Last Monday, I hopped on a plane bound for LAX at 12:08 pm. I casually played Field Runner on my iPhone as I calmly waited to take-off. Surprisingly, I made my connection flight and landed on time in Los Angelos. I was headed to Huntington Beach where my friend, Ryel, was planning to give birth. Ryel’s brother picked me up from the airport as planned. We talked about Superbad and old school rap as we head bobbed through traffic on the 405.
Then he got a text from Soon-to-be-Grandpa. Your sister is in labor! Suddenly, I went from relaxed and chatty to a quiet and fidgety attempt to contain my impatience. I inquired about details such as how far along, how dialated, etc? But, boys don’t know these things and I didn’t get much info. So my impatience grew and I began to worry that I would miss it. This is what I came here for! Why couldn’t I have booked my trip for one day earlier, I thought to myself. I had no idea how close we were so I grew increasingly anxious behind my calm facade. And then, a lengthy hour later, we finally arrived. I left my luggage in the car and sprinted inside. Ryel was already in labor with her first son at home.
When I walked inside I was met with a warm welcome from Ryel’s family, whom I’ve never met, including a “Your name is Joy too? Well, welcome to the family!” from Ryel’s 70 something year old grandma Joy. The boys were doing shots of Jack Daniels while Gumps humored us with stories. Things were pretty intense with a midwife, an assistant, a doula, mom, and Dayle all cheering for Ryel as she progressed through stage 3 of labor. This wasn’t the time to start photographing. So, I spent the next 3 hours praying and reading scripture on the steps outside the room while getting the muffled play by play through the walls.
At 8:13 pm on Monday, November 15th, we heard the victorious newborn cry! The boys did a toast to the newest addition to the family and we could hear rejoicing from the bedroom. Dylan James Hendrickson had arrived healthy and HUGE! Delivered at home through an all natural birth, he weighed in at 9lbs 6oz, was 22 inches long and measured a 14 inch head circumference. Yes! I agree. Ryel should get a medal. I couldn’t be more proud of her. Everyone celebrated for the rest of the evening with smiles, toasts, and congratulations. Uncle Joel even got to meet Dylan via Skype from Afghanistan. Such a joyful night! Despite the challenging hours previous, Ryel was glowing with a newborn lovestruck shine and Dayle couldn’t help but wear the proud new father smirk.
Thanks to Ryel and Dayle for letting me be a part of such cherished moments. Huge appreciation goes out to all of the family who welcomed me and took care of me for the last week. Check out a few sneak peeks as I work on Dylan’s album…