Caiden’s little sister

“That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.” –Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Just over two years ago I began volunteering as a photographer with Now I lay me down to sleep. If you’re not familiar with the organization it is one where photographers volunteer their services to families who have or are expected to lose their baby. A lot of people ask me “why” or “how” I could ever volunteer doing such sensitive photography of something many consider to be “morbid”. Trust me, I never thought I’d be the one doing infant bereavement photography…I’m convinced it was all a part of God’s plan. As I began learning photography I recall wanting to find ways to give back and initially considered it but felt it was something I wasn’t quite strong enough to do. I felt that way for a good year before I miscarried in 2009. It took that experience and a month of surreal medical experiences where I thought I might never have another child that made me think a little more about stepping up to volunteer. I’ve heard many people say they have that “moment” with God at some point in the lifetime. That miscarriage left me in the hospital for several days after going through three surgeries and I recall waking up the very last night to a dream of my mother hurting badly. I don’t recall a lot of the details but just recall waking up very worried about my mother who I hadn’t been in touch with much that month. I woke up wide awake and checked my email to find a heartfelt message from my mother letting me know she had been thinking of me and told me a bit of her own experiences miscarrying close to halfway through her pregnancy before she had me. It was something I knew had happened but it was never talked about growing up. As the tears fell, I realized it was a sign from God that I was strong enough…if I made it through as much as I did that month I miscarried then I could certainly help other families. I went ahead that same night and signed up to be considered as a volunteer. I recall thinking about my own heartache but knowing that many other families had went through so much more losing little ones much further along than I did and I felt that miscarriage finally gave me the strength to know if I could make it through that surreal month then I could make it through anything.

By December 2009 I was accepted as a volunteer photographer and was quickly thrown in the fire as a photographer. I joined when there were only a few photographers available and I was quickly needed that month for several sessions. There was never an opportunity to train or shadow other photographers…I was needed and I had no time to think about how tough it might be for me to do this type of photography because I knew I was stepping in to help them in some of the most special moments of their lives…their final moments with their little one. Exactly two years ago I was called to the hospital to photograph Ashley & Paul’s son, Caiden, who had unexpectedly lost his heartbeat at 28 weeks. Ashley had went a little longer than normal before Caiden was born so he was very fragile and still to this day it was the toughest sessions I’ve ever done for Now I lay me down to sleep. Over the last two years their family has kept in touch and I was uplifted earlier this year to hear that they were expecting a little girl at the end of this year. In mid September I met with the couple on the day they passed the 28 week mark of their pregnancy. We were all thinking of Caiden that day. They brought along this photo I had taken of Caiden’s hand grasping Paul’s two years ago.

At the end of November Caiden’s little sister, Kaydence, arrived. This past week I got to meet her for the first time. Yes, she’s an amazing little miracle.

I feel like I’ve been waiting in anticipation of this little girl nearly as much as I have one of my own…boy was she worth the wait.

At just two weeks old she had the most adorable little personality.

I wish you all could see every single little expression we got to see…perhaps this snapshot of thumbnails will help you all smile a little more.

Okay, I can’t resist it…I have to share an outtake. As we worked on posing her and keeping her head stable she totally played the perfect baby model. Yes, this little girl cracks me up.:)

Thankfully she didn’t take long to doze off…you know I love sleepy newborns the best.:)

Thanks to Erin Sharma I had an extra set of hands to help with Kaydence and as she stayed content Erin joined me in photographing her. Erin and I took some photos behind the scenes to help you all see a bit more of what a session really looks like. It takes a lot of work to get these little ones looking perfect.

We spent a lot of time admiring Kaydence. As we did we reflected on Caiden at times. Her mother and I agreed that she definitely resembles her big brother.

I think a lot of people who view newborn photography think of it as being “easy”…and many think it takes just a few minutes to take the best shots. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do we have to have a cooperative little one but I’ve come to learn photography of newborns has so much more to do with other things…like light…and fabric. I’ve become a little obsessed with blankets and fabric over the last four years. One thing I despise in my photos is wrinkles. I picked a fabric for Kaydence that was a little more pesky with wrinkles…I suppose some might be humored by this. I’d rather spend a few extra minutes getting the wrinkles out this way than in photoshop because photoshop really can’t perfectly fix everything.

Even after fabric is steamed I’m constantly working out the wrinkles once the baby is comfy. Some fabric is more cooperative than others…this fabric was more challenging than the baby.

Thankfully Kaydence was a little angel for us. Erin was kind enough to hold the fabric down nice and tight to help keep the fabric as wrinkle free as possible…and yes, it was a hilarious moment so I can help but share another smile from the day.

As I photographed Kaydence in Ashley’s arms I couldn’t but have a flashback of taking a similar photo of Ashley and Caiden. You definitely never forget moments like those.

There’s definitely no forgetting Caiden…but boy are we all so glad to celebrate having Kaydence here this year.

I swear this little girl makes the cutest little pouty faces…something tells me she knew we were thinking of Caiden a lot that day.

You can’t put a price on being able to take photos of Ashley & Paul with Kaydence because taking nearly the same photos with Caiden are still some of the most touching and unforgettable moments I’ve been a part of as a photographer.

Yes, Paul is a proud father…he now has his baby girl here safely in his arms. Something tells me he’s going to be holding her real close for quite sometime.

I was told Paul had Caiden’s name tattoo’d on his arms so it was a perfect opportunity for me to take another memorable photo of Kaydence.

Kaydence will grow up knowing she has a very special big brother in heaven…there’s just no forgetting that sweet little angel.

Yes, Kaydence…we still miss him…something tells me you know that.

This past weekend I invited Kaydence’s family out to do some outdoor newborn photos. It’s a tad bit more challenging to work outdoors so we had a goal to get one perfect shot of Kaydence. Erin joined me again…she helped me test the light where we would shoot the photos of Kaydence.

The plans were to photograph Kaydence on a large tree that had been knocked down. Safety is the absolute most important thing to me so as we positioned her and made sure she was cozy everyone had hands on her helping her feel a little more comforted and safe.

Once we got her into position and we knew she wasn’t too squirmy we began taking tons of photos.

And here she is…sunbathing in the awesome December Florida sun.

Ashley & Paul best wishes to your family. Kaydence truly is a blessing just like her big brother. Something tells me he’s up there smiling as we all watch his little sister grow. Happy birthday Caiden…you’ll never be forgotten.

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December 22, 2011 - 11:50 pm

Gian Carlo - WOW, is all I can say for now. God bless you and your amazing talents

December 23, 2011 - 12:09 am


December 23, 2011 - 9:27 am

Phyllis - Amanda, they are beautiful!

December 23, 2011 - 11:30 pm

jamie lea - Beautiful pictures and post. I wish i would have known about NILMDTS when my son was stillborn. That is an amazing thing that you do for people.

February 21, 2012 - 2:18 pm

Diana - OH wow! They came out beautiful!!! It was a joy to meet Ashley & Paul and baby Kaydence during the shoot. She is so beautiful!! God Bless!

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