Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Decisive Moment

 I don't know about you, but when I imagine the whole labor process, I imagine an attitude like this.

She roused me at 6am on Monday, the 19th of September, the baby's due date, and talk like a pirate day (strange history with the day for me, obviously), and told me that her contractions were regular enough for her to want to head down to the birth center in San Diego.  My first mumbled question was, "did your water break?" No. Well, no hurry.  I let my boss know that I was taking my little leave, we gradually packed the car with pretty much everything we use, or might use, in case of an apocalypse... like you do, and we started the two and a half hour drive to the nearest ethical birth center we could find.  The drive was simple enough: beautiful music and calming conversation; plus the toddler was still half asleep, so not awake enough to be... well..... a toddler.  We stopped at one of our bathroom places.  I had a cigarette, and the little one stayed in her seat because she didn't need to go to the bathroom.  Two minutes after being back on the road she needed to go to the bathroom.
 A while later, approaching the next place we normally stop for a bathroom/cigarette break, I asked her if she was able to hold it and needed to stop and go.  She said she was fine, so we blew through to get to SD quicker.  A couple minutes later she said she needed to go to the bathroom.  Toddler problems.  She ended up holding it successfully until we were about fifteen minutes out from the center (not without some screaming), so props to her.

I imagined that this would be a lengthy process, maybe labor at her grandma's house in Chula Vista for a while. We wanted to stop by the birth center so they could check her out first.  After announcing how busy her day was with babies popping out all over the place (I blame Christmas), the awesome nurse told her to take her time with laboring, but after checking her out she told us to stay close and be back within the hour.  We opted to head down to her grandma's, unpack our apocalyptic preparations, and leave the toddler with her grandpa and great grandma so we could have a little laboring peace.
 We walked around the city park part of Balboa Park for a little bit.  I took a couple shots with my phone, but we mostly just talked and laughed.  Then she thought her water broke...maybe.  If you don't know then it didn't.  It didn't.  We headed back to the birth center and checked into one of their hotel suite type rooms.  She didn't labor that long before the nurse suggested she get in the tub.  She said she didn't feel like she was ready to push yet, but she got in the tub, had one hard contraction, then on her next one the baby was there. Done.
 It took me completely by surprise.  I was looking at the baby in the water, and an embarrassing amount of time went by before I even realized.....that's a baby! it's over.  Shit.  I felt like I totally missed it.  These last two photos are sequential: 5570 and 5571.  I took a quick photo while she was getting into the tub, the put the camera down to hold her hand and rub her back because she was having contractions.  Then the main nurse rushed in and they got her to settle back a little so I moved to the head of the tub, aaaaand baby.  Simple enough.  I rushed over to grab my camera and started shooting again, but it wasn't long before they were handing me scissors to cut the cord, then handing me baby to take care of mom.  I recorded the whole thing with my computer.  I have the baby coming at minute five, but they clocked her "pushing time" at four minutes, and logged the event as "spontaneous vaginal water birth."  I posted a photo to IG with the tagline, "Wait, I missed it. Do it again."  I wasn't making some petty joke about the pains of labor.  That actually happened.
I've been through this once before, mind you it was 16 years ago, but it went how they tell you it's supposed to go: she woke me up in the wee hours of the morning when her water broke, we drove to the hospital and still sat in the delivery room for 1000 hours until the baby came.  That was exhausting.  This was..... chill.  And her water didn't break until the baby was coming out.  No one told me that was an option.  I know second babies generally come quicker, but this was like a storybook labor.  I was not prepared for that.  At very least I expected some verbal abuse.
The whole day was just beautifully serene and peaceful.  After I cut the cord and took the baby into the other room, of which there are no photos, I just hummed to her and she stared at me, like she wasn't surprised by any of this either; like, "ok, this is what happens next."  She latched right away, and just stared at mom.  Then another nurse showed up to do the poking and prodding, joking about the talk downstairs of the ideal laboring couple taking care of things upstairs.
The day obviously went by pretty quick, even though I had to run downstairs every couple hours to move the car to a different parking meter so we didn't get a ticket.  We had planned to have the toddler there to be a part of the beautiful festivities, but decided to give grandpa a call closer to birth and have him bring her down so she wouldn't have to suffer through the hours of labor and be bored out of her mind.  Not only did the hours of labor not happen, but there wasn't even enough time to think to call.
Then we went to great grandma's house and just hung out for a couple days waiting for follow up appointments.  Some family came to visit.  We slept a lot.  The toddler took a little while to understand the fragility of babies, but she gradually settled in.  I took the toddler on a couple little adventures so everyone else could breathe.  There were a couple really nice talks with grandma about parenting and life.  It wasn't long before we just wanted to be home.
Her mom showed up Friday to help out for a couple weeks.  I went back to work on Saturday to chaos, and an eleven and a half hour shift.  I got up before the sun on Sunday to go brew beer with my new boss at his house, which he kept referring to as the "last home brew."  We brewed a double batch of a sour oatmeal stout, and he walked me through the process that I've been reading about for the last couple weeks.  Then we tasted some of his beers and talked about beer and life and music.  It was amazing.  I really look forward to working with him.  Last I heard, the brewery part of the pub will be finished by the end of the month (shit. that's in two days), but I don't know how soon I'll actually be in there.  It will be a beautiful journey for me and my family, and this town.  I am completely overwhelmed to have the opportunity to be a part of it.  Add that to my being overwhelmed by this new little perfect baby; and to the current job; and to having mom in law staying with us; and tOdDler!!!; and fuck.
Eroica wrapped in my baby blanket.

