Family Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Welge Family

Attending the births of my clients is a privilege like none other. I am humbled every time a family invites me into their world to help them tell the story of their growing family and am equally excited when I get to catch up with them every few months to continue telling the story of their new life.

In February I was lucky enough to be there when Charlee and Maddie met their baby sister, Ellie, for the first time. I was there when the Welge family grew from four to five, when the girls flew into their mom's hospital room with their "Big Sister" shirts on and fell in love with the new baby that finally completed their family. 

A few weeks ago I met up with the Welge crew at their beautiful home to document what life is like for them a short 4 months later. There were no matching shirts but the whirlwind of little girls was still the same and the infatuation with baby Eleanor has only intensified! Smiles, belly laughs and baby rolls for days. I love watching these little ladies grow!

Family Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / The Weickert-Pulikkotil Family

I love photographing families. I love that I get to tell their stories; stories full of love and personality, of epic life changing days and of their everyday kind of days. Finding the beautiful little moments in the everyday stories is what make my heart happy.

For the Weickert-Pulikkotil family, their everyday family story was a little more family filled than usual, more than 3.5 times as full to be exact! During the holidays they were able to get their extended family all together at their house for a day and I was able to spend a few hours with them, capturing a morning’s worth of the little moments shared between them. (And a few full family portraits to boot! 10 adults, 3 boys and 2 babies looking, I'll take it!)

Babies sitting in their parents and grandparent’s laps, cousins running around outside, stories being read, grandma with her camera always ready to go, and the joy (and craziness) that you only feel when you are surrounded by all of your family. 


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. 

Family Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Brouillard Family

I am lucky. Lucky to be doing what I love and lucky to have incredible clients who make doing what I love so easy. I am lucky to have friends who allow me into their everyday real lives, with their houses not 100% perfect, their kids who love to run around screaming and dancing, neighbors popping by, husbands coming home from work, cookie dough for dinner with a side of noodles and hot dogs, you know real life. I am lucky to have clients and friends who trust me enough to show me their honest day to day happenings AND let me bring my camera to document all of the beautiful moments that happen during the mess. (I love the mess!) I am lucky to have friends and clients as awesome as the Brouillard Family.

Seriously one of my favorite family sessions to date, Jess, Brian and their kiddos Sydney and Jack were so much fun! Normally I try to melt into the background when shooting story telling sessions; it is easier for everyone to go about their normal craziness once they forget I am there. With the Brouillards that was never an option! Between sweet hugs and kisses from Jackie Moon, Syd showing off her b.e.a.utiful princess dresses, Jess watching Coulter spit his hotdog on the cookie sheet at one point (yes I had to bring my kiddo for a play date beforehand because he LOVES this crew too), and joining in on not one but TWO pretty epic dance parties once Brian got home, there was just too much fun going on to sit in the background!

These sessions, these families, this kind of everyday beautiful is why I love doing what I do! 

Every day is beautiful.