“Hey pretty girl. Hey, pretty princess,” Sabrina Zielinski, 30, says to her 3 month-old daughter, Esther. Bright-eyed and smiling with her full lips and white teeth Sabrina looks down at the baby in a pink onesie, on a pink blanket on the tiled bathroom floor. Esther’s bright blue eyes look back up to her mother’s, as her tiny lips configure a smile. The sound of warm water flows out of the bathtub facet into a baby tub. Bottles of organic baby shampoo and organic baby conditioner rest on the side of the tub. Sabrina’s husband, Eric, 28, walks in wearing a white t-shirt and khaki slacks and takes over giving Esther her bath, while Sabrina finishes getting ready for Sunday morning church.
“Ok, we’re going to wash your little toes, and your little knees, and your little ham hock thighs,” Eric lists each part as he gently washes Esther with her organic baby shampoo.
It was two years into their marriage when Eric and Sabrina found out that they were having their first baby.
“We were so excited. We prayed for whatever was God’s perfect timing for children,” Sabrina said.
With a meticulous lifestyle that included a strict natural diet that included locally grown and organic foods, alternative medicine and a very active exercise regimen, Sabrina and Eric were used to a more wholesome way of life. It wasn’t until the seventh month of Sabrina’s pregnancy that they seriously discussed the benefits of having natural home birth.
“As first-time parents, having people there with me who have been through this, I knew I was going to be ok,” Sabrina said. “You need women around you, supporting and encouraging you.”
At two in the morning on October 1, 2008, Sabrina realized she was at the earliest stage of labor. Going downstairs and relaxing in the inflatable hot tub that was bought just for the birth, Sabrina tried to relax and reflected on the amazing task ahead of her. With out drugs, scalpels, stitches, and in the company of family and close friends, Esther Grace Zielinski was born in the Zielinski home at 7:17 p.m. weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 21 inches long.
“We got the name Esther from my favorite book in the Bible. It’s almost the very first pageant,” Sabrina, a veteran of over two-dozen beauty and talent pageants said. “In the story, Esther wasn’t the prettiest, but God put her above average with His favor in her life, she became Queen Esther and went on to be a hero to her people. Grace is for the grace of God, and it is also Eric’s mom’s first name, so it worked doubly well.”
“Ok precious,” Eric says as he pulls Esther out of the baby tub and quickly wraps her in a soft towel, he dries her off, rubs Mary Kay lotion on her face, and begins dressing her. Trying to figure out where in the order of the diaper, white onesie, pink onesie, and dress does the baby tights go, Eric makes a decision and gives Esther to Sabrina so that he can finish getting ready for church. With final touch of “baby bling” Sabrina puts a pink bead necklace on the baby, and the family leaves for church.
Going beyond the surface is something that I strive for as a photojournalist. My love for people, culture and diversity allows me to be consistently positive and excited about the world around me, and my career as a journalist.
As a graduate from Western Kentucky University, I have been taught by some of the best professionals in our field. Fine-tuning my ethics, striving for accuracy and acquiring skills as a visual journalist at Western has educated me beyond photography.
All photos copyright Standard-Examiner, Midland Daily News, Florida Times-Union, Knoxville News Sentinel, Lexington Herald-Leader, Peace Corps and Briana Scroggins.