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Category Archives: Maternity

I had been planning to do be there for the birth of baby Mulloy for months.  I had photographed his announcement that he was arriving in the world and I could not wait!  I don’t normally do birth photography being a wedding photographer and only do it for close friends and family since its a real personal type of photography.  So when they messaged me the first time of his impending arrival I was in FLORIDA visiting my son…and I was heartbroken…he was trying to make his arrival earlier than expected so his momma Lauren, a postpartum nurse at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, went on to the hospital to get checked out…sure enough 4cm and contractions…but they stopped and they sent her home!  I have to admit I did a little sigh of relief and happy dance in the Florida sun…because I knew how much it meant to everyone including me, to be there.  You see this little guy is special, and his Granna, and mommy and daddy and his big sister Tenley needed someone to tell his little story…and I wanted it to be me.

Fast forward a week and my phone was on high alert to their text messages or calls, she had contractions off and on and one more visit to the Dr’s and the call finally came!  They were admitting her…it was show time, and I just got goose bumps again remembering the excitement in their voices. So I packed my gear some snacks ready for the unpredictable hours that might be ahead of me, because you just never know how long these little people will take sometimes to make their grand entrance, they just sometimes take their time….but not this guy, he was kind of in a hurry once he decided it was time 🙂

Ok let’s just take a moment here…..Have you EVER seen a mom look this so put together going into delivery?  She was glowing…happy….anxious…and down right beautiful.  Her Dr. even said..”I have had super models and actresses here delivering and they did not look as good as you do right now!”  I had to agree she was flawless.

And Ben…well that smile…you will see never left his face I don’t think even one time the entire day.

Lauren and Ben knew about half way through their pregnancy that their little baby would be part of an elite group,

I am talking one in 40,000 special….and they were ready to help this little one conquer the world even with the challenges that might face him.

You see he was going to be born with only one hand and become part of the elite Lucky Fin club.

This limb difference is called Symbrachydactyly and it can affect one out of every 40,000 births.

The Lucky Fin Project is a 501c3 charity that brings awareness to this unique lifestyle of children with limb difference.

The bracelet Lauren is holding below is one of the ways this charity raises money and awareness.

In reading charities story I loved how they talked about the movie Finding Nemo…he had a lucky fin too 🙂 and how it didn’t stop him from accomplishing anything and everything he wanted.

I have no doubt that this little guy will do great things, you just watch and see!

Lauren has her own successful lifestyle blog called Minding Mulloy.  Please click on the link follow her blog and go read their story. Plus they are just so darn cute!

We were asked to wait out in the hall for a few minutes as they prepared for Lauren epidural and the admission of medicine to help her labor progress, then it was game on!

A little face time with the big sister in between contractions and popsicles…I tell you they are all smiles…all the time…it’s contagious.

Ok this one cracks me up…we all had our own way of passing time…mine was obviously taking detail photos of the surrounding area…Ben was doing core exercises…Sharon..aka Granna was thumbing through the latest version of a bridal magazine, meanwhile, Momma waited patiently for the next contraction…and that machine was measuring them off the charts…so the epidural was working like a charm…

Sharon and I stepped out to grab a quick bite in the cafeteria at 5:00 pm because we were told it could be a couple of hours…and no sooner than we sat down to eat we got the call…get back up here!  And from that moment it was GAME on…he was making his arrival and he was making it fast, the Dr came in to check and immediately said…”honey don’t push let me get my scrubs on first”  and once everything and everyone was in place…with 4 pushes little man Tate made his arrival at 5:36 pm weighing 7lbs 2oz (or 3oz…depending on who you ask lol) and 21 inches long!

These moments right here….they are the sweetest most intimate moments. Those first moments you get to hold a child you have been carrying beneath your heart for months.  Feeling them kick, feeling their hiccups, knowing when they are sleeping, when they are awake, giving your bladder a fit…but these moments right here…say it all…to hold them close to your heart on the outside is a whole different emotion in itself.

And then you hear the sigh and the exhale as the momma closes her eyes in sheer relief and joy that they are here and healthy and laying on her chest.