The girl wants me to talk about how I'm feeling, still.  Everything is just a bit overwhelming right now.  Plus she's still recovering from the inside of her body turning inside out and is a wee bit emotional.  I am having a hard enough time dealing with the constant contradiction of being good enough and not being good enough every couple minutes, ad infinitum.
I love it here

Everything is beautiful; lAvaNyamaya.

Shut the fuck up.

Everything is going to be fine.

The title of this post was supposed to be more relevant.  I had constructed a beautiful little introduction talking about Cartier-Bresson's philosophy on photography and life, but I don't remember what it was.  I've been writing this for three days, and the first day was deleted by a computer malfunction because I function in the online world on a dinosaur, because ... life.  I'm tired.  Maybe one day it will drift back through my sad little mind again?

I imagine my posts, which have already been sparse on this particular blog, will become even harder to come by.  I just don't have the energy to life any more, much less write.  I am also in a pretty deep funk because of the quality of the few photos I did get of what was supposed to be the most epically beautiful moment of my life, a second chance.  Everything is a little bit blurry.  I've gotten pretty good at blaming my cut rate equipment, but maybe I'm just a lousy photographer.  On top of that, I honestly feel like I missed it.  I still go to sleep at night with the feeling that she's going to wake me up and we're going to have to drive to SD for something that has already happened.  Everything really went that smoothly, like it was just another day or week in our lives.  I feel like this post was entirely uneventful; outside of my normal voice; cut and dry events, albeit beautiful, and epic, and....... maybe I'm just depressed because I've already put too much expectation on this poor little soul?  Most parents can't wait to find out what their children will become; I am already assuming extraordinary.  She's a week old.  Right now I'm just happy that someone on this planet finds so much comfort in my arms.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


 I suppose my farewell post a week and a half ago was a bit premature.  She still isn't due until Monday.  We are just a wee bit anxious to get this over with.  While strictly monitoring every little movement, and barely sleeping because she is doing so, she has since had two doctors appointments in San Diego, we had a beautiful little birthday dinner a la Michael Newberry and a small group of beautiful people last Friday, my mother has visited, her parents have visited, she's had a birthday, Sunday I went to a job interview type thing (I don't even know what to call it) for a position that would completely change the course of my life, as you may be able to tell from the look on my face that my girl captured shortly after,
 and the rest of the time has been spent feeling her belly and waiting...well...and working every day.  Summer is definitely over, which is never more evident than in my work hours.  I'm on day four of six this week, and am at 19 hours.  That's a little depressing, but I suppose all of that will be changing soon.  Che bella fortuna.

