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birth photography: the birth of bethel

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birth photography: the birth of bethel

Can I tell you a story? It's a story of faith, of miracles, of love, friendship, hardships, trials, fear, rejoicing... it's a story of life. LIFE. All of my birth stories are stories of life, and each life in itself is a miracle. But Bethel's story is different. And right now, as I type I don't feel adequate to tell it, as it's a story that I want to do justice. Her life and her testimony are so HUGE. This precious girl, she has a story, one she will tell her whole life, one that will hopefully lead people to Christ. I know as long as I live, her story will stay with me. Her life changed me. I watched a miracle not only on the day she was born, but the months leading up to her arrival, and the months since her birth. The prayers were immense, and overflowing for the Price family.

I didn't know Holly and Gill personally. We go to the same church, and have a plethora of mutual friends, but I didn't know them. And then one day a prayer request popped up on Facebook from one of our mutual friends. It was a post about Holly's pregnancy and that something was wrong with Bethel. She was diagnosed with a complete heart block in utero. I know you guys have heard the phrase, "The Lord spoke to me." Well, y'all, the Lord spoke to me that day. It was an immediate, unrelenting feeling to reach out to this stranger, and to love on her. I wanted to DO something. So I prayed that night for God's guidance on what he was trying to show me. I woke up with fresh eyes and knew I wanted to offer her my Birth Photography Services. Little did I know that from that conversation, one of the truest friendships of my adult life would blossom. Holly and I now text nearly daily, our girls are close friends, and play dates happen scattered between our busy lives. My life is SO much richer in SO many ways because of this family. I know now why the Lord laid them on my heart. I was to bless her with this gift of photos, but she and her family were to bless my life 10 fold over what I did for her. God's a funny guy like that. If you listen to those twinges in your heart, if you seek His will and look for the direction he's pointing your compass... my friends, the destination is beautiful.

There were so many uncertainties leading up to her delivery. So many variable that were out of Holly's hands. Would she deliver in Columbus or Atlanta, would she be able to deliver vaginally or have to have a c-section, would Bethel's heart rate maintain, or would she be transferred to the adjacent hospital, would she need a pacemaker immediately, or years from now?

It was recommended towards the end of her pregnancy that Holly and Gill should relocate to Atlanta 2 weeks before her scheduled c-section, due to the complications from the Complete Heart Block. Oh and about that c-section, Holly had previously had two completely normal vaginal deliveries, so this was also a cause for much anxiety. Holly and Gill were away from their two girls for over 2 weeks while they stayed in the Ronald McDonald house in Atlanta. One blow after another, one struggle after another, one speed bump after another. Holly's birth plan was going out the window. She could control nothing. And much less important on my end, I wasn't sure if I could even make the birth, since I was on-call for another client here in Columbus, and by contract couldn't leave the area. Again, God is a funny guy. Innately, our human hearts crave control. It makes us feel safe. But it's moments like this in life, where God takes all of that control out of our hands, He takes us out of our comfort, out of our safe place.... and in doing so we must lean on Him, seek His word, seek His will, seek His grace. And the Price family did just that. They surrendered. I've never seen a more beautiful act of faith, than the days and hours leading up to Bethel's birth. It was tangible, palpable... and thank you Jesus, that I was blessed to be a fly on the wall to it all. 

And OH how the Lord showed up for the Price family! Holly made it to her c-section date (she has a history of preterm labor), my other client delivered 2 days prior which put me in the clear to travel (big selfish wooo hooo!). And then the big blessings started flowing in. Holly was covered in prayer by her husband and our pastor's wife, admittedly there was anxiety, but it was beautiful watching the Lord at work. Holly came through the c-section fine, and wait for it..... wait for it.... Bethel was thriving. She transitioned better than anyone could've imagined. She did go to the NICU, but she was breathing on her own, her heart rate was staying steady given her condition, she was ROCKING it. She did come with one little surprise. She was born with Neonatal Lupus, a SUPER rare condition, that even the doctors said they had only read about in textbooks. Long story short, homegirl was born with a superhero mask to go with her mad fighting skills. It has since faded, but not her spunk. She nursed like a champ, with no alarming variables to her heart or breathing. Holly and Gill were told it could be years, possibly not until she's 7 or 8 before she could need a pacemaker. Sweet pea had a short stay in the NICU and was sent home to meet her very excited big sisters. 

