August 21, 2015 is a day that will always stand out in my mind. I was at the children’s hospital in Fort Worth to photograph a baby for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I had just finished up and as I was walking to the elevator to leave I dug out my phone. It was dark outside and when I’m walking through hospital parking garages alone with expensive camera gear I always like to make sure I have my phone in my hand. When I pulled out my phone I noticed that I had a text from my mother in law letting me know that her friend’s daughter just had her baby at 23 weeks gestation and asking if I had any ideas for something she could do to be of help to them. I told her that I would ask my mom who is a NICU nurse if she had any ideas. Then it hit me. I texted her back asking if she knew what hospital they were at. I sat down in a waiting area instead of getting on the elevator because I knew I would have crummy cell service in the elevator and parking garage and I didn’t want to miss her next text. She texted back that they were at the very hospital I was at so I told her I was up there already and had my camera gear with me and would love to come take photos of their sweet new tiny baby if they would like that. They said yes! Sweet Norah was 3 days old when I first met her. She weighed 1lb 4oz the day she was born and was just impossibly tiny. Heather and Clark were so sweet the night we met and when you looked into their eyes you could see nearly every emotion under the sun: shock, amazement, joy, fear, uncertainty, and so much pride and hope for their baby girl. So far baby Norah was doing great but they told me that micro-preemies have what NICU nurses and doctors refer to as a “honeymoon period” where they do great for the first few days, and after those first few days are over, things that will be problematic start to appear and you get a clearer picture of what the long road ahead will look like. When you grow up with a NICU nurse for a mother, you know that two of the biggest struggles a micro preemie is at risk for are head bleeds which can cause brain damage, and gut problems like NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis). Norah beat huge odds and didn’t face either of those problems! We decided that I would come up to the NICU once a month on her monthly anniversary of her birthday to document her growth and progress. Each month I was blown away with how far she had come since the last time I saw her! It was truly the highlight of my month for the past four months and now I’m happy to say that yesterday, at exactly 4 months old, weighing in at over 7lbs, and just a few days after her due date, Norah got to go HOME!
Three Days Old
Two Months Old
Jessica and Tom are another couple that I’ve been lucky enough to photograph all the way back since their engagement session four years ago! That means I’ve gotten to photograph Jessica as a bride to be, a bride, then as the Maid of Honor at her sister’s gorgeous wedding, and now as a new mom. Jessica, seeing you as a mother is so incredibly sweet. I know how exhausting a new baby is, and especially your first baby where everything is completely new and terrifying, but you make it look so easy! I wish I had even half of the confidence you have with Paige back when I had my first baby. You were born to be a mom, that’s for sure. I look forward to documenting this sweet girl as she grows up, and maybe a few of her younger siblings, too…
The first time I photographed this family a year ago was one of the most refreshing family sessions I have ever photographed! In our email exchanges before our first session Stephanie let me know that it was okay if every photo wasn’t of him looking right at the camera cheesing, and that in fact she was okay if I photographed his tears, too. She just really wanted to document him just being him at this stage of his life. I was reading that and in my head I was thinking “yes! she gets it!” Her sweet Billy is a few months younger than my son and let me tell you that we have exactly three family photos that have been taken since we had kids. Only one of them actually has him looking at the camera at the same time as us. The first time we tried to have family photos taken, I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing, and my son was just not really having it at all. I got so wrapped up in wanting that pinterest perfect family photo that I couldn’t even let myself enjoy it. I was just so sure that we weren’t going to have a single “good” photo and that the whole thing would have been for nothing. When I got the photos back, it turns on we did have one “perfect” photo. But the photos that absolutely melted my heart weren’t anything like the one with all three of us cheesing into the camera. It was the “in between” photos. The moments that were captured of his sweet scrunched up nose when he was upset, and the moments captured of me soothing my sweet first born when he was upset and frustrated with having to cheese for the camera when he really wanted to be let down so he could play. When Stephanie contacted me for photos again this year I was so excited because I knew that meant I would have another chance to just truly document their family. Sweet Billy is three now and is going to be a big brother soon! His love that he has for his baby sister already is seriously adorable and his three year old imagination had us laughing for half of the session. We let him take the lead and he took us hunting for sticks, deer, bears, and even baby rhinos. The moment I’ll never forget was when he found a random bush growing that had a reddish color and his eyes got really big and he looked at us and exclaimed “Look at this branch! We’re in a color forrest!” Cutest moment, ever.
This sweet boy turned two this week! It really does seem like it was just last month that his mommy and I were both pregnant together, due just days apart from each other. It was so sweet to get to see just how silly his personality is at this age. Once he got warmed up to my camera, everything was a game to him and he sure thought it was funny! From picking his daddy’s nose, to spotting airplanes in the sky, once he let his guard down he was straight up in silly mode the littlest thing would make his whole little face light up and he would give us the best belly laughs!