Five and a half years ago, when we first started trying for a family, I was working as a wedding and portrait photographer. Many of my clients were coming back to me for their maternity sessions, and later their newborn and family sessions. I started dreaming of what mine would be like… who I’d hire… where I’d do them… what I’d wear. I was so excited to start planning it, even before we started officially trying. Sadly over the years as I was faced with negative pregnancy tests over and over again, I finally began to let go of my dreams of a photo session documenting my body doing this beautiful amazing and natural thing… carrying a baby. I began to not only doubt that I’d ever get pregnant, I doubted whether I’d ever be a mom. The dream of a perfect maternity photoshoot was no longer on my radar. It was not remotely important in comparison to the dream of being a mother, seeing Eric become a father. I had to step away from shooting maternity and newborn sessions due to the pain it caused me watching others hold what I so desperately wanted. It just hurt too much.
When we finally got that positive test back in December of last year, I was so consumed with fear and doubt of this pregnancy progressing, that I didn’t dare allow myself to believe I’d make it to the second trimester, let alone far enough along in pregnancy to do a maternity session. While others were hiring photographers for their “announcement” photos, I was crying into a camera sharing my most raw emotions with family, friends, and total strangers alike. This wasn’t something to celebrate… Not yet at least. Not in my mind.
When I hit viability at 24 weeks I began to believe more and more than my body was capable. I couldn’t doubt it’s ability to carry a child any longer… it was doing it! I was doing it! Although I still feared for how long and whether the baby boy inside me would make his way safely into this world, I couldn’t deny that I had accomplished something I has previously doubted possible. I was pregnant, and my baby was blossoming in the womb. That’s when I decided I would make sure to document this precious experience regardless of the outcome.
I found a photographer and we set up our session. For weeks and weeks I planned what I wanted. I picked a location. I searched for and found outfits. I contemplated hair and flowers. While going through all of these steps I realized just how much this session meant to me. I realized that the dream I had years and years ago never really went away. I just stored it away in a compartment in the far reaches of my memory and locked it up so as to protect my heart. But having photos of this time of our lives meant so much more to me than I ever really knew.
I spent the entire weekend getting organized and ready for our shoot. Eric knew just how important it all was to me and was so helpful and supportive, making it all the more special. My heart was pounding as we drove up to the shoot location. I had never worked with this photographer before. What if she disappoints? What if I’ve built up this moment so much in my mind that I’m unable to be happy with the result?
We did our photoshoot (having seriously lucked out with the weather… I mean outdoor session in Texas summer heat!? Plus the risk of storms… It could have been disastrous) and all went well. We hadn’t had photos done since our wedding in 2010 and were both a bit stiff at first. I definitely am far more used to being the one behind the camera… and Eric? Well he just needs a lot of direction. When I shoot him he’s very natural, but when it’s someone else he clams up a bit, but he did great all things considered. We both felt pressure to make these photos the best they could be given how much this pregnancy means to us.
Turns out, that pressure I was feeling was pretty real. I literally had nightmares about the photos not turning out and not having any tangible memories of this pregnancy. Of course that wouldn’t be the case, but you know dreams… logic is often completely obsolete. I woke up at around 1am from this dream feeling deflated. I had just done something I was so excited about, why was I feeling so negative and anxious!? It’s hard to describe, but I don’t doubt a large part of it has to do with the fears that still exist deep down that I may never truly get to meet my son. This sense that if I don’t have these photos, this pregnancy, and my baby boy, could have never existed at all. This may not make sense to many, but if you’ve fought through infertility and/or pregnancy loss, it may just resonate.
Well laying awake in bed, my anxiety turned to insomnia and there was no falling back asleep. I often find myself on social media in the middle of the night (so if you see that I liked your photo at strange hours… yeaaaaaa, that’s why), and last night was no different. What shocked me was to find my photographer had already posted our sneak peak. Wait, what? How? We only finished at 830pm… it’s 1am!? Turns out she was excited about our photos and how they turned out. Hey, I’m certainly not complaining but as a photographer myself I never expected that kind of turnaround. I was going to be patient, although likely burdened with photo nightmares until then it seemed.
Instantly all of my fears and anxieties dissipated seeing her beautiful work. She captured us perfectly, and I am so thrilled to have these memories to look back on. My heart couldn’t be more full in this moment. It was literally like a dream come true to receive these. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. We truly feel so grateful and so blessed.
PHOTOS BY REBECCA OF R & J STUDIOS