I came to see baby Gianna on the day she turned four months old. It’s been a predictable four months for her parents with lots of feedings, interrupted sleep, diaper changes and learning to trust their parental instinct, and they have cherished every minute of it. When Gael was 12 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound revealed an abdominal wall defect in Gianna that essentially allowed some of her organs to grow outside of her body. This is Brandon and Gael’s first child and the pregnancy, filled with tests, extra doctor visits and a lot of unknowns, was hard to relax through and enjoy.
When she was born, Gianna required extra medical attention and an immediate surgery to repair her abdomen. Doctors expected her to stay in the hospital for 30 days after the surgery. She went home after only a two week hospital stay and despite everything, she is now thriving. Despite the risk of additional developmental complications and chromosomal abnormalities, all test came back negative. Despite being separated for 17 hours right after birth and weeks of breastfeeding struggles, Gianna and Gael have a very healthy breastfeeding relationship. Right after the birth, Gael began pumping for her daughter and kept it up until she was finally able to nurse her for the first time at a week old. Despite a rocky start, Gianna has been given the chance to live a long, healthy life.
When I arrived for their morning session, Gianna was still in her pajamas and ready for a bath in the kitchen sink. The scar where her belly button should be was the only indication I had that anything was ever wrong. After she was done splashing around, Brandon fed her a bottle of pumped milk. Gianna, on the verge of another growth spurt, was still hungry and I convinced Gael to let me take some photographs of her breastfeeding. With a start like theirs, successfully nursing for any length of time is a huge accomplishment and they both deserve to have the photographs to look back on. By the end of my visit, all I could see were two parents consumed by their love for their daughter and a little girl who was as happy as could be as long as there was water to play in and milk to drink.