We all get caught up in our day to day, and only realize on our birthdays or major holidays how much has or hasn’t changed in the year that’s flown by. The things we meant to do, people we meant to call, letters we meant to write. It’s life. On special dates (or days of the week if we’re lucky), we give pause to reflect and appreciate.
This particular one year mark rocked me off my chair.
In February of 2011, I’d been asked by Wyatt’s mom to come over for a shoot. She wanted to capture Wyatt in his environment, on his terms, in his reality. One year ago, that meant fresh from open heart surgery. It meant tubes coming out of his belly. It meant help breathing, and very grateful, anxious and adoring parents.
Here is an explanation that I took from the A Wish for Wyatt facebook page:
Wyatt was born on Aug. 1, 2010- 6 weeks prematurely and with a congenital heart defect, Critical Aortic Stenosis. Since there was no indication of a problem during Jennifer’s pregnancy, this came as a complete shock.
Wyatt underwent a balloon angio on August 5, which opened his aortic valve. But his heart’s left ventricle had been damaged in the womb and was unable to pump out enough blood to his body. Because of the LV problems, his mitral valve then began to leak. Wyatt struggled for 2 months in the ICU.
Egleston hospital in Atlanta did the best they could, but finally admitted that Wyatt’s only option was a heart transplant. Transplanted hearts live an average of 12 years and have a 60% chance of survival all together. If Wyatt did survive, he might be
eligible for a 2nd heart, but 3rd hearts were rarely transplanted.
On the advice of Jamie Annarino, Clint and Jen sent Wyatt’s medical records to Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. del Nido said that he could operate on Wyatt’s heart and avoid a heart transplant.
On October 12, Wyatt was flown to Boston and on the 19th, underwent open heart surgery to repair his aortic and mitral valves. The surgery was a success! After 2 months in the ICU, his left ventricle recovered and he was sent home: a few days before Christmas and for the first time in his little life.
Today, Wyatt’s heart is still recovering and he will most likely require more surgery on his mitral valve. Hopefully it will be later, rather than sooner.
I was humbled by the invitation to do that shoot, and I loved Wyatt instantly. He charmed me with those big, brown eyes and his strong, calm gaze. He seemed to look straight through me, and he remains the most agreeable model I’ve ever had.
Too close to the one year mark not to be ignored, his mother invited me back to get a new round of images. Wyatt was now a stumbling, burly toddler. Wyatt also has a new little brother – Luke.
Here are a few of the images from that day, but for the real goods, you should click through and see the job their momma did matching up shots year to year. I won’t lie, it made me weepy.