A Beautiful Beginning: Reese Marie’s Birth Story.

I’m going to have to take you back 9yrs to understand why this birth was extra emotional for all of us. I’ll try to give you main points but y’all, it’s complicated. 😬After coaching Rachel yr round for a handful of years, we had a great relationship as she carried on with high school. At 16 she called me to say she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.  UM WHAT NOW? She asked me to take her senior pictures before all of her treatment began and who knows what the future held. That was the first of our roughly 15 photo sessions. 😆 We had our “Tuesdays with Rachel” where Nori and I would visit her in the hospital and eventually those shifted into her baby-sitting Nori each Tuesday once she kicked cancer’s ass. WOOT! The day she was in surgery at CCMHC removing her port was the day my sister Ali was in surgery at Christ having her first biopsy to find out she had cancer. To say God was orchestrating all these plans for my life perfectly, is an understatement. Ali passed 8mths later and since then, Britt and I have considered Rach our “God’s gift” of a new 3rd sister. Not a replacement, but a damn good filler if there is such thing. As I kept popping out babies, she kept loading up her arms with them, loving them each as her own. I mean, she even asked to take my 4yo dragons to the Reds parade a few days before delivery! What a saint!

Fast forward to nearing the end of Rachel’s college career when she found out her hormone levels were so drastically low, she was compared to a perimenopausal woman. 🙁 They predicted her eggs by her late 20s would be as minimal as a woman in her 40s. Thinking about babies shouldn’t have been on her radar as she enjoyed her college days but there she was. She went through all the shots of hormone therapy and a couple egg retrievals with little outcome but at least a handful to save for her future husband to make an embryo with, that is, what survives that whole process. Hmmph.

Rachel started getting serious with Chasey pooh. They graduated. I sobbed. They got engaged. I sobbed. They got married on the beach. We all sobbed. Then they take a bunch of crazy trips to enjoy their mid 20s before they even considered starting the daunting process of IVF in a few years. Then God was all, surrrrrprise!!!! Guess friggin what, guys?!?! You CAN make a baby all by yaselves!! Some days are burned in our memories and the day she casually came up to my room while I was getting ready and pulled an US image out of her pocket and handed it to me, was a day I’ll sure as hell never forget. I screamed some expletives and sobbed.

Pregnancy was typical minus the, ya know, residual effects her body has from chemo. Decreased heart function from chemo damage has left her on meds, that of course she couldn’t take during pregnancy. Blood thinner shots daily because of the increased risk of a blood clot as she went through 2 pulmonary embolisms during chemo. High risk monitoring that got up to 4 appointments a week because of the trends they were noticing in her heart function, some preeclampsia symptoms and O2 levels. All of these things just made me Nervous Nelly over here!

They scheduled her induction as to get the heart specialist there and hoping for maybe a little smaller baby to make things less stressful on her heart in delivery. (Reese and her chins were laughing in the womb 🤣) She went in for a slow overnight then long next day induction except it turned out her body was already starting labor on it’s own! It escalated quickly with the epidural from a 3-10cm situation in just a few hrs. Her parents and I hauled booty through rush hour to catch the end of her laboring down.  She pushed like a champ for an hour with the last 15min of that having a stubborn head not wanting to be born!

Then at 948a a deliciously chunky, beautiful little GIRL screamed her way onto Rachel’s chest. 8.2lbs and 20″ of a miracle. I mean, all of it was just perfect. Her healthy screams. Zero complications with Rach. And a GIRL!  All completely textbook. And guess what? WE ALL SOBBBBBBED.  😭😭 This baby girl is already so loved and she’s not even a week old. I have to pry each of my kids arms off her to pass her along because we all just want to keep her forever! I’m so anxious to watch her grow with my kids but to finally see Rachel’s life long dream of being a mother become a reality!!!??! That’s the magic. The girl has had babies in her arms since she was a baby and I’m incredibly thankful God didn’t take this opportunity away from her as I’ve feared for years. And now…I’ll just sit here and sob some more as I watch this slideshow over and over. Biggest congratulations EVER to the Cowells!! Sob. Sob. Sobbity sob sob. Say it enough? Nope? I know y’all right there with me.