Skin to skin time with both parents is so important with newborns and so sweet.  They seem to just calm right back down.

 Tate Benjamin! I love that name!

I am pretty sure he was giving me the stank eye here…

Once he got his vitals done and all cleaned up complete with a cute blue hat it was time to meet everyone!

Granna and Grand Dude

Including his new big sister Tenley.

The strong arms and gentle touch of a loving dad are some of the most beautiful images.  They only get to feel the bumps of the baby from the outside so those moments after they are born and they hold their child with wonder….are magical.

The whole family wore their Lucky Fin Project Bracelets in honor of Little Man Tate.  How precious and lucky you are you little man. God knew what he was doing when he made this family yours!

Time for big sister to go home and go to bed.  She’s gonna need her rest, her job is so important.

While mom and dad settle in and enjoy the new love that has expanded their heart again.


Everyone says good night and the and mom and dad settle in for some rest.

©MelodyGillikinPhotography.com

 

Lauren, Ben, Tenely, Tate

I am SO blessed to have been there for you guys on this very special day.

Thank you for trusting me with this moment in your lives!

I can’t wait to see the adventures of Tate and Tenley.

XOXOXO

Anchored in Love.

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  • Jen Pennella - February 1, 2017 - 10:44 PM

    Oh my goodness, I just started crying reading your beautiful post. This is by far the most amazing story I have ever heard and you are one lucky photographer to have been able to capture such a beautiful time in this family’s life. Gorgeous photos wish I could hire you for mine! Simply beautiful xoReplyCancel

This is my beautiful niece Brooke and her super cool husband Bryce! She is carrying my great niece Madelyn 🙂 And I could not be happier to be her maternity portrait photographer.

This would have been my brothers first grand child had he lived.  Cancer took him when brook was just 3.  So she never really knew him.  He would be so very very proud of his amazing daughter and how she grew into a beautiful woman who loves the Lord and is a self taught bass player!  She is a teacher to special needs children and has the biggest sweetest heart ever. Yes he would be so very proud of her.

She and Bryce have tried for several years to have a child and held on to the promise that God had for them!  So after 3 miscarriages many broken hearted moments over the last few years God is wonderfully blessing them with a baby girl due any day now!

Please read the journey that Brooke wrote for me…I asked for a quote of encouragement, but when I read their journey I knew “their story” was so important and I needed to share the whole story and not just a quote.

 I am sure someone or someone you know needs to hear their journey and these words of encouragement so please share with someone going through the heart breaking loss of an unborn child.

A Real Journey told by Brooke and Bryce Johnson.

“Our Story”

“We choose to wait to have kids for a long time, longer than your average couple. At first it started off with the idea that we were really young when we got married so why rush? It didn’t help that I grew up with a much younger sibling and my husband and I were both in education. I felt like I had already changed plenty of diapers and we are both surrounded by kids every day.

Each of us went through different phases when we had the parenthood desires but those phases never seemed to line up together. So we knew after 12 years of singled married life, when we both went through that phase at the same time that God must be trying to tell us to go for it! Plus, we knew there was no pressure anymore…. When you have been married for 12 years and you avoid the kid questions for that long, people stop asking and at the time we liked it!

Knowing that we were both a bit older, we didn’t have high expectations of getting pregnant right away. We prepared ourselves that it may take time but two months after we made the decision to go for it, we found out we were pregnant. The timing couldn’t seem more perfect! I shared with my husband on father’s day the big news after a baseball game. We even took some pictures with a friend and by pure chance she caught a shot with a rainbow in the background. We were sure that was God sharing his promise with us. We choose not to share our news with anyone because we knew that our families had been waiting for a long time and we wanted to be sure before we got anyone’s hopes up.

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We went for our first appointment and at first it seemed like we had just caught the pregnancy in the early stages. So they asked us to come back the next week. We didn’t think much of it and were excited to come back the next week. The next time, the doctor seemed concern and let us knows that there had not been much growth and asked for us to come for another appointment which at that appointment we learned that the baby had stopped developing and that we would probably experience a miscarriage soon. The only problem was that my body did not get the memo and a miscarriage would not seem to happen naturally. So after weeks of waiting for it happen, we ended up having to have surgery to complete the miscarriage. It was hard and mind numbing but we knew that many people experience miscarriages during at least one pregnancy. So after taking time to heal, mourn and process the loss, we decided to wait to try for bit. A few months later, we both felt ready.

