Sometimes people ask why I focus on maternity, newborn and motherhood photography. In that moment, I’m always unsure how to answer, because there are two ways I could respond.
I usually stick with the 10 second response because it’s a little easier: I do this because I love it.
There is so much hope and joyful expectation in pregnancy, and in a mother who just gave birth. Who wouldn’t want to photograph that kind of love and promise?
The longer answer is, I celebrate the beauty of motherhood with other mamas because I’ve loved and lost a baby girl myself.
Where my motherhood journey started
We found out we were expecting our first baby just three months after we got married. We were shocked, to say the least, but joyful all the same. My mom gave me my first ever Mother’s Day card while I dreamed of celebrating my sweet one on that same day in a year, when he or she would be about five months old.
A few weeks later, we celebrated my husband’s first Father’s Day with a camo onesie and a diaper changing survival pack – latex gloves, a face mask and hand sanitizer – all before we knew whether it was a boy or a girl.
But that sweet baby girl who made me a mother didn’t have a heartbeat at my 16 week check up, and it was the hardest of goodbyes I’ve ever endured.
Saying goodbye all too soon
We weren’t just heartbroken – that word isn’t enough for how painful it was to know we’d never meet our daughter. No, it was more like my entire body felt broken. I remember going for a walk two days after that last ultrasound and there were bright flowers blooming everywhere.
How was the world still so beautiful when my baby was gone?
A second chance
Seven months after we said goodbye to our little girl, two pink lines showed up on a pregnancy test, the answer to a million prayers. It was nine months filled with crippling worry and me asking too many “what ifs” until my mom helped me see that I had to enjoy every day with this baby, no matter what.
After 12 hours of labor, we met our rainbow baby Annabelle in November 2013. Emily followed in August 2015 and Josephine in December 2016.
I’ll always feel that my beautiful family of five is incomplete without my first daughter here with us, but I know I’ll hold her one day.
Beauty from ashes
So why do I focus on photographing motherhood?
Because every pregnancy is worth celebrating.
We hadn’t yet scheduled a maternity session with our first pregnancy before we lost her. The only memories I have are ultrasound images. I so wish we would have had the time to capture those memories with our first little girl. She’s the one who made me a mother, and losing her changed me forever – even if I never saw her little face, snuggled her tiny body or kissed her sweet cheeks.
Pregnancy after loss is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Some days it felt impossible to battle the fear of what if. You feel like no one understands; no one wants to talk about losing a baby, much less how scary it is to be pregnant again after going through something so terrible.
But I also know how amazing it feels to let yourself feel the hopefulness and happiness of pregnancy again. I can barely describe how it felt to finally hold each of my girls – I can recall those moments like they happened yesterday.
My girls are everything to me – they are my heartbeat. They’re my motivation for reaching out to other mamas to celebrate the precious moments of pregnancy and life with a newborn, despite the what ifs, the guilt and the worry.
Whether you’ve survived a loss or your heart has been spared that pain, please don’t miss making these memories.
It’s your turn to celebrate the beauty of motherhood, no matter what path you’ve taken to arrive here.