She defied the odds during pregnancy, she defied the odds at delivery, and she keeps defying the odds as she grows.

Watch out world, Bethel has a story to tell... 

Here are a few words from Holly. I encourage you to read on and hear this sweet testimony from her side. 

"I’m not quite sure how to start this “explanation” of our journey. There are so many different layers and pieces over the many months of waiting for the day that you’re about to “see” thanks to Neely’s incredible gift.

This pregnancy started off just like my other two, with more morning sickness-induced visits to the ER than I would have liked. Everything looked great at our 20-week ultrasound and we learned that our family would be growing by another little girl. We knew her name immediately: Bethel- “house of God.” Our prayer has been and will continue to be, that she would truly be a place where God dwells, and all who encounter Bethel will encounter the living God.

The second trimester was rolling along and during a routine OB exam things took a quick unexpected turn. I was having this particular visit with a midwife in hopes of pursuing a natural delivery this time around. The midwife was having a hard time finding Bethel’s heartbeat. (I learned later that they thought I had lost her. They thought the heartbeat they were hearing was mine.) After a quick ultrasound they determined that the heart rate was Bethel’s, but that it was half of what it should be. We went from a normal pregnancy to a high-risk pregnancy. In three-days time we saw Maternal Fetal Medicine, the Columbus Pediatric Cardiology Clinic, and were then sent to Atlanta to Sibley Heart Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We learned that Bethel has a very rare congenital heart disease called complete heart block. The node that tells the atria to beat in rhythm with the ventricles was attacked by autoimmune antibodies from my body- autoimmune antibodies that I didn’t even know I had. This causes her ventricles to beat out of rhythm and much slower than her atria. Instead of a heart rate of 140/150, Bethel’s normal was mid 70’s.

This was all found at 23-weeks gestation, and we had a long way to go to be full term. We were told that IF her heart rate did not drop over the remaining 17 weeks, and IF she did not develop signs of heart failure (fluid retention/etc.) then she would most likely be delivered via C-section and need surgery shortly after delivery – anywhere from hours after delivery to sometime within the first year of life. With this news came a new normal: 3-4 doctors appointments a week in Columbus and Atlanta for ultrasounds to check her heart rate. We decided to deliver in Atlanta so that I would at least be in the same city if she needed immediate surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Those 17 weeks were filled with an army of people praying, praying some more, bringing meals, watching our older girls, offering to pay for hotel rooms in Atlanta during our many travels, providing gas and restaurant gift cards, helping clean our apartment... and that’s just the beginning! As the weeks passed and I mourned the loss of my plans and “picture” of a perfect arrival, our prayers turned to pleas and my preferences for delivery paled in comparison to the longing for a safe, healthy little girl.

As we made it to “the big day,” I was overcome by peace and excitement. In the minutes preparing for the OR, I began to cry uncontrollably. This was the culmination of months of fear, anxiety, excitement, and praying. After our sweet girl arrived and we watched the Lord answer prayer, after prayer, after prayer I waited… for 8 hours to hold our sweet Bethel Grace. It was worth the wait!

Our journey did not look anything like I thought when we found out just a little over a year ago that we were pregnant. The picture I painted in my mind looked nothing like our reality. BUT the Lord in His incredible tenderness and care carried our family and provided abundantly at each turn. What you’re about to see is one of those abundant provisions. This collection of video clips and photos is an abundant, lavish gift and a beautiful reflection of the Lord’s care and kindness to our family."

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Columbus GA Maternity Photographers | Ker-Fox Photography | Baby P

So let me just say how radiantly stunning this momma is. Talk about a glow! Stephanie you wear pregnancy SO well. I've been given the honor and privilege to get to photograph the birth of baby P, and welcoming him/her into this world... I could not be more pumped. I am also thrilled that you guys are waiting til the birth to find out the sex. The suspense of not knowing just adds to the excitement! I am pretty much on call as we speak, as this little nugget could arrive any day now!

