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fertility

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Birth Photography | Columbus, GA | San Jose, CA | Ker-Fox Birth Photography | An Adoption Story

I got to witness, hands down, the most selfless acts a human being can do for another... I watched a mother, who loved her child endlessly choose adoption for her child, and gave the gift of life, to another mother who couldn't conceive. Leslie and Michael tried for over 4 years to have their own child: fertility treatments, failed IVFs, being twice matched in previous adoptions that did not go through, one of which they parented the baby for a week.

I received a phone call approximately a week before I witnessed this awe inspiring moment. Leslie contacted me from California and asked if I was available to photograph the birth of their daughter. They were going through an open adoption and the birth mom was here in Columbus. My heart immediately melted. Not only was this mother doing the most selfless act ever, by placing her child for adoption, she was giving them permission to have me there to document the whole thing.

Immediately the weight of responsibility rained heavily down on me. My stories usually have one, maybe two narratives. But this one would have multiple hearts, souls, and stories to be told. I so desperately wanted to do Leslie and Michael justice, as well as the birth mom, this precious babe has an older brother and sister, and of course this sweet little girl who will one day grow up and see these photos, these moments, and know how truly and immediately she was loved.

Leslie and Michael flew in from California, and myself and the birth mother all went for coffee. From an outsider perspective, seeing the depth of these actions and these relationships being forged, I couldn't help but to be awe struck. Our coffee date went perfectly and all was set for waiting for little Miss to arrive.

She stubbornly took her time, and went a week over her due date... 12/13/14 came around and it was finally time to meet this angel who had already stolen so many hearts.

The images will tell the story that my words will fall horribly short trying to. But I will leave my part of the dialog by saying this: This was one of the most beautiful, inspiring, gut wrenching, amazing, honorable, selfless, life changing moments I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. I've never experienced that wide gamut of emotions in the span of mere seconds: The joy Leslie and Michael were experiencing, the agony the birth mom was living, and the hope and love they all shared to give this girl an amazing life.

Leslie and Michael have both been such pillars of strength through this whole, long journey of fertility treatments and the crazy road that adoption can take you down... I was literally a stranger a few days earlier, but they shared some of the hardest parts of their life with me through conversations that day. I always hope that my blogs, and these stories my clients so graciously allow me to tell will help others. If you too are battling with fertility and adoption I hope you find peace in their happy ending.

And to the Birth Mom, thank you, a MILLION times THANK YOU. Words will fall short, and no affection, or actions can fully describe the depth of love you have gifted your daughter or Michael and Leslie. Thank you for letting us tell this story, thank you for allowing this transparency. I pray more mothers considering adoption will also consider birth photography. It was an honor sitting on your couch, holding you and your babies, and crying with you as we watched slide show together. I also pray these images bring you peace and healing through the years.

Lastly, I leave you all with this... Leslie has written a few words herself.

Adoption is one of those things. One of those things that cannot be fathomed unless you’ve had the experience yourself. Even then, every story is different. Inside every story is a countless number of people who all experience it from their own perspectives and have their own personal story. Sometimes the story is so sordid it has no clear beginning and no clear end. Our particular adoption is a domestic open adoption and for us, there was no other option.

I learned a while ago that, unlike what many had told me, there was not a particular baby for me. Not me. Instead, it’s hard to imagine a baby that I couldn’t fall madly in love with. I was just waiting for the one that would be “mine.” What I didn’t know was that there was a birth mother for me. Someone who would go from being a complete stranger to being one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. One I love and cherish dearly. I don’t think I have the words to describe what it’s like beginning a relationship in such an intimate way. It’s so much like meeting the love of your life, only you’ve been completely set up by circumstance. There’s a ton of excitement, a lot of apprehension, and the next thing you know you’re in the delivery room together and she is literally giving you the gift of life.

Being an adoptive parent is just being a parent. It’s beautiful and difficult sometimes. The big difference for us is the path that led us to parenthood. It’s one we nearly didn’t survive and because of this there is not a moment taken for granted. The opportunity to parent was gifted to us by a beautifully strong, selfless woman. It takes an exceptionally loving mother to place her child for adoption. Jessara’s birth family were the first ones in this world to place her needs above their own. The first to stand up against all odds to ensure their daughter had a good, supportive, loving family. How lucky we are to be the ones they chose. The ones who get to walk through this life with her, and how incredible that we will all be taking this journey together.

It’s amazing what the heart can endure, but not nearly as amazing as how it can grow and evolve. You just need the courage to let go of expectations and preconceived notions, close your eyes, hold on tight and follow it wherever it may take you.

