I love the name Adeline. I think of front porches, and barn raisings, and homemade calico dresses. It’s a name to be sung in four-part harmony.
She was fourteen days old when these were taken. Which is stamped “expired” by most photographers. Usually a five-day-old baby is perfect. When she can barely open her eyes and her little limbs can be tucked and folded into cherub-like shapes, and she can be draped in muslin and hung from tree branches.
The first baby is special. You know that this couple’s world has been turned upside down and there’s energy in the air. I like to blend into the background; I feel intrusive just being there.
I remember the tiredness and the shell-shocked feeling; wanting to share the good news but so tired after friends came to visit.
The weepiness and the deep contentment.
Covering my daughter’s tiny hands with baby socks so she didn’t scratch herself. Sitting down to nurse and instantly feeling the tug of sleepiness. The electric jolts when the milk came in. Not leaving the house for what seemed like days, then squinting into the sun and walking gingerly when we finally did venture forth.
When I look through the lens I have to blink back tears. This is true at most sessions, but certainly with newborns. Birth is as commonplace as sunshine, but each time it feels like something amazing has taken place. There is something so achingly sweet and noble about beginning on this journey.
It’s easy to romanticize babyhood. Until you’re in the thick of it. You start out in John Donne and end up in Sylvia Plath, with a bit of David Sedaris thrown in. There are thoughts and images and realizations that are so fresh and astonishing and life-altering that they seem indestructible.
But babies get older,
and new memories get wall-papered over the old ones,
again and again and again,
until there are so many layers you can’t quite recall what it was like.
Until the raw cry of a newborn, or the dark honey smell of a baby’s head jostles a neuron and a current travels along a pathway laid down long ago, and suddenly it rushes back.
And I get to remember just how good it was.