I started my business to do two things:
- Honor my son, Leo.
- Celebrate all parenthood journeys.
This is my why, what inspires me, what makes me different as a photographer. This year, I will be sharing the journeys of some parents I have been lucky enough to photograph. The goal? Well, to create a community. To let parents know they are not alone. I hope that every journey shared here will give comfort, hope, or joy to at least one person. Maybe even help parents connect who might have similar experiences.
I'm going to start with our parenthood journey, so you can get to know more about me and what the journey has been like so far. To show that parenthood is hard and totally worth every second. To give hope or comfort to anyone who may experience some of the difficult things we (me and hubs, Nick) have experienced. I’m going to focus on the big moments for us: the hard ones because I want any parent who may experience these to know they aren’t alone, the good ones because they are what we live for.
I’ll never forget specific moments of when we lost our first son, Leo, half way through pregnancy. He was stillborn. It happened on May 24, 2018. I remember being at my OBs office and being told we needed to go to the hospital. I remember sobbing the entire car ride, I just knew something was wrong. I remember the doctor at the hospital saying he wasn’t going to make it. I remember the doctor telling me he could feel the baby. I remember Nick calling my dad to tell him and my dad saying “we are losing the baby?” while crying. I remember looking at Nick and telling him that we should name him Leo. I remember Nick and I deciding we wanted Leo to only know love and happiness when he got here. I remember our whole family being there to hold Leo and support us. I remember being scared to see Leo, what would he look like being only half way through pregnancy? He was perfect and beautiful. I remember our OB made a point to be there to deliver Leo and I remember her crying with us. I remember how hard it was to leave the hospital without our baby boy. I remember hugging Leo Bear as we left (Leo bear is with us all the time, see pictures below). I remember the days after, crying all the time and all of the love Nick gave to me even while he was grieving. I remember picking up Leo’s ashes and crying. It was hard and I will always miss him.
For us, Leo's gift was a new perspective on life. He didn’t get to live and we always want to live for him. He gave us courage: to continue trying to have a baby even though we lost him, to quit our corporate jobs to spend more time together, to camp and travel. Leo also has a space here on my website to give back to families who have experienced loss, you can view that here.
Pregnancy after loss
It was so different, emotionally, to be pregnant with Oliver, our wild, rainbow child. I’d say our joy was greater because we had more appreciation for life and we knew Leo was watching over. We, especially me, also had a lot of fear because we already knew what it was like to lose and the “what if’s” were really scary. I wouldn’t say Oliver’s pregnancy was easy...early on we were told Oliver had a greater than 1/250 chance of having Down Syndrome, a little more than half way into the pregnancy we were told he had a little hole in his heart that would have to be monitored, and towards the end of my pregnancy we were sent to the hospital multiple times because my blood pressure was just under a concerning level. I can’t really explain it unless you know, but each of those things are just so scary simply because it was so easy for my mind to go to the worst place possible. We believe Leo was (and still is) watching over because none of those things came to fruition or caused any complications.
We actually struggled to get pregnant with both of our boys, but honestly this is less defining in our journey given some of our other experiences. However, I wanted to share this because it is still a REALLY hard journey and I want other parents to know they are not alone. To get pregnant with Oliver, we had to use IVF. I'm just grateful Leo gave me courage and hubs gave me love (and he gave me the daily shots...THANK GOODNESS because I don't think I could have administered them alone). While I know IVF is a hard journey, it didn’t feel that way to me, mainly because we already lost Leo. My perspective was just different, so all the shots (even though I hate shots) were worth it to get Oliver here.
Our wild, rainbow child: Oliver
Oliver was actually born on Leo's due date, October 15th. I am forever grateful they have such a special connection. Parenting after loss is probably more difficult and more joyful than I imagined. Anyone who is a parent to a living child knows all of the joys and difficulties that come in the first 15 months (Oliver is that age currently). I will share briefly two difficulties we have had because I want other parents to know they aren't alone. First, my breastfeeding journey was difficult and short-lived. I just couldn't produce enough milk for Oliver, he had a tongue and lip tie which made it difficult for him to latch, and he ended up having a milk protein intolerance. While I tried for some time to make breastfeeding work, ultimately I finally was kind enough to myself to know that I was/am still an awesome mama to Oliver even if he isn't breastfed. Second, Oliver was hospitalized around 4.5 months old, that was terrifying. He wasn't gaining weight as he should and was refusing to eat. He had reflux. That was hard because if a parent hasn't experienced it, they don't know how difficult it is and it was clear to hubs and I that other parents thought we were being overly dramatic first time parents. If you experience this, please don't hesitate to reach out, we know how hard it is. Even though those things were hard, they now seem like far away memories. Our days are currently filled with Oliver wanting to be outside all the time, wrestling matches between Oliver and dada, Oliver loving pancakes with nutella, and reading books with me. Oliver is stubborn and a little wild, but can often be found holding on to his Leo Lion stuffed animal. We incorporate Leo into Oliver's life because we want him to know about Leo, it is important to us.
So, we have certainly had a difficult and wonderful parenthood journey so far. We cannot wait to see what happens next and we want you to know that you can reach out to us if you need/want to talk about anything. We are an open book and know that both moms and dads go through difficult things. You can follow us on Instagram here and here. DM us with any questions.
We all have hardships are parents and tons of joy. Life is short and pictures help us to document this life we are living. We don't get to take pictures with Leo but I get to let his impact live on every time I photograph a family. Thank you for reading a little bit about our parenthood journey. I hope you are inspired enough by our sweet Leo and the imagery I create to hang out with me soon and get some beautiful images of your family. Contact me here to get started.