thank you

i just want to say thank you to everyone for their amazing outpouring of support on my last post.

grandma is doing better. we got her all settled into the rehab facility, and she is gaining strength. the physical therapist is saying she will be able to go home in a couple weeks.

 

i also want to let you know, that my family is reading all your comments…. both here and on facebook.

i appreciate how many of you actually took the time to read the post, and leave a comment. that makes me so happy.

 

i will have a new update on grandma with pictures soon. and i will be back again with more yummy babies for you all. <3

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland OR Photographer

grandma

i’ve been super quiet lately.

i feel like this post is rather dramatic, but we’ve so been used to living a lifestyle of scrolling, liking, and hearting… that nobody takes the time to read anymore, and nobody really sees true emotion any longer.

with that being said…

my grandma isn’t doing fabulous.

she is 93 years old.

so my grandmother, has always been my ONLY grandmother. my mother’s parents died before she was even married, so we’ve only had my dads parents. my grandfather died about 20 years ago, and left a giant gaping wound in our family.

i remember as a child hearing the emergency sirens at night, and praying to the Lord… please don’t let it be my grandmother, please save her. even though she lives a solid 2.5 hours away from my house. 😉

grandma still lives in the same house she has lived in forever and ever. but now she has a wonderful 24/7 caretaker…. even so she still has the attitude of a 2 year old…. i do it myself.

when i found out that grandma was in the hospital with a pretty bad infection, i offered to drive my dad up to south bend to see what was happening. i’ve never seen my grandmother look so fragile. she isn’t able to speak a lot, and that frustrates her to no end. she is as sharp as a tack, and still gets around with the help of a walker. seeing her in a hospital bed, completely crushed me.

she was so scared too. she would cry every time my dad left the room. it was awful.

we went back up on thursday to transfer her from the hospital and to a rehab facility, where she will do physical therapy to regain her strength enough to go home.

i love my grandmother. i cannot even express to you the depth of my love for her. even typing this out, i have tears.

this is the newest professional image i have of myself and grandma. my husband actually took this one. i took images of the rest of the family unit, and all the other girls got pictures of themselves and grandma.

except me. 

my grandmother HATES being in pictures. she used to tell me….. you’ll break your camera if you take a photo of me!

she is beautiful. 

soon i know the Lord will take her. she’s had a wonderfully full, and long life.

and all i will have are the images to remember her by. much like she only has images of her husband, her sister, her parents, and her best friends. she has an album that she looks at every single day. the two days we went up, i spent time going through each image, and she would point out each person she could.

gone are the christmas eves at grandmas house with all the cousins. gone are the yearly beach trips with grandma. gone are the christmas cookies she would make each year, and give each child a little bit extra of their favorites in each bucket. gone are all the stray animals she used to feed on her back porch… at one time she had 7 stray cats and a one eyed raccoon mama. 

but i have a million images that my dad made sure to take when we were little. and i have many images of grandma holding the babies, playing with the kids, and walking on the beach.

but i wish i had one of just her and me. 

 

 

 

 

** back row: my sister, me                             2015

**front row: marcie, grandma, britney (marcie and britney are sisters, we are missing the sisters sarah and brooke. i am the youngest of the 6 granddaughters)

family outdoors personal  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland, OR Newborn Photographer

photographing babies in teals

happy thursday everyone!

today let’s visit photographing babies in teals!

i love the teal color! it’s so universal, and i am thrilled that this color is acceptable for both boys AND girls!

today i have isaac in teal, and as you can see there are many different shades of teal which all work together beautifully.

as you know, i really don’t like to have a lot of distraction in my newborn images. i feel as though the baby should be the center point, and the props are just accessories.

teals are fun to work with, because it’s both blue AND green. this gives you some wiggle room in your set ups in case you don’t have the EXACT teal shades all around. and i think if you did the image may lack depth. also, teals enable you to get more “different” looks out of just one set up. adding a more blueish teal bonnet in one set up, and a more greenish wrap in another will give you some variety for the parents. this is a lovely technique if you have a particularly fussy tiny human or are on a limited time frame.  🙂

again, my bonnet here is from mama knits. i adore the dark and light variant hues in this bonnet she has made. this enables me to use it in multiple types of set ups.

