6 month milestone session | Charleston Baby Photographer

You'll have to excuse the photo dump in this blog post, but my momma heart can't handle that my baby is 6 months old. I wanted to document each little detail of him because I know we are quickly leaving infancy and heading straight towards toddlerhood. Cue the tears! Scroll all the way to the bottom to see my assistant in action. He's loving the camera he got for Christmas. 

Rhett, "baby Maddox" (the doll I use to practice with) and my pant-less assistant. 

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Three month milestone session | West Ashley Baby Photographer

It feels like only yesterday I was in the hospital with him, but in reality it's been three whole months. He has brought so much joy to our family and his big personality is fitting in perfectly to our circus! Last month he found his tongue, but this month (really in the past few days) he's learned how to make spit bubbles. He's starting to work his hands and catch a hold of anything in their path. During this quick little session he actually laughed for the first time! 

Seriously Cute | West Ashley, SC In-Studio 9 Month Milestone Session

This sweet boy was 9 months old at his in-studio milestone session. It's amazing how quickly babies grow!

This wonderful family traveled all the way from South Georgia for their West Ashley milestone session.

Baby boy was so serious and after trying every trick in my book to get him to smile, dad bonked himself on the head with a water bottle and we had baby belly laughs until the very end of the session. Leave it to daddy to be silly and get baby to smile!

Wide-Eyed Newborn | West Ashley, SC In-Studio Newborn Session

This sweet boy came in for his mini session at 15 days old.

He was not too keen on going to sleep. Most of his newborn session was done with him open-eyed and wide awake, which is fine because look how adorable he is!

His nursery is elephant themed and it'll be so much fun to recreate this picture as he gets older. You'll really be able to see his growth.

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He took a little nap for a few shots. Look how sweet he is!

June 2017 - Part 2

I finally got around to editing Landon's birthday pictures. Landon - at the beach - by myself- while trying to take pictures of him proved to be very difficult. You can see we had an outfit change mid-session. As we were getting dressed in the car I told Landon how we weren't going to get wet until after mommy took pictures and he promised to stay dry. Well, that lasted all of 10 minutes, but it wouldn't be pictures of Landon if he wasn't in the ocean fully clothed! You'll also see that sand throwing was a thing. While I don't think this is some of my best work, I think it does capture his wild personality. 

Because waiting for your milk post-nap is just so difficult. Well, I guess when mom stops to take some pictures it is :) 

My time with this bump is coming to an end so I set up the tripod, got out the remote and took a few self-portraits. 

After taking a few bump pictures, Landon saw me working on a thank you gift for our nurses at the hospital (a bucket full of junk food). He found a "special treat" and asked if he could have it. It's amazing what this baby will do for a Nutty Bar... 

His big personality is so exhausting at times (mostly just because I'm 100 months pregnant and would rather just sleep all day), but, gosh, I love it.  I can't imagine life without my silly boy.

Messiest Cake Smasher | Downtown Charleston, SC 1st Birthday Milestone Session

I met this family bright and early for a session full of baby snuggles and cake eating in celebration of this little guy's first birthday. As soon as I pulled my camera out, he flashed me the best smile and I knew this was going to be a good session.

This was such a sweet family. It was apparent from the beginning of the session just how much they love each other- and how obsessed they are with their baby! And it turns out that our husbands work together and we have a few mutual friends. It's funny how small the world is!

We walked around Downtown Charleston and hit the "hot spots"- Rainbow Row and Waterfront Park- and then headed to White Point Gardens for some cake.

You would never know from the pictures, but K didn't actually eat any cake! He might win the title for "Messiest Cake Smasher Who Didn't Actually Eat Any Cake." He loved running his hands through the cake though.

K, I hope you have a wonderful dinosaur birthday party and that year #2 is full of many wonderful memories!

Toeing the Line Between Baby and Toddler | Folly Beach, SC Milestone Mini Session

We spent an early morning photographing this beautiful little girl and her wonderful parents at Folly Beach during sunrise. 

We arrived first thing at Folly Beach before the sun was coming up over the horizon for our beach  session. It was a gorgeous sight and the light was perfect.

I previously photographed this little girl for her nine month milestone session. Look how she has grown!

She is such a serious little soul. You can see it in her sweet face that she is thoughtful and pensive.

She would get brave enough to splash in the water, but then to run to mommy for a snuggle when the waves came in a little too fast. 

As she got more comfortable, she loved to point out the birds.

She is right at the age where she is toeing the line of baby and independent toddler. It is such a lovely and bittersweet transition and capturing this stage is such a privilege.

Six Month Milestone Session | West Ashley Baby Photographer

Wrapped up the weekend with one of my sweet newborns who went and grew up. She still has her great head of hair

The Story Behind the Scar

In our pre-session consultation, mom mentioned a scar on Luke's chest that she did not want to be edited out. During our session, we chatted about the scar and Luke's big story behind it. His mom was telling me about his major surgery to correct a heart defect all while I was watching this happy, strong little boy play on my studio bed - it was absolutely amazing. I think we under estimate the strength of little ones sometimes and Luke's story will prove just how much fight they have in them.