Music by: Sleeping At Last - I'll Keep You Safe http://sleepingatlast.com/ Ben Folds - The Luckiest http://www.benfolds.com/

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Birth Photography | Columbus, GA | Ker-Fox Birth | Evie's Grand Entrance!

Every birth photographer fears not making it to the birth in time and missing the delivery. It's the things our nightmares are made of. It will happen, in my career I will miss a birth from a baby being born so quickly. But I never, in a million years, imagined I could nearly miss a birth while in the hospital's waiting room, a mere 50 yards from my sweet client's room. At 4 weeks postpartum myself, I was shooting my first birth after having my own baby and therefore needing to pump while at the hospital. Everyone was so understanding and gracious, even giving me a nice private room in the NICU to pump! Nolan's very kind family offered to buy me lunch and I obliged. And thankfully so! Had I not stayed to eat lunch with them I most definitely would've missed this birth. After eating lunch I decided I better return to Kelly's room and grab my pump for one last pumping session before things got moving. Upon returning to her room, I could clearly see she was in transition and in pain. The nurse checked her within seconds of me being in the room. Kelly was at 8cm. Mentally I thought I still had time to pump, bent down to get what I needed, before hearing a very distinct vocal range (to put things mildly). I turned around to realize the baby's head was crowning! Organized chaos ensued. Yelling for doctor, pleading with Kelly not to push... in comes the doctor. Cool, calm, and collected,  just in time to, quite literally, catch sweet Evie. Dr. E was amazing throughout the day. He had such a calm presence about him, even early on when Kelly thought her labor wasn't progressing. His quiet reassurance was quite encouraging. And even in what seemed like craziness, all of the nurses and medical staff handled the moment like seasoned pros. As photographers we have the pleasure of time-stamps on our photos... while editing, I looked back through these images leading up to delivery. From the time I stepped back into her room after lunch, to the time the baby was born was 3 minutes ladies and gentlemen. 3 MINUTES! She progressed from 8cm-10cm and baby born in 3 minutes.

Kelly was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. All natural, beautiful, powerful! She had been rocking along all morning to her hypnobirth audio, smiling, laughing, loving on her husband.

These two! I swear, I've never seen a support system quite like what Nolan provided his bride. And you guys, his expressions are PRICELESS!

Kelly and Nolan waited until delivery to find out what they were having. But their precious first born knew the whole time, he even named his unknown sibling "Penelope". When he entered the room to see his sister for the first time, Kelly and Nolan were worried he wouldn't accept this new name, specially considering she was, in fact, a girl. They said, this is your sister... her name is Evie. And precious Oliver didn't skip a beat. He looked at his sister with adoring eyes and simply said, "Hello Evie".

Not many times do I say this, and don't get me wrong Kelly and Ms. Evie are rockstars... But this time, I think the boys stole the show.

For more information on booking your own birth click HERE.

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Birth Photography | Columbus, GA | Ker-Fox Birth | Merritt

  Let me start off by saying I love all of my clients. Most have never met me before our consults, but by the time their baby delivers we have forged a new but intimate friendship. And I count myself beyond blessed to call these families and strong momma's my friends. But there is something sacred and overwhelmingly wonderful when I have the honor of sharing the room when one of my closest friends became a mommy for the first time. Tears filled my viewfinder and streamed down my face watching the outpouring of love that instantly filled the room when Merritt arrived.

I've known Josh since 2006, he is such a sincere and devoted husband, and well, as you'll see in the photos, he is madly in love with his son. He's a natural at being a daddy! And Tatum, where do I start. We can talk for hours about absolutely nothing. We share secrets and vent about life. She would give me the shirt off her back if I even hinted that I was in need. I am so very blessed by her friendship. And watching her become a mom, as she slipped in to that roll so effortlessly, was inspiring.

I love that birth photography is what I call "work", as it never really feels like a job. It's my passion, my calling, and my desire to serve these families. I am humbled each time, and I marvel at the miracle of life. Our Creator is an amazing sculptor, who knits us all together perfectly in our mother's womb. Being present when life takes it's first breath, well there's nothing better really.

Tatum and Josh, I love you to bits. I'm so very proud of the parent's you've become!

To book me for your birth click HERE for more information.

Song: Mat Kearney - Breath in, Breath Out Song: My Epic - Doxology

 

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Birth Photography | Columbus, GA | Ker-Fox Birth | Baby A's Delivery

Trigger Warning : Pregnancy loss Each year I try and offer one pro bono birth session to a deserving family. When this sweet momma wrote to me last year, I could feel the Lord tugging at my heart to offer to shoot her delivery free of charge if she would accept. Maria simply wrote to me, with no agenda, to tell me how much my work, and reading these happy stories of birth meant to her. But what got me, was her testimony. She went on to tell me that she had one emergency c-section, one rushed c-section and had lost 3 pregnancies, all precious little girls. She was at the time, pregnant with another little girl, and was daily living in faith that this sweet girl would be born crying! I knew right then, after reading her email that I HAD to shoot this birth. I knew what this sweet girl meant to them.

