I can tell by the tears already swelling in my eyes that this is going to be a hard post for me to write. Feel free to keep scrolling down if you’re only here to look at the photos, but can I put in a bid for you to stay with me until the end? If you do have the time, go ahead and grab a cup of coffee or tea (& possibly a box of tissues). I have something remarkable to share with you and if you take 10 minutes to look & read through to the end, I promise, it’s worth a read.
Have you ever witnessed a loved one go through something in life that it has flooded you with the most reverent and sincere form of awe you could possibly have towards someone? Have you ever seen a best friend for over 15 years, be at the peak of absolute emotional and physical pain, and know you couldn’t do anything to help them? Have you ever been so proud and so taken back by someone so close to you that you just can’t help but get emotional and teary-eyed thinking about how much you respect and honor who they are as a person? I have. Just this past week I did. On September 26th, 2019 to be exact. I witnessed one of the most surreal events that I will ever have the privilege of being a part of & I would love to share my side of the story to honor my one of my best friends from high school. Before I go on to how significant of a moment this was for me, I’d like to introduce you to this amazing soul I am grateful to call a close friend in life, Heather.
Heather and I have been friends since high school, where we both attended a private high school in San Antonio. She danced ballet, I played volleyball. She drove a Hummer (the tank) & I drove an old truck. We spent countless hours talking about our future, who we would marry, how many kids we would have and how we’d stay friends forever. By Senior year, Heather began modeling & she had purchased a camera and began really taking an interest in photography. The camera was one thing we both loved getting to know. To cure our boredom in high school, and because she had a new camera, we would plan fun photo shoots to do together all over San Antonio. The more we would shoot, I began to really love photography. I’d play around with the camera & she didn’t mind being my subject (R.I.P. awful filters & the overly-saturated or de-saturated edits I chose to apply to my images back in the later 2000’s, don’t judge - proof below for reference)
While we both had different interests as we grew up, we always supported each other, especially through those younger, more fragile years. We’ve always been the other’s ‘hype-woman’ through life so to speak - the awkward phases of acne, gaining self esteem, dozens of boy crushes, the ‘hey, I’m in town’ coffee date, the calls, the skype chats - we always supported and encouraged each other. I still distinctly remember some of the crazy conversations we had as we ate lunch outside together almost every day at school throughout high school. Well, time passed and soon, we graduated, Class of 2008. The Summer after our Senior year, I remember Heather talking about this ‘older guy who is really cute’. I didn’t think anything of it until we allowed this random said guy, Jordan, to join us on one of our ‘silly’ photo shoots in West San Antonio. I remember thinking “this is a good guy & I’m glad they met”, but at the time, I had no idea who he would later become in my friend’s life.
We went on to two different colleges, Heather went off to TCU, studying Photography & as for me, I went on to Texas State, studying Graphic Design. We kept in touch throughout all the years and as I was studying, Heather’s modeling career really took off and she began traveling the globe, calling me to tell me what she loved about each city she visited. You name it y’all, she went! I’m telling you, this woman has had a career modeling for several world-class brands that spans so many different continents and countries, that any travel bug bee jealous!
I remember telling her how proud I was of her for being so brave and just ‘going’ for it. That is always something I’ve seen in Heather - a meek, but bold & strong soul. In college, we even got together again ‘for the old times-sake’ to do another downtown San Antonio photo shoot like we did all those years back in high school.
Still to this day, it amazes me that when we talk or see each other, it’s as if no time has passed at all. That’s one thing I absolutely love about our friendship - it’s strong no matter the distance, time or place. God has sincerely blessed us with such a sincere friendship and true connection.
We actually ended up switching college degrees from what we both originally began pursuing after high school (her in Photography & me in Graphic Design). By the time we graduated - I earned my degree in Photography & Heather, in Graphic Design. All the while, her & Jordan continued to date even though she was out of the country at times, and as the years passed, I knew he was the one for her. They ended up getting married in September 2012 and soon after, moved to New York City as Heather continued her modeling career. After their adventures in New York, the two moved back to Texas & in 2016. I remember Heather and I were eating at Chipotle one day just catching up when she told me she was pregnant. I was so surprised and an overwhelming sense of joy rushed in for her and Jordan - they were about to be a family of 3 & I could not contain my excitement! A few months passed & I drove up to McKinney & did a maternity session with her & Jordan. Before they announced the gender of the baby, I had a dream that Heather & Jordan were standing on the beach, facing the ocean and they were each holding one hand of a little boy, who was standing in between them, so you can imagine our excitement when I told her about my dream & it was true! She gave birth to her firstborn in McKinney, TX on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 - Asher (he’s such a cutie). Life has a way of showing you, in it’s own unique way, that each piece of the puzzle fits together somehow & let me tell you, when Heather had Asher, that was one of life’s nudges I’m referring to - not only does Asher share a birthday with my husband, but he was also born on a Tuesday and specifically in McKinney, Texas - both, just like my husband! Call me crazy, but when situations line up like that, it really makes you appreciate life’s special moments like that and I personally call these moments a “God thing”.