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Luke is only 9 months old but he's endured more physical trials already in his time on earth than most people have in a lifetime. When I was 20 weeks pregnant, we found out our sweet baby was a boy!! We weren't shocked but still so excited- we had a feeling all along that he would be a boy and we couldn't have been more thrilled to see him in the ultrasound that day. It was such a joyous moment but was quickly followed by one of the scariest and dumbfounding moments of our lives. We were called into my OB's office to be told that our son had a congenital heart defect. It felt like a huge blow to the stomach. What in the world was this lady talking about? Nothing like this runs in either of our families. I was having a totally normal and healthy pregnancy so far. How could this be happening? We had so many questions and no answers. It was surreal walking out of the office that day.

It's hard to explain but my husband and I (after crying with each other for several minutes) felt total peace about the situation. We prayed and asked God to take hold of the situation. There was literally nothing we could do to help our baby boy or to mend his heart. It was completely out of our control, which is a pretty sickening feeling. But at that moment, we chose to trust God and rely on Him to be our help.

The rest of my pregnancy was normal. I went in for extra checkups to make sure the baby was doing okay and he always was.. but the heart defect was still present every time they checked. Fast forward to June 17, 2016.. we welcomed our first born son to the world! What a precious and memorable day!

Within the first 24 hours of his life, his heart was checked several times by different doctors and pediatric cardiologists to confirm the heart defect. Still there. His diagnosis: ventricular septal defect or VSD. Basically, Luke had a giant hole in his heart. We were told initially that he would require surgery immediately after birth.. but God, being rich in mercy, spared him from that. We were able to take Luke home from the hospital 2 days later and treat him like a normal newborn. Such an amazing answer to prayer! Over the next several months, we became very familiar with MUSC and the pediatric cardiology department. Dr. Kim McHugh is a true gem and has cared for our baby since his first week of life. He was monitored closely by cardiology and also by his pediatrician. We were told that he probably wouldn't gain weight very well, he would be lethargic, he wouldn't feed well, he would have trouble breathing due to blood back-flowing into his lungs.. the list went on and on. But once again, God so rich in mercy, spared our sweet Luke from all of these symptoms. Every time we went for a cardiology appointment, they would do an ultrasound on his heart only to tell us that his VSD was very large and would eventually require surgery. That his body wouldn't be able to keep up and would start going downhill. But let me tell you, you would literally have never known by looking at him on the outside that his little heart was suffering on the inside. The doctors were absolutely amazed every time they saw him. We had comments such as, "Wow! He is totally proving us wrong with everything we said about him!" They couldn't believe how well he was doing- gaining weight and basically showing no signs or symptoms of having progressive heart failure.

We continued this routine for 5 1/2 months. At that time, Dr. McHugh said we should go ahead and schedule surgery before he turned 6 months old in order to prevent complications for him later in life. So on December 13, we admitted our sweet boy to MUSC. He had open heart surgery and Dr. Kavarana successfully repaired not just one, but THREE holes in our son's heart. We weren't even aware that the other 2 were there! They found them during his post-operative work up and we weren't even told about it. Dr. K said Luke's VSD was the largest one he's ever seen in that region of the heart. To think that our son was thriving and living life with three holes in his heart brought us to our knees and we could not and cannot stop thanking the Lord for his precious life. Seeing our baby in the cardiac ICU for the first time was probably the worst moment of my life. Tubes were coming out of every where- mouth, nose, chest.. it was a horrific sight for this mama. His face was swollen, eyes puffy, chest covered in a huge bandage, and there was even dried blood around his neck. It was almost more than I could bear. But looking at him, knowing that his heart had been made whole, was a precious sight.

The Lord had been so faithful to us. He used the hands of a surgeon to heal our son and we are forever grateful. The following days in the hospital were rough- I won't lie about that. Seeing our baby in such a pathetic, sickly state was extremely hard. I probably cried more in that week than I ever have in my life. Having my husband, family, and church friends surrounding us was priceless. We truly felt God's love poured out on us through the love and support of everyone.

We finally took our baby home and began the process of returning to "normal". It took a while to adjust but Luke proved again how strong he is and how faithful God is in our lives. By just three days after returning home, Luke was totally back to his normal self. We continue follow up appointments with cardiology and just recently got the "all clear". Luke's heart is no longer enlarged and his heart function is completely normal. For the first time in his life, he has a "normal" heart (with a few patches on the inside). :)

The long scar on his chest is a daily reminder of so many things for us... primarily that God is faithful and so loving and hears our prayers and delights in giving good gifts to his children. He is our Healer and the bearer of our burdens. It has been a long trial for us but we are so glad to be on this side of surgery and finished with all of the close monitoring. What a joy Luke is to us! His life is only more precious and priceless having been through all of this. I would never want to relive it or wish it on anyone else, but if God chose to place us in a similar trial again, we would rely on his grace and his unfailing love to get us through it again. He is our all in all and we thank him daily for his mercies on our lives and our son's life. What an amazing story Luke will have to share for the rest of his life!

And like my husband likes to jokingly say, "chicks dig scars".

Morgan,
Thank you so much for allowing me to share Luke's story. Like we talked about, I hope your family's story and strength can help someone else who may have just received similar news. And I agree with your husband, I do dig his scar. 
Ashleigh