I only logged on to check the weather. The sky looks overcast today, and I want to know how I should dress myself and Benjamin. The internet opens to our homepage of MSN. I have no idea why that’s set as our home page. Neither of us even uses hotmail. We’ve just never taken the time to change it. (Since this was written last year, we have changed it!) As the pictures come into view, a particular one catches my eye—a peaceful, sleeping newborn curled up in a basket of sorts. It reminds me of an Anne Geddes pose, though this article is highlighting a sister photography duo. There’s a link to view 24 pictures of sleeping babies. I can’t help myself and open it up, calling for Shawn to come and see. We ooh and aah over the adorable photos of newborns asleep in baskets, buckets, sarongs, or cradled in hands. I even open the short video interviewing the twin photographers as they discuss their strategies for capturing such unbelievable poses. They also discuss their new book, something about babies in a dreamland. The pictures seem like windows into another world, a world in which everything is peace, safety, and pure happiness. The video even highlights one set of customers, who so wanted to capture the first sweet moments with their newborn, they drove an extra distance to the photographers’ studio to let the sisters work their magic.
I finally navigate away from the page to check what I really intended to see. The forecast today gives a high of 66 degrees with possible rain. I log off the internet and get ready for my shower, thoughts tumbling through my head. The pictures made me smile; I couldn’t help myself in the face of such pure adorableness. Viewing the photos brought a tinge of pain as well. I can’t help but think of my own newborn pictures of Benjamin, all in the NICU, with his array of tubes, wires, and ventilator. Like the pictures of the sleeping babies he too was asleep, though his was a sedated, unnatural sleep. Instead of the pink, healthy newborn skin his was gray and ashy, followed by a yellowed tint as jaundice set in, and redness as his belly swelled bigger and bigger due to kidney failure. Instead of pictures of a baby sleeping peacefully in the parents’ arms, our pictures show us touching little hands in the NICU bed, our only contact with our son for the first nine days of his life. None of the pictures are printed. They are all still saved on the digital camera and computer. They are not the sort of photos to frame and proudly display on a wall or bookshelf. They are shots that speak of uncertainty, helplessness and pain—not the joy of a new arrival.
The thoughts and words I am now writing flow through my mind as the warm water of the shower flows over my body. As I think and remember, though, an important realization comes to mind. The babies pictured in dreamland may appear to come from perfect families in perfect homes with perfect lives, but I know this is not the case. It can never be the case, for no family is perfect, and no life is immune from pain and troubles. I find myself wondering what the stories behind the babies might be. What is life like in their families? What struggles have they had to face? Most importantly, do they know the One who can sustain them through those troubles? I have experienced pain, but I have a Friend who’s walked with me every step of the way. I have cried many tears, but I have a Comforter who’s caught each one in bottle and considered them precious. I have had many questions, but I have a Counselor who speaks peace to my heart, even when I don’t understand. I have felt helpless and afraid, but I have a Father who’s wrapped me in His embrace and assured me of His love and protection. Yes, I have had pain…but I know the One who enables me to discover joy in the midst of the pain. I want others to find Him as well.