diaper was leaking. Kids would stare and point.  The new parents were hurt, but they were also fearful for when he got older- when he started to notice that he was different – when he would notice that others noticed.

They made a very brave decision.

Some parents remove every trace of a nevus.  They remove every piece of skin that displays any variation in pigmentation, but for Finn, this would have been a very large portion of his skin.  It would have caused issues with the skin growing and stretching as he became an adult. These wise parents knew in their hearts that their precious baby was perfect and that he was wonderful.  They decided to only remove the portions that would affect his quality of life.  They only authorized removal of the growths that would inhibit him from wearing pants, or sitting comfortably.  They didn’t want to remove skin just because of the varied pigment, only the raised growths. This is not the decision all parents make, but you have to admit that it is very brave.  It shows the kind of people they are.  They have open hearts to all kinds of people. They are such an example!

Days before the surgery I asked her if I could capture Finn with my new DSLR.  She had been talking about how she wanted to remember him while he was perfect, the way God had made him, and I wanted to give her that. I didn’t know anything about my camera. I had it set to full auto, and had the white balance set to sunny. I took him outside and captured his beautiful face, and his sweet, perfect, naked baby body. It was the greatest honor of my life. She still tells me that she views these captures frequently. This experience changed me.  I knew my passion.  I knew the world needed to accept the “Finns” of this world. These beautiful souls need to be seen.  I was desperate to learn to use my camera to capture his inner beauty…

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Finn continues to grow and smile every day.  The photos below were taken about a year later. They were taken before I purchased my professional camera, and before I had acquired much skill.

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He has never met a stranger! Finn’s friendly smile is contagious to everyone he meets. He loves to play race cars with my son.

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His parents already know what it takes a lifetime for most of us to truly comprehend. Spending fortunes trying to look perfect when it’s what’s on the inside that matters. Finn will learn this quickly, because he has fantastic parents demonstrating inner beauty for him every day.

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Do you know someone with a nevus? Find support at http://www.nevus.org/. “Got Spots?”


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