the curls, of course, are again mama knits. her curls are truly a work of art. SO much care goes into her craft, and watching her husband work his magic as well is phenomenal. they are truly and amazing team who pride themselves on excellence in their work. ashlee hand dyes each item she creates. it’s amazing. her curls are the perfect addition to any shot, especially if you love the more natural feel in your images. i love how her curl fibers soak up the colors differently, so there isn’t a flat look to them. they each have so much depth! the curls are so universal as well! i have ashlee’s curls layered on top of a flokati in one image, and then place directly on the wood backdrop in another.

i am also using mama knits wild lamb layer blanket in the bowl shots. it’s a much brighter teal, but still ties in with the original more muted teal theme. her wild lamb blanket layers are perfect for these types of bowl shots, giving some texture and depth to the overall image while protecting the baby from the hard wooden surface. baby’s safety and comfort ALWAYS come first.

in the bonnet shots i am using the luneberry flokati in calabash, and i am SO incredibly pleased at how well this flokati color ties in with all my mama knits layers! how perfect is this?

the wrap is also from luneberry, in the calabash color. it’s a little darker teal color, but still coordinates well and gives a lovely finish to the image.

since i am certain someone at some point will ask me about the wooden bowl…. it’s not from a vendor.

living in the pacific northwest, we have a plethora of antique stores. this particular one i purchased at an antique store in hood river, oregon. i have about six different wooden bowls, all varying in sizes. it’s hard for me to pass up a wooden bowl, since the are so few and far between here! i am so picky about my wooden props…. i won’t purchase them from vendors UNLESS it’s willow and elm, who is mama knits beautiful mother…. and she’s also local. 😉 my husband, the wizard, also makes me wooden props <3

if you ever decide to come take a mentoring class with me, we will definitely be visiting mama knits, willow and elm, and of course the hood river antique stores. <3

 

xoxo,

olive

 

children mama knits newborn personal studio willow and elm  Photography children mama knits newborn personal studio willow and elm  Photography children mama knits newborn personal studio willow and elm  Photography children mama knits newborn personal studio willow and elm  Photography children mama knits newborn personal studio willow and elm  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland, OR Newborn Photographer

photographing babies in greens

hi friends!

today let’s talk about photographing the tiny humans on greens!

green is my favorite color. this color trumps all other colors for me.

i especially love using this color on tiny babies, it just portrays such a soothing image to me.

i love using different shades of sages and greens too, they all seem to work well when from the same family. i do struggle with pine green and evergreen, since they are a heavier color and turn an odd color when i edit as warm as i do.

also the wood drop is one of my favorites. i like using it with more bold colors like the darker sage i have baby wrapped in for the bucket shots. my husband actually made me this drop for about $70. it’s a floor and wall drop, made from cedar fencing. he actually stained it grey, and it came out this beautiful color.

if you’re willing to put a little muscle into your props, you’ll find you can easily make them for cheaper if you’re on a budget. i also painted my own bucket here, and have several painted in the exact colors i need in order to match my wraps, curls, and fluffs. i purchased a bucket from home depot, and found the right color paint in the sample size, then watered down my paint and did two coats on my bucket. i did a really light clear sealing coat, but just once since i didn’t want my bucket to be shiny from my studio flash.

i love being able to layer all my textures that are in same tones. i started with the mint wrap from inspired knits first, and added the bonnet from mama knits to my collection. then i added the curls from mama knits, and lastly the flokati from luneberry. it totally draws all the attention in the image to the tiny human, and not the props around him and at the same time giving a nice uniform and clean look overall. this collection probably took me about a year to build up to, and i am so pleased with it. this makes my decision making a breeze. i do have other bonnets in this hue, so i don’t have the same set up repeated over and over each time i want to use it.