Fast forward to Spring 2019 when Heather told me she was expecting their 2nd child & naturally I was so happy for them - their family was about to become FOUR y’all! When Heather reached out to me and said she was planning on having another home birth & she wanted to know if I’d be interested in being there to photograph the process of labor, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes, absolutely!”, even though I had never seen a birth in person. Also, my closest friends will tell you how much of a softy I am when it comes to blood - I have such a weak stomach. But let me tell you, when Heather asked me to be there for the birth of her 2nd child, a once in a lifetime moment in their lives, something in me said “I have been preparing you for this moment & I know you are unsure, but you can do this, so trust me and go.” Insert another ‘God thing’ here - a tugging on my heart-strings if you will, a call. So when I woke up on September 26th and realized I had received three texts from Heather spaced throughout all hours of the night, I headed down to her, a two hour drive for me, because I didn’t want to miss it!
When I arrived to their home around noon, Heather was laying in bed and having contractions about 8 minutes apart at a relatively consistent rate. She seemed to have a peace about her I wasn’t expecting for this situation, but I overwhelmingly felt the love of the Lord in the room. It was a sacred space. This feeling of peace continued to carry throughout the entire day. Heather had prepared a banner of encouraging quotes to help her through the day, my favorite being:
As soon as I checked in with Heather, she was laying in bed with her essential oil and contractions about 7 minutes apart. After we talked a bit, I realized she wasn’t going to give birth right away. I was greeted by Asher and Heather’s sweet mom, Laura. It was so great to give hugs to these two & Asher loved showing me his electric car outside. I loved seeing how proud he was for having his own car, even if his feet couldn’t reach the pedals yet (how adorable are those blonde curly locks and bright blue eyes?!)
After about an hour, Jordan finished filling the birthing pool to perfect temperature & Asher was quite a bit curious as he stepped onto his tip-toes to look into the water. While the midwife, Jennifer, and her assistant, Christa, were in route to the house, Heather’s contractions began to become closer together - around 4 minutes apart at this point. Jordan and I would trade off pressing on her lower back when the pain would begin to come. Because we thought the baby would come soon, Heather’s mom took Asher on a play date to the park, but gave his momma sweet kisses before he left in between her contractions.
About half an hour after they left, suddenly, Heather’s water broke and while Jordan rushed to get towels to clean up, Heather moved down to the floor on all fours, continuing to take deep breaths as she quivered in pain. She wanted to move from the bed to get into the warm pool, but with only her and I in the room, she began another painful contraction. I immediately put my camera down and as I helped to press on her lower back, she screamed out in pain - I’m not going to lie, for a split second, I thought I was about to help birth baby Judah right then and there! Luckily, the Midwife arrived, Heather’s contraction had subsided and Jordan and I quickly switched places. She went through one more contraction at the foot of their bed and slowly made her way in to the birthing pool in between the rounds of pain she was experiencing. I still felt the peace of the Lord in this room at this time so strongly that I began to get tears in my eyes in excitement for this blessing about to enter the world.
Heather was on her 3rd or 4th contraction after getting into the pool, and for whatever reason, it suddenly felt like it was only she and I. She said “It’s coming, it’s coming!” I immediately reached out my hand and as she tightly squeezed my hand, Heather let out a loud scream of pain & in that moment, my heart was so aware of the presence of the Lord it was unreal. I was able to capture this special moment as my heart was overflowing with gratefulness. In that moment, these words came to mind “Lyndsay, this is what friendship is about, this. This right here.”
Jennifer, Christa, and Jordan walked back into the room & continued to help and support Heather through the last stages of her labor. Heather had a few more contractions and pushes and let me tell you, as baby Judah made his debut head first, tears were streaming down my face in awe behind my camera. She gave one final push & there he was!
It is with great privilege, I introduce to you, Judah Jax Love. Jordan & Heather were able to meet their second child for the very first time on September 24th at 2:40pm.
I had just witnessed one of my best friends in life bring another life into this world. This woman had no pain medication, decided against any ‘ease of pain’ in any way & as I am capturing this sacred moment, a sincere state of astonishment began to rush through my body.
