Cedar Falls Military Homecoming Photographer Captures Family’s First Moments Together
Last fall, Morgan contacted me to ask if I would be their military homecoming photographer. She said she loved my work, trusted me, and wanted me to capture this sacred moment. When I asked her what was most important to her about this photo session, she told me that she wanted to remember what it was like for her husband to meet their son for the first time and for their son to know this story one day when he is older.
What is that story? I’d love to tell you.
On December 8, 2019, this precious couple found out they were expecting their first child!
Approximately 2 hours later, they found out Brady, Morgan’s husband, would be deploying 6 months later for about a year. Morgan says she remembers, “[lying] awake trying to process the extremes of news, wondering why the happiest news had about two hours of excitement by itself before learning of, at that time, what felt like the worst news.”
On May 30, 2020 Brady’s deployment began.
When I asked Morgan what it was like preparing to give birth without Brady present, she said, “… it brought a lot of emotions. As with anyone, we were counting down the weeks, days, hours, and minutes until we finally got to meet Barrett but everything had that extra layer of complication.”
She continued, “While the excitement kept building with each week, it also got a little more stressful. I was getting nervous about going into labor alone at home, in the middle of the night or something. While my parents live a mile away, it was still stressful leading up to this huge event that everyone describes as the ultimate endurance experience filled with emotion yet pain you’ve never imagined… kind of alone!”
August 23, 2020 at 2:02PM, Barrett Andrew Huls was born. Morgan labored while Brady watched via Facetime.
“Right before I began [to push] I started to cry, just finally realizing we were about to meet our son and [Brady] truly wasn’t there,” recalls Morgan.
When I asked her what she recalls from that day, she said, “the nurses were incredible once it came time to push. They kept Brady VERY involved, as if he was right in the room. The whole experience was kind of surreal to me/I’m not sure I’d accepted the gravity of the situation or his absence until I was about to start pushing. Right before I began I started to cry, just finally realizing we were about to meet our son and he truly wasn’t there… I was exhausted and scared on top of that too and just wanted nothing more in that moment than to have him physically by my side!”
For 258 days, this couple would wait to be reunited and for Brady to finally meet and hold their son.
Fast forward to January 2021. By grace, Brady was selected to escort another soldier home, allowing the family to reunite about 2 months earlier than expected and on Valentine’s weekend nonetheless.
I’ve done military homecoming photos in the past for our military friends in Goldsboro, NC , have seen my sister-in-law eagerly await her Marine’s return from deployments, and have also served our military as a civilian and seen more sacrifice. Even though I’ve never experienced deployment myself, I have watched these people endure with such courage and have great respect for the sacrifice the servicemen and women make, and their families make while allowing their beloveds to serve our country. Morgan, of all, has endured so much with great perseverance and bravery – she gave birth during a pandemic alone without her spouse and she transitioned to motherhood and carried all the duties of home and child rearing alone.
It is a sacrifice and it is not easy, but to Morgan and Brady, and to all those deployed, preparing deployment, or having returned from deployment, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
So, at 9:15PM in Cedar Rapids on a snowy night with wind chills in the minus 20s, I had the privilege of photographing this reunion.
When you look at these photos, you’d never believe me that this little boy had never met his daddy because you the joy and connection are evident in all their expressions.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and how he seemed to recognize me.”
When I asked Brady what it was like to meet his son for the first time, this is what he had to say, “I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and how he seemed to recognize me. The moment and experience was a million times better than I could’ve imagined. I still feel that same excited feeling every time I go to see him whether it’s at the end of the day or middle of the night. Being a dad is just as great as I thought it would be but even better.”
Clearly, even though Barrett had just met his daddy, he knew his daddy all along.