Beautiful Moments | Spring Hill, TN Portrait Photographer
On May 4 of last year, I shot a portrait of Amanda for my Motherhood project. I remember being so pleased with it because she looked so happy. I had known Amanda for years, and she had served as the Treasurer when I was President of the MOMS Club of Spring Hill. Her daughter, Lucy was one of my many practice subjects when I was learning photography, carting my camera around to playdates. One of the things I had always admired about Amanda was her uniqueness and her ability to be her own authentic person, so I was stoked when she said that for her #thisismotherhood profile, she wanted to say something about being a geek mom and sharing that with her children. It sounded perfect.
Six months earlier, I had been able to photograph the birth story of their daughter Arya. They had a hard road leading up to Arya’s birth and I was especially happy to be experiencing this with them. Amanda and Rob had chosen to be alone with the medical staff in the delivery room, but wanted me to be right outside the door waiting to be called in to capture Arya's first moments with her family. I remember standing outside the door and hearing our friend Jenn (an amazing labor and delivery nurse) encouraging Amanda to push. Then I heard Arya cry for the first time and knew she was OK. I couldn’t help but tear up….even though I usually wait until the drive home to cry after shooting a birth.
So, it was nice to capture a joyful photograph of Amanda, and I was looking forward to hearing what she would write. She had told me that she was working on it, and that it might take her a little while because she wanted to spend time on the words that were important to her. As a chronic extravert who often spews words without enough thought, I admire that as well.
Unfortunately, I never received those words because everything changed. Days after I shot the photograph, Arya was rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s hospital and diagnosed with an extremely serious and rare brain tumor. She had emergency surgery to save her life, which was only the beginning. I was able to visit Arya in the ICU a few days after her surgery. I remember thinking about that motherhood photo, and how in the blink of an eye, Amanda’s whole story defining motherhood had changed for her. Even though I never included her story in my project, sitting there in that ICU, I experienced the brutiful strength of motherhood first hand. And I also saw a father doing everything in his power to be there for his family.
They were told by doctors that Arya’s type of cancer only really responded to Radiation, but that Arya was too young for Radiation. The plan was to do another surgery to try to get as much of the cancer as they could, and then to start Chemo for six months. However, the doctors only gave a 50/50 chance that the chemo would “help" in it’s attempt to keep Arya alive until she was old enough to do Radiation….which wouldn’t be until at least her first birthday. With such rare cancer (especially in infants), there wasn’t much data to work with. Help could mean slowing tumor growth, stopping tumor growth, or shrinking the tumor.
They aren’t sure whether it was the surgery or the Chemo, but Arya is doing very well. She finished the Chemo in December. Her last MRI was in February. Right now, the docs can't tell if the spots on the MRI (that have been there for months) are scar tissue or tumor. She has another MRI next week…six weeks after the last one. If the six week scan shows growth, Arya will be scheduled for Radiation. If it doesn't, they will assume that there is no tumor and will rescan three months later.
I don’t know what the future holds for Sweet Arya. I know that it seems so much more hopeful than it did almost a year ago. We had gorgeous spring weather for the photo session, and the sunset was perfect. I am SO glad I grabbed the bubbles because capturing Lucy dancing in the sunlight trying to catch them was perfection. I also love the lighting for the family photos along the path. My favorite family photos are always ones where the family is interacting with each other, and not looking at the camera, and this session as full of those types of moments. I also loved capturing Arya holding onto her sister’s hands as Lucy held her for the photos. I cannot resist dandelion photos this time of year, and I think little Lucy nailed it. As I always like to do when given the chance, we ended the photo session at the playground, which may have been more fun for Dad than the kids. I wanted this session so show the love of this amazing family, and hope for the future. I hope I was able to capture that.
On my website, it says: "I believe that one of the most important things we can do to live a joyful and happy life is to be mindful of the beauty right in front of us....the little moments that add up to a lifetime.” I don’t know what tomorrow will be like for any of us, or how our story may change, but I think that appreciating the beautiful moments we have each day is key to really living.
And I don’t think I’ve ever been able to capture more beautiful moments than these.
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