 

xoxo,

olive

 

 

children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography children inspired knits mama knits newborn personal studio  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland, OR Newborn Photographer

photographing babies in grey

happy monday friends!

last post we talked about photographing babies in cream, let’s look at photographing babies in grey!

honestly, grey is a color i really struggle with! i tend to shoot fairly warm in kelvin, and i edit pretty warm too! so that leaves my grey’s looking kinda blah… more greige if you will (which i understand is a pretty popular color right now)

all that to say, when i DO use grey in my images i edit a little more on the cool side to keep my grey’s GREY!

i am learning to love the greys, especially on babies with dark hair like this little fella! i feel the darker colors make baby pop a little more too, making them the center of the image.

less is always more for me. 

i LOVE seeing other photographers with intricate images, using multiple props and such… but i find my style tends to be a little more simple. <3

i like having layers and textures in my newborn images.

using the fluff from the fabulous oh so fleeting always turns out amazing. she offers a wide variety of fluff styles and colors. if you’re looking to add some depth to your images, check out her shoppy shop, you won’t be disappointed. 😉

also… i’m loving the wrapped baby look.

i find i don’t do too much with nakey babies any longer. i’ve had momma’s not want a tush out, or other skin exposed…

so i’ve stocked up on wraps and bonnets from the absolutely amazing mama knits. i even have a bonnet and wrap set named after me in her shop! i’ve purchased MANY wraps and bonnets from a myriad of vendors, and hands down ashlee’s wraps and bonnets are always spot on for sizing, color, and stretch.  she also custom makes sets! i LOVE having her custom sets made for me, because it ensures that ALL my colors coordinate! this makes my sessions go SO much more smoothly, and editing is such a breeze when all colors are from the same pallet. <3

hope this is helpful! and yes…. i type like i talk. 😉

here is baby isaac in grey <3

 

mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography mama knits newborn oh so fleeting personal studio  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland, OR Newborn Photographer

joshua 1:9

Your love, in wave after wave
crashes over me, crashes over me
for You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

cause You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
no fear can hinder now the love that made a way

 

i am so proud of you, brave mama <3

 

family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography family maternity outdoors personal traveling  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland, OR Newborn Photographer

tori maternity

 

hello everyone!

here is the first session of two that tori and i did during my trip to louisiana last month!

tori texted me before i flew out, and asked me if i would consider doing a milk bath session when i came down! i was SO excited! this is my first attempt, and i am very pleased

with the results! we had a lot of fun planning this out, and also during!

we sent her eldest boy out on a mission to cut us some wisteria blooms for this session. he also got us some gorgeous azaleas out of her yard. i love that we were able to use local flowers!

i hope you enjoy  tori’s beautiful milk bath maternity session!

xoxo, olive

maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity newborn personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland OR Photographer

new orleans

hello friends!!

i just got back from louisiana this week, and what fun it was! i’ve been to the south 7 times, and this was by far the most fun experience yet!

my friend tori, of tori courtney photography is expecting her baby girl in may! she asked me to come and take her maternity images at her favorite lake… and of course i couldn’t say no!

i headed out fairly early from pdx on thursday morning, with my beloved house of flynn bags. if you’re a photographer, or just even a bag lover… you should totally check out maureen’s bag collections. you can find them HERE. i love the evermore bags, the backpacks, the shoot cases, and of course the travlers wallet.

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

my flights were great, and my seatmates were all amazing. i love how the Lord always has someone for me to sit by. He never fails, each time. <3

 

friday was our photo day, and we were super excited! however the weather was a little uncooperative! there were thunder showers all day long! but we got a quick break and headed out to fontainebleau state park, and did some quick shots before the rain came back! both mom and dad LOVE to fish, and really wanted to incorporate the water in their session. how gorgeous is this location? so in love! <3

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

after our session, tori started talking about something called a snowball…. and low and behold it’s a SNOWCONE, but better! these have such a velvety texture!! they are so much better than the snowcones you get up here in the pnw! and the have a million flavors and add ice cream to them as well! i loved the little gummy bear on top too. needless to say, i was in heaven with the drive through snowball places…. and we sure went a few times!

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photographymaternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

the next day we had tori’s best girlfriend come over with her new little baby boy. tori and i had a mini newborn session in her house! we worked on lighting and posing, and wrapping. i am SO proud of my little grasshopper! (thanks sabrina! 😉 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

that night, nate went out and got crawfish. for the life of me i couldn’t figure out what crawfish was, until tori showed me a picture.

crawdad. it’s a crawdad. we used to catch these in the river up here and bring them to my mother, and she would eat them.

needless to say, this was an EXPERIENCE for me.

like a teeny tiny lobster…. but not.

