Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: Footprints and Photographs
By Leah Nichols
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The camera hummed as it imprinted the image into its digital memory. Michelle checked the file, smiling gently as she admired her handiwork. Framed by a fleecy pink baby blanket, the tiny cherub face reflected a soft alabaster light, eyes closed as if in a peaceful sleep.
“We'll zoom out now,” Michelle whispered softly. She adjusted the frilly white dress, then lifted the camera to capture a full picture.
She had never bothered to turn off the simulated “snap” sound of the camera. She liked knowing the exact moment the picture registered. Checking the image, she nodded her approval. One more would complete this set.
Irene leaned against the kitchen counter and beamed at her husband. “Guess what?”
She brought out the white stick from behind her back, pointing to the solid pink line. “We're going to be parents!”
Michelle tucked the fuzzy teddy bear into the baby's arms, then reached for the hospital's decorative birth certificate. Though not an authentic legal document, the dark purple calligraphy written on pink paperboard pleased parents nonetheless. The nursery nurse had already put the baby's footprints on the sides. Annemarie Esther Jane Miller. Quite a mouthful for someone so little! Likely they had selected a couple of their grandmothers' names to compliment the first name.
She laid the certificate next to Annemarie's head and repositioned the teddy bear. A lovely arrangement, meant to capture the essence of the baby's life.
Chattering ladies gathered in Irene's living room with heaping plates of food. “Did you pick a name yet?” asked one.
“Oh yes! We've decided on Annemarie. Both of us love that name.”
She ran her hand along her perfectly rounded tummy. Twenty-six weeks already! With the nursery nearly completed, all the gifts from family and friends further built the excitement in waiting for their first and longed-for child.
Dark red freshly cut roses poked out of a vase on the nursery counter. Michelle selected one and wrapped the stem in a strip of cloth. She pressed it into the perfect little hand.
Next, she added the personal touch requested by Irene and Tim. The bright gold pocket watch was a family heirloom passed down from his great-great-grandfather. Looping the chain around the stem, she tucked it into the tiny fingers. Beautiful!
Julie greeted Irene as she entered the birthing room. “Welcome! How are you feeling?”
“So excited!” Irene exclaimed. “My water broke like a half-hour ago. I haven't felt contractions yet, and I know it's going to be hard, but I just can't help being excited to finally have this baby!”
“I can see you've brought your own birthing ball, your own linens, even bubble bath!” Julie readied the monitor. “Why don't we find the baby's heart rate, and then you can walk around a bit until your contractions start.”
Michelle gathered up the teddy bear, birth certificate, watch, rose, and white dress. One of the nurses painted beautiful round boxes in which to place mementos of babies, so she selected a large white one with pink roses on the sides. She gently placed each item into the box.
Turning her attention back to Annemarie, she gently swaddled the baby in the pink blanket and laid her in the crib. Maybe just one more picture.
Irene looked at Julie, fear reflecting in her face. “Is everything okay?”
Julie spoke calmly. “Normally I would have found Annemarie's heart rate by now. I am going to have to call for Dr. Johnson. He will use the ultrasound so we can confirm exactly what is going on.” She looked into Irene's eyes. “I'm not going to lie to you, Irene. I cannot find the heart rate, so it is very possible that we may be facing the loss of your baby.”
Final pictures taken, Michelle gently covered the crib with a large pink blanket. She often found it difficult to explain to others the importance of her job, but she knew that the work she did made a huge difference to parents facing the greatest trial of their lives. Even a simple photograph could give comfort, bringing validation to their grief and reminding them of their precious child. Each “snap” had great meaning, for it called to remembrance a life.
Rest, Annemarie, and may your parents find comfort in this time.
Dedicated to my friends Tara and Kevin, who surrendered their precious baby girl to Jesus on September 1, 2008.
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