Real Life Kicks In


December 21, 2021

baby and pitbull snuggle, real life kicks in

It’s very sobering when real life kicks in, especially when you’ve worked so hard to prevent it from getting the upper hand. Covid has been part of our lives for almost two years now and I’ve felt invincible against it for practically that whole time. When Covid hit our house the week before Thanksgiving, it almost didn’t seem real. How could Covid be at our doorstep with all the precautions that we’ve been taking and still continue to take? Real life kicks in…no matter how hard you try to control all the variables.

real life kicks in, blue toned baby nursery

As a newborn photographer and a former nurse, I’ve spent my past 4+ years in business educating my clients about newborns and the special set of skills I bring to the table to care for them. When Covid became the world’s reality in early 2020, I expanded my teaching to reflect the knowledge I had about newborns’ immature immune systems and all the ways that I was specially equipped to keep them safe in the midst of this pandemic.

family lifestyle photos in baby's room

Masking became standard at all newborn sessions. I was able to hype the hospital-grade virus-and-bacteria-killing component that my super awesome husband installed in our HVAC system. I touted the hand-held UV light that I used to disinfect any props that couldn’t go through the washing machine. I had all my bases covered.

I gained many a customer as a result of my dual-skill set (newborn nurse + photographer): they all told me that my background as a nurse cemented their trust in me. That makes it super stink when real life kicks in.

b&w of baby in crib, real life kicks in

My kids are homeschooled. We actually started homeschooling the year before Covid became a thing so, while the rest of the world scrambled to figure out how to educate the kids in this state of emergency, we were already 100% set up. There was no interruption in their schooling and we looked on from a distance, empathizing with all the moms and dads who were now struggling to adapt.

dad portraits with baby, real life kicks in

Our status as homeschoolers was another one of the selling points that I touted to my prospective clients once kids started back to school. We chose to take the entire 2020-2021 school year off from our homeschool tutorial while the kinks were being worked out so, although my babies struggled with not seeing their friends, we had no accidental exposures while the CDC and WHO were figuring out vaccines and transmission data, etc.

family with dog takes picture on master bed

I created an Instacart account so that I didn’t have to brave the crowds at the grocery stores. We attended church virtually. We kept up with our friends and family via text and video calls. We did everything right!! My entire outlook was based around keeping my family and my vulnerable clients healthy.

My client refrain was, “I have to be able to sleep at night, knowing that I’m doing everything I can to keep your baby safe.” And it worked! For the better part of two years. That’s what makes it so hard when real life kicks in…

gentle family pitbull in photos

On Tuesday, November 16th, I got the phone call from my husband that made my heart stutter. He said to me, “We ordered Afghan food at work. The stuff typically makes me break out into a sweat. Today I couldn’t taste or smell it. I’m headed out to get tested.” 😳 Literally the news I never thought I’d hear because We Are So Careful.

real life kicks in, family portrait, lifestyle session

Welp. His test came back positive. And three days later, our youngest daughter also tested positive. When real life kicks in, it really busts down the door. My husband immediately isolated in a different part of the house and the rest of us began masking in the house. When our youngest was diagnosed, we felt relatively safe because we had been masking so diligently inside.

Thankfully, their symptoms were extremely mild: loss of taste and smell for them both and some mild congestion for my husband. And, even more thankfully, no one else in the house got it. Amazing.

in home photos, family of three with dog

My business was hit pretty hard. I had a full lineup of maternity and newborn sessions the week of and the week immediately following their diagnoses and I had to reschedule everything.

Thankfully, only one of the sessions was extremely time sensitive and a photographer friend of mine was able to take on that client so that their newborn session could proceed within the correct timeframe. Everybody else stuck with me and was extremely understanding about the situation.

real life kicks in, family portrait

I, of course, beat myself up pretty hard ( a character flaw of mine). Obviously nobody asked for this or wanted it, sure. And it’s not like I perform lifesaving heart surgery for a living 🙄 but it was still very hard for me, a person of her word, to let people down, no matter how easily remedied it ended up being.

If I promise a client something, I like to deliver. I did NOT enjoy having to make those phone calls, admitting that Covid was in our home and that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my responsibilities in the time frame we agreed upon. Regardless, I have the best clients in the world and everyone was very understanding.

dad snuggles with baby son

Here’s what I have come away with: God is SO good. He gave Brandon and Faith extremely mild cases of Covid. Their illnesses came right before Thanksgiving so we were on break from school and Faith was able to isolate without any interruption in her studies.

We had considered doing a larger Thanksgiving with extended family (what would have been our normal gathering but which was interrupted last year by the pandemic and which wasn’t in a place to be reinstated just yet) – just imagine if things had been back to normal and we would’ve had to cancel on 30-40 extended family members 😱 Again, not a life-shattering event but still…my anxiety spikes just thinking about it.

baby looks at camera, dad looks at baby

When real life kicks in and stops you in your tracks, it’s easy to whine and moan and complain about how awful everything is – and trust me, I had several days of this…I was actually pretty furious that Covid had darkened our door despite our best efforts. But after those days of grumping and wallowing, I got myself to the place I am now: this place of gratitude. It could’ve been so much worse but it wasn’t.

And now, Faith, who was scheduled to get her Covid vaccine TWO DAYS AFTER BRANDON WAS DIAGNOSED, has natural immunity. Brandon, who was due for a booster, is in the same boat. Taryn got her first dose today after a negative Covid test and I got my booster so I’ll be tanked back up on immunity for a little while longer.

We’re all good. Real life kicked us in the teeth a little bit this week but we weathered it just like we’ve weathered everything else the past two years…with faith in God and some really good blessings. Shout out to my amazing clients who still trust me and are sticking with me through it all. Real life kicks in but we manage to kick back every time.

family snuggles, real life kicks in

And now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’m digging way back into the archives of pending blogs and highlighting a family that I met quite a while ago. Ironically, this family didn’t get to do newborn photos for their adorable Xavier *because* he was born right as Covid was starting to ramp up –> how relevant to this post! We met for a lifestyle session when he was four months old (and SO CUTE) and I just love what we got at their session.

Want some more irony? Before this blog posts, I get to see them again! Their Christmas tree farm photos will be my first post-Covid session so it’ll be amazing to see a return family and amazing to get back to work!!!

Liz Viernes Photography is based near North Bethesda, Maryland, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.

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