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

mister nate showing me how to uh, “shell” them. tori took a video of me as well, but we shall leave that one out. 😉

**omgosh tori the toothbrush! her little man would carry around two toothbrushes all day long! he loved the way the suction cups would make a sound on everything!

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

so let’s talk southern bugs…

i’ve been to tennessee a couple times and oklahoma once, and south carolina once. and never ever ever in my life have i seen such giant bugs like there are in louisiana. i’m hunting a carpenter bee in these images, because i’ve never seen such a large bee!! we have bugs up here, but we also have a million types of spiders… so it’s kinda like natural pest control. 🙂

tori also took video, but we will leave that out as well.

i’m not scared of bugs, but DANG.

 

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

the day i flew out, tori and i took a trip to noew orleans.

now, i’ve been before. and i swore i would never ever go back. i do not like bourbon street. at all. you couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to that hell. and i REALLY didn’t like all the voodoo places. it’s not funny, and it’s not cute. it’s not something to play with. just walking by those places gets your spirit on guard.

however going to new orleans with a native was completely different. we hit the french market, which i had been to before… but it was different this time. she showed me all the fun things that i NEEDED to try while i was here. this market reminded me of pike place market in seattle, one of my favorite places. 🙂

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

she took me for a muffuletta sandwich! i’ve never heard of this before and it was amazing! they even had gluten free bread for me! i took the cheese off though… no cheese for me.

and now i’m addicted and desperately trying to find the olive salad and i can’t find it!

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

we hit aunt sally’s for praline’s which i had never had either! i will be ordering these for delivery…

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

i couldn’t pass this gem up.

and NO i didn’t try any.

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

our trip couldn’t be complete without a picture of us together.

i just love this woman. she has a special place in my heart.

she is such a beautiful woman of Christ, and she definitely has a divine anointing on her life. i cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for our friendship!

 

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

so my flight home… sucked.

i’ve never had such an awful experience with southwest airlines.

my flight out of nola was so delayed, i would miss my connection in LA. so they gave me a different flight with a connection in oakland airport.

that flight was delayed two hours.

we get to oakland airport, and all of us pdx travelers have a 3.5 hour delay…. because the last pdx flight had left 5 minutes prior to our arrival. couldn’t hold it?

needless to say, i was pretty ticked and tired. i toured all over the oakland airport wing i was in, got decaf and oatmeal because starbucks was the only thing open.

finally it was time to go, and we all landed at pdx at 1am, which was 3am my adjusted time.

our luggage had been sitting out in the rain, so everyone’s items were soaked, and my case was broken.

it was like living in the twilight zone. way to go southwest, you’re winning it.

maternity personal traveling Uncategorized  Photography

 

overall i had a wonderful trip, and i am really looking forward to returning when baby lakeleigh arrives in may! i’ve not had super wonderful experiences in the south, but i have to say i do love louisiana.

i’ll be posting images from tori’s outdoor AND indoor images this week!

xoxo, olive

 

 

 

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland OR Photographer

rainbow baby

hello friends <3

today we are going to read about sweet jody. if you’ve been following along here then you will recognize this mama. if you’re new here, you can read jody’s story about infant loss here.

jody is back on the blog today with her rainbow baby story…

xoxo, olive

 

What is a rainbow baby?

A rainbow baby is a sweet blessing that is born after the loss of a previous baby. The term was coined to describe the hope of what is to come after a family has suffered through and survived the storm of the loss of a baby.

In my case, when I saw the word PREGNANT on that test, I was filled with an overwhelming slew of emotions all at once. There was joy and fear. There was love and sadness. I was afraid that people might think I was trying to replace my son Jack, who died shortly after birth when he and his twin sister Kate were born at 25 weeks. I was also nervous to tell people because I knew that some people would judge us for having another baby and think we were crazy. I was worried about how my big kids would feel and how my husband and I would feel. And I was extremely worried about my own mental health. You see, after Jack died, I was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. There was a time when I thought that PTSD only happened to soldiers, but then I was living it. The emotional flooding, the sleepless nights, the rabbit holes of thought where I would blame myself for everything that happened and cry out to God wishing I could go back and make a different choice.

