I was greeted with a little hand wave and warm smiles when I walked up to the the porch of this Cincinnati home. As I started to get to know Kelly, Dan and their 15 month daughter, Winnie, I realized I was capturing miracle moments between this sweet family. Winnie was born just over 3 months premature. Weighing 1 lb. 15 oz and 14.5 inches long. Grab the closest tissue box because the story below is not one for me to tell... but one for a brave and incredible strong mother to.
I had the most perfect pregnancy up until 25 weeks. I felt fantastic. Then, I went into labor unexpectedly. I was in labor almost constantly for 2 weeks - that was pretty rough! Knowing there was no possible way I would make it close to term was emotionally hard. We have no idea why I went into labor so early, so there was really nothing we could do. And knowing she would weigh less than 2 lbs was horrific. We knew she would need to stay in the NICU for months - if she survived - and we were told to expect the worst of the worst.
They tried to vent her as soon as she was born and she let out a massive cry. The entire room cheered! They definitely didn't expect her to breathe. It was like right then we knew she was going to be a fighter. Leaving the hospital each night without your baby is a horrible feeling to experience. But we had the absolute best nurses and doctors caring for Winnie. They were so amazing with her AND with us. I don't think I could have made it through the days without them. They also encouraged skin-to-skin as long as Winnie could tolerate it - she did really great with it, so we would cuddle with her 15+ hours a day. That definitely got us through the long 65 days!
Our hearts were finally full the day we brought her home.
We had to keep her pretty isolated for the first 13 months of her life, so she wouldn't get sick. A normal baby's cold would've more than likely put her back in the hospital. She'll have a weaker immune system for awhile due to being so premature.
Winnie loves to laugh and to make us laugh. She LOVES to be the center of attention, and we are realizing she thinks literally everything is for her. The garbage truck, school buses, strangers, dogs. She can grab the attention of anything, and she loves it. She loves chasing and being chased. She loves dragging things 5x her size around the house for no reason. She climbs everything. She keeps us laughing and definitely keeps us on our toes.
The NICU journey was very hard to go through. I had to give myself permission to feel ALL the emotions, because I felt every emotion imaginable. I kept a daily journal, which helped to see how far we'd come, and it helped to have place to get everything out. Talking, singing, touching, reading to her. I did everything I could to bond with her. Our NICU let us be very involved in her "cares." Changing, dressing and bathing a 2 lb baby with a breathing and feeding tube and connected to a million cords became totally normal.
Right after I delivered a close friend texted me, "though she be but little she is fierce" and I honestly can't imagine a more perfectly fitted quote to describe Winnie. We love this little wild child to pieces!
Thank you so much Kelly for such a wonderful lifestyle session and for sharing your story. I hope to photograph even more of your darling family moments as your little girl grows and grows!