Like any parent, I have taken approximately eleventy bazillion photos of my children. The trickiest ones have been capturing their baby birth milestones. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself as I’ve set up my little ones for their home photoshoots because these are the pics that will record — for all immortality — their baby preciousness. But the mishaps, flops, and fails are inevitable, cute as it all may be.
Stage 1: Oopsie, gotta fix that
During those first few photos, it becomes very clear that there is good reason people get paid big bucks to shoot babies. Your props are set up all wrong. Your baby looks awkward and there’s a dribble of spit-up or drool coming out of his mouth. You thought the natural lighting pouring through the window would be great, but it looks as if a well-lit spaceship is landing behind your child’s head. At this point, though, you do not feel like moving so you’re determined to make it work.
Stage 2: You realize your baby’s got the posture of a sack-of-potatoes
You thought you could prop the baby up on a pillow, only he’s slumping. And, wait, why didn’t you notice that although the blocks need to show “6 months” you can clearly see “3 grade” which doesn’t even make any sense?
Stage 3: Wow! Blocks!
At this point, your baby realizes that there are actual blocks in front of him and he has actual hands that he can use to touch said blocks, and he proceeds to play with them with a serious look on his face as you make every silly noise under the sun in hopes that he will glance at you, even for just a second. But, nope. Blocks! Hands!
Stage 4: The lost smile opp
Finally: A glimmer of a smile (oh so Mona Lisa-like) from the baby who, under every other circumstance, smiles constantly. Only a block has fallen, he’s still looking down, one foot is up and, oh crap.
Stage 5: Defying gravity
In an amazing feat of balance, your baby has managed to lift both his feet off the chair. And he is staring at one and not you. As much as you adore those piggy-wiggies, you’d rather not make them the center of his six-month photo shoot. Next!
Stage 6: Yikes!
The baby lurches forward, making your heart beat rapidly as you quickly catch him. What kind of mother perches her baby on a rocking chair for photos just because it has a nice toile pattern? The kind that is you. And there’s no stopping you now.
Stage 7: Snack break
At this point, your baby is over the photoshoot and decides to take a break and nibble on his toes. They are kind of tasty, you have to admit, which you know because you regularly munch on them during diaper changes.
Stage 8: More finger snacks!
But, wait! There are yummy hands to eat, too! And OMG YOU CAN STILL SEE “3 GRADE” IN YOUR PHOTOS AND WHY DO THEY EVEN SELL BLOCKS LIKE THIS? DON’T THEY KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO PHOTOGRAPH BABIES?
Also: You’ve got to remember to remove Sophie the Giraffe from the photo frame as she has crept in there, not that she is helping to distract your baby. C’mon, Sophie, help a mom out.
Stage 9: Yoga time
During this stage, your weary baby zens out and performs feats of yoga previously unseen by you while continuing to mess up the blocks. You are faced with the sad realization that before you had children you used to do interesting things and now, your life has come down to placing and replacing baby blocks that don’t even make total sense.
Stage 10: Ohhhhhh, there’s the winner
By this point, you are so done. You put the baby in the bouncer and dubiously scan the results of a half hour’s worth of work. And there, in the middle of all the photos, is the winner. So he’s not smiling … and he’s not looking at the camera lens. And it’s not the most focused shot ever. And the “Gra” in “Grade” is visible. But he looks adorable. You can see the sweet tufts of hair sprouting on the top of his head, the delish feet, and the pudgy, creased wrists that appear as if a rubber band is wrapped around them. That intense look on his face, his touching the block: They’re all part of his desire to explore his world. Really, this photo perfectly captures him at 6 months old/3 grade.
Whew. What a workout. You’re tempted to throw the blocks away … but you know exactly where you’ll be in one month: Crouching in front of the toile armchair, making crazy noises, readjusting the damn blocks, praying your baby doesn’t fall, and doing your best to capture the cuteness.