In the meantime, we are just waiting for this beautiful little soul to arrive.  She hasn't had much energy to shoot, but you know me.  Today cuddle bug stayed with her dad, so we went out to shoot at a location I meant to scout this last week for a shoot that isn't going to happen, which is a shame, but it is what it is.  I, naturally, passed the spot I've been to before, because I haven't been there in five years, so we were stuck on bumpy control roads for a while until we could find a spot to turn around.
 Bumpy roads and a girl who is monitoring every little cramp and wondering if it's a contraction don't go together well.  By the time I found a spot to turn around (I NEED A JEEP), and we got back to about where I think the spot was but is completely different because things change, both of us were ready to just go home.  We are creative monsters, though (at least I am), so we shot anyway.  I, in all my idiocracy, decided to shoot with a lens that was given to me a while back, an FD 135mm/2.8.  Sounds like a dream, and the shots in camera looked good, but the always mentioned fog was very noticeable once I got it into my computer.
The depth of field was very nice, but I can't be happy with a photo that doesn't have sharp focus, and I can't afford those professional lenses, so I'll just keep smiling and shooting with my more trusted, newer lenses, that are also fogged because I tend to shoot into the sun a lot, noticeable in the above photo with the triple rainbow flare (never seen that one before).  I have never been disappointed shooting into the sun.  I have no idea why so many people avoid it.  Lens hoods be damned!  Give me flare or give me death!  When I figure out how to accomplish that without fogging the lens, I'll let you know.

So....... just waiting for this baby to come.

I guess I'll go back to binge reading books on how to brew beer.

Bet ya didn't see that one coming.

Neither did I.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Final Words; First Words.

I keep saying it, but we are in the final days.  I am seriously starting to freak out, but I am keeping my cool (am I?!?!?!).


What will be our last day off together for a while, we headed out for one last jaunt through our backyard, Joshua Tree.  Well, there was little jaunting because neither of us took Labor Day weekend in to account, so after waiting in line to enter the park (via shortcut. Buahahahahahhahahahaha*cough*), we drove all of about half a mile in before we parked in a turn out and hiked in a little; very little, because I don't know if you've noticed, but she's about to drop some serious water-weight (not like she's got serious weight, but she's carrying a lot of fluids [see what I did there? nice backpedal!]).  Fortunately, as I have yet to really explore the west entrance, there were some nice structures, and all of the tourists were likely scouring the big spots like roaches.
 We were both exhausted, but trying to make the most of aforementioned day off.  I was exhausted from a 12 hour saturday.  She was exhausted from...well... growing a human, and I'm sure she had to have been a little exhausted from tormenting me for all the things I do wrong every day (I believe I mentioned something about pregnant emotion in an earlier post, in all of its glory), and from dealing with all of my absurd silliness, me being all absurdly silly and shit.  I must confess, I am a little exhausted from tip-toeing around these two temporarily joined souls, and even more exhausted from trying to tip-toe around writing about it without awakening the...

We were both exhausted!

I'm leaving it at that.
 Anywhoo, it took us a while to get into shooting.  First she had to announce that she was pregnant (wait...what?) and simply could not do any climbing because her body would not allow her to.  Then, after walking past two moments where she wanted to turn back because there was too much walking, she proceeded to CLIMB EVERYTHING.

 I just kept shooting and everything turned out beautifully, like it always does, mostly because I don't waste my rubbed together pennies on question mark models, and I happen to have permanent access to this beautiful creature.  That's another post.  This is the reality of us: our life; this life; this new life; consisting entirely of beauty...mostly.

My mind just flashed on all the consisting entirely of beauty fluids that I will bear witness to shortly.

Am I digressing again?

I've got three more photos to type words next to still, so they don't look all empty and shit, but my mind has already completely tangented (that's a word now) from what I set out to write about.

Always so much fun writing these (that, ladies and gentlemen, is sarcasm.  subtle, I know).  I wish I could just free flow and go, but I had some stuff I wanted to accomplish here.

