When Hayleigh met Braxton (looking back)

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This is one of my favorite pictures, ever. Maybe even my favorite. Its not because of the quality of the picture but because of what it represents and the story that replays in my head every time I look at it.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about this story-the story of the first time Hayleigh and Braxton met.

I had told Peter I was adamant about Hayleigh meeting her brother before anyone else. I knew once our eager family members, completely overflowing with love and excitement,  filled the little hospital room that she would cower in a corner. I knew when she did get to see him and hold him she would not really be herself because she was distracted by all the commotion or posing for the on-lookers. I knew there is only one first time for meeting a person that will we along side you in some capacity or another for the rest of your life, someone who will shape your childhood and help you discover who you are. I knew it wanted to “do it right” and I wanted to capture the beauty of the two of them for the first time on camera so we could relive it over and over again. Peter was on board with me. He nodded and gave me a lot of “yes, Emilys” leading up to the day when Braxton was born. I knew he was sick of hearing me express my wishes, but in my mind I was afraid I might be out of control of the situation and I needed him to just know what I wanted. He was super patient with me, as always.

Braxton was born by a scheduled c-section on February 24, 2011. As I lay in the recovery room, really holding Braxton for the first time (in between holding a bucket to puke in. The anesthesia got to me, really bad), a nurse poked her head in and said that our family was already standing in the hallway ready to see him. They were so anxious. The c-section had been pushed back almost 6 hours because of emergency situations that demanded the operating room. As we were transported to my room, I remember being wheeled past them on my bed. It was like we had our own little cheering section. I got to the room and told Peter I was not ready to see people quite yet because I was still throwing up uncontrollably from being moved. Once that settled down a bit a few minutes later I told him it was okay to bring people in. It was already probably about 7pm and visiting hours were almost over. In my mind I had resigned myself to the fact that there would be a stampede. I sniffled back a few tears expecting that Hayleigh would be ushered in amidst the crowd of adoring grandparents, aunts and uncles and we would never have the moment of solitude I had been wanting.

Then Peter did one of the best, most loving things he has ever done for me. As I craned to see who was coming in the door, I saw my wide eyed baby escorted by her proud, loving Daddy.

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I started to cry. Looking at her precious face, so full of anticipation, confusion, and innocence, still makes me tear up.
Peter lifted her up to see her new brother, who was laying in his “crib”. She immediately lunged over to give him a kiss. This immediate overflow of unconditional love and exuberance is so fitting from my girl.

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My sister, Rylie was there too. I had asked her to take the pictures since I didn’t know if I would be able to. She took these first ones. Then as Hayleigh went to sit down waiting to hold Braxton, Rylie passed me the camera. This was not part of the plan, but Peter had to sit with Hayleigh since I was not well enough to be jostled and climbed on by a two year old. I could barely sit up or move. My legs were still jelly and the more the anesthesia wore off the more my abdomen ached. But I honestly credit God for allowing me to be so lost in the moment that somehow I was able to sit up enough, ignore the pain and the horrible nausea long enough to get some photos of them meeting. (Afterward I was scolded because I caused some damage to the incision and initiated another bout of vomiting, but it was worth it. )

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The magnitude and beauty of this moment was clear to me, even then. The way Hayleigh welcomed into her world made me melt. She really had no ability to understand all the implications of having a sibling but she was and is such a loving, welcoming person that she truly was overjoyed to have him in our family. In these moments I felt myself swell and almost burst with love for Hayleigh-the one who made me a Mommy. I felt so excited to get to know and love my precious baby Braxton even more than I already did. And I fell even more in love with my husband for making this moment possible for me, even when I had relinquished hope of it happening.

As I look back now, I am even more struck by what was happening. At the time I didn’t really know Braxton, but now that I do know him for the spunky, affectionate, silly, adorable kid that he is I appreciate this memory even more. I see now in person every day what I could only imagine then. I see Hayleigh and Braxton living as brother and sister-hugging, playing, fighting, dancing, chatting, laughing. Some times I think to myself, “This is their childhood.” The childhood that I have memories of, the childhood that I had that shaped who I am today-this is what they are living, right here and now. I am so glad that they have each other in this world.  I use these pictures and the memories that come along with them to quiet myself in any moments of worry about what the future holds, as our world is rocked again by adding another person. Along with all the joy comes challenge and uncertainty to be sure.  Reliving this moment makes me excited to welcome another little one into our lives in a few months. I know she will be just as special, unique and beautiful as my other two babies. Each day the excitement in me grows as we wait to have our family be complete.

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