I asked Maria to write a quick testimony of her experience with loss. It's a taboo thing to talk about in our society it seems. But it happens. It happens so much more often than most are willing to admit. Whether it's early miscarriages, or late term babies born sleeping. This month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, so what better time to honor these courageous women and families.  These momma's have bore the scars of wounds that will never heal, know loss like others could never fathom. Their babies were here and they were mommas, even if they never held their babies in their arms... they held them in their tummies. And they were loved. OH how they were loved. And will continue to be loved. The best gift you can give a momma who has lost a baby, is to speak of that baby, speak it's name often. It makes that baby real, it honors that baby's memory, it honor's that momma, and that family. Don't tell these sweet family's, "Give it time, it will get better." Or "It's ok, you can have another baby". Don't tell them, "Your loss makes me hug my own kids a little tighter at night". Sometimes don't say anything at all. Just hug them, love them, and honor those tiny lives.

I am so thankful the Lord compelled her to write that email. And I'm so glad I was able to be there for the birth of this precious miracle. Oh and enjoy her boys seeing their sister for the first time. They melt me. They couldn't keep their sweet hands and fingers from gently exploring her delicate features.

Here is Maria's testimony:

"Last night Neely asked me to share my testimony of my beautiful girls I handed over to God. I've been praying and wrestling with what to say. I've been asking God to make it clear what to say and how. A loss is a hard and difficult, complex thing to deal with and no two people will go through it the same way, everyone is unique in their situation. All I can do is offer my story and the hope that comes with it.

Miscarriage, it's a hard word and for some very awkward. I've had three all different, but all hard. We decided to name our baby girls, Eva Renae, my first baby was my hardest life experience to this day! I won't go into the whole story but she has an emotional one! We were all ready for our first ultrasound to meet our little one, I was just barely in my second trimester, we were excited!!! What started as a joyous, exciting day ended in fear, hopelessness, frustration, disbelief and some of the most heart wrenching pain I had ever felt...our baby had no heartbeat. What made it worse was that I was part of the 1% of women who go through this kind of miscarriage called a "missed miscarriage" meaning the baby passed away only days to hours ago. I can still feel the clutch at my heart, it was like someone was squeezing it so very hard, I felt hot tears rolling down my face. Numb was how I felt in the minutes and hours after finding out.

I opted not to have a D&C, hoping that the doctor was wrong and that my precious baby was still alive. I know that for a lot of you, just reading this is too hard, I understand that so well! I've been there and am still there at times BUT my story finishes in such beautiful hope. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. I know many of you know this quote, "God never gives you more than you can handle". I actually somewhat disagree! I could not have handled all that on my own as the quote suggests, but God got me through it all! "He helped me handle what He CHOSE to give me" I find that to be more accurate. He was gentle and kind, as He listened to me scream, cry, plead. He gave me the strength I needed, I have never felt closer to Him than in those moments following the losses of my girls. The sweet tears that He shed with me. He was there through my anger, sadness, tears and prayers. I yelled at Him, pleaded with Him. I felt His presence constantly, I had a vivid picture of him holding and comforting me on one knee and Eva, Jianna and Hope were in His arms sitting on His other knee.

Dear dear beautiful mom, you are so very much loved! Please do not blame yourself! You are NOT to blame! You are so much more than what you are going through! I know it's hard to fathom sometimes, but God knows exactly what you are going through! He can handle your anger and your hurt. People can say very hurtful things, I don't think they mean to. But regardless of numbers, statistics or public opinions...this is your baby and you honor that baby's life how you choose! We made birth announcements and had their names engraved on charms.

Dear mama, please cry, cry and cry! talk about it! I don't understand why they say wait to tell people when you find out your expecting. I can't imagine not telling people! I had so many beautiful people praying for me! We are meant for community and you have all the right to be proud of your baby!

You are beautiful, strong and God made no mistakes! His joy comes in the " mourning". Psalms 119 has some beautiful prayers! Jeremiah 29:11 is my precious Girls verse. Neely has a beautiful and powerful opportunity to show Gods miracles and the Hope that comes with loss, reading her blog has brought me to tears! Such beautiful and strong women! I was told I possibly couldn't get pregnant or have girls! I told them Gods will be done! I now have two healthy handsome boys and a beautiful girl! God blows my mind everyday! I'm human and have my moments but He is so amazing!!!"

 

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