Category Archives: Katie Rose

Little Madonna

Little Madonna

Little Madonna, photo by Harold Davis.

When Katie Rose gets sleepy, she gets very quiet and very still, as in this photo.

Last week, Katie Rose had a nasty virus with a high fever. She kept her mom up literally for two entire nights. But she’s feeling better now.

Katie Rose clearly loves the idea of food. She reaches for any food item remotely near her. But she doesn’t have the physical skills she needs yet to swallow or hold onto anything long. Obviously, this is a child who gets the idea, and she lets you know her frustration in no uncertain terms. Appearances can be deceptive: Katie Rose is often the opposite of quiet. It’s amazing that such a small package can make such loud noises.

Watch out world, Katie Rose is coming!

Also posted in Kids, Photography


We spent a day with Katie Rose at the Whitney Clinic for developmental followup at six months gestationally corrected. This was a tiring day for Katie (and for us), but happy, because our little girl is doing so well.

Katie's Smile

Katie Rose saw a nurse practitioner, a pediatric neurologist, a physical therapist, and we saw a social worker. This clinic is a very friendly place, and very thorough in their follow up of at-risk babies. They are going to be helping to arrange for a physical therapist to come visit Katie and teach us some exercises for her.

Dr. Mednick, the pediatric neuroligist who is the medical director, told us that Katie Rose was not the baby he had expected to see based on her file. His body language made it clear that he was really pleased.

24-week preemies, like Katie Rose, have about a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Katie’s chances were a good deal worse than that because of the circumstances around her birth (the antibiotic-resistant infection) and how long she spent in resuscitation.

So to hear from Dr. Mednick that in all likelihood Katie would have a normal and productive life brings back memories of how tough things seemed when she was born, but mostly fills us with thankfulness and joy for the miracle of Katie Rose.

We look forward to bringing Katie back to the clinic next year, so they can see how she has progressed.

Background story & info:

Also posted in Kids

Katie Rose Is Fine

Katie Rose in the Bath

Katie Rose in the Bath, photo by Harold Davis.

Katie Rose is doing the normal baby things. She enjoys her bath. She weighes over fifteen pounds. She’s gaining the strength and understanding of the world she needs to start crawling. She’s starting to sample “solid” foods.

We’re headed for the neurological follow-up clinic in a few weeks, but as far as we can see she’s acting like a normal almost six month old. Although she was born nine months ago, her gestationally corrected age, which means when she would have been born had she made it to term and is what is used for development comparison purposes, is about six months.

I’m writing this because I’ve had a number of inquiries that start “We haven’t heard from you” and ask whether Katie Rose is all right. So thanks for all the interest, Katie Rose is fine, it is just that I’ve been busy.

Not too busy to use my camera to turn my kids into freaks! Here’s Katie Rose through a fisheye lens, you can read Fisheye Family to also see her brothers rendered in this decidedly cruel and unusual (but funny) fashion.

Fisheye Family Katie

Also posted in Kids

Fisheye Family

Fisheye Family Katie

Fisheye Family Katie, photo by Harold Davis.

I sometimes enjoy the creative challenge of being constrained to a single lens, and it is certainly a challenge to create portraits with a fisheye lens. Fortunately, my kids get the humor of the thing, and play along.

Fisheye Family Nicky 2 Fisheye Family Mathew
Fisheye Family Julian

Fisheye Family Nicky

Besides the obvious distortion and curvature, the key thing to bear in mind with a fisheye is how much close foreground it includes. In the landscape context, this implies that you better have something interesting in the foreground of a fisheye composition (consider my Between the Earth and Sky as an example).

Moral: if you are taking portraits, you need to get the lens really, really close, like an inch away.

For more fisheyes of my tolerant kids see Cruel & Unusual Lens.

Also posted in Bemusements, Kids, Photography

Katie Rose does not go gentle

Katie Rose does not go gentle into that good night. She never has. When they almost gave her up for dead at birth she fought her way to life. She seems to regard sleep in the same way, as a little death. She hardly naps. Sometimes it takes hours of holding to get her to sleep at night. When at last she does go to sleep, sometimes she’ll wake sobbing when we put her down. So we hold Katie Rose a lot. Fortunately, she’s wonderful to hold, an affectionate and warm bundle of a baby, shown here in her mother’s embrace.