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This time it took a little longer but yet again right around father’s day again, we found out that we were pregnant again. What were the chances? We went into this pregnancy with a more guarded heart but we also knew that the statistics of having two miscarriages in row were pretty low. Not to mention this time we did get to see the flicker of the heartbeat. So we scheduled our next appointment a couple weeks later and continued with quite but growing excitement. We both showed up excited to see the little bean again, only to learn that this time they couldn’t see the heart beat and would need to come back next week to check again. Trying not to assume the worst, we waited patiently and prayed. In our guts though, we knew what possibility laid in front us. Once again, my body did not recognize that the baby had stopped developing and we had to have surgery again.

We walked away from this pregnancy wondering why it had happened again. I started to ask God questions. Had we waited too long? Did we miss understand your signs? Am I doing something wrong? Is my body not made for this? I think it was harder on me because I am an introvert and fairly private person so I internalized a lot of the emotions. However, after this time we were determined that this is what we both wanted so decided to just keep trying. This time, it took a much longer time.

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Each month that went by brought a new level of stress and disappointment. It was hard not to get hopes up and then drop when that month’s window passed. During those months, I came across a sermon series called “ In the Meantime” by Andy Stanley. I know that series was perfectly what I needed throughout this period of our lives. It was all about your perspective in periods of your life while you are waiting. Although, God may be able to change your circumstance, he may choose not to. The reality is that you have the choice to see those circumstances as gift with a purpose and a promise. And that promise is grace, the kind of grace that only God can give you to make it through these circumstances.

The rest of the sermon series focused on how we can get so caught up in the circumstance that we only focus on what’s wrong and not what God has made right. We forget that God may be using us in the midst of the circumstance. One of the prayers that the pastor challenged people to pray was :

“Heavenly Father, I believe you will use this until you choose to remove this. Give me wisdom to see as you see and strength to do as you say”

You had the choice to believe that something good can come from this. You could choose to believe that just because He’s silent doesn’t mean He’s absent. God allowed this for purpose. Sometimes the purpose is that He is preparing you so that you will be uniquely qualified to comfort those who are going through the same things. This will bring purpose to your pain and bring life to your soul, a grace that goes above understanding.

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As the months passed, I prayed these prayers; I listened to this sermon series again and again. Then, after 8 months we got another positive result. We literally both shrugged and then setup an appointment. Although, we both acted calm and nonchalant about this positive test, in the back of our minds, we thought “there’s no way, there would be third loss.” This time we only had two appointments before they confirmed that baby was not developing. The difference this time was that my body let go this time and the miscarriage happened naturally.

We were becoming overwhelming aware that I may not be able to sustain a healthy pregnancy. The doctors were ready to start running tests and I wasn’t sure if that was road I wanted to go down.

As I once again turned to listen to this series, I went back to one of the key verses in the series. 2nd Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

One day I decided to go back and read the whole passage and it amazed me and I knew that God wanted me to read it closer. And this is what was revealed to me the next time looked at the versus.

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2nd Corinthians 12:8-10

The number three stuck out to me like s sore thumb. Three times he asked God to take this away. I had three miscarriages. Over three years, we had been going down the journey since the first miscarriage. The number three stuck out. I knew for sure in that moment that God was using this for me to see His strength through my weakness.

So later we decided get testing done and they could not find any specific reasons as to why we were having miscarriage after miscarriage. We were at a crossroads, should we dig further, try treatments or should we start considering adoption (which had always been on my heart before we decide to try for our own) . Our doctor told us not to give up and convinced us to try one medicine that would simply make my cycles more regular. So while we were trying to make those more serious decisions, we said why not see if it helps.

