Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / William Parker

In recent years a dialogue started that has opened the hearts of many and has allowed families to share their experiences and struggles with others. Pregnancy loss and miscarriage is a topic that many sadly considered to be taboo; something you just didn't talk about and as a result something you often struggled through alone. Thank God that is changing. So many of my clients have experienced unimaginable loss and being able to share their story is part of the way they begin to find peace and healing within their family. By the time they share their stories with me they are expecting what some refer to as a "rainbow baby".

A rainbow baby is a child that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. The following quote describes it well:

Rainbow babies are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with the aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.

It doesn't matter whether your loss is in the first few weeks of your pregnancy, late term, or shortly after your baby's birth, it is the loss of your child. A loss that you should be able to grieve, one that you should never feel shame over, and one that you should be able to share as openly as you need or want to. The term rainbow baby has not only encouraged parents to share their stories of struggle but it has allowed them to rejoice in the happiness that a new pregnancy and baby brings.

When Lisa and Brock first approached me about documenting the birth of their baby they were extremely open about their previous loss. There was an obvious hurt that still lingered but they were so happy about their new blessing. There was a brightness in Lisa's eyes, there was hope in her words; they had endured unimaginable pain but they weren't going to be fearful of their future happiness.

The first time any parent holds their baby in their arms is an incredible moment, but seeing Lisa and Brock when they held their son, it was so much more. When they heard him cry, when they felt the rise and fall of his chest, when they knew their rainbow was shining, it was like they all took their first breath together.

On April 5, 2016 the clouds parted and the Boyd family finally saw their light at the end of a very long tunnel. William Parker Boyd is and always will be a rainbow of hope.

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Samantha Jean

As I sat down to write the intro for the Sallee’s birth story I was trying to think of a way to do their story justice. Samantha may only be a month old but her story has been a long time in the making and I couldn’t come up with the words myself to adequately explain all that her family went through to bring her into their world.

So I turned to Nancy’s words. I found the Facebook post that I read several months ago, the one that compelled me to reach out to an old friend about the possibility of being there to photograph the day that they finally welcomed their miracle into their family. Here it is. Nancy and Barrett’s story in her own words, that she so bravely shared with the world last July.

After being diagnosed in January 2015 with diminished ovarian reserve and secondary infertility, we decided to move straight to IVF. No looking back, all card on deck, trusting in the journey the Lord has planned for us. Back in November, "I took the bull by the horns" and saw a reproductive endocrinologist because I wasn't getting pregnant and when I did I miscarried. I also had an unanswered, unexplained and rare second trimester loss that I needed closure on. After my doctor ran every test imaginable, my loss is still unknown, but I was diagnosed with secondary infertility and diminished ovarian reserve. I have very little eggs left and my body will be going into pre-menopause within 5 years. I was heartbroken, but we had answers and a game plan. I then started the emotionally-draining and hormonally-charged IVF stimulation in February. It was expected that I would stimulate 10 eggs, 6 would survive the merge with sperm and by day 5 I'd have 1-2 to send off for genetic testing. I prayed and prayed throughout the entire stimulation, but mid-way through the journey I was brought in to see my doctor and was warned we may have to cancel because I wasn't stimulating on the highest dosage allowed and that I might have to extend my process on the meds. Even if I did continue, there was a high possibility that I'd have to repeat the stimulation due to the fact only 3-4 eggs were stimulating at that time. I came home and prayed and prayed, hugged my son a lot, cried to my husband, did a little fertility yoga and a walk on the treadmill.
I woke up the next day with a positive attitude, trusting in God and my body. It was a turning point in my relationship with God and this journey I was on. I had to be patient and trust in Him. By the next doctor appointment, I had stimulated 1-2 more eggs but they were small. The nurse said they were waking up. We continued with the news from my doctor that we'd move forward and see the process out. I told her I was not giving up. By the day my body was ready for retrieval, I had 3 eggs that were the ideal size and 4 others with the possibility to force-mature the eggs after retrieval. I woke up from the procedure delirious and with the news that the doctor got 9 eggs. I was in shock, overwhelmed, joyous and so relieved. I thanked God and my body. I kept telling my husband I knew my body and I knew not to give up.
By the next day we heard from a nurse, 6 eggs survived day 1. The next 5 days were the longest days of my life waiting to hear how many would survive to day 5. We got the call on our way to see the doctor that 5 had survived. FIVE, FIVE!!! Five is my husband's favorite number and we got FIVE! I cried tears of joy because we expected so little, yet God provided. Those 5 embryos were then biopsied and were sent off for genetic testing. The doctor also said to expect 1-2 embryos to come back normal because when you have few eggs in reserve, the quality of eggs is diminished. I had to wait, wait and wait for what seemed like ages for the news to hear if they were healthy. While we were on vacation in Telluride, we finally heard back...we have 4 healthy, normal embryos. Again, I started to cry tears of joy. I have so much to be thankful for and that's my relationship and trust in the Lord. He hasn't given up on me ever and I should NEVER give up on Him. And I haven't. I am now happy to announce that I have this little light and I'm going to let it shine. We are 10 weeks pregnant!

They went through an unimaginable loss but fought through every hardship with grace, humility, faith and open hearts. Nancy shared their story every step of the way giving hope to everyone who followed along. They chose faith over fear and on January 20, 2016 they held their little light in their arms for the first time. Here is the story of that beautiful day.

 


Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Ellie May

I first talked with the Welge family a little more than a week before their daughter’s due date. They had a scheduled cesarean delivery and while they wanted the story of their third daughter’s birth told, what they really wanted was to capture their two older daughters meeting their sister for the first time. They wanted the story of the day they became a family of five to be beautifully captured forever. So that’s exactly what we did!

I met them at the hospital two days after their sweet miss Ellie was born and waited for the Charlee and Maddie whirlwind to arrive! These girls are amazing. Charlee is the perfect big sister, so loving and sweet, calm and steady. Maddie, their free spirit, is equally loving but a little more, ok a lot more, wild. And Ellie, the baby, the quiet observer, two days old and already settled into her spot in the family.

We didn’t tell the story of just Ellie’s birthday. We took a step back and told the story from a little farther away. The story of them finding the third little girl who made their family complete. 

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Towne Family

Every birth is different. Every birth is incredible.

I find myself repeating these words over and over again in the car while I am driving to meet a couple in labor. It’s funny; it seems like something that is so obvious it doesn’t even need to be said. But every time, those words creep up again and I am practically giddy while thinking, “Every birth is different. Every birth is incredible.”

It is such a simple thing but it is also remarkably powerful. With every birth I get to help a family tell a story; the story that they want told. So just like every birth is different, so is every birth story. Some couples call me the second contractions begin, wanting every moment, every stage of labor documented. They want to look back on every second of their baby’s journey into their arms, and those stories are amazing. Other couples want a slightly less intense version of their baby’s birth to remember. They want me to come in immediately following the birth to document all of the details of their baby’s first few hours of life; being weighed and measured, getting a bath, nursing for the first time, meeting family members, and these stories are amazing too.

This is Bobby’s birth. Justin and Sara, along with their (extremely large, extremely fun and extremely loving) families, welcomed Robert Powell Towne into their lives on August 5, 2015. The anticipation of his arrival, his precious first moments in his parents arms, the love radiating from his grandparents, aunts, and uncles as they held him for the first time, those were the memories the Towne family wanted to hold onto forever; that was the story we told.