Ps. Can I just say how incredibly different it is to have a niece/nephew born while I’m not also in the deep trenches of babies, myself. I have so much more energy to give now that I’m not spending all my minutes trying to keep my 4 fed and alive. It’s like an entirely new experience than ever before. Like a touch of being a grandparent, really. 😍 I pray you continue to defy all the odds, Rach!

Reese. » LOFT 3 PHOTOGRAPHY - April 10, 2019 - 6:54 pm

[…] To see Rachel and her new baby click HERE! […]

A beautiful beginning: Ruby Rebecca’s birth story.

The last few days since I asked for prayers for my friends, Doug and Alex, the number one response has been: “How can life be SO cruel to one family?” It’s a question that we shall never know the answer to but we will never stop asking. They’ve faced so much loss together that it’s questionable if they have more family in Heaven or on Earth.

A handful of years ago, Alex and Dough met with Kelly and I for our birth consultation, excited as they should be, preparing for their first birth. Months later we received a message causing both our jaws to drop. Alex quickly developed HELLP Syndrome which lead to the passing of their sweet Dougie in final weeks of pregnancy. Awful. Just heartbreaking.

Not long after, riddled with fear from start to finish, she conceived twice and THANK JESUS, had repeat successful births of their two adorable sons.

Fast forward to September of 2018 when Alex reached out SO excited that she was finally having her GIRL! YAY! Still anxious as ever, she carried on through her pregnancy with great well checks. Last Wednesday she had a healthy non stress test and was sent home as usual. Just as she was relaxing into this pregnancy, pushing away the fear and anxiety of loss, Thursday morning came and just like that, no more kicks or jabs from inside. ::VOMIT:: They went straight back to the Dr to find themselves in the worst deja vu that ever was. She was gone. She got her angel wings an entire lifetime too soon.

Thursday evening, they went to Good Sam for an induction where they were greeted with another baby keepsake grief box instead of the pending excitement of future baby squeals. Alex, the warrior that she is, mustered up the courage to vaginally deliver her angel baby and by Friday evening her body was ready for the tragedy all over again. Baby girl was folded in Frank breech (pike) position with her tiny tush making its way out as the room remained in complete despair and disbelief. ONLY ONE MONTH from her scheduled induction date! ONE.MORE.MONTH. 😩 Once she was placed on mama’s chest it was like I could see the huddle of angels looking down on us. We wept as they celebrated, welcoming Ruby back Home safe in both Alex’s Mom and Grandma’s arms, her namesakes. Ruby (&) Rebecca. Big brother Dougie hugged her letting her know she was too beautiful for Earth and they’re protecting her from all pain she’d face here. Now, she too, only knows love.

Ruby Rebecca was the sweetest and most pretty little angel, looking just like Alex. At 17″ long and 4.2lbs with a full head of hair. They held and kissed their angel without pause. Doug was able to assist in printing her tiny feet and hands, as well as trimming some locks of her hair. 💕 All these things are the only physical proof that she really was here, as her smell on the empty blankets will fade. She too, is their child, just the same as the boys at home. She may have only been held in their arms for less than a day, but she’s held in ALL OF OUR hearts forever. All.of. ours.

Alex had chosen this song early in her pregnancy for her future birth slideshow. Once they heard the news of her passing, the words took on new meaning, which become even more painful to hear. “I get to love you” by Ruelle

After seeing there were no outward signs of trouble with her anatomy, Dr Schnettler *thinks* the cause of demise was from a poor location and weak umbilical insertion to the placenta. Instead of needing a “true knot,” all it took was a twist or two to compress the vessels flowing blood to her. 😔😔 Sweet, sweet, baby girl…

Besides the constant vomit rising in our throats we’ve all felt since last Thursday and the countless tears we’ve shed for you, know that the community surrounds you and lifts you up. I’m so so sorry. I wish this was truly just a nightmare. Much love. Thank you for having me and sharing sweet Ruby with the world. It was an honor and privilege to meet, photograph and love on her (and you guys)! It takes one BA mama to stand up right after all you’ve been through. Props to Doug for being your rock and being there for all that you need. The world needs more truth and reality and being willing to share this raw vulnerability is praise worthy. God is doing big things through you, even if how He’s doing it seems real friggin shitty. You’re His voice right now. 💕💕It’s through moms like you that stay with Him through the darkest of times that are teaching the rest of us how to walk the right path. 😘😘😘