A few months later, after the 2016 New Year, we received our fourth positive test. We literally looked at each other blankly while thinking “Here we go again.” We started appointments very early. The doctors decided to monitor each week and take blood, just to see if they could pinpoint anything in case we did have another miscarriage. My arms looked like battle grounds but each week we received a good report. No matter how much closer we got to a the magic “ 12 weeks”, we walked into the appointments expecting nothing and walked out with disbelief each time we saw growth or movement. The doctors went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and that this pregnancy was looking great. Each week, I reread that 2nd Corinthians 12:8-10 and thanked God but it wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that even when we hit the safe zone and my husband was excited about telling the family, I was still very precautious with every person that we shared the news with. It was a pretty big deal to our families because we had chosen to keep our journey private minus a couple of close friends. Our families had no idea that we trying and for us it was better that way. In fact, there were always a few family jokes about it and for my personality type, it was better that way. I am not person who handles sympathy or condolences or those perfect prayer requests well. Sharing would have made it more overwhelming. I am not someone who needs constant assurance from others. It is okay if you are that person. God made us all perfectly unique. I knew that I wasn’t alone and I would rather take it up with God myself than get constant reminders from others regardless of how innocent and genuine they might be.

Truthfully, it wasn’t until the 20th week checkup that it really hit me it was really happening…. God was blessing us with this baby and He had been preparing us for this the whole time. He had given us strength in our weakness. He had given us a story to share. He had given us a way to comfort and give hope to others. Until you have story to share, you cannot understand or comfort someone going through the same situation. As I looked back at picture of my husband and I with the rainbow in the background during our first pregnancy, I was reminded that, God knew how our story would unfold. He knew how our journey might be used to comfort someone else in the future. His grace was sufficient. Even though our journey looked very different than how we envisioned it that day we took the picture, His promise was true and he had given us a reminder that day.”

And that day brought us here…on a overcast hot and humid day to celebrate with beautiful maternity photos of their little girl before her arrival

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And What perfect timing…this baby doe pranced right into the background..

And now because of her story we are now sure that God was again telling them…He has been there all along by sending this sweet doe into our photo!

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Some final words from Brooke and Bryce

No matter how you choose to go through your journey, weather it includes many people praying for you, privately between you, your spouse and God. Know that regardless if the outcome is a baby, going through treatment options, an adoption or simply a even furbaby, there is a hope beyond our own understanding that God’s grace can give you. He will walk with you the whole way and give you strength and peace in the midst of everything.

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“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2nd Corinthians 12:8-10

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We are ready to finally meet you little Madelyn Grace!  You are truly God’s Grace. <3

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She is due any day now but we are holding out for September 30th…because it will be her great Maw Maw’s birthday too!  But in any event…Brooke, Madelyn, and Maw Maw will share the same birthday month! <3 September.

XOXOXO

Hope Anchors The Soul

Hebrews 6:19

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I love Maternity Photography for many reasons, but one important reason is the anticipation of life, the life within that you have not met yet, yet you love.  It Does not matter if it’s your first or 6th, it’s the same…you have felt them hiccup, you have felt them kick, you know they are there listening to your heart beat from the inside.  They know the sound of your voice and can hear music and singing and laughter.

It’s the magic of knowing that you hold a life within you that is just so beautiful, so when I get to capture a momma embracing that and all the chaos that goes along with it sometimes, it’s just beautiful to me.

Shannon lost her mom to breast cancer a few years ago, and it has been really special to me to see and photograph Shannon marry the man of her dreams on the  Eastern Shore, and then to go back and photograph her there  at the same place for her glam surfer girl maternity session.  Shannon and Cole named their precious little girl after Shannon’s momma.  Laura Brooks.

Shannon I loved this session so much, you were absolutely stunning, and so real with your emotion and love for this little girl.  You are a surfer girl at heart and so full of love, life and kindness.  Miss Laura Brooks is so lucky to have been blessed with such a mommy.

Here are the beautiful images we captured on the Eastern Shore.

Thank you for indulging me in a few ideas of my own.  You rocked the glamours too girlfriend!

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Gone are the days of hiding your baby belly and I am so GLAD, life is beautiful and should not be hidden or covered up!