Mother's Embrace

View this image larger.

This photo was shot in near dark conditions at ISO 2000. For those of you who are not photographers, this means that I set the camera to be twenty times as sensitive to light as I normally set it (ISO 100). The clarity you see in the image would not have been possible at this sensitivity setting with previous generations of cameras. To me it seems miraculous. No doubt, next generations will improve rendering in low light conditions, but it already makes possible a kind of photography that was impossible in the past: candid portraiture in low light conditions.

Like Katie Rose in Chiarascuro, I used layer masking and Noise Ninja to selectively post-process for noise. I also selectively converted noise to simulated film grain using masking and a film grain filter from NIK (although unlike that image I did not partially desaturate the colors).

Also posted in Kids, Photography

Feeling Better

Feeling Better

Feeling Better, photo by Harold Davis.

It’s great to have Katie Rose beginning to feel better after her recent cold. Thanks to everyone who asked after her!

Also posted in Kids



Cold, photo by Harold Davis.

This is Katie Rose’s first cold, and it is not a pretty picture. Because of her damaged lungs (normal for a 24-week preemie who spent time on a ventilator in the NICU) her breathing sounds like a race car, fast, and kind of thick. She’s hungry, but when we try to feed her she usually starts coughing, and spits it all up. The coughing also means that she doesn’t sleep very well, and neither do we. Phyllis has been up with her for most of the last three nights.

The good news is that she’s generally healthy, and this too shall pass. We’re bringing her in to her pediatrician tomorrow, and maybe some antibiotics will help, but one way or another I expect her to feel better in the next few days. And, she’s worth it.

Also posted in Kids

Tummy Tyme

Tummy Tyme

Tummy Tyme, photo by Harold Davis.

Katie Rose is learning to lift her head while she is on her tummy. She is helped in this endeavor by her mommy, and by Beth, who comes once a week from the Regional Center.

Lifting her head is fun, but hard. After a few minutes of tummy time, Katie Rose usually gets pretty tired.


The Birth of Katie Rose
The Day My Daughter Was Born
Speaking in Tongues

Also posted in Kids, Photography

Written in Milk


Sharing, photo by Harold Davis.

It’s good to learn sharing early. When Katie Rose was in the NICU, Phyllis pumped large quantities of breast milk for her. The inventory far outstripped what our tiny preemie needed, so Phyllis donated the extra supply to the Mother’s Milk Bank of San Jose.

This was no casual donation, because breast milk is treated as a “blood product”. Phyllis had to have blood work done, and we had to arrange for a freezer-to-freezer transport with the nurse from the milk bank.

Over a period of time, Phyllis donated about 700 ounces of breast milk (about 5 1/2 gallons). Milk expressed for a preemie is specially formulated with benefits for premature babies, so Phyllis’s donated milk, pumped for Katie Rose, has been used to help other premature babes. And Katie Rose is now a milk sister to these infants.

Phyllis stopped pumping a couple of months ago, and Katie Rose is now ploughing through our “library” of breast milk bottles archived in the freezer (see photo below). We supplement Katie’s diet with the Similac Neosure product.


Looking at the frozen bottles of breast milk, Phyllis and I think they make a kind of diary. The date on each one brings us memories of what was going on over the summer in the NICU as they were pumped. The story of a great deal of stress and joy is written in milk.

Also posted in Bemusements, Kids

Dear President Obama

My eleven-year-old son Julian was given a fifth-grade school assignment to write a letter to President-elect Obama. Julian composed his letter on his own, and I’m reproducing it here with his enthusiastic permission.

Dear Mr. President,

My little sister Katie Rose Davis was born prematurely at 24 weeks. Thankfully, my family has health insurance to pay for the hospital. My Mom and Dad pay alot for the insurance. Some people don’t have insurance. Everybody should have it. There’s even some states where they wouldn’t help people who need help.

We need to work together to stop this so every person has it. It is not right.

Also stop the war in Iraq. Remember you have the power to change things.

In best regard,

Julian Davis

Here’s a recent photo of Katie Rose smiling:

When Katie Smiles

Also posted in Kids

The Day My Daughter Was Born

Author’s note: I wrote The Day My Daughter Was Born shortly after Katie Rose came home from the hospital, about three months after she was born. This is an account of her birth from my somewhat narrow viewpoint; see The Birth of Katie Rose for more of her story.

