Mom-To-Be: Karima Essahel Ingram, 32
Dad-To-Be: Vernon Dexter Ingram II, 41
Hometown: Washington, DC area
Due Date: August 18, 2012
How many months were you at the time of the shoot? 9 months
Boy/girl/it's a surprise? It's a boy!
Mom: How did you tell him you were pregnant?
Dexter had come home for Thanksgiving and we got engaged. He returned to his year-long assigment in southern Afghanistan, Helmand province, and I was in Italy on business travel. I found out I was pregnant while in Europe and immediately sent Dexter an email asking him to call me. Within ten minutes I received a call from him and broke the news that I was two weeks pregnant.
Dad: What were your first thoughts when you heard the news?
Being so far away from home you're always concerned about those "call me urgently" messages. I had just had my worst day yet in Helmand. It was my first day back in the province and one of my closest local Afghan leaders had been killed in an IED explosion that afternoon. It was now about 11:30 pm and I had just returned from the flight line where I met with his grieving brothers and we received his body. He was the future of Afghanistan -- mid 20s, educated, and one of the youngest governors in the country's most dangerous province. Grieving, jet lagged, and concerned about my fiancé I called her once I got back to my room. She was hesitant and through tears she told me she was pregnant. Her words immediately lifted me out of my haze and through tears I smiled. I didn't tell her about my day but I let her know that it was the best news I could have heard. In the back of my mind I was thinking of the circle of life and knew that I had to make it home by my end-of-tour date in early August to help her bring our son into this world.
What are you looking forward to most about being a mom and dad?
Dad: I'm just looking forward to watching him grow as a boy and into a man. I'm looking for to teaching him how to walk, talk, play catch, swim, ride a bike, etc. Most of all I want him to be kind and stand up for what he believes is right.
Mom: I am looking forward to experiencing all the joys of motherhood and really living that special bond that unites mother and child from conception to birth and beyond. I am also looking forward to raising our child in an ethnically and culturally diverse environment and to teaching him my native language, customs and traditions. Our child will take pride in his mixed heritage while respecting and embracing others' differences.
What's your biggest fear about parenting?
Our main concern is striking a balance between creating an environment where our child has freedom to grow and expand his learning horizons while ensuring that he is protected from harm and well provided for. Like most parents, we will always strive to make sure that he is healthy, happy, and understands where he comes from.
What's the worst advice you've gotten about being pregnant? Best advice?
During the first couple of months of my pregnancy I continued to be physically active but had several older relatives strongly discourage me from working out, including walking. They said that even low-level physcial activity could "hurt the baby." I checked with my doctor and continued my workouts, adjusting as the baby and I grew.
The best advice was to take care of my skin to better prevent stretch marks. My husband asked me to stop wearing heels -- I did eventually. Old habits die hard!
What message do you want these photos to convey to your baby to be?
I hope our son sees that we are excited to bring him into the world. We can't wait to meet him, nuture him, and grow with him. Hopefully the pictures show how much his parents love each other and him. Our photographer, Jewell, did a great job of putting us at ease especially right after Dexter returned home from his overseas assignment and three days before our due date. Dexter III might be embarrased when we show him the pics of him shortly before and after being born, but we hope he knows we'll do the best we can to give him a good life.
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Correction: A previous version of this story identified Dexter Ingram as a U.S. soldier. He is a former Navy Flight Officer who currently works for the U.S. State Department.