welcoming a new family member | Bradford birth photography

This one is a long one. Like all birth stories, this was a much-anticipated, exhausting, emotional journey. In this case, it was especially emotional on a personal level because this is my brother and his wonderful wife.

Let me preface the story by saying that my younger sister, younger brother and I are pretty tight. We’re typical siblings – we do squabble (as mom says) but deep down we sincerely love each other to pieces. I realize that not many people can say that, and feel fortunate to have been stuck through life’s ups and downs with those two. Our spouses all get along famously, the kids all adore each other and when we’re all together, you can bet on two things – an abundance of delicious food (our mom taught us well!) and hearing nothing but non-stop laughs. We’re always there for each other and can count the other two to be there and celebrate each other’s milestones: especially weddings and the birth of our first child (or children in my case!).

When my sister gave birth to my nephew more than 13 years ago, she and her husband waited until his safe arrival to rally the troops, so to speak. I lived in Ottawa at the time and drove to pick up my mom and dad en route so we could all drive together into the hospital in Belleville to be introduced to their new grandson, my nephew. I will never forget that day. I got to hold and love on that boy when he was just hours old. Now that he’s bigger than me, it’s hard to believe he was ever that small.

For my brother and my sister-in-law, they wanted to have the grandparents to there with them for the whole ride. Her parents would become grandparents for the first time and my mom was anxious to see if she would have another boy or girl to add to our family. We had all been waiting and placing our bets about the gender. (I love that they choose not to find out the baby’s gender – it truly is the best surprise in the world!)

Since they live more than four hours away in Bradford, I knew it would be tricky to meet the little one on the same day, like I did when my older nephew was born. I offered to take our mom and not miss out on being part of the Baby C Welcoming Committee (my husband deserves a big shout out for holding down the fort for the three days I was away – he’s the best!).

Since my brother’s wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the baby was growing bigger and bigger by the minute and they were advised to get their son or daughter out sooner than later. She knew she had to head to the birthing centre to be induced on the 21st. So by mid-afternoon, mom and I were on the way to the hospital in Alliston. However, the baby had no intentions of being born on that date. In fact, her labour didn’t progress at all and they scheduled a c-section for the evening of the 22nd. In the meantime we kept them company, brought food, told funny stories… tried to do whatever we could to pass the time.

Throughout it all, my mom did what she does best. She prayed. She worried. And knitted. (I think she made two pairs of socks in our little trip.)

Just after 7 p.m. that evening, Alton Robert came not-so-quietly into the world. He let everyone know he was not impressed about being taken out of his safe, cozy, warm home.

This handsome dude is named after his grandpas. I definitely teared up – our dad’s middle name was Elton and that’s what my mom and close family always called him instead of his first name, William. Dad was everywhere that day and we all knew it. He was born on the 22nd and their hospital room was #222 (dad’s lucky number was 22) and another sign was when we looked out the window. Just before Alton arrived, the sky was all aglow (my dad always loved a show-stopping sunset). Alton is undoubtedly their gift from him.

Even now, I can’t begin to express how moved I was to be a part of experience. I was elated for them to finally meet and hold their first child (we had all been saying for years how gorgeous their babies would be!). However, I did not expect it to be as special as when my own children were born. Even though I (selfishly) wanted to be there with my camera to record their new beginning together as a family, it was humbling to be reminded how miraculous it is to bring a tiny human into the world.  My brother and sister-in-law are total rockstars; Alton is in very capable, loving hands.

All of the waiting was worth it for this kid. Meet the most sweetest treasure who instantly captivated all of our hearts.


Alton was born very strong and healthy with a unilateral cleft lip – sometimes this is seen on ultrasound examination, but in his case went completely undetected. Fortunately, this hungry man had no issues nursing or any other complications related to his cleft.

Update: If he wasn’t already enough of a lady killer, at 3 1/2 months old Alton underwent corrective cleft lip surgery and rhinoplasty. Mom and dad are thrilled with the results. Huge thank you to the team at Toronto Sick Kids for their phenomenal expertise and care with our boy.


If you are expecting a baby and interested in documenting this exciting time with a newborn (in-hospital or at home), we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.


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