Why I do this
As this year gets nearer to the end, I have been thinking a whole lot about where I have been and where I want to go. All the things I want to create and the memories I want to be a part of in the years to come. With that is always what I want to say or do in order to have families come back to me for future sessions and bring new families for the same.
But then it dawned on me, most of you don’t know me or ‘my why:’ my reason that this career and this specialty mean so much to me. So I wanted to share it with all of you. Whoever is listening.
Five and a half years ago, almost to the day, I was pregnant. My now husband and I had only been together about a year and I was still in college. I was working a ton and we were just getting on our feet with a new home, building the start of a life together. Not to mention we had already experienced an early miscarriage.
I was nervous, but more than that, I was excited. All my life I knew I wanted to be a mother. And this was it. We went to our first ultrasound to find out everything was great. Our little bean was growing wonderfully and had a great heartbeat. My husband sang “jump around” as we watching the little peanut jump and kick it’s tiny legs.
We began telling our loved ones. To be frank - no one was excited for us. “We hadn’t been together long enough.” “I needed to finish school.” “What were we thinking?”
I’ll tell you: We were thinking, this wasn’t planned but we could do it. We were thinking, that this was going to be a hard start to a wonderful life. We were thinking, we loved this little baby.
We continued on. Appointment after appointment. We continued on. I started to feel little flutters that turned into big kicks. I began to read to my belly and we decided on names. We thought of all of the things we wanted for this little baby and how we would raise him or her. We grew more excited.
Throughout the second trimester, we had been having several complications, where I just couldn’t get through medications they had been giving me and I kept having negative reactions. I ended up taking medical leave from school. But we pushed on and eventually the doctors decided that whatever bacteria I had must be gone and we were good to go.
Before we knew it, we were at the 20 week ultrasound. You know, the big one, the one they check all of their little details - and you can find out the sex.
Everything was perfect. It’s a boy!
We told everyone we knew. By now, no one was thrilled but they were happy everything was good and began to talk with excitement about this baby.
And then the floor dropped out from under us.
One Saturday morning, I started having heavy contractions.
I was in labor.
When we got to the hospital, the doctor and nurses informed me that I had some kind of infection and because they didn’t know what it was or how to get rid of it the best thing was to deliver the baby and give myself the best chance.
I was in shock. Two days ago, everything was wonderful. We were getting everything ready. We had just found out everything was great and it was a boy. And now, they are telling me that I have no choice but to deliver at 20 weeks 6 days.
For those who don’t know, doctors do not consider a fetus viable until 24 weeks. There was no hope. They did nothing. They asked repeatedly if I wanted drugs to dull the pain and waited as I progressed.
I delivered my baby boy and I didn’t stop crying for weeks, months. I couldn’t even hold him longer than a few minutes. It didn’t feel real. I kept praying that it was all a terrible nightmare and I would wake up feeling him kick inside me once more - healthy and growing.
That didn’t happen.
Fast forward nine more months. We were pregnant again. This time, I was terrified. I couldn’t go through all that again. But I had to. There was new life growing in my belly.
Here we go again. Everyone was less supportive than before. “How could I put my body through this?” “I wouldn’t be able to have it anyway.” “I can’t believe this is even a conversation.”
But again, we pushed on. We worked with my doctors and my pregnancy was automatically labeled high risk. They watched me like a hawk. And I called the nurse line almost daily. I was on a first name basis with many of the doctors and nurses on staff.
It was hard to connect to this pregnancy. But it was also hard not too. I loved this baby, just as much as my son. It was hard to be present in the moments, but I also wanted to be so deeply. The conflicted thoughts and feelings made everyday that much harder. Wanting to be excited but needing to be guarded.
This time we didn’t tell anyone outside of family and very close friends until we were 24 weeks. You know, that magic number. And that is when it all became so much more real. We hadn’t prepared anything - “just in case.” There was a high chance this baby would also come early and my doctors goal was originally only 28 weeks. So we were on a tailwind on getting prepared; mentally, physically and spatially.
At 37 weeks exactly, I delivered a healthy, beautiful little girl.
I had my rainbow baby.
I wouldn’t put her down. I wanted to breathe her every moment. She was here, and we had made it. Yes, we had hardships this pregnancy as well, and had to have intervention to keep her put. But she was here, and she was healthy.
Every chance I had, I held her. While she nursed, while she slept, while she smiled, while she was mad. I didn’t want to forget any wonderful moment or tiny movement she made. Of course, she cried and fussed and we wondered how in the world we could make her happy. And of course, I fought falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t get her back to sleep. But I couldn’t help loving her and never wanting to let go.
By her 6 month birthday, I needed a change from my desk job and I knew what I had to do. I had to help other mamas connect to their babies. I had to help other mamas remember all those little details. From the flakes on their skin to the dots on their nose. I had to show mamas the miracle they had in their arms and the importance that they too be in those moments.
We, as mothers, are our babies everything. Yes, we are nourishment. But we are so much more than that. We are their love, their safety, their warm place. We are their home on the outside.
It is so easy for us to see all the parts of our body and our lives that have changed and say that we need to wait for x, y, or z. See that we haven’t showered in weeks and hide when someone brings out a camera.
But for me, these photos are about the love we give them. The bond we will forever share. The beauty in all the chaos. The memories that baby will want to see when they are having their own babies. It is about preserving the details we swear we will never forget, but fade over time.
For me, it is remembering that everyday - good days, challenging days, sleep deprived days, blissful days are a gift that we never know when will be taken away and I want something tangible to hold on to to remember them.
This is why I do it. My first miscarriage, my son, my rainbow baby and now my second son. I do it for all the mothers and families who never want to forget a moment. I do it for our children, so they too someday can see how much we loved them, the very first heartbeat.
Thank you to those of you who are still reading this right now. This long, honest, rambling blog I have written. I hope someday to meet you and hear your story, and maybe to take some of the photos that you are your family will get to remember all the details of your right now.