Stephanie and Bill, I had such a great time hanging out with you and getting to see the love you guys have for each other, and for that sweet baby. I'm by the phone, waiting for my call!




Columbus GA Maternity, Delivery, Newborn Photography | Ker-Fox Photography | Finley's Journey

Please take the time to actually read this blog... their story is one to be told and one to be respected. The Hidalgo family came into my life over a year ago and since then they've gone from being my client, to being my dear friends. They've allowed me into the most intimate, tragic, hopeful, and miraculous times of their lives and I couldn't feel more honored. This blog is a perfect example of what we strive to do here at Ker-fox photography... photobiography, telling your story, all of it, and hopefully doing so with grace and love.

The Hidalgo's story with us started last year when Caroline called me to schedule a maternity session, she was due with her first child Cale. She quickly wanted to capture some maternity photos to surprise her husband who was stationed overseas at the moment. So we did, and got some gorgeous photos of her sweet belly and baby Cale. A mere few weeks later I got a phone call from her sister, and immediately I assumed the call was to tell me that Cale had arrived and get Caroline on the calendar for a newborn session. the news couldn't have been further from that... Caroline and Miles lost Cale. I sank into the kitchen floor and just sobbed. I just could not wrap my head around the news. My heart ached, and words escaped me. There are no words that comfort that kind of loss.

As some time passed Caroline and Miles contacted me to thank me for the session, and for capturing those moments with their sweet Cale. The first time I got to see them after their loss was to deliver their album, which was also the first time I'd ever met Miles. Delivering that album was one of the most difficult things I've had to do for one of my clients. The bad news wasn't done raining on this dear family... Miles and his entire family all serve in the military, graduates of the prestigious West Point, even Caroline herself graduated from West Point where she and Miles met. So to say that this is a patriotic family would be a massive understatement. Miles brother, Daren paid the ultimate price for that patriotism, as he was killed by an I.E.D. in Afghanistan in February. It all seems too much for one family to endure in a lifetime, much less in the timespan of under a year.

Sometime early in the year I get a phone call from Caroline... she was expecting again! Another little boy, Finley Daren (Daren, after his courageous Uncle), due just weeks before what would have been Cale's 1st birthday. Our journey together had begun once more. Again Miles was deployed but this time we waited for him to get back then scheduled her maternity session. She also asked if I would consider shooting the actual delivery, I didn't hesitate and immediately said of course! Little did I know that I soon too would be pregnant and shooting a delivery a few short months before my own arrival! But I was totally game for the experience, after all what could be a more miraculous thing to photograph than a new life coming into the world.

This blog isn't about me, but I must tell you what an amazing, beautiful, spiritual experience it was to witness Mr. Finley's birth. It was just Caroline, Miles, and myself... I mean what an honor. Caroline was such a trooper and seriously only pushed for 7 min.... let me repeat that, 7 min. I even checked my time stamps on the photos to make sure. She was full of grace considering just a year earlier that she lost her precious Cale. I say lost, but he isn't lost at all. They include him in so much that they do, his memory is strong, and I know they will always have it that way. Finn will always know about his big brother Cale thanks to his mom and dad. He was even wrapped in the same blanket as his big brother Cale. They also have a gorgeous bench and garden in their backyard in his memory. Caroline is a strong outspoken mother of losing a child, please take the time to check her blog and read all of Cale's story by clicking here. Also check her blog to see posts of Finley and just their life in general by clicking here.

To say that these 3 mean so much to me is an understatement. Every single client that walks through my door effects my life in some positive way... but meeting these two has completely changed my life. I don't think even they know quite what they mean to me, being a part of their lives and the way they allowed me in it. Yes it was my job, and my purpose was to capture these moments for them. But for me this was so much more than "work".

I love all of my newborns I get to shoot, but I watch fondly as this little one grows and always remember Cale. Cause if it weren't for Cale, I wouldn't know these two amazing people.

Below are some of the images from the month long journey from her maternity session to the delivery to the newborn session... I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.