The Birth of Eli
Stephanie was more than just a client to me. She became a close friend over the months she waited for her baby. As a fellow birth photographer, we bonded over our love for documenting the power and transformation that is birth, but we connected on a deeper level as Stephanie journeyed through a season of intense loss. Stephanie and Kenneth had been trying for their third baby for a long time...and it seemed that every time things were looking hopeful...the unimaginable would happen.
Stephanie's own words about the loss of her daughter Ava still move me to tears:
Today, at 17 weeks and 1 day pregnant, We had to say hello and goodbye to the most perfect baby girl, Ava. Our hearts are broken.
On Saturday I pulled out my at home doppler to listen to my sweet baby's heartbeat. There it was, loud and strong. I remember saying out loud as soon as I heard it, hello baby! You see, after trying to have another baby for almost two years and having just suffered a miscarriage in September, I listened to the heartbeat as often as possible. Between hearing that strong beat, seeing my baby bump get bigger and bigger, and starting to feel little kicks here and there, I felt so lucky that we would finally have another baby in our arms soon. I never imagined it would be this soon.
On Monday evening something felt off. I tried to listen to the heartbeat and couldn't find it. I was so scared but didn't want to think the worst just yet. On Tuesday, my fears were confirmed via ultrasound not once but twice. Our baby no longer had a heartbeat. How does that happen in just a couple day period? What did I do that caused this? I felt devastated and so confused. You think that once you get past the "danger zone" everything is good and the odds for a healthy baby are in your favor. I was quickly reminded that life and pregnancy is so fragile. There's never a true "safety zone."
I may never get the answers I need, but all I know is that this baby was so loved for the last 17 weeks and will never be forgotten.
After such a tragic loss, you'd think it would be easy to lose all hope, and yet Stephanie and Kenneth knew there was another baby waiting for them. They got pregnant again...and endured each month of waiting with such strength. I don't think you can convey in words how hard it is to walk through a pregnancy after loss...the strength Stephanie possessed was unmatched.
And then finally - the day came. It was time for Stephanie and Kenneth to meet their baby. To hold their rainbow in their arms. They delivered their baby boy at Penrose-St. Francis in Colorado Springs, where Stephanie rocked her birth without any pain meds or epidurals. She progressed SO quickly...going from mild contractions to pushing in less than a few hours. When you see the images below, I think you get a sense of their journey...of how deeply they love all their babies...the ones with us and the ones they hold in their hearts.