What do you get when you combine love, grace, joy and dance parties?

The Duncan family.

Melissa and Joel – I still look through these images and find tears in my eyes over the way you love your kids and the way they embrace it.  It wrecks me every time in the most beautiful of ways.  I am forever grateful for learning the true meaning of purple light, dance parties in a forest preserve, every last giggle and capturing moments as you showered each other with love.  You all are a gift…

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To see more from our time together, CLICK HERE to view their slide-show.

One of the greatest gifts of my life and work has been documenting precious clients through the years.

To capture the excitement of a couple’s engagement, the tears of joy on their wedding day, the birth of their first child and then to document as their family continues to grow…  Well…just thinking about it has me near tears.

That’s one of the reasons why this session is so sacred to me.  Because these precious people have become family to me.  And documenting their love as it grows – well, it’s a humbling gift.

So when we gathered together 6 years later in the same spot as their engagement session – well – I could not say thank You to God enough.

Timmer family – I LOVE YOU.  Yes, I’m shouting.  I can’t help it.  I’m so grateful for the gift you’ve entrusted me with – your love and your family.  Thank you…

 

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Just gonna let you know – the image above is one of my favorites of all time…

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To see more from our time together, CLICK HERE to view their slide-show.

These two.  They give their lives to serve our country.

Thank you, Inga and Jonathan (and the countless other men and women) for serving our country in our armed forces.  This life has kept the two of you long distance.  It’s required the sacrifice of time and long distance and your own safety.  And we are forever grateful.  Thank you doesn’t even seem to be enough, but it’s a proper place to start.

Also – let’s just talk about your love.  It’s in your laughter, your joy and your spunk.  Spending time with you is ALWAYS a gift.  From the gift of your friendship to your wedding day to a Just Us session, thank you for sharing your hearts and your love with me…

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To see more from our time together CLICK HERE to view their slideshow.

 

Today my sweet sister friend Brandi is taking over the blog.  After watching her story unfold for 2 years, I asked her to give us the backstage pass that led us all to this day.
But first, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to ALL of you who gathered around this precious lady and her family.  You entered her story with your whole hearts and you prayed for her and shared your stories and we are all forever changed by the beautiful way you wrapped this sister up in love.  Oh how I pray we can all be a part of more stories just like that…wrapping people up in love…
I could list a bunch of statistics and numbers and facts that have been the focus of our last five months.  One is the number of centimeters that I never wanted my cervix to measure below in length.  Twenty-five is the number of weeks that Tucker made it to before he first tried to enter the world and meet us.  Eighteen is the number of ultrasounds that I think I have had over this pregnancy while trying to monitor Tucker’s progress (and secretly keep myself from hyperventilating).  Eleven is the number of weeks I spent on bed rest.  Three is the number of children I have in my heart…my preschooler who has had to endure mommy on bed rest, my sweet angel baby I miscarried, and my now newborn we have fought so hard to keep.
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It has been a long and difficult road that has led us to our family.  Infertility that led to a miracle pregnancy which led to our sweet, vivacious, imaginative Tensley.  Then a miscarriage that broke our hearts.  Then more infertility and labs that told me I would find it hard to get pregnant.  Then another miracle pregnancy that evolved into one scary turn after another which eventually led to our sweet, mild-mannered superhero Tucker.
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I say all this to point to the miracles God can create out of a mess.  Each precious little one was a hard fought battle filled with tears and prayers and determination.  And while they are the last biological children I can have, I do not feel like our story is over.  Because with God, the story is never over.  We will just have to see what the future holds for these sweet babies God has blessed us with.
For Tucker’s story specifically, I found out at 20 weeks that my cervix was short or something called cervical insufficiency or incompetent cervix. NOT what you want to hear halfway through a pregnancy. Basically the passage to the world for Tucker was short, very short and simply standing and walking around could put enough pressure to shorten it further and further and lead to preterm labor.
At first we just watched it. Week after week, ultrasound after ultrasound. At 24 weeks, I was told to take it easy and do a modified bed rest.
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At 25 weeks, I walked into the specialist’s office for my weekly ultrasound and was admitted to the hospital for shortened cervix and preterm contractions. That was a shock! My 3 year old would not leave my side when she visited and cried when she had to leave. I stayed for 6 days. Less than two weeks later, the same scenario occurred. Specialist office to hospital for 4 more days in the hospital.
 Finally I was sent home on bed rest with bathroom privileges only. I stayed there for 11 weeks. In that time, Tensley and I created things with play dough, played barbies, colored, and played her favorite game “under the sea” where she swam under the bed covers and found fish and whales and all sorts of sea animals. (If you need ideas for a child in not a lot of space, I’ve got you covered!)
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At 36 weeks, I walked out of the Ob’s office with their permission to live life. Wait, what?! Just like that? I can do whatever. Yes – I was free!!! At 37 weeks and 2 days we went to a corn maze. It was a lot of fun but by that night I was in labor. Thirty-three hours of labor later, I was wheeled into the OR for a repeat cesarean section. We tried for that vbac but it just wasn’t meant to be.
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That morning I found out that more kids would just not happen anymore for me biologically. And strangely God had already prepared me for this revelation earlier in my pregnancy as I felt this would be my last. I also only saw my sweet Tucker for a few minutes swaddled in the nurse’s arms before he was whisked away to the NICU for trouble breathing.
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The next week was a blur of NICU visits, trying to heal, ups and downs, discharge from the hospital without my baby, and finally Tucker’s discharge. We couldn’t hold him for almost two days. Then when we could we needed to restrict how often and stop all other visitors because he just needed to rest. After four days I could finally nurse him but that was a challenge with all of the cords and monitors and Tucker having to learn how to eat and swallow since he had a feeding tube for days. We started nursing the day I was discharged and I just cried and cried on the way home. My heart was in that hospital and I just had to drive away. Gratefully, Tucker came home two days later.
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We have now had him home for eleven days. I have honestly cherished the late night feedings and love to cuddle him nonstop. Tensley adores him and is thrilled to have mommy, daddy, and Tucker all under one roof with her. I know this is only the beginning and though it’s already been quite a journey, I look forward to the continued journey ahead.
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To see more from our time together, CLICK HERE to view their slide-show.

For 8 years I have watched you grow.  I’ve held you as babies, marveling over your fingers and toes.  I documented as you finally met your littlest brother.  We’ve colored pictures, dressed up in costumes, baked together, roasted s’mores and laughed so hard we almost cried.

And every last moment – whether I was behind the lens or sitting by your side has always been and will forever be a treasure.

I love you, McDonald family.  I look back through all these images and memories we’ve made together and I’m just overwhelmed that God gave us you all as friends.  Thank you for sharing your hearts, your jokes and your stories with our family.

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To view more from our time together, CLICK HERE to view their slide-show.

F a c e b o o k
T w i t t e r