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We had some fun with drama…

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Then on to classic beauty….Shannon each look you rocked with ease…

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We finished off the night back where she is most alive…with her surfboard near the water.

You should see the nursery! A beautiful hand painted mural of the surf and sand. That’s a blog post in itself.

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I wonder what you are thinking here?  I look at this image and see deep thought.

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Life may have chaos in store for us sometimes, but with the setting of the sun, it rises again with new promise for those of us who believe.

Embrace these days, for they are good.  May they always be filled with hope and promise but most of all love.

Shannon

Love you Shannon!

xoxo

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I love

being creative at weddings, looking around for different ways to shoot,  grouping details for fun compositions, but in realty weddings days happen so fast that it’s sometimes hard to let your creativity flourish unless you have a VERY generous timeline, or couples do first looks allowing you time to be creative.  So in the off season in addition to working on my business and planning for the next season and booking weddings sometimes I have time to let my imagination run wild and shoot for myself and for fun.

I had a cloak made after using another photographers actual wedding cloak for a shoot last year…and I decided I needed one of my own.  So my awesomely talented seamstress and family friend Bonnie made this for me this past summer and this is the first time I have been able to get it out to play.

We don’t often have snow in Coastal Va, much less Hampton Roads, but about once every 5 to 6 years we get whoppers….last year was amazing, and I hope we get that again, but just incase we don’t I was able to envision and create my own little winter wonderland yesterday.  Finding the perfect location for this shoot was half of the vision.  I think we nailed it.  So magical.

Meet Kyndall,  She is a local hair stylist , worship leader at Genesis Church, wife to Jordan and soon to be mommy of their first baby boy Tucker…. I asked her to model my new cloak for me ….and she went along with the long walk into the woods and all of my silly directions so that we could create some “into the woods”  images.  I think we hit all 4 seasons on our way into the woods, because it was an unseasonably warm winter day when we started, and by the time we reached our distention it was cold and snowy 😉  Then it ended up being hotter than the 4th of July.

The light and warmth of the sun was so magical in this spot we had to stop on our hike….for a quick peaceful moment.

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Into The Woods

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The Crystal Forrest

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All of God’s Creatures

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Give Thanks

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See I told you… hotter than the 4th of July!  Can you believe she is almost 9 months pregnant?

I wish I had looked half that good with either of my pregnancies!

Many Thanks Kyndall!  You’re a true beauty!

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  • Fotograf Gdansk - January 7, 2015 - 7:16 AM

    I love these fairy-tale photos. Pretty amazing, creative shoot. I’m impressed! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • mgillikin - January 7, 2015 - 12:03 PM

      Thank you! It was a fun shoot…we had a good time!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - January 24, 2015 - 9:30 AM

    Wow you did a fantastic job on this session and what a perfect day for the photos..everything is just perfect!! You do amazing work. I haven’t seen your work in a while but when I do I see nothing but pure beauty!!! You cannot get a better photographer that I know of..ReplyCancel

    • mgillikin - January 24, 2015 - 10:42 AM

      Thank you Mary! You’ve made my day.ReplyCancel

When your heart is so full of love…it’s about to burst!  Somewhat like a balloon…..

We had to wait to tell the world….until she was ready….almost 3 months..that was torture….then we had to wait until Joe  had all the details done….and ready for the reveal.  Thanks Joe for your hard work!!!

Then that moment…when everyone held their breath sure they were right…that it was a girl or boy all wearing colors to support their heart felt choice…black balloons filled with pink or blue paint…darts in hand ready..ready….set ….go!  

That moment…when it all becomes real.

The canvas will be her first work of art as a night light in her room.  With God’s stamp of love…..<3

proof is in the ultrasound photo.

Face time…brings her brother home…to celebrate with us.

Paula’s Besties…they have all been in this same pose for each of them…now it’s Paula’s turn.

Even Bella joined the celebration and is happy sporting her pink tongue!

We will be anticipating the arrival of Amelia Grace Stone (nick name pebbles get it? stone…pebbles? LOL. ) Sometime around Thanksgiving…now that’s a lot to be thankful for!

And all because two people fell in love…..

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