Psalm 30 for Svea

by Jeff HansPetersen

Our daughter, Svea Lucia HansPetersen, was born on Sunday morning, January 2nd, 2011. She was delivered three months ahead of schedule and weighed 1 pound, 0.9 ounces.

Right around Thanksgiving, our perinatal specialist had advised us, that Heidi's pregnancy would need to be delivered much earlier than her April 1 due date. At that moment, though, talking about having a birth at all possessed a newly-resurrected novelty. Two weeks earlier a radiologist had walked into the exam room following our second ultrasound and told us that he was concerned that our daughter might have a condition resulting in a life expectancy of no more than one year. Further tests over the next several days dismissed the radiologist's diagnosis. By the time of her birth, Svea's restricted growth appeared to only be the result of her placenta being abnormally formed, and not a result of any significant abnormality of her own body's structure or function.

One morning, between visits to the intensive care unit, I read Psalm 30. An annoying, chipper line from a praise song had been repeating itself in my head. Three thousand years of human ingenuity have brought many successes in mediating the burdens of disease and death for many. Despite the accelerating proliferation of technological adaptations, we humans continue to experience situations that shake our confidence in life’s foundations. A lyricist thousands of miles and tens of centuries removed from our Seattle hospital room encapsulated a sense of tensed, unentitled amazement at God's work that I felt alive in my own chest as I beheld my daughter: Impossibly small! Impossibly beautiful!

Svea weighed 1 pound, 0.9 ounces at birth. She arrived home weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces after spending over four months in the hospital.

These images were created from photographs taken during the first week at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle after Svea's birth, three months before her April 1, 2011 due date. The photographs were made with a Nikon 3100 digital camera, imported onto an iPad, and digitally finger-painted over using the Adobe Ideas graphic editing application. The final image was completed on April 7, 2011.

Jeffrey T. HansPetersen is an artist and family doctor living on Vashon Island, Wash.

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