Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby Duck

You may have noticed that I don't have pictures of Eliza posted on my blog.  David and I decided to keep those private, and I am fiercely protective of them because she is so darling and yet she looks so... dead.

I look at those pictures and they make me cry.  Instead of thinking about what a beautiful baby we made, I think about how dead she looks, how dark her lips are, how loose her skin had become, how her nose kept bleeding.  They shred my heart to pieces, so I rarely look at them.

I think Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an amazing service, but I'm not crazy about the way Eliza was posed--it looks to me like she's in a coffin, not a cradle.  Her poses seem unnatural to me.  My favorite ones of her are the ones that include David and me--she's cradled in our arms and she really looks like our baby.  But I hate those pictures because I'm sobbing and I have three chins and I'm wearing a hospital gown, and David's face has the most haunted, heartbreaking expression I've ever seen.  I can't look at those pictures without all those emotions flooding back.  It's just not something I could frame and display in my home.

So I had pretty much resigned myself to remember Eliza just the way she was in my mind, and keeping her photos stored in our fireproof safe in the closet.

Then my friend Caroline told me about an artist who drew a portrait of her first son, Cale, and she was kind enough to send me his photo and the drawing so I could see them side by side.  I was really touched that she would share Cale's picture with me, and I was so impressed by the beautiful way the artist had captured Cale just as he was, and also as he should have been.

This artist has a talent for seeing past the stillness to the baby who's there, and that's something that I have never quite been able to do when I look at Eliza's pictures.  My mom had told me that she thought Eliza looked like me when I was a baby, but I could never see it.

I wanted to be able to see Eliza that way, so I contacted Dana Klein through her website and inquired about having Eliza's portrait done.  It was an incredibly emotional process for me.  I cried when I read Caroline's e-mail, I cried when I wrote to Dana, I cried when I got a response from her.  I sobbed when I sent her the photos as an e-mail attachment--the idea of a stranger looking at her pictures just freaked me out.  But Dana was absolutely kind and compassionate.  (And, yes, she told me what a beautiful baby Eliza was.)

It was definitely worth the emotional roller coaster, because when Dana sent me her portrait, it just took my breath away.  It looked just like her, and also just as she should have looked.

I remembered her pouty lips--and she definitely got those from me--I have that same shadow under my bottom lip.  And her button nose does look like mine did as a baby.  I always thought newborns tend to look like their dads, but Eliza seems to be a mini-me, except through the eyes, which I think are David's. Seeing a portrait of her that brings out those qualities, instead of the gruesome reality of her death, makes me so happy and breaks my heart all over again.

I'm thrilled that we now have a portrait of Eliza that I will be hanging in our hallway.  I couldn't be prouder of our Baby Duck, and I'm so grateful to Dana for helping to bring forward the beauty that had been lost in our sadness.

Eliza

51 comments:

Monique said...

She really is beautiful, Brooke. Thank you for sharing her with us.

Molly said...

Love love love it! So beautiful!!

LauraJane said...

I love that she's a blend of you both... And oh so beautiful. Im glad you have something you can hang with pride and not feel insecure about it being seen by other people.

Thank you for sharing her.

Julie said...

Oh my god, she's perfectly gorgeous. Sweet, sweet and... pretty. I'm so happy for you. I love this so much.

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

So beautiful! I love this post and the wonderful picture!

Becky said...

She is beautiful!

B. Wilson said...

I understand about the photos. I feel very protective of Andrew and will never post photos of him on the blog. They aren't hanging in my house as they also sadden me. I can see the skin discoloration despite the excellent work they did using Photoshop. But I can tell and I want to remember him as beautiful as he was... but not as a dead baby with purple cheeks. Some of the poses they put Andrew in also looked unnatural and dead. :/

Your Eliza is beautiful, my friend.

nurslouisa said...

How lovely, and what a lovely baby, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

SIGH; she's such a pretty baby.

The nose bleeding mention broke my heart; it triggered memories. And the "haunted" look I see in photos, too.

Angela said...

She is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.

SG said...

Oh, she's wonderfully sweet. The drawing is beautiful <3

Kaley Keith said...

