From Sarah Rivas...
Before my son Josiah was born, I always imagined newborn photos as shots of sweet, sleeping babies whose mothers calmly loaded them into the car, successfully comforted them during the photo shoot, and returned home to spend a quiet afternoon lounging in their bathrobe while snuggling their sweet baby—a nice reward for a job well done. What I did not think about was what it really takes to capture those photos...mom and dad waking up extra early after a sleepless night to squeeze in a shower, baby screaming his head off on the ride to the studio, the impressive poop explosions mid-pose, and returning home only to realize that your precious bathrobe is covered in so much spit-up that it is unwearable. The reality of the newborn stage is more complicated than photographs can make it appear, and more certainly complicated than I realized before I lived it.
Before you have a baby, you hear about how you will fall in love with your child the minute you see them, and that is definitely true. I would argue that I fell in love even before that— the first time I saw a beating little heart on the ultrasound screen. But just like any real love, your love for your baby takes time to grow and develop and mature. You have to get to know each other. You have to spend a lot of time together. And when you take your newborn photos, you likely haven't had the opportunity to do that yet. It's only been a few short weeks, and you may not know why your baby is fussy or what to do about his sleeping arrangements or even how you really feel about the whole parenting thing. So for the mom and dad and baby posing in the studio, newborn photos may not feel as idyllic as they look. And when you are parenting a new baby, it's very, very easy to look at someone else's photos of their newborn, imagine how blissful everyone must be feeling based on those lovely images, and conclude that there is something terribly wrong with you.
But there isn't something terribly wrong with you. Struggling when you have a new baby is completely and totally normal, and all of your friends are doing it. But out of that struggle comes a brand new family and a sweet, new little person. A whole person who wouldn't even exist if you didn't take a leap of faith and go for it. A new little someone whose existence will absolutely change the world. So it's more than worth it. And that is why newborn photos are, in my opinion, so important. It's a chance to recognize the significance of a new life and the beauty of a new family, a beauty that is even more precious because it is birthed in struggle. Years into the future when your baby is grown and has begun to do all of the amazing things he will do—talk and laugh and create and share and surprise—mom and dad will be able to look back at his sweet little face and say, "Remember when our baby was born? That time was crazy! I didn't shower for a week. Oooh look, he is soooooo cute. I cannot believe he is our baby. We are the luckiest parents in the world." And that is what Josiah's photos have already reminded me, spit-up and sleeplessness and screaming baby and all...I am tired, and I may be struggling, but I am also the luckiest parent in the world.