Get To Know Me & My Family
Hello, beautiful people! It’s my first blog post, so I’m coming at ya with a little (or a lot) about my family and what I love. Although, I’m not sure where to start. You all know I’m a Colorado photographer, but I have a big story. A different story. My life took one sharp turn back in 2013 and has sort of zig zagged ever since. I’ll get into that later, but for now I want you to know the basics. Im 27. I’m married to a pretty handsome guy named Dillon and we have two kids name Elliott (5) and Josephine (3), we also have a fur baby named Rufus who is 100% our third child.
I love being outdoors, I love to run or hike (currently training for the Grand Teton Half Marathon) , my Enneagram is a 5W6, I am slightly obsessed with summer… like everything about summer brings me so much joy that just typing this makes me excited. It holds my best and fondest memories and it’s also the time of year where My soul catches fire. Everything I love to do happens during these months. Camping, hiking, SUN, our yearly beach trip to California, swimming, biking, red rocks concerts, fire pit conversations, S’MORES (fun fact. We had a S’more wedding cake), grilling, warm evenings. I could literally go on and on, but I’m afraid I would bore you. Those summer lovers out there feel me, right?! And If you love winter, we can still be friends.
So, I am guessing you’re wondering what that big twist in my life story is right? It’s big and It’s something I have to share and need you to know because it’s my story. Who I am stems from the hard and difficult things I have experienced. It has steered me in the direction I am in now.
In February 2013 I was pregnant with my first baby! So exciting!! A BOY! We couldn’t wait and literally had dreamed about that very moment. We wondered who he would be, dreamed about the things we would do. I had a freakin’ plan y’all! Like ducks in a row plan. Well, we all know plans are silly and life like to make sure to let us know we have no control over our life. I don’t talk about this portion of our story much because what happened later definitely took over our focus and attention, but it really was the door that opened into my “new” life. The line in the sand that I was thrown over, and my life before would forever be on the other side.
The day after Valentine’s Day in 2013 my husband woke up in the middle of night in intense pain. The pain was so bad that he couldn’t even dress himself. It was pretty apparent that we needed to get to an ER. I helped him get dress and loaded him into the car. Scared for his life I rushed us to the hospital. After checking in and having multiple tests, they confirmed that my husband had a massive pulmonary embolism. He should have died. Life went grey. I was 21. He was 25. Things were going so well and I never imagined myself pacing the halls of a hospital contemplating our close call with death. There was no explantation. It was just “random”.
I was scheduled for my 20 week ultrasound a week later.
This is where things get really choppy and hard. FREAKING HARD.
We were told our first born son has a severe congenital heart defect. HLHS to be exact, which means he only has have half a heart. He would require AT LEAST 3 open heart surgeries before the age of 3 and his survival rate was low. Time felt slow and fast all at once. I cried. A LOT. Questioned everything I had done leading up to that point. I wondered if I had done everything right. I felt guilty, scared and confused. We were given an option to have a new surgery being performed at Boston Children’s Hospital. They would perform surgery on his heart while he was still in the womb. Basically, the needed to get in and open his narrowing heart valves.
Three days later we were on a flight to Boston.
Guys, this was a whirlwind of a time and it’s still pretty painful to revisit. I am sitting here in a pretty hustling coffee shop trying to hold it together. This just goes to show you that all this trauma, all this time, how fast it all happened, I never really had time to think about everything. The surgery was successful and we would basically have to wait and see until he was born if it really helped at all. For about two weeks afterwards, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach from all the manipulation they had to do in order to get him in the right position before inserting the needle.
Turning Tragedy Into Beauty
I could write a literal novel explaining the in’s and out’s of the months following his diagnosis and everything that happened in between all of these surgeries. I could talk about how excruciating that year was and how for even years afterwards we had re-experience that same trauma and pain again.
He’s now five years old and has completed the three staged surgeries. A temporary fix to a much bigger problem. He will never be “healthy”. Elliott will require a heart transplant at some point in his life and will always require more testing, more doctors appointments and more therapies. Last year was the first year in 5 years we didn’t require a hospital stay. It was the first time I felt like I had room to breath and to enjoy him for who he really is, and not for everything medial that surrounds his diagnosis. I had to face my biggest fear…this idea of death. I really questioned where we go and why things happen to us the way they do.
We welcomed our second baby, Josephine, In January of 2016. She has been an absolute joy and light in all of our lives. Her personality is incredibly caring and thoughtful and she takes such good care of Elliott without ever being asked. She just does it all on her own! I’m continually inspired by her giving heart.
There’s two things I want you to take from all of this.
Number one. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS. Life isn’t always easy, but I promise that if you shift your perspective you can find purpose. There was a common word that we were often told about everything that happened to us. Random. Five years in, I don’t believe it was random at all. Elliott was always meant to be ours and our circumstances are just that. Life didn’t happen to us, it happened FOR US.
I am strong. My family is strong. I still struggle with the fact that I hate that Elliott has to endure all that he has, but he simply wouldn’t be him. Is it fair? FRICK NO! do I still understand WHY this happened? absolutely not. I’m not really sure I ever will. I’m still in a constant state of wondering what is going to happen next, but I have to bring myself back to the now and be thankful for where we are now.
Number two. LOVE WINS. Always. During all the pain and heartache, I’ve had to look for love and goodness in every minute of my day. I’ve had to embrace the people and things around me on a much deeper level. That’s why I love photography so much and why I have a good eye for capturing things that would otherwise go unnoticed.
I want to hear your story and can’t wait to capture you and your family or your significant other in the best way I know how. I hope that me being vulnerable with you will allow you the freedom to do the same with me. I’m not here to take your photos and run. I’m truly interested in what makes you YOU.