Feb 21, 2011

Ainsley's First Year

I take a lot of pictures. It's what I love to do. There is something about looking at old pictures that makes us appreciate our loved ones, and the good times more by focusing on the good instead of the bad. Looking at photos is one of my favorite things to do that I don't do often enough. On occasion, when we are not experiencing technical difficulties, we watch a slide show on the big screen in our basement which is networked to our computer(and thousands of photos). It is reminiscent of the days when people used to use projectors and do a slide show, but this is SO much better since the pictures are bright and colorful and we can even set the slideshow to have background music. I still love a good album or scrapbook, but a slideshow is also great in a different way. And I love that everyone can see so easily (no whining from the kids that they can't see).

But to have a good slideshow you need to edit your photos. Rotate the images, delete the duplicates and the ones where people's eyes are closed or you took 15 of the same shot to get that "perfect" expression or to compensate for poor lighting. And yes, I also like to removed red-eyes, adjust lighting and make other fixes. It takes time.  And it's something I am always working on, because you see, every day I take MORE pictures.

Happily I will say TODAY I finished editing the photos from Ainsley's first year. It's not that I haven't edited photos in the past 3 years, just that I found these particular photos to be difficult to work on. You see, the first year of Ainsley's life was probably the most difficult period in my life, largely because it was so difficult for her. When she was born my oldest daughter had just started Kindergarten, my son was 3 and enrolled in co-op preschool. I was already busy with the two little ones. Ainsley was hospitalized for the first 2 months of her life which meant daily trips to the hospital. At 5 weeks, after three extubation attempts she was trached. When she did come home we had to adjust to having nurses in our home to keep her safe while we slept. She had cranial reconstruction surgery at 3 months of age. She had a g-tube placed at 9 months of age.  She had a second cranial reconstruction at 9 months of age, during which they removed and reshaped her entire forehead. That surgery had a very negative impact on the appearance of her eyes which was difficult to accept (and still is). During that year she needed constant suctioning, was constantly vomiting. I had to be with her every second. She was in therapy starting at 4 months of age. All these things were hard, but I think mostly it was the grief over the change in our lives that was the hardest. That and not knowing what our future would bring. A lot of the time I just wished I was "not here". Those closest to me had no idea how hard it was and except for my pediatric trach support group I felt so alone.

I can't explain how I feel when I look at those pictures from that time, but it's saying something that I've finally healed enough to be able to view them. Near her first birthday I put together a montage of her first year. I did it by skimming her first year photos without looking too closely. This process of editing the photos required intense examination which is why it was so "uncomfortable". But it was good to be reminded that despite the pain there was a lot of happiness that year too. And it was great to see and remember how much joy she brought us (and of course still does). 

Though her first year montage is always on the Medical Page of Ainsley's blog I am going to post it again here today. Finally I can watch it without crying. I never did a second year, third, or fourth, but just maybe I'll mange to put together a "First 5 Years Montage" for when she turns 5 this coming October................................but I'd better get busy.


  1. Beautiful Susan ... simply beautiful. I even teared up watching it! Thank you for sharing. I feel your pain in that first year, but also see how you can't help but appreciate all the joy that Ainsley brings to your family.


  2. I agree with Ann. It was beautiful. Oh, that first year. Definitely the hardest year of my life, too!!! It is so hard to believe that they will be 5 this fall. So much of that video I could identify with.

    Great job, Susan!

  3. Beautiful montage!!
    I've watched this before and I adore that black/white image of the children.
    It is amazing how far she has come, she was delightful then and delightful now.
    Where does the time go? It makes me grieve.

  4. That was really beautiful...the perfect mix of emotions, both pain and joy. You did a fantastic job! Your photos allow the viewer to see into the soul. Amazing. BTW, how did you get your music past youtube?

  5. Stephanie I'm not sure what you mean about the music and Youtube but I created the slideshow to selected background music using computer software and saved it as a video file. I made the video years ago.