Making picture perfect memories
GOSHEN, Ind. -- A Goshen couple had to make a decision no family should have to make. They could terminate their pregnancy or carry the baby to term knowing it wouldn't survive. Their story was documented by a volunteer photographer who works with an organization that provides professional photos for families in similar situations.
Craig, Cacia and Eli Angel are celebrating new life.
A baby boy is on the way this spring.
"I remember when I heard the heartbeat I had a little tear. I was excited," said Cacia and Craig.
If life were picture perfect, photographer Kaity Fuja probably wouldn't be in their Goshen home capturing pictures of Cacia's 7 month baby bump they named Joshua.
"His heart looked healthy, his lungs looked healthy," said Cacia.
A sonogram brought a devastating diagnosis a few months ago.
"What don't know what exactly is wrong but we know something is very wrong with your baby," Cacia said.
The boy has a rare chromosomal disorder Trisomy 13. The defects can be severe.
"I asked what does that mean? He said, 'It is lethal. Your baby is not compatible with life,'" said Cacia.
Not compatible with life.
A phrase not compatible with these faith filled parents.
Their only hope moving forward is to hold Joshua alive even if it's just for one single moment.
“It's hard because we are preparing for his life, but we are also preparing for the day he will probably die. It's like, how do you prepare for that?” she said.
Prepared or not, Cacia's due date arrived.
Doctors led a bedside prayer for the Angels begging for Joshua to greet the world breathing and screaming.
Hours passed and the Angels walked the halls of IU Goshen.
Staying positive but as labor sets in the pain intensifies and the pushing begins.
Finally Joshua arrives.
Nine silent seconds pass before a gurgle-and a cry-bring the uncontrollable tears of a mother's answered prayer.
There by her side once again is Kaity Fuja documenting those first few breaths.
Quietly clicking away, capturing each fleeting moment.
Collecting snapshots of a life that's slowly slipping away.
She's there for a curious brother's first touch and grandmother's firm grip.
Each photo taken a memory for the angels and for Fuja.
"I love this photo you can see just how happy they are to meet him," said Fuja.
She has photographed a family's first and final moments with their baby time and time again.
She works with a volunteer organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
"Just being able to go into these rooms where you can see these people suffering, you also see a lot of of love and for me that's what I focus on," said Fuja.
She gets the call for high risk babies like Joshua.
"Typically I am being called in when the baby is being taken off life support or is stillborn," said Fuja.
She uses her craft to capture those priceless memories for parents forced to leave the hospital alone.
"I am giving them something beautiful that they can remember their child from," said Fuja.
Remembering that if life were picture perfect Cacia and Craig wouldn't have to stand beside their baby boy's small coffin on a beautiful April day.
Joshua Angel lived a miraculous life.
71 precious hours in his parents' loving embrace.
71 hours longer than their doctor even predicted.
"If we would have had a couple of minutes it would have been worth it, but it was really neat that we got that much time," said Cacia.
71 hours full of moments and memories captured for a lifetime.
Cacia and Craig shared baby Joshua's journey hoping that any professional photographer who sees their story will consider volunteering for the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization.
They are short photographers right now, which means some families who find themselves in this same situation, can't get those professional photos before it's too late for their newborn.