A thought Heather and I both agree now we felt distinctly prevalent, specifically in that space, in that moment, painted a comparison with how Jesus bore the pain of the world on the cross and at the end, as gasped for his last breath in agony, he declared “It is finished.” How beautiful & irreplaceable of an experience to witness someone you love go through such great emotional and physical pain as they bear every inch of agony a body can feel, yet they are blessed in the end of their suffering. This. This. This. This is real. This is raw. This is the uncut version of life y’all. This is true love. I saw true love that day.
I saw the Lord’s love in Jordan as he displayed a humble, but determined spirit. He helped Heather be as comfortable as possible during the entire process. Jordan blew up the pool, filled the pool with hot water, gave Heather lower back massages during contractions while they were at their peak of pain, helped to time her contractions and encouraged her the entire way. I saw the Lord’s love in Heather’s mother, who watched Asher & had her famous chili keeping hot on the stove to feed anyone that was hungry during the day. I saw the love that the midwife, Jennifer, gave Heather as she coached her and guided her through her labor and birth. She helped Heather remember to take deep breaths and was there to make sure baby & mom were healthy & safe.
I don’t have any children of my own yet, but this day in my life will forever be a bookmark in time that reminds me of how deep a mother’s love is for her child. The way Heather lit up when she looked down at sweet Judah as he lay on her chest made me cry all over again.
Sweet Judah was passed to Jordan for snuggle time skin to skin with dad & to let Heather ‘birth’ the placenta. Contraction-like feelings continued for her during this process, but she was so filled with joy, she managed to have a smile through most of the pain. As a sense of peace & calm still carried throughout the day, Judah enjoyed having time with dad. After about half an hour, Judah may or may not have gone #2 on dad, but we don’t need to go into all that!
(just putting this here right now for proof when you’re older Judah - it did happen ** cough cough** - ask your mother for picture proof, we don’t need to include that here either).
Judah and dad really cherished their time getting to see each other for the first time.
As soon as Heather birthed the placenta, Jennifer & Christa helped her get out of the pool and into their shower. She quickly rinsed off & was able to return to her bed for skin on skin cuddles with baby Judah. Heather began to breastfeed Judah and then let him sleep afterwards.
One of the sweetest moments that happened that day took place about one hour after Judah had been born. Asher & Laura arrived back to the house & she set Asher on the bed with Heather and baby for Asher to meet baby brother. Asher smiled, waved ‘hi’ & gave his baby brother a kiss on the forehead (que round 3 cry sesh) - it was absolutely adorable!
After Asher had a bit more time, it seemed like he was unsure about this miniature human he just met. He crawled off the bed and hopped on his bike with a huge smile & rode out of the room. Asher is such a kind child, I just know he will make a great older brother to Judah. Heather’s family came to visit and check up on her and of course to meet Judah. Jordan continued to encourage her & tell her how proud he was of her. We all hung out and soaked up all the Judah snuggles until the sun set and Heather, Jordan, Asher & Judah were already where they needed to be - together, at home.
The first mention of your name from Heather was that you were “such a cute older guy” & the way she’s talked about you ever since has only confirmed my belief that you two have the real deal. When Heather first introduced me to you, I didn’t know it at the time what your role in my friend’s life would play out to be, but I am very grateful you ended up with Heather. You are such a great husband to my good friend & for that, I appreciate you. Heather loves & respects you very much. You are a great father to Asher & I know you will be the same for Judah.
Our friendship has truly blessed my life throughout these past 15 years. I remember the endless hours talking about who we would marry, how many children we would have and what their names would be. Look at you now, gorgeous lady!! You have two incredible babes and you are married to a God-fearing protector for you and your family of FOUR. So, sure, go on - you can tell me all day, “I don’t know how I did it, because I’m a wimp.” But girl, the fact of the matter is - YOU ARE WRONG - that is a fact right there! You are actually quite the opposite of weak! You, my friend, are extremely STRONG & I am beyond proud of you for bringing two beautiful children into this world. Yes, it’s true, I didn’t quite know what to expect or how I was going to react knowing I would have to see you in so much pain and couldn’t bring relief. But because I listened to that voice, I didn’t hesitate and I went & I am so glad I did! I will forever be grateful for being able to be there for you and Jordan on such a momentous day for you and your family. So excited to see these two grow up & you know ‘Aunt LuLu’ is only a phone call & less than 2 hours away! I love you with the love of Christ & I want you to know I see His light shine through you each time we are together. Cuddle sweet baby Judah close, for one day, he will do great things.