Thanks to the Internet we’ve seen our fair share of newborn photo shoots. We’ve seen the adorable ones, the quirky ones, and the ones that will undoubtedly leave kids scarred for life knowing those photos are online.
What we haven’t seen yet is a newborn photo shoot where the “baby” is 21 years old. Yes, you read that right, 21 years old, not 21 minutes or 21 days, but 21 years.
Twenty-four years ago Rebecca Hayes and David Ward met in high school. The two of them started going out, but like many high school relationships, it ended about a year and a half later. Shortly after the couple broke up, Hayes discovered she was pregnant.
“I still remember her telling me during history class, and I accused her of lying/joking, and didn’t believe her until she showed me her ultrasound,” Duffi Crowson, a longtime friend of Hayes and the photographer who took the couple’s “newborn” photos wrote.
Hayes and Ward met when they were in high school and had a child together.
The couple eventually went their separate ways with Hayes leaving California behind and moving to the East Coast with the couple’s son, Clayton, and Ward staying behind near their hometown. Hayes got married and had a son with her husband Paul. Ward also married and had two more children with his wife. However, the marriage didn’t work out and he ended up marrying his second wife, Courtney.
According to Babble, it was during this time that the two decided to reconnect for the benefit of the son that they shared.
In 2013, Hayes’ husband passed away, so she moved back to California to be closer to her family. While Hayes and Clayton grieved, Ward and Courtney provided comfort. Tragically soon after Hayes returned to California, Ward experienced a similar loss. His wife was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer and later died.
After spending years apart, they reconnected and a new relationship began.
Hayes wrote about the rekindling of the love they once had for each other on her Facebook:
We had texts and phone calls and long talks over coffee about the crazy thoughts you have and the ridiculous things people say to you and what it feels like to be in this horrible club of the widowed. One day we just got punched in the stomach with it… That love had changed once again and it was the real deal. We miss and love our spouses still and will always love them. So this…this is scary and wonderful and crazy… but real.
It was because of this rediscovered passion for each other that Hayes and Ward decided to take the newborn photos they never took 21 years earlier.
One of the parents’ regrets was that they never took newborn photos of their son.
Crowson, who has been friends with Hayes since the two were five years old, helped the couple and their son with the “off the wall” newborn photo shoot.
Hayes told Babble that the idea for a photo shoot initially started out as a joke, but both Clayton and Ward loved the idea.
Even though the family is thrilled to be reunited, Hayes made a point to say that both she and Ward loved their spouses with all of their hearts. And despite what others may think about their rekindled relationship, they won’t let it bother them.
“Your person is never replaced; you always love the one you lost. Just like the love when you have a second child, your capacity to love just grows. Especially when one loses a spouse, there are no words to adequately describe the hell of losing your partner. So, we widows/widowers deserve to find happiness,” she said.