portrait of hailey (study of a holobiont?)

Holobiont. I like this word. I learned it a few years ago and wrote it down for future use.
My notes…
Holo 
is a prefix meaning whole, entire, complete. It also means safe and sound.
Biont is a discrete unit of living matter, animate thing, living thing. A living or once living entity (…a once living entity?!).

My take (at the time)…
Holobiont – Whole. A distinct and complete unit of living matter.
Note: safe and sound.


Amy and Reed birthed a baby girl last month. You might imagine a delivery during a pandemic could be a natural concern for any parent.  Not only were people social distancing but hospitals were setting up new guidelines. Would Amy deliver alone? Would Reed be allowed in the delivery room?

Wednesday afternoon, when under normal circumstances I’d be teaching and my husband would be out working, we’re both home. Sirens sound in the distance and then, Wow! That’s close! Soon we hear a loud-truck-engine-pulling-up-in-front-of-the-house-kind-of-too-close sound.

First to arrive was the firetruck. I went outside when it looked as though an ambulance might be backing up onto our front lawn.

Tara, another neighbor also home, came quickly over. Excited, she’s wondering out loud if Amy is in labor. Within moments, rising above all the commotion, surfaces the real time marking of a breath, the high-pitched cry. (Amy’s words are…like a pterodactyl screech.)

Reed exits his house with a sort of raw focus steaming out of him. (BTW, Reed’s not an MD.) He’s got…stuff…on his hands (later I would note he had stuff all the way up his arms and sleeves). He is explaining Amy went into labor and he delivered the baby on their dining room floor. Pacing with open and expressive arms he’s describing his experience. Truly, he’s telling his point of view. (This is baby #2 and he is recalling details he picked up during delivery #1, 2 yrs ago.)

Fascinated with particulars about the umbilical cord, I knew then I’d be painting Hailey. Reed didn’t know anything about cutting the cord. Paramedics arrived in time to deal with it.  He also noted Cali, his dog, present and at one point looking over his shoulder.

Meanwhile Amy and freshly born baby got wheeled out of the house on a gurney.  She looked peaceful, baby looked calm. Well…there was a little bit of blood here and there but all in all, mother and daughter appeared tranquil. (Things are clarified when talking to Amy a few days later.)

I could hear Tara wishing she could have delivered the baby (cuz she’s trained). I’m wishing I had my camera with me as I walked over to look at Amy and baby now both in the ambulance.

Hailey entered the world on April 8, 2020 at 2:38, weighing 7lbs and 13oz. I guess she took control of things, making sure mom and dad were together during her delivery.

It was a good time to be reminded that truly we have no control and also that life continues…


I always intended to draw a newborn. And as luck would have it, one presented only yards from me. I had the pleasure of photographing Hailey a few days later, and then organizing the start of new work.

I’m curious about the placenta…I’m curious about breastfeeding and breast milk (as food, medicine and signal) …

I plan to include members of the microbial community organizing in the gut.
FYI. In biology a holobiont is combination of host, plus all the resident microbes that live in it and on it.

intestinal epithileum. when exactly do the microbes show up?

Getting clear on my thoughts:
Keeping in mind the part of the definition of holobiont that I held…the safe and sound part. I consider those members of the microbial world that don’t work to benefit their host. I can call this study anything I want and it would be interesting conversation, but I’m not sure anymore.

I know microbes influence an environment but at what point do microbes start to actually control an environment?

In light of current times….it’s an interesting question for a number of reasons. #TheWorldIsStillSocialDistancing #TheEbbAndFlow


Welcome to the world Hailey! Hey Lily, You have a little sister.

Portrait of Hailey, work in progress.

Hey Cali! (family dog) for the record, you bring a diversity that benefits everyone.


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