Katie Rose in Chiaroscuro

I was feeding the boys dinner when the phone rang. It was Dr. Katz, my wife’s obstetrician. “Phyllis is going into labor,” he told me. “You need to get to the hospital.”

A few days earlier, at twenty-four weeks pregnant, Phyllis’ water had broken. Fluid seeped out all over our bed, and we had rushed to check her into the hospital. At that point, they told us it was still possible that delivery could be delayed using powerful drugs. In case the drugs didn’t work, we had a consultation with a neonatologist, Dr. Lee. Neonatologists are intensive care doctors for newborns. Dr. Lee told us that if our daughter was born at twenty-four weeks her chances of survival “with an acceptable life style” would be in the “low single digit percentages.”

Of course, I was hoping that the drugs they were giving Phyllis would work to stave off labor and delivery. But in my heart of hearts I was not astounded to get the call I dreaded from Dr. Katz.

It took me an hour to get the kids to bed, and to get my parents over to our house. It was another hour to drive across the Bay to the maternity campus of California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco.

The hospital specializes in labor and delivery care. Individual birthing rooms are setup so they can be used for operations if anything goes wrong and they are needed.

When I opened the door to my wife’s room, it looked to me like a vision of hell. The lights were dim. On one side of the room Phyllis was shivering in the grip of a high fever and moaning in pain.

At the other side of the room, a team of specialists worked on our daughter. She had been born, more dead than alive, before I got there. Besides Dr. Katz, there were two neonatologists, a team of nurses, and a respiratory technician.

My daughter was blue, limp, and not breathing. Her head was the size of a small lemon, and her body was about a foot long. She was a pathetic and apparently lifeless little thing. As I watched the proceedings, I kept thinking that I didn’t want her to suffer unnecessarily.

After about twenty minutes of trying to bring the limp baby back to life one of the doctors suggested it was time to shut down the effort. But Dr. Katz and the other neonatologist, Dr. Chris, insisted on continuing.

My face was wet with tears. I squeezed Dr. Katz’s hand and said I didn’t want to see her suffer if she was brain dead anyhow. “You never know,” he said, “let’s see it through to the end.”

Dr. Chris also said it was too soon to stop. “There will be time enough later to shut it down,” he said, “if that’s the right thing to do.”

Katie Kangaroo

I assumed my baby was dead, and turned my attention to my wife. Phyllis’ fever had spiked to 105 degrees, she was having trouble breathing, and her heartbeat had become irregular. She was on IV drips with various medicines, and using an oxygen mask to help her breath.

Dr. Katz took in the situation with Phyllis and decided she needed to be moved to a hospital with an adult intensive care unit.

The first step in this transfer process was to wheel Phyllis on her bed, with her IV drips attached, out of the birthing room and into a special maternity recovery room. The anesthesiologist who had helped with the delivery came by the recovery room and gave Phyllis a shot of morphine, which helped a bit. A critical care nurse was assigned to monitor Phyllis and to organize the ambulance trip to the CPMC campus with a cardiac intensive care unit.

The nurse got on the phone to “authorize” the transfer. Time went by, and more time, and then she was on the phone to someone else about it. Phyllis was getting worse. The most frightening thing for me was that Phyllis didn’t seem to know me, or to care whether she lived or died. She was part way to an acceptance of her own death.

Meanwhile, the nurse’s inscrutable bureaucratic phone calls continued. Finally, I had had enough. “Just get her there,” I yelled. Finally, things started to move.

I rode in front of the ambulance with the driver. Phyllis was strapped behind in the care of the nurse and the other ambulance attendant.

As the siren blared through the nighttime streets of San Francisco it seemed like a lifetime since I’d left our kids and house, but it was really only a few hours. The ambulance driver was proud of his shiny, new vehicle. He showed me the switches that activated different siren sounds and the dome light. When he congratulated me on the birth of our daughter I said, “But she’s dead.”

When we got to the other CPMC campus, it took some time for the ambulance attendants to find the cardiac intensive care unit within the hospital because, it turned out, this was their first day on the job.

