Most couples, if they do a newborn photo shoot, schedule it pretty soon after the baby is born. Rebecca Jensvold Hayes and David Ward waited 21 years.
The pair got pregnant when they were young — just two wide-eyed high-school sweethearts. By the time their son, Clay, was born, they had broken up.
Both found their way into love with different partners. Life moved on. And things were good.
But those early days of being a family together had sailed away, including the chance to ever capture on film their earliest moments together with their son.
"There was no burning desire to have had [newborn photos]," Hayes says. "Just a little mild sadness that I never did."
When the couple reunited years later, their son a grown man, they saw a unique (and hilarious) opportunity to recapture the past.
All photos by Duffi/Chaotic Perfection Photography, used with permission.
Hayes and Ward both saw their partners tragically pass away far too soon, and though they had stayed in touch as co-parents over the years, life's strange design brought the couple back together again as adults.
Naturally, the first step was to organize the newborn photo shoot with Clayton that they never had.
Hayes says the family was all in as soon as she had the idea. It hardly took any convincing at all, even for 21-year-old Clayton, who could potentially be a little embarrassed by the whole thing.
"I think the ridiculous idea of it made us laugh so hard that we couldn't help but try to make it work," Hayes says.
Hayes downplays the emotional significance of the shoot, but the family's story has touched thousands of people all the same.
"A lot of people understand that we have had some really rough and difficult times, and us coming back together really touches people," she says. "This is just a dorky way to celebrate that."
It just goes to prove that there's no right way — or right time — to make a family. The only necessary ingredient is people who love each other deeply.
A little sense of humor doesn't hurt either. Like Hayes says, "There's so much ugliness in the world, especially now, why not have some fun?!"