Beautiful

Anonymous said...

What an awesome service Dana provides. Beautiful Brooke!

Kaley's mom

Katy said...

How beautiful.
I have opted to keep my pictures private as well. I love the idea of the drawing. Thanks for posting a link. I will look into this.

Anonymous said...

She is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing her with us. I've shared the photos that NILMDTS have retouched because our daughter looks like a sleeping baby in many of them. However, the ones where she looks unnatural and, well, unalive, I can't share. I just don't think anyone would understand. And they are far too personal.

jarezuny said...

Absolutely beautiful.

Renel said...

Thank you brooke for sharing your beautiful daughter Eliza with us. Today and everyday through your writing and well expressed love. I too have gotten the information from Caroline but the effort and courage to send a stranger a picture of your baby is very hard. Sending love.

The Busters said...

She is beautiful.

Lopa said...

So beautiful. She is so pretty & perfect. You are amazing Brooke! I love the fact that how you overcome all these hurdles. The way you can see beyond situations and make a happy ending.. I truly admire you and your indomitable spirit.. This gives me hope.. this afternoon was so tough. and I see your post. I am so inspired. I ll definitely do this with the Cutu's pictures. Thank you!

Amelia said...

She is so beautiful, I'm so glad you share her with us.

Vanessa said...

She is beautiful.

katie illingworth said...

Gorgeous hands and perfect button nose. So so pretty. I know what you mean about her pictures. I have some pictures of Georgie that I can look at, and others that tear my heart into pieces--her lips, her skin, etc...it takes me back to the hospital when we felt her cold the day after she was born and my husband was overwhelmed with the horror of it all. I tell myself often--her spirit is no longer with her body, and if I were to guess, her spirit looks as her body should have been, and you will see that someday. Hugs.

Janet said...

What a beautiful portrait. She looks sweet and perfect. Her little button nose reminds me of my son's little nose, too. I just love it. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Josh Jackson said...

Beautiful drawing of your firstborn...thanks for sharing her with all of us.

Becca said...

What an amazing gift. She is beautiful.

Mama Bear said...

I'm so glad you have a beautiful portrait to feel good about and have up in your house I know it is hard to get up the courage to share such an intimate photo. Eliza is adorable!

Anonymous said...

She is beautiful. Thank you for sharing her picture!!!

leslie(cullensblessings) said...

Thank you so much for sharing this Brooke.. she is absolutely beautiful.

Caroline said...

She's perfect Brooke. Just perfect. how cruel that she's not with you.

Love that sweet bottom lip.

bibc said...

oh Eliza! you are as beautiful as your name, my sweet, your mama told us lots about you.

thank you for sharing her with us, Brooke. thinking of you and David.
xoxo
lis

Sara said...

What a beautiful girl and a beautiful portrait.

Di said...

She is so beautiful your Eliza. I love this idea as I too hold my photos close to me. I want to share my daughter too and I think this is such an awesome way to do it. Thank you for sharing xx

Hope's Mama said...

She's a doll. Just divine. I feel so honoured to have seen her beautiful face.
We have many photos of Hope, but only a few I'm happy to publicly share and hang in our home (including my profile pic here). The rest, well they are just like what you say about your pics of Eliza. She looks so dead. We look so broken. They make me so sad. Even some of the Heartfelt ones (Australia's version of NILMDTS).
We have a portrait as well and I think it might have even been done by the same person who did yours. I treasure that as well. I remember when I went to get it framed, the man thought she was a live baby, and I carried on with the charade and pretended as if she was as well.
Truly, she's so beautiful and I know baby number two will be as well.
xo

Hope's Mama said...

She's a doll. Just divine. I feel so honoured to have seen her beautiful face.
We have many photos of Hope, but only a few I'm happy to publicly share and hang in our home (including my profile pic here). The rest, well they are just like what you say about your pics of Eliza. She looks so dead. We look so broken. They make me so sad. Even some of the Heartfelt ones (Australia's version of NILMDTS).
We have a portrait as well and I think it might have even been done by the same person who did yours. I treasure that as well. I remember when I went to get it framed, the man thought she was a live baby, and I carried on with the charade and pretended as if she was as well.
Truly, she's so beautiful and I know baby number two will be as well.
xo

Sara said...