And now here I was, pregnant with another sweet baby who was due in March just like the twins had been due in March. So many of these pregnancy milestones would fall right around the same time that they had with my previous pregnancy. I knew without a doubt that this would be a difficult road to walk and I was feeling anxious. However, I was determined not to let this disorder steal my joy. I had a strong desire to be present during this pregnancy and to enjoy my kids and be there to support them with their own emotional struggles. I didn’t want to spend the whole pregnancy living in fear of the unknown and the what-ifs.

So, I poured into my bible. I read and read and read scriptures that helped me remember that my trust belonged with the LORD. I memorized key verses that I could turn to in times when I was really struggling. I sought out a counselor and kept weekly sessions so I could learn how to process my feelings and be present in the moment. I prayed and journaled and I reached out to friends and family and asked for their help on the days when I was really struggling. Being a Christian and living with PTSD while pregnant with a rainbow baby did not mean that I never suffered with anxiety. There were days and moments that were terribly hard. There were times when I was blindsided with emotion. There were times when I woke my husband up in the middle of the night to pray for me or when I called my friends or my Aunt because it was too hard to do it alone. I needed to hear prayer. I needed them to stand in the gap for me. I needed them to have faith when my faith was failing. And they did! I had anxious moments but I didn’t live there. I had hard days but I didn’t let those thoughts steal my joy.

Now as I gaze at this beautiful photo of my daughter smiling down at my big belly, I am filled with thankfulness. Having this rainbow baby has been a hard road but it’s also been beautiful. We are all filled with a joyous expectation as we await his arrival. I feel like love has won over fear. What a blessing Judah already is and will continue to be!

 

maternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photographymaternity personal studio  Photographymaternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photographymaternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photographymaternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photographymaternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photography maternity personal studio  Photography

Vancouver, Wa Newborn Photographer Portland OR Photographer

kate the great

hello my friends!

this is a blog post that is LONG overdue. there are two other blog posts that should have gone before this one… but sometimes it’s just tough to blog about the hard stuff.

meet kate the great.

kate is a surviving twin.

i won’t tell the story, as her mama has written a beautiful story about her journey with kate and jack.

this is a very long blog post, and there are images at the end. however the images won’t make sense if the post isn’t read.

xoxo,

olive and jody <3

 

Have you ever been in a season of crazy contrast? This last year and a half has been such a season for me. Life and loss, hope and despair, joy and sorrow all tangled together and mashed up, muddied and messy. People equate hard seasons to walking through a storm, and I get that. For me it was more like fighting to stay afloat when the storm was so rough, and the flood waters had risen so high that I couldn’t reach solid ground and I was struggling just to breathe. At the same time, it wasn’t like a storm so much as a rollercoaster. Those pits of deep despair were rough, they still are. But there was also so much joy! The valleys are ever higher, the sun shines brighter, and love permeates into the deepest recesses of my heart. I feel that love and experience it more fully because of the road I’ve walked.

I met Brienne when I was at my most vulnerable. How did I get here? Just yesterday I was planning a reveal party for my twins. Twins!!! Two sweet little babies were growing inside of me. This pregnancy had already been one of extremes. I remember driving to the first ultrasound with my six-year-old Annie proclaiming, “Momma, I just know there are two babies!” I smiled and reminded her how rare twins were. Then the wand was on my belly and two tiny babies were dancing on the screen. She jumped with joy and exclaimed, “ONE, TWO BABIES!” We delighted in handing my husband the ultrasound picture when we arrived home and hearing him say, “Oh look, at that. Oh look at that. OH! LOOK AT THAT!” We rejoiced, happily shared our news and joyously planned and prepared for these two little ones who we held in our hearts as the ultimate blessing. Our plans came to a screeching halt one Saturday morning when I found what a pregnant momma should never find while in the restroom, blood. The doctor’s words stung, “I can only check for fetal demise.” Fetuses? These were our babies! Our little twins! Our dream! Thankfully, strong heart beats rang out from the speakers and with relief I watched as those little babies squirmed and cuddled on the screen. They sent me home with the advice to take it easy. “There was nothing I could do to change the outcome.” So I took it easy; we still planned, still prepared, and I prayed and prayed that those babies would keep growing. And now here we were, planning a reveal party for our twins as I laid on this hospital bed. I had been in the hospital for 5 days. Still, the cake was ordered, the kids were excited and Sunday couldn’t come fast enough. Of course, it would have been better had I not been in the hospital yet there was so much to be thankful for and we were determined to make the best of it! Despite the 9cm abruption on baby b’s placenta and the ever present trickle of bright red blood, overall the babies looked great. Two strong heart beats every time! These babies were okay, I was okay. My 8 year old son and my two little girls 6 and 4 were okay. I had unwavering faith that we’d get through this tough patch and make it through to the other side. That was my husband Tim’s refrain, “It’s going to be okay baby. On Sunday we get to find out if we are having boys or girls.”