Finally Phyllis was in the right hands. The ICU doctors began massive doses of antibiotics and stabilized her heart. It turned out that her placenta had been infected with antibiotic resistant E. coli bacteria, and that Phyllis had gone into septic shock when the infection hit her blood stream during delivery, but we didn’t find this out until later.

On the cardiac ward, in bed next to Phyllis, an old person was dying alone and complaining to the world. Phyllis was heavily sedated, and beginning to do better. It was about 3AM. I decided to get a little sleep. They gave me a blanket and I took it to a darkened waiting room. Friends and relatives of those in intensive care where sleeping across the chairs. I stretched out on the floor in a corner, unbuckled my belt beneath the blanket, and listened to the snores for a while before passing into an uneasy sleep.

When I got up a few hours later I went to check on Phyllis. She’d been moved out of the open ward to a more private cubicle with a window. She was sleeping, so I wandered out of the hospital to get a cup of coffee, and watched a gray and cheerless San Francisco dawn arrive.

When I went back into the ICU, Phyllis was awake. She was watching pigeons on the window ledge outside her dusty fourth floor window.

“Whether she is dead or not, our daughter deserves a name, “ I said.

“What do you think of ‘Katie Rose’?” Phyllis asked. “It was in my dream.”


I kissed Phyllis, and got on a shuttle bus back over to the maternity hospital. The morning fog was scattering in wisps and a beautiful golden light bathed the tops of buildings.

At the hospital I went up to the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) and told the charge nurse that we wanted to name our daughter. I used the same line: “Whether she is dead or alive, she deserves a name.”

The nurse brought me over to an incubator. “You have a beautiful baby daughter,” she said. “It took an hour to resuscitate her, and she’s on a ventilator now. But she’s doing fine. What’s her name?”

They made a big, colorful sign that said “Katie Rose, and taped it to her incubator. Peering through the clear plastic porthole, I saw a tiny baby (she weighed less than two pounds) with almost transparent flesh, barely human, connected to myriad tubes and wires.

Phyllis and Katie

I took a look around at the NICU, this foreign land of medical monitors and alarms, of babies who grow well and go home, and others who don’t make it. For my Katie Rose, the journey was just beginning.

Sleeping Angels

Afterword: Katie Rose is doing just fine. See Catching up with Katie Rose for some end-of-2008 photos of a happy, healthy baby girl.

These Hands

Catching Up with Katie Rose


Arrgh!, photo by Harold Davis.

It’s been fun having Katie Rose over the holidays. Each of the boys thinks she’s his personal play thing, kind of like a stuffed animal that moves and makes noises. Katie herself gets comfort from her mom, and likes to fall asleep touching Phyllis’s face.


Grandma Barbara loves to hold Katie Rose, and Katie looks back up at her with clear eyes, full of love.

Grandma and Katie Rose

Speaking of eyes, those baby blues! Katie’s gaze is full of mirth, light, and beauty (and I’m not prejudiced a bit &#060g&#062).

Katie Has Blue Eyes

Also posted in Kids

Grandparents Holding Katie Rose

Grandparents Holding Katie Rose

Grandparents Holding Katie Rose, photo by Harold Davis.

In this photo, Katie Rose’s Grandpa Martin and Grandma Virginia hold her. Katie Rose is wearing a smile and a tunic that her grandma brought back from Uzbekistan.

Also posted in Kids, Photography

Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues, photo by Harold Davis.

Katie Rose sometimes explores by sticking her tongue out, for all the world like a baby snake tasting her world. In the unfamiliar environment of the conference room at March of Dimes in San Francisco, she tested the atmosphere with her tongue. Her mom went along and mugged for my camera.

Thanks to my beautiful spouse for her forbearance when I publish photos like these.

Below, Katie Rose explains to the good people at March of Dimes what life is like for a preemie graduate of the NICU.

Katie Rose at March of Dimes

Also posted in Bemusements, Kids

Baby Face

Baby Face

Baby Face, photo by Harold Davis.

I photographed Katie Rose straight down on our bed (below). Since she can’t roll over yet, this is a pretty safe place to put her down. I stood on the bed over her taking her portrait, then got in close for a head shot.

I love it when she smiles at me, as she often does. When I look in those baby blues, her spirit and intelligence are plain for me to see. Katie Rose is living evidence that miracles do happen.

Katie Rose on the Bed

Also posted in Kids