Marlowe Getter was born on August 21st, 2012. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to look at these images, but today is the first time I opened them up in Lightroom. Maybe I really was that backed up in post production, maybe I didn’t think the images would turn out, or maybe it’s because I needed some emotional distance from this day for awhile. You see, Marlowe Getter is Marie and John’s second baby, but she is the first baby that they held in their arms. She was the first baby I photographed, and the she was the hope and light of an otherwise horribly tragic year and a half. How does one even put this into writing? I’ve said it before that words are few when the heart is heavy.
On June 15th 2011, pregnant for the first time with their son, Marie and John went in for their normal weekly prenatal visit. Marie’s blood pressure was pretty high and the Dr. thought it best to go ahead and induce her, just to be safe. She was 38 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby boy. What started out as a normal induction ended in tragedy, after 72 hours of labor, 4 hours of pushing and a C-section. We still don’t know exactly what happened to little Elliot, but somewhere between the last heart monitor reading and pulling him out of Marie , just 7 minutes later, Elliot’s heart had stopped and he was gone. He was born and died on June 18th 2011. It is still unthinkable. Utterly, utterly unthinkable. I can’t even imagine going on living had this been me, but Marie and John are two of the strongest people I know and they have somehow survived, one day at a time. Day after day. On New Year’s Eve of 2011 Marie and John found out that they were pregnant again with our little Marlowe. Needless to say, there were mixed emotions for them and the pregnancy was very hard on Marie. Every day was a grueling decision to choose to “let go” of her raw fear and grief. Going to anything social for Marie was difficult because people didn’t know how to act with her. It seemed they either completely ignored the fact that Marie had lost a child, or they would just stare, giving her the “sympathy” eyes. I think one of the things that was hardest about her pregnancy with Marlowe was that Marie was terrified that by having another baby, she would somehow be pushing the memory of Elliot away. She was overwhelmed with guilt. Of course Marlowe will never erase the memory of Elliot from any of our hearts, and I knew it more than ever on the day Marlowe was born. As happy and joyous as the day was, there was a strong presence of Elliot in the room and the reminder that Marie had done this before. She had been a mother before. I’m not writing this post to make anybody cry or feel sad. It’s just time for me to process this myself and to proclaim Elliot’s life along with Marlowe’s. Although his time was very short, his presence was powerful and real. Marie and John will never “get over” the death of Elliot, they have just learned to live with their grief. They carry Elliot with them everywhere they go and have a clear image in their minds of his curly locks, his beautiful lips, his long, long fingers…. And Marlowe wears some of these same features as a constant reminder of her big brother.
I have learned a lot about life and death since June of 2011. I thank God for Ramona’s safe delivery and health everyday. And I know that if I had or ever lose Ramona, the most important thing for me will be to acknowledge her life. I acknowledge Elliot’s short life right now and everyday. I am proud to have people like John and Marie in my life who refuse to deny that all of this happened, and remind people that Marlowe is their second child. I’m proud that they are pleased to tell people about Elliot and aren’t scared to share their story.
It was one of the best days of my life when Marlowe came into this world. It was an absolutely glorious occasion. We all sighed a huge sigh of relief and wept tears of joy. It was even love at first site for Ramona–she has truly loved Marlowe since that first hospital visit. Marlowe is a gift and an angel and I have no doubt that she has her big brother Elliot by her side, guiding her through her little life.