This past fall I did a “re-birth” session with Jess, Kevin, Noah and Amelia. We decided upon a photography session that would truly honor and pay tribute to the place where Jess and Kevin’s daughter, Amelia, was born as well as where Jess flat lined after her cesearean birth. So we met up at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis to start Jess and Amelia’s celebration of life and re-birth session.
This was so special to me because I got to spend time with a family whose lives were forever changed upon the birth of their daughter. The recovery room after a cesarean can be a calm place with some minor checks from the staff to make sure you’re doing ok. Being a birth photographer, I’ve spent time with many families who have had cesarean births and have been present in the recovery room immediately following the birth. It can be a quiet time and it’s a time where you think you’ll be able to soak in your brand-new baby, to nurse or give your baby a bottle for the first time, to look into your husband’s eyes and say “We did it! We brought another child in to this World!” Jess and Kevin were robbed of that when things went South in the recovery room and Jess had to immediately be brought back in for surgery. She was diagnosed with Peripartum Cardiomyapthy.
Thankfully, the staff worked hard and fast to get Jess stabilized after she flat-lined for minutes at a time, multiple times. They literally saved her life that day. Jess’ case is a rare one. It’s certainly not an outcome you expect upon delivering your second child. But that was Jess and Kevin’s reality. You can see why they wanted to honor Mercy Hospital – the place where Kevin almost lost his wife and their kids almost lost their mom. They certainly will never take for granted the staff who saved Jess’ life. That place deserves to be honored.
Here they are one full year later celebrating both Jess’s life and Amelia’s first birthday as well as celebrating the family they are able to be. Kevin endured so much during that time as well between his wife being hospitalized and having a newborn and toddler to take care of. It was amazing to see his strength and love for his family flourish despite the cards he was dealt.
Amelia has zero recollection of the events that occurred with her mama and never will know beyond the accounts retold by those who know her mama’s story. She is a spunky go getter who marches to the beat of her own drum. She and Noah move about without a care in the world. They love each other and are simply living their lives like kids are supposed to.
We had decided that this session would not be complete without a visit to Barnes where Jess spent weeks of her life recovering and getting her heart back to health. When a person experiences such trauma to the heart and body like Jess did, the outlook on recovery can look grim and there are a lot of unknowns. But Jess is a fighter and she fought with all her might to get back to life as they knew it prior to her diagnosis.
The most beautiful thing is that despite the events that transpired over a year ago, here they are…a normal family, living their lives with two crazy kids who may want to eat dirt, play with sticks, and occasionally love each other a little too hard. And that’s really the best part of this story. It created a new perspective on life for Jess who essentially experienced a re-birth and for Kevin who watched it unfold before his eyes. Jess and Kevin are still able to live a normal everyday life – albeit one that has much more meaning to them these days. Jess and Kevin have proved that they can continue with life and they don’t focus on what could have been. After all, when you have a first-hand encounter with new life, and death, and life again, you embrace your family, you help deliver hope to others through awareness and you celebrate every single day a little more.
Jess and Kevin, thank you again for trusting me with your most cherished memories of your family and their milestones! I’m so thankful for you, for the staff at Mercy that saved your life, and the staff at Barnes who helped bring you to a full recovery.