 This is it.  Not only was this trip a last hurrah before we bring home a little, freaky, eat-and-shit alien looking baby, but I feel like this post is kind of a last word before the next stage of my life, better known as mid-life crisis, begins.  I've been thinking about what I wanted to say for three days.  We've been packing our "bug-out bags" and making checklists, and talking about a plan, et cetera, but my mind is just stuck on how many infinite souls were born without all of these preventative measures.  I kind of just want to have the baby in our bathtub, or at my beach, but we can't afford a midwife in case something goes horrifically wrong.
 Then I start thinking about my own birth, and the likelihood of my not having survived it had I been born a hundred years earlier, or even fifty years earlier.  All of my life I've felt like I wasn't supposed to be here.  She's asking me about what clothes we should dress the baby in to bring her home from the birth center?  My only response is "wrap her in a damn blanket."  That turns into an argument about me not taking this seriously.  I am taking this very seriously, more than most ever have.  My mind is like a clusterfuck of emotional chaos, but I'm Amish cool, so I deal with all of it by sitting by myself and staring at the stars.  I just grab my camera and capture what's happening because that's all I'm good at.
This soul, this beautiful soul, who deals with all of my passive bullshit, is going to labor out another potentially beautiful human soul into this plane of existence, which, as far as human development goes, could very well be happening right now, but I can't hear her screaming in pain because the crickets out here are set to eleven (Spinal Tap reference. Nice).  She has been Physiologically ready to go, and had a little false labor in the wee hours of the morning, but I also can't pretend like she doesn't cry wolf a lot.  She's a bit of a worrier.  Little bit.  I love her, so, this is happening... hopefully closer to her due date: talk like a pirate day.  Even more hopefully: two days later on the last day of summer, to go with my birth on the last day of spring, even though this is leap year, so being born on the last day of summer would actually make her a day earlier to the equinox than my distance to the solstice.  Who gives a shit?

Babes is back, on East Coast time, so the "I'm tired, but I have no idea I'm tired because I'm two, so I'll just flip my shit and search for distractions until mom and baba get frustrated and force me to go to sleep" started at like 6pm.  Awesome.

Here we go.

But hopefully not yet.


Friday, September 2, 2016


We are in the final weeks now of what will probably be my last opportunity to capture a pregnancy so intimately, even though I haven't really had the opportunity to capture the pregnancy too intimately.  We have gone out to shoot a lot, and I have captured most of the evolution, but she is finally getting to the point where she is accepting that she is beautiful, as opposed to the cliché "fat" or "frumpy" or "whatever,"  and not bombarding me with excuses to not shoot, or torturing me with her silly insecurities.
In her "accepting" where she is, she contacted a local amazing artist, Michael Newberry, about sitting for him.  This was really more in her comfort zone, as she worked as a figure model for about a decade.  We went over to his studio last night, and sketching commenced.
His studio was nestled under Tahquitz Rock, which is only a reference that will make sense if you are familiar with my little mountain town, and is apparently a former "Bunny House," as this particular property was once owned by that Hefner guy.  He turned out to be a really nice guy, and I don't really have too much to say because it was a genuinely beautiful experience.  They talked a while about emotion, and woman-hood, in relation to pregnancy and partnership, where she was at and what she could bring to the work.  It was nice for me to talk about little creative quirks with someone who actually knew what I was talking about.
I went into it thinking I wouldn't really be involved too much, aside from documenting the event, but he is planning on using my photographs as a reference in his work.  That required my sitting where he was sitting, and trying to see what he was seeing, which actually felt very natural.  I felt like we exchanged some art understanding that I don't find in most places.  Maybe being forced to take those art classes paid off a bit.
He mentioned that this was the first time he collaborated with a photographer, so, no pressure.  Hopefully the focal problems on my cut rate lenses don't mess everything up.

I'm trying to find one of my raw tangents to go on, but it was just a nice experience.  I wish there were more creatives in my life to do things like this with.

My girl and I have been brainstorming certain projects, but it is really just difficult to find people who are open and free and beautiful..... "cool," as I like to call it.

Things keep getting more beautiful, and they will continue.