But we never made it to Sunday.

Jody, you are dilated to 4, we are going to take the babies now Okay?”

Okay”.

My husband held my hand as they cut into my belly. My best friend prayed for me over the speaker on my phone. She bought her plane ticket to come while I was still in surgery. “It’s December 11th today Jody. Today is going to be your babies’ birthday,” she shared. I asked her to play some worship music for me and a nurse overheard my request. “We have Pandora in the operating room Jody. Do you want me to play some worship music for you?” Soon those sweet songs filled the air and calmed my heart.

I don’t remember feeling scared. I remember wanting to see the babies. I remember asking them to tell me the gender. I was about to find out if these little ones were boys or girls or one of each. I made it to 25 weeks! They were going to be okay!

At 0552 I heard the doctor say, “It’s a girl!” But I heard no cry. At 0554 I heard the doctor say, “It’s a boy!” But I heard no cry. “Go with them honey. Go with our babies!”

I laid on the table getting stitched up. Waiting for an update and listening to worship music. I remember feeling at peace. Tim came in and smiled down on me. He showed me a blurry 10 second video on his phone of our tiny son crying!

My husband shared, “The little girl is intubated and stable. They are still working on the little boy.” I cried. They are alive!

What are we going to name them honey?” I asked.

I like Katherine for the little girl. Do you like it?” he questioned.

Yes. Can we call her Kate?”

Yes.”

What about the little boy?” I asked.

I know you and the kids love Jack. We can name him Jack.” And there it was. Our little Jack and Kate. Born at 25 weeks, a full 15 weeks early. But alive and okay.

And then a new doctor walked in. “We are still working on your son but we’ve done everything we can at this point. We don’t quite know what’s happening but his oxygen levels don’t look good. I’m so sorry.”

Can I go see him?” I questioned.

Of course.”

Is he going to make it,” I asked.

No.”

One word. One response. One syllable. And our whole world changed.

Can I hold him?”

Yes.”

They placed Jack on my chest. He was still on the ventilator. His tiny body moved up and down. The machine was breathing for him. Tim was sobbing. My cheeks were dry. My head was filled with one refrain, “His days were already numbered. His days were already numbered.” I whispered those words to Tim and he cried and cried. I asked him where the kids were and he called my Aunt. Almost here. Would they make it in time? I cradled Jack’s tiny body in my arms. I held him close.

The kids bounded into the room and excitedly peeked in at Kate. Oliver rushed over to me with hope in his eyes, “Are they going to be okay?”

And I was crushed.

Tim called all the kids over to him and held them close as I told them that Jack wasn’t going to be okay. “Your brother is going to heaven today. He’s going to be with Jesus today.” They crumbled in his arms. The tears came. Oliver looked up through red, puffy eyes and said that he didn’t feel well. He wanted to go home. Molly cried that she wanted to leave too. I told them that I would have Auntie take them downstairs to the cafeteria. I looked at Annie and asked, “Do you want to go to?”

No momma. I want to stay with my brother.”

And she stayed.

My six year old daughter never left my side. She gently touched her brother’s head. She admired his tiny toes. She smiled down at him. She was a gift. God’s love. Joy.

The first time I pumped milk for Kate, Jack was still in my arms. This life giving milk. Drop by drop. While holding my son. My son who had not one ounce of life left in him. How were these two things possible in the same moment?

My Aunt posted in a moms-of-multiples group asking if anyone knew a photographer. I wanted photos with my son before they took him away. Before too long, a woman showed up. This sweet stranger was so gentle as she took photos of my baby boy. My husband gathered Jack into his arms for the first time and wept. He handed Jack to my daughter Annie and she smiled. She kissed his tiny toes. She smelled his little head. She delighted in his little features. Again, she was a gift. Her love flowed so freely and washed over us all. We all held and loved and marveled at this tiny creation. The time with Jack was holy.

