I'm tearing up as I post these pictures. Seeing a baby being born has to be on the top 5 experiences of my life. I have experienced a few births, from the birth of my own two boys to documenting friend's birth experiences and it NEVER ceases to amaze me. My own mom told me she wasn't sure there was a God until she gave birth to her first born son and nothing convinced her more of a powerful and wonderful God then having her own child. It really is beyond words.
I arrived at St. Mary's hospital in Athens at 2pm after Justin called me letting me know how far along she was and that the baby might come at any moment. Laney Harris Kimmel was born at 2:33 after less than 10 minutes of pushing (sorry for the details but they are important!). Kathryn looked beautiful and shocked at how quickly Laney came into the world after hearing horror stories of much longer laboring. It really was the smoothest birth I have ever seen or heard of. Justin was such an awesome husband, encouraging her through it and telling her how amazing she was. I teared up behind the camera to see a family being formed.
I know some people would wonder why I would post a picture like this (below) of the tray of tools used during the birth process, but I just have to say it was one of the most profound pictures I took during the time. I saw a living person come from Kathryn, a precious baby born, but it wasn't neat and clean and picture perfect in the sense that pictures depict babies being born. It was messy and comes at a great sacrifice to the mother who gives up a lot to bring life into the world. This was such a beautiful picture of what it means to give life to another. It means sacrifice and hard work and endurance driven by love. It is a picture of parenthood, foreshadowing days to come when it takes sweat and a lot of heart to keep giving to someone who can't give back, at least not yet. Kathryn you are already a picture of love to Laney by the ways you have carried her for 9 months and let your body be given for the good of another, with all the pains that come with that. I know you believe it was so worth it.
There were so many moments that made me cry, but this one sticks out to me. Justin finally got a chance to hold Laney and I watched him look at her in way he has probably never looked at anyone. Having a baby opens up new emotions in your heart that you have never experienced before. There is this strange love that is born, and its fierce and tender at the same time. You would all the sudden give your life for someone who has never done anything for you except just exist as your child. It is a powerful picture of what it means to be loved by God as his child, not because you bring anything to the table but simply because you are His. Justin's face is a picture to me of how God must feel towards us as his little ones.
As if this whole time hadn't been sweet enough, seeing Justin tell the family that the baby was here was icing on the cake. I have never seen so many family members present at a birth and with such love and excitement. Seeing Justin hug his dad really got me- I can't even imagine the healthy pride Justin's dad felt in seeing his own son become a father.
Of course Baby Laney has no other choice but to be a Georgia Bulldog, and Kathryn's brother is making sure that happens. And there is another bulldog not far behind with Kathryn's sister having a baby in 6 months!!
Baby Laney I am so glad you are here. You are a picture to me of God's grace and love already even just as a friend of your parents. Thank you Kathryn and Justin for letting me see this and know the goodness of the Lord in a new way. I know parenting will be the hardest yet richest thing you have ever done and I can't wait to see this little girl grow. Much love.