Marcella Rose is one.


“I take you, Tim…”

“Tim!” I screamed for him on a Tuesday night from our bathroom. I held my red insides in my hands in white-faced fear. A few calls later four men I don’t know came into my bedroom to carried me, shoulder strapped down through our narrow hall way and down the stairs. 

Me and my second little one. It would be our second stay in the hospital in the short span of her 28 week existence. But this time they hooked us up to fluid intakes and outtakes and all sorts of dopplers with velcro straps and leg squeezers. And that’s where we waited. We waited while they came to check. And check. And check.

So we made plans for a ten week stay. 

Swish, swish, swish, swish. The Doppler played our heartbeats and our fates  loud to hear. 

We read and talked and FaceTimed and called and texted and scrolled and prayed with and prayed over and prayed for. “Best two out of three?” he said, and just as I agreed to beat him a second time in our dice game, the swishes slowed down.

One nurse. Two nurses. The charge nurse. A doctor I’d never seen in a hospital I’d never been to, my home for two days to this point.

For two hours we listened to her. 

Oxygen is a funny thing. She needed it, so they gave it to me. Mask on, tangled up in tubes, twisting around so it could get to her, but it just didn’t get there.

I held his hand so tight. He was an anchor and my insides were stormy, stormy seas.

A c-section feels like a duffel bag being unzipped, rummaged through, emptied and zipped back up. Thank God for it.

She was a she, we learned, and she was tiny and blue. Very tiny. And less blue, but not for five long minutes.

Marcella Rose.

Marcella for Tim’s grandmother. Rose for Saint Rose of Lima.

“Young warrior,” it means. And her battle began the night I screamed for him from home.

Her lungs. As it often is, it was her lungs that we petitioned everyone we knew to pray for. One of them collapsed on day two in the middle of the night. Always the middle of the night.

But they’re miracle workers. The people and the machines they use. Her life was hung on them like a big white sheet, shaken out and draped over a clothes line. Angels and men, working together in every NICU, everywhere. 

I’ve never been anywhere in my life every single day for 42 days straight except my home. The NICU felt like home, thanks to every person who I know (and some who I don’t even know) making it so I could be there. 

Edith’s eyes would close after lunch time and I was out the door. Ten minutes away to her. Wash in. Check in. Bathroom. Wash again. Wash the pump parts. Robe on. Hand sanitizer. Phone. Water. Pillow. Pump. Hand sanitizer.

And finally we were together. For three out of 24 hours, I’d sit with her, first with four tubes, then three, then two, then one, then we could see her face. 

Breath on her own. Eat on her own. Sit in a carseat for 90 minutes on her own. Hurdles, hurdled. A mighty warrior indeed, is she.

42 days she was cared for so tenderly by a host of angels guiding RN’s and NP’s and Doctors who kept vigil with her day and night.

But it could have been longer.

They passed her to us like a baton, a soul passed from divine care to hospital care and right into my arms.

And just like that, she was home.

It’s August 24th again. She is twelve months old today and nearly six times her birth weight. She learned to eat on her own, sleep on her own (mostly), do "so big!" on her won, and scurry speedily all over the floor all on her own.

And we’re home. All four of us. Home together time is like the waiting room for heaven. She could be there now. But she’s here, with us. So now we try our best to not toil and spin around this life, but to wait. We wait to see the face of the one who breathed the breaths into her that she now breaths on her own.

On our wedding day I said his name and I held his hand, full of peace and smitten joy and then three years later I screamed his name and held so tightly to his hand, full of trembling and tumultuous fear. For all I know, in my small and confined logic, God led us through this and every patch of grace-traced suffering just to me how much I love him, to show me how much I do take him has my husband.  

Stewards we are, he and I, of these two little lives that are on the path from dependence on us to dependence on him, just like our parents were for us.

It is a very happy first birthday for our little Marci Rose. And with hearts brimming, we echo the sighs of gratitude that have put us to sleep each night for the past 365 days. Gratitude for Marci. Gratitude for our loving and live-giving creator and the people he sent to care for her.


(These next few pro photos came from our friend Emma Parker, who came in an instant about a week after she was born.)

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The Bartow Family :: Family Photo, Columbus, Ohio

The Bartow Family :: Family Photo, Columbus, Ohio

My cousin, Andrea, and I have traveled similar paths this year. Both of our pregnancies led us to the hospital way earlier than expected, yet both have given us beautiful, healthy babies. Miracles!

I want to say a couple things about these photos: 

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Susanna Joy :: Newborn Photo, Columbus Ohio

Susanna Joy :: Newborn Photo, Columbus Ohio

I believe Susannah, the little squish in these photos, will one day win some sort of award for being the most compliant human being. I've never taken photos of an infant who cooperated. I've taken photos of happy infants, and well-rested infants, and well-fed infants, but Susannah was, like, participating! I would practically say, "smile!" and she'd smile. There she was saying, "Did you want my left arm here?" at 24 hours old. 

That said, I love taking photos of infants, no matter their mood. Photo sessions always provide me a right of passage into such an intimate environment with the people I'm photographing, but infant sessions always do this in a special way. Mom and baby are at their raw-est. One is stunned by joy, the other stunned by the world, and both are wrapped in the swaddling clothes of blessed exhaustion. This sight makes me more sympathetic to humanity as a whole every single time, praise God.

You've seen it, too, I'm sure.



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The Last Boyden's (No, Really. I Promise.) :: Family Photo, Columbus, Ohio

The Last Boyden's (No, Really. I Promise.) :: Family Photo, Columbus, Ohio

This post serves as the third in a series I've just now entitled, "The Boyden's: A Global Family". This isn't the title because it's a progressive idea of how to approach familial issues with a global mindset. It's the title because I've come to be convinced that, in some way, we're really all Boyden's (and we should be proud)...

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The Other Boyden's :: Family Photo, Columbus, Ohio

The Other Boyden's :: Family Photo, Columbus, Ohio

One of my favorite things about taking photos and having lots of siblings is that I can employ a healthy dose of guilt and passive aggression when they ask anyone but me to take their photos. It's one of those awkward joys.

Just kidding. I would be a terrible person if I had thoughts like that!

What I really meant to say is that one of my favorite things about taking photos is that sometimes, I have the pleasure of being asked to photograph one of my siblings and their family. And here's what's so good about this. I'm also blessed that I call my siblings my best of friends, and as a result, I know them better than I know anyone else.

But here's the good part: This means that when I'm looking at one of my siblings through the camera, I can tell, without any shadow of doubt, that I've caught them at their best. I know this because I've seen them in their best and in their worst and much of what's in between. For a few of them, I've even seen many their different flickers of expressions of satisfaction and happiness, and in that photo above, this is my sister, Anna's, most peaceful, satisfied expression of happiness.

Buy you know, you could probably see that now, too.



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