February 3, 2014

Mary's Birth Video by our Friend Neely

Long Post. But one of my favorites I've ever shared. Earlier today our friend Neely shared a video she put together of the images from Mary's arrival. But I wanted to share a little (long) background first.

In the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with Cale I decided that I wanted to get some maternity pictures taken. Miles was deployed and I thought it would make for a nice Father's Day gift. Cale was due only a couple weeks after Father's Day and Miles was coming home early from his deployment to be there for the birth (he ended up arriving the day before Cale was born). So I looked up some photographers in the area, found one who was available, contacted her, set a date, and when that date arrived I drove out to the local park where we agreed to meet. And then I drove around. And around. And around. No photographer was there. She stood me up. I called twice, left a message and never heard back from her. I re-checked my email to ensure I had the right time and location (I did), emailed her, and hoped that everything was ok and assumed I would hear back that she either forgot or would tell me something came up and reschedule. But I never heard back from her. Eventually I saw she updated photos from another session on her website so I knew everything was fine - she just had the worst business etiquette ever. Who stands up a pregnant woman whose husband is deployed?! Fortunately I hadn't paid anything yet, but I was left to find someone new on a now shorter timeline.

And while I was initially annoyed that I had to find another photographer, it ended up being a huge blessing. I found Ker-Fox Photography just through googling local photographers, loved their website and pictures and contacted them to see if they could do a session, explaining that my husband was deployed and I wanted to have some maternity pictures taken since this was our first child and he wouldn't be home until close to the birth. I got a quick response back from Neely, who has since become a very dear friend. She and her husband came out to capture some images of my pregnancy with Cale and to this day they are some of my most cherished possessions.

When Cale died I asked my sister Kate to contact Neely as we had also planned on doing a newborn session with her (and I certainly wasn't much for talking on the phone those first few weeks). Never having a client experience a loss like ours, she was devastated for us. Out of the goodness of her heart, she put together a beautiful album of some of the pictures from my maternity session.

Fast forward many months later, I contacted Neely to let her know I was pregnant again. I wanted her to be the one to capture images of my pregnancy, but also asked if she would be willing to be there for the birth and capture Finn's arrival. At the time of delivery, Neely was newly pregnant with their daughter Finley (she not only takes great pictures, but has good taste in names too). She was happy to be there as she had never shot a birth before, and she wrote a beautiful blog post about it here.

In June of 2011 we literally saw Neely every week for a photo session. First maternity, then delivery, newborn, and at the end of the month she came out (again out of the goodness of her heart) to document the balloon release we did for Cale's first birthday. It was special and fitting that she was there with us, as we celebrated the boy who brought us together:

When we moved from Georgia I was sad knowing that I would never find a photographer quite like Neely. Several months ago I was texting with her and catching up. I told her that we were expecting again and while it shouldn't surprise me, I was beyond thrilled when she suggested flying out to capture the birth. And she did. She flew all the way to Texas from Georgia. Left her little Finley and her husband for nearly a week to come out and once again, capture some of the most tender and important moments of our family's story. Oh, and at the time of Mary's birth, Neely shared with me that she is expecting again. Just as she was when Finn was born. Another little connection I think is so special.

But the connection that I love the most is that Neely has not only taken amazing pictures and helped us preserve our most cherished memories, but she is part of all three of our children's stories. Neely's goal when taking pictures is to tell a story. Her God given talent has enabled her to do that beautifully for us, as she has done for all her clients, but I wanted to share the story behind all these powerful images, and why they are so very special.

I not only gained a friend in Neely, but I found someone who has meant so much to our family over the last three and a half years. I'll never be able to thank her for the gifts she's given us, but will always be profoundly grateful for them. Her latest work, this video of Mary's arrival (which she shares in this touching blog), brings me to tears every time I watch it.

I watched the video today with Finn and when Mary cries, he said "Mary sad?" "No baby, Mary was just born, she was crying for the first time." He replied, "Mary's awake."

Yes, honey. And someday you will realize how profound that statement is.

If I ever meet the photographer who stood me up, I need to thank her.



  1. This entire story is amazing, and I love the way Neely writes about you and Cale and your family. Beautiful.

  2. <3 <3 <3
    And Ethan just asked me why I'm crying...
    Neely, you are a beautiful, incredible gift to this family who so deserves it.

  3. I love this whole thing. What a wonderful photographer, person, and friend.


  4. This was nothing short of magical to read. And Neely does some amazing work. Just wow. I love her.

  5. These pictures are beyond words. The look on your faces when you are taking her all in is incredible. (and I think I speak for all of us other moms when I say that we dislike you just a little bit for looking SO amazing in these pictures!!) I love this story and how all three of your kids have these beautiful pictures in common. LOVE!!

  6. All of your pictures and video are so perfect. I am so happy for you Caroline. Your sweet Mary is so adorable. Seeing pictures of all three of your children next to each other is beautiful and they all have SO much hair when they are born! I will say I agree with the last post and I am truly jealous at how amazing you look in you birthing pictures! If only we all could look that great! Wishing you all the best :)

    Kim Tennill

  7. 3 things.. 1. This made me cry. 2. You are just gorgeous!! 3. You make beautiful things!! :)

  8. This was so precious and incredible. I think anyone after having a loss gets how valuable those pictures and video are-they are so much more than "excitement" at a new baby or cute maternity pictures---they are a victory at a live baby after so much pain and sadness. Im so happy for you and your family!

  9. I agree. This story is simply incredible. And so are you. And I love Neely. And your whole family.

  10. The video, the photos, your children -- all so beautiful.

  11. Love all of this- the story, you and your family, and Neely. Amazing <3