She is beautiful. I love the little duck on her chest. Thank you for sharing.

Catherine W said...

Such a beautiful little girl. I can understand why this portrait would make you feel happy but also break your heart all over again. Because it is as she should have looked.

Thank you for sharing your gorgeous Baby Duck.

Tiffany said...

Thank you for sharing baby duck with us. I know how hard it must have been for you. Eliza is even more beautiful than I imagined.

erica said...

Oh, Brooke. She's such a beauty - those lips, that nose, those cheeks. Thank you for sharing your Baby Duck here. I'm so glad you found such an amazing artist, that you have this glimpse of your daughter.

Sara / Aryanhwy said...

She's so beautiful. And I love the duckie onesie!

Anonymous said...

She is absolutely beautiful, and what a beautiful way to represent your baby girl.

Jessica said...

Oh Brooke! Thank you for sharing this beautifully drawn portrait...Eliza is so precious and adorable. I am so glad that you have a portrait if her that you can look at and see her, not the sad. She truly is lovely!!!

JoyAndSorrow said...

Gorgeous.

Natasha said...

She's absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing her ♥

Kari said...

So beautiful.

Lindsey said...

I didn't realize how much I wanted to see her until you posted this. She looks like you. I already feel like I know the life she had, and the one she should have had so now I have a picture to go with these images.
I continue to be comforted and shocked by the same language, experience, emotions that we all share on this path.
Happiness does take courage, and being courageous every day is tiring!

Rachel said...

I was traveling so am just now catching up on blog posts. That is a breathtaking picture of Eliza. She is so precious and I'm glad you have something you can display without anxiety.

Addi's mom said...

Oh Brooke, Eliza is just gorgeous and I am not just saying that. What a beautiful picture of your girl. I am so glad you have this and I understand how hard it was for you to email her pictures as I guard my pictures of Addison fiercely...it's just too hard knowing there are people out there who would look at them with anything less than love. You obviously trusted them to the right person. xxxooo

Kim said...

Eliza is absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your beautiful portrait<3

loribeth said...

She's beautiful. : ) I'm so glad you have a picture of her you feel comfortable sharing & displaying. I have six lousy Polaroids of Katie -- her face is only visible in three of them, & I honestly think they make her look worse than she really was. (Not to mention that she is lying on a metal tray with nurse's gloved hand holding it, and bag marked "soiled laundry" in the background.) Not sure an artist would be able to help, they are truly crappy :p (a woman from our support group who runs training sessions for medical staff asked me for a copy so she could show them to staff as an example of how NOT to take photos -- this being pre-digial photography & NILMDTS) -- but they are also infinitely precious because they are all we have.

We had a client in our support group whose husband couldn't bring himself to look at the photos of their baby; she had an artist do a picture & he felt better looking at that.

Another group client/friend had a daughter who was about three at the time of her brother's stillbirth at 36 weeks. They didn't bring her to the hospital (which they later regretted) -- for years afterward, she kept asking, "Where was I? Why wasn't I there?" Someone suggested she could use Photoshop to create a picture of the two of them together -- but it didn't feel right to her because it never really happened.

And then she saw an artist displaying charcoal drawings at the mall, & she had an idea. She took a photo of her daughter holding a doll, & brought that and a photo of her son to the artist, & from those two photos, he created a portrait for her of her daughter holding her baby brother. She said it felt all right to do that because it was art as opposed to faking a photo, if you know what I mean. I've seen it, and it's beautiful.

Tash said...

I'm new to your blog. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Eliza is just beautiful.

We only have a few photos of our son Liam. My husband took a few photos with his iPhone and the nurses at the hospital dressed Liam in two outfits several hours after he died. Unfortunately nature had already started to take her toll on Liam's tender skin. He didn't have the red marks on his face when he was alive. But it's all that I have now, these few photos. I would love to have a portrait done but I know that most people don't see my son as I do.

I'm happy that you have this portrait to hang on your wall.
Thank you for sharing your darling Eliza.