I have never shared a session or story like this before and it has been very hard to find the right words to do so. I want to thank this beautiful family for allowing me to share their images and story with you. Some of you may have noticed that I shared two images on Facebook from this session and then no more. This is the story of why.
Nora first emailed me last December, just before Christmas. Her email was friendly, personable, and she was bursting with excitement that she, her husband, and 2 children would soon be welcoming a new baby boy into their family. She seemed a little surprised (Three under THREE) but that did not stop her enthusiasm and desire to capture, for what she mentioned would be the last time, that she would be pregnant. We kept in touch and scheduled her Lifestyle Maternity Session as well as Newborn Session.
The day of her shoot could not have been more perfect. The weather was warm and sunny, Allie and Adam were in great spirits, so smart and excited. Her husband helped feed them as I sat in her bathroom floor and watched and chatted as Lindsey did her hair and makeup. She loved being pampered and the smile on her face when she saw just how beautiful she really was really made my day. The shoot ran smoothly and by the end I felt like I had just met the new family I wanted to adopt me. Dan and Nora were so kind and respectful to each other. They let the kids be kids but their love runneth over for them. Nora loved being pregnant and even more, loved being a mom. Their family was set to add one more to make it complete. She was due March 30th. Our session was on March 10th. We had decided she would call me as soon as Jacob was born so I could come over that week for Newborn photos. The following Saturday, just one week later, I received an email from Nora. It started out with…“I wanted to send this to you quickly. I have some bad news.” and the tears fell from my eyes. My hands begin to shake and I felt like it was a bad dream. Little did I know, I had just taken some of the only photos she would ever have of baby Jacob.
I am sharing this post with the permission from Nora and her husband, and she agreed to help me tell her story. Not only to press the importance of how much a simple photograph can mean, but also to spread the word of an amazing organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. First, I want to share the images that we captured that day and then share what Nora has written for me to share first hand.
When I first set out to find a photographer to take maternity pictures I had no idea that I would be sitting here right now typing this. I saw Stacey’s website and literally fell in love with her pictures. I contacted a handful of other photographers in the area but just knew that Stacey was the right one. What were supposed to be cherished memories of my third and last pregnancy turned out to be some of the only photographs we’ll ever have of our third child, Jacob Alexander, alive. What we did not know on that beautiful Saturday in March when Stacey spent the day with our family photographing us, was that exactly one week later, on March 17th, we would lose our baby. To make a long story short, he was footling breach. We have two other children that I delivered naturally and with no complications so since Jacob’s heartbeat was strong the plan was to deliver him naturally and if something went wrong they could get him out in less than 1 minute. Well everything was fine and after about two hours of really hard contractions he was born at 9:01 PM. What we didn’t know at that moment was that he would never breath on his own and after an hour of wonderful nurses working on him they had to stop. In that hour they found that Jacob was born without a full trachea and lungs. This is what is called a “congenital anomaly” that is “incompatible with life” outside of the womb. It’s also undetectable prior to birth which is what makes it so devastating; something called Tracheal Atresion. I have found that there have been roughly less than 120 reported cases of this kind of congenital anomaly since the year 1900. The staff at the hospital was phenomenal and they contacted a photographer from a foundation called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to come and takes professional pictures, free of charge, of us with our sweet Jacob. Our photographer, Amy, came in the middle of the night. She had actually recovered in the room we were in after giving birth to one of her children. She was amazing and a week after Stacey took pictures of Jacob growing in me, Amy took some of the only pictures we have of holding Jacob in our arms. And he was perfect down to his crooked pinky finger just like our son Adam, my husband Dan and Dan’s grandmother.
These maternity pictures we have from Stacey represent not only our happiest times with Jacob but also some of the happiest times we have as a family. At the time it was just a fun day, a bit of a challenge with the kids, but that was our life and she captured it. Lindsey Ewing had done my makeup and hair and, for a change, I looked and actually felt really beautiful. Stacey took her time and was so laid back; even with Adam and Allie’s ever changing moods. What I found in Stacey was an angel. She was able to capture a time I didn’t know would be more important than I had ever imagined. Now we have these images forever to remember and to share with friends and family. But mostly, for me as Jacob’s mom, I have memories of when he was alive and living in me. Having these pictures to look at makes me happy even through all the pain and sadness and loss I feel right now. A child is one of the greatest gifts God can give anyone and the fact that a baby that looks as perfect as our Jacob can grow and live inside the womb even without lungs is such a miracle. I hope that any of you that are considering getting maternity pictures, and have stumbled across this website, will realize what a gift you have and that each pregnancy is something to be cherished even as bad as you may feel at the end and I felt pretty uncomfortable myself. Thank you so much Stacey for letting me share how much this day meant to us. I hope everyone will see what a wonderful gift you have given to our family.
Love, Nora, Dan, Adam, Allie and baby Jacob+
I have been amazed at Nora’s strength through all of this. Her family is truly blessed and she inspires me in ways I didn’t know would come from such a simple session. This was part of the email that she sent recently, just to prove what kind of human being she is, and that the world needs more kindness around.
“…Jacob would want you to get coffee with the $25 but you are welcome to do what you like with it. I drank coffee with him the whole time I was pregnant and I remember you said you love coffee…so he would be happy for you to use it towards that. “
I had a cup of coffee on Jacob just a few days ago and it was one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had. I sat back and took it all in with every sip. I thanked the heavens for where I am right now and for the simple gifts I have to give where they are most appreciated and least expected. We never know what this life holds for us or how the strangers we meet will impact our lives. I think it’s important for our character to give and share where we can.
For those unaware of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, they are a non-profit organization of photographers who donate their time and money to capture the lives of newborns in the hospital who will not or have not survived childbirth. They give the gift of remembrance to solidify that your child is real, beautiful, and will always be with you. They are an amazing group of volunteers and Nora has put me on contact with her NILMDTS Photographer, Amy. Amy does amazing newborn photography and I would love to share her website for those whom may be interested in having your newborn photographed or if you have any questions on becoming a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I was so happy whenever Nora told me that she had taken advantage of this service and I know she and Dan are so grateful they did as well. She shared this image with me that Amy took that I’d like to leave you with. Baby Jacob was so perfect and touched many lives, mine included, for the short time he was here with us. Thank you to Nora, Dan, Allie, Adam, and baby Jacob for sharing your time and your story with me. I adore you all.
Image © Amy Murphy – Murphy’s Memories Photography