We have had a pretty laid back summer so far, not really having a to-do list or major plans has been what I have enjoyed most! We did put together a summer bucket list where we listed about 15 things that each of us wanted to do this summer so that is something that gives us ideas week to week! Here are my favorites from June - we crossed off the following from our bucket list: going to the Memphis Zoo, backyard pool day, GoKart and PuttPutt, Frisbee Golf, spending all day in our night-nights, finding new parks, bubble baths, ice cream dates and a Pokemon adventure! I hope that July is just as fun! I would love for you to follow along with me on Instagram - that is where I am posting most of my summer favorites daily!
When your best friend tells you she is getting married you are overjoyed! When your best friend tells you that she isn't planning on hiring a photographer you put all nerves aside, step up and photograph her wedding! I was completely thrilled to document her Watersound beach wedding but deep deep down was pretty nervous about photographing one of the most important days for her life. I am not (yet) a wedding photographer but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to give her photographs of her day that she would cherish forever. It was the most perfect, laid back, intimate wedding I have been a part of and I am beyond thankful to call this girl my best friend for over 15 years now! Congrats to the happy couple!!
I don't even know where to start with this blog post. I knew this family would be special when the father emailed me and explained that they were excited to have their first family photos taken, but in the next sentence he mentioned that it was because his son Levi had survived a premature birth and was born 1 pound 9 ounces. I could instantly tell that this family had been through a lot. Fast forward a month and I had the greatest joy of meeting Levi and his parents. They touched my heart and seeing the bond between Amanda and Levi at one point brought me to tears. I decided that along with their family photos, I wanted them to share their story, in hopes that maybe it would help another family that is going through something similar, to know that God is good and that he can work miracles! Levi is a sweet soul and a fighter, that I know to be true, but I also know that I could not write about their experiences as well as they could, so here, in Amanda's words, is their story of truimph and joy!
"When my husband and I finally decided to have a baby after 11 years of marriage, we had it all planned. We’re both very big picture and detailed-oriented. We even worked out which month we wanted to conceive, so that I didn’t have to be pregnant in the blistering summer heat. I prepared by reading as many books as I could on what to expect during pregnancy and labor. I followed all the rules: no lunchmeat, no alcohol, no cleansers with salicylic acid, no caffeine,… I even slept on my left side. We planned how we were going to tell our family members, and even designed a T-shirt to announce the pregnancy. And of course, we skipped all optional tests, because after all, we planned for and wanted this baby no matter what.
But what happened at the end of my second trimester could not have been foreseen or planned for.
Levi was born at 28 weeks (almost 3 months early) via emergency C-section. At birth, he weighed only a pound-and-a-half and was 12.5” long—not much larger than a dollar bill. Throughout the pregnancy and birth, we faced many obstacles: from a positive screen for a rare genetic disorder to hydrocephalus due to high level brain bleeds on both sides of his brain and many other complications because of his severe prematurity.
The 95 days we spent in the NICU were quite the rollercoaster. Some days, it seemed that for every step Levi took forward, he took two steps backward. There were days of pure joy—the first time I held his tiny and delicate body a week after he was born. Then, there were days that just broke the soul—when we thought we were in the clear with the genetic disorder and found out that Levi had severe bleeding, swelling and a dead spot in his brain. Joy—when he took his first milk bottle. Heartache—spinal taps, draining fluid from his head, setbacks with oxygen.
Levi underwent three brain surgeries to keep the fluid buildup on his brain from increasing and causing further damage. Each surgery meant a setback on oxygen. Waiting on him to gain weight was like watching a pot of water boil. His due date came and went. That was particularly hard. But the doctors and nurses knew what they were doing. Because we stayed past his due date, Levi didn’t have to come home with any oxygen or monitors.
Leaving the NICU was exhilarating, yet sad. We had become like family with many of the nurses. They not only took care of our little boy; they took care of our family. They fed and bathed Levi and provided a shoulder for us to cry on. But so much more than even that. They sent us photos of Levi when we weren’t there. They took an active interest in Levi’s development. They were in our corner cheering for and encouraging us. Those nurses will always have a special place in our hearts.
Once home, we focused on round-the-clock feedings and physical therapy. Levi caught up in weight for his actual age in less than a year and caught up in length in just over a year!
The rollercoaster ride isn’t over, though. There was another surgery to repair Levi’s hernias. And at 10 months, Levi developed seizures, which we continue to try and find the best way to control. There are still trips to the hospital with overnight stays. But now there are also trips to the beach. And giggles. And snuggles.
We cherish even the tiniest milestones. Each month lived is a reason to celebrate.
Levi is almost a year and a half old now and can sit on his own, he babbles, says “mama” and loves to stand. The physical therapy is helping, and while he is behind on motor skills, we’re very optimistic that he will overcome this like he’s overcome everything else life has thrown at him.
We’re so thankful for the privilege to take care of Levi. He’s an amazing little boy. So happy, so tough. He has taught us a deeper love. Patience. Priorities. He is the brightest spot of every day.
We’re constantly looking for ways to help others though our experience. If you’ve had a preemie or spent time in the NICU, we’ve created a closed support group on Facebook where NICU/preemie parents in Memphis can connect, vent and find encouragement. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/197970990669051/."
These are some of my favorite sessions all year. A time for moms to step out from behind the camera and snuggle and love on their kiddos. Here are the details and spaces are limited!
Saturday, April 22nd
$200 | 30 minute session | 10 digital images
Exact time and Collierville location to be determined.
To book your session email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text to 901-300-0394
Newborn Walt really put on a show for me!! He didn't even open his eyes once and I think his parents were in shock because the day before they said he had been a screaming maniac. So just call me the baby whisperer (but I really had nothing to do with it). This session flowed like a dream and I am so grateful to have gotten to know the G family!
Sometimes I leave a session feeling like I am long time friends with the family I have only met for the first time, and this was one of those sessions! The C Family was so welcoming and easy going and I just loved that they were surprised by a baby girl after having two boys. Welcome baby Eliza!! It is clear to see that you are so loved by your big brothers and parents!
When Casey called me to schedule her maternity session, she mentioned that she had a show horse called a Gypsy Manner that she wanted to include in the photos. I was a little thrilled and a little scared because I haven't ever incorporated a horse into a photo session before, but you know what, horses are such gentle creatures and it was an awesome experience! The baby bump was the star of the show, but I truly loved incorporating her passion for horses into her maternity session!
Three months is such a fun age because babies have changed so much already since the day they were born. Miss Quinn may not have been full of smiles but she did have a bunch of personality and those rolls of hers are just to die for! She is the spitting image of her brother, that I photographed at this age, so we made sure to incorporate some ruffles, bows and a dress just show off her girly side!
I got to know this family over the past few years and love that we both have young boys in common! I can completely relate to her kind of crazy! Shortly after this session they announced that they were being transferred to Louisiana and that was such a bummer. Hopefully on their visits back to see family I can get together with them to see how their boys continue to grow up into handsome dudes!