This moment in my memory is distinct and at once a blur. Some seconds I remember in vivid detail. Some memories are fleeting. People have asked if I was too busy to grieve. I was so busy. We had to juggle our big kids, my recovery, Tim’s work schedule and his traveling, flying people in and flying the kids out to make sure they were cared for, visiting Kate daily, talking with the doctors, making decisions, waking up, getting dressed, remembering to eat. Life was CRAZY! But grieve I did. My grief seemed to be ever present but worse at times. The slow times. Driving to the hospital. Every time I tried to lie down to sleep. Quietly holding Kate in the NICU as the alarms rang and my baby fought to breathe. The memories would come. The pain would come. The sorrow would prevail.

And the times that were the most joyous were simultaneously the hardest. Each milestone that Kate has reached is also a reminder of where Jack would have been. When they handed me her little black foam glasses because she no longer needed the billy lights, I sobbed. “There should have been two.” When she was a week old and I finally got to hold my sweet girl. “Hi baby. I’m your momma!” I should have been introducing myself to Jack as well. When another mom in our room got to hold her twins together for the first time, I turned away and silently sobbed. The moment we finally got to bring Kate home after 103 long days in the NICU was the most joyous moment and the most sorrowful. We only brought home Jack’s remains.

This extraordinary journey has changed me. Those deep pits. That deep despair. The unimaginable loss. It has changed me. It has changed my marriage. It has changed my children. This loss, this tragic understanding of how fragile life is has made me a better person. I love deeper now. I feel more. I relish the little moments. I hold my babies tighter, closer, longer and I thank God for each little moment I have with them. I am more understanding. I am more compassionate. I’m no longer afraid to pick up the phone and call when someone is in crisis. I know all too well what it feels like to be alone.

That deep, heart-wrenching grief makes it so I love bigger. I have more joy. The pain still comes. I still miss my son with all that I am yet I hold on to the faith that one day I will go to him.

We just celebrated Kate’s first adjusted birthday. March 25th, the day both my babies were due. Brienne set up a cake smash session for Kate and I was so excited. When I walked into the studio and saw all the purple butterflies I was overwhelmed. Each and every one was hand cut and placed with such delicate care and my heart just soared. Those little purple butterflies seemingly floating in the background held a special place in my heart. In NICUs across the globe, the purple butterfly is used to signify a surviving baby that is one of a multiple set where their sibling has died. My little Kate the Great, one of two. I imagined her working all week, praying over all those beautiful butterflies as she painted and prepared. So much time. So much thought. So much love. All for my little one. This woman who had been a stranger but came and met me at my most vulnerable. This woman who captured those moments with my son and made it so those foggy memories are forever crisp and clear. This woman who didn’t know me but came and was present and loved me so well. This same woman who let me cry and listened as I explained my grief during that gifted newborn session where tiny Kate the Great, still so fragile, still hooked up to oxygen, still fighting to breathe yet making so much progress that we were able to capture some photos without all the tubes. This woman who reached out, checked in, and kept loving me had become my friend.

Her photography is SO much more than just art; it is LOVE. And for me it’s been God’s love that I can hold on to and grasp in such a tangible way. I celebrated this huge accomplishment with her as I watched my little one smash that cake.

As we’ve watched our sweet girl grow, delighted as she said “mama, dada, bye-bye”, marveled as she stood for the first time and took her first bite of food, we have seen each of these milestones as a miracle. Our babies were only given a 30% chance of survival and we were told to prepare to care for children who wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or feed themselves. This has taken the ordinary milestones and transformed them to the miraculous! At the same time, each milestone is such a deep source of sorrow. So often my tears of joy as I watch my little fighter struggle to reach the next milestone meld into tears of grief as I imagine her brother doing the same. I cry, I watch, I wipe my tears, I pick her up, I hold her close and I love her more wholly than she knows. I slow down and enjoy every moment I can of this hard and beautiful life.

And I thank God for all the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the storms and the seasons of sweet calm.

And I pray that I can share this love with others.

cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photographycake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography cake happy cake smash children family milestone mutliples newborn personal studio sweet mily mae  Photography