Love, Melanie

Trish - February 5, 2019 - 9:19 pm

Thank you for sharing this deeply personal moment. She’s absolutely gorgeous Alex and Doug! I’m praying for you daily- that the pain eases and you’re comforted in small ways. God bless you

Stephanie holscher - February 5, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Melanie simply beautiful .. these nurses in this video are my wonderful coworkers and I’ve worked / admired dr. Schnettler for many years. Myself being a labor nurse for 12 yrs this always brings me to tears no matter how many of these deliveries I help/witness it never gets easier and each one is so special. My heart breaks for this family that they had to do this twice. Sometimes gods plan is never one we understand but we trust he knows best.. lots of love to this family as they grieve 😭

Tracy M Kemper - February 5, 2019 - 8:24 pm

Thank you, Melanie, for telling the truth, all of the hard truth of Alex and Doug’s story. This little one will be loved always, and my heart is broken for these sweet and committed parents. Alex and Doug, all my love to you.

Aunt Net - February 5, 2019 - 8:23 pm

My heart goes out to them and all who struggle to have children. We all deal with loss but these seem so unfair. May God bless them and give them strength and courage. May the community surround them with love. Incredibly written Mel, right from the heart. Love you💞💞

JennyBZ - February 5, 2019 - 6:41 pm

I can’t stop crying. This poor sweet family. Sending up so many prayers for healing those broken hearts. Beautiful images, Mel. love and prayers to everyone feeling this loss. ❤️

A Beautiful Beginning: Luca Alexander’s Birth Story

Nearly three years ago, in the middle of the night, Taryn delivered a chunky baby girl. After she sat on her chest for only a few minutes, she handed her over to her true mom, Elizabeth. It was a delivery I’ll talk about for the rest of my career. Time passed and the families remained close, so naturally the casual conversations of a sibling began. Just like road to Aria, it was full of heartache and loss but alas, Luca “bringer of light” was meant to be. Thankful for an induction because of SO many ducks to get in a row, Luca casually made his entrance mid afternoon. The butter ball weighed in at 9.9lbs, 20″ with 3 perfect dimples and a double chin. Another job perfectly well done by Taryn, I mean, could she set the bar any higher as a surrogate? NOPE. As Elizabeth said, if Taryn’s not going straight to heaven, nobody is.

After awhile, we melted from the hospital window as Aria, quite literally, pulled her sitter by the arm sprinting through the snow towards the hospital doors to meet baby brother. Aria, well really everyone in the room, was overcome with joy as the siblings snuggled up in Mom’s arms, just as God had planned. It was a story written in Taryn’s, Elizabeth’s and Dave’s tapestry long before they met. I’m so thankful to have the privilege of documenting their story twice over. Just as I asked after the first birth, mom wrote some words below to share with all the readers who can’t seem to pick their jaws up off the floor. Amiright?

From Elizabeth: Nine years ago started a chapter in our lives that I was not really sure how it would end. Our world was completely shattered with cancer when I was 27. I was faced with surgeries and chemo, not to mention loosing my hair- all things I never would have imagined facing in my 20’s. I won the battle, accepting the way it would forever change the way I felt, leaving the scars left on my body, but it took something from me I thought I could never recover from. Cancer took my fertility…my hope for starting our family. I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mommy, that ache was never going to go away.

The road to bring us to this point was not an easy one… we have faced loss and deep heartache along the way… but it has brought us the most incredible baby girl and boy and for that I’m forever grateful. We truly believe they were meant to be ours. We are so thankful that Taryn came into our lives- she brought us hope and she loved and cared for our babies like they were her own. She has the biggest heart and is the strongest, most brave person I’ve ever met! We are so happy that Aria and Luca get to know Taryn and her amazing family. They will grow up knowing their story- I think it’s a pretty special one. Aria and Luca are our miracle babies and our happy ending! Now a new chapter begins ❤️.

Push Play below to watch the slideshow!


A world of congratulations to y’all! Love, Melanie.