WILL | NORTHERN WISCONSIN FAMILY PORTRAITS
North Central Wisconsin Senior & Portrait Photographers James & Katie Stokes Located in Medford, Wisconsin // Newborn // Page 2
We have be photographing this family for over 2 year! Katie and I couldn’t be happier to see them add little Noah to their family just a few short months ago. After several lifestyle sessions, we pretty pumped to see they have added a barn wood wall in their home! I think every home should have a wall delegated as the family portrait wall. For us growing up, it was always in front of the fireplace.
Looking forward to warm weather and being able to get outside for Noah’s 6 month session.
It started nearly 7 years ago. We have watched as these two have conquered all that life has thrown at them. We captured their engagement, wedding, maternity, birth, and now their daughter’s newborn photos. We look forward to capturing many more of this family’s high points in the years to come. Thank you for taking us along on your journey. Thrilled be doing life with you three.
Many more blessings to come!
The Birth of a Child and a Mother
9,113 days. That is how many days I lived without my little peanut in my arms. I knew I wanted to be a mother. I just didn’t know if I should be a mother. Would I be a good mother? Would my husband love me the same? Could we even have children? Was I ready? In reality, nobody is ever ready. You will never have all of the answers. You will never have “enough” money. You will never be at the “best” spot in your life. You just have to roll with the punches. Thus, the journey began…
309 days. That is how many days my husband and I tried to conceive our little peanut. The moment we were married we decided to start trying to conceive a baby. I sure thought this would be an easy task. It seems that people get pregnant from drinking water these days. My husband and I were young and relatively healthy. Month after month and pregnancy test after pregnancy test I literally thought I was going crazy. Scratch that. I was crazy. I was an obsessive, pee-happy, hallucinating, crazy person. Why was there still only one line on that stick? Then the game began of “seeing a second line”. “Line eye” as the Trying To Conceive community would call it. I was peeing on stick after stick. After seven months, I was completely discouraged. Not only did I still not have a baby, but also my intimate relationship with my husband became a chore. Intercourse was no longer filled with love, passion, and emotional connection. It was a daunting task that was resulting in no little peanut for us. My original fears were becoming real. “Could we have children?” Apparently not. I convinced myself that I was not getting pregnant because I would be a bad mother. Not only were all the tests negative but my cycles were a mess. I was having a hard time even tracking when I could get pregnant. Therefore, I decided to go to the doctor and see if she could regulate me. At that appointment, I learned that I did not ovulate. Well, that sure answered my question as to why I was not getting pregnant. It sure helps if the sperm has an egg to fertilize, and I wasn’t dropping any eggs. After a few more doctor appointments for both my husband and I, we began to try again. This time, we had the help of Clomid. Clomid essentially makes you ovulate. Round one began! And… was followed by nothing. Round two began! And… by golly there were two lines. What!? Two lines!? Not possible. I couldn’t get excited. I mean, I was excited but I had also turned into a crazy person during this time while hallucinating that I saw two lines before. I couldn’t trust myself. The blood test, ultrasound, heartbeat, morning sickness, mood swings, and everything else confirmed that my little peanut was in my belly.
291 days. That is how many days I carried my little peanut in my womb. Now the fears really began. People asked me all the time what my fears were. Money? No, I’m great at saving money and budgeting. Lack of sleep? Not really, coffee is amazing. No social life? No, I don’t really like people anyway. Okay, I like people, but I’m a homebody. Love. That is what I was worried about. Will my peanut love me? Will I love my peanut? What if I dreamed about this baby, tried so hard to conceive this baby, carried and birthed this baby, and then didn’t love this baby? Or, what if my peanut didn’t love me. I couldn’t shake this fear. The months flew by and the due date was getting closer and closer. I wasn’t afraid of the pain, although I should have been. I wasn’t afraid of anything really, except those fears I just expressed.
11 days. That is how many days “overdue” I was. I had been dilated for weeks, was pretty much completely effaced, and had been having contractions for quite some time. Of course, why would I think my body would do what it was supposed to… it hadn’t this whole time! Tuesday, December 17th, I called the Family Center to set up a time for induction as my doctor had recommended. I really did not want to. I wanted to let nature take its course and let my body do what it was supposed to do when it was ready to. I thought, maybe if I schedule an induction, my brain will chill out and things will start happening naturally. In addition, I figured I would have another three days or so until they would fit me in. “6:00 AM,” the nurse says, “Come on in at 6:00 AM tomorrow.” Oh yeah, did I mention it was almost 5:00 PM when I called? Umm, yeah… talk about freak out. The crazy person had come back. After a few hours, I went back to being normal, and got ready. Morning came and my husband and I made our trip to the hospital. I came bearing gifts of Christmas cookies for the nurses. They got me all set up and ready to go and we began our first dose of Cytotec. Cytotec helps start contractions and you can slowly increase the dosage to make the contractions stronger. I chose this option instead of Pitocin, which I was told, makes your contractions go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. Yeah, I chose the slow and steady route. Here we go! 9:00 AM I got my first dose. This continued every hour, all day. Sure, I was having contractions, and they “looked” intense on the monitor, but I didn’t feel a thing, except the tightening sensation. Obnoxious. There I was, stuck in that awfully uncomfortable bed, just waiting. Waiting and waiting and waiting. Still, no baby. Not even a sign that baby was coming soon. 7:00 PM was my last dose. The doctor said that we would start Pitocin in the morning. Now I was just frustrated, and drained, and scared, and annoyed. I was so annoyed with my husband and I’m pretty sure he was annoyed with me. Why? Oh, just because. Our spouses tend to be our emotional punching bags. It’s not right or fair, but that’s the way it seems to work out. I was a nervous wreck and he was calm, cool, and collected. How was he not feeling what I was feeling? Why wasn’t he anxious and crying and frustrated. Well he was anxious; he was just being a solid place for me, which I wasn’t appreciating for whatever reason. My husband doesn’t talk when he is nervous or stressed. He just paces or stays quiet. I’m the opposite. I’m that obnoxious person that talks about anything and everything to try to distract myself mentally. Clearly, our own coping methods were clashing and I was angry. Night came and we tried to sleep.
7 hours. That is about how long I labored to get my peanut in my arms. It was roughly 10:00 PM when we went to bed. Of course, I had to get up to pee every half an hour. Nothing new there. I was running on minimal sleep from the night before and was emotionally drained. Apparently, my bladder was not drained. Shortly after midnight, my fourth bathroom break since I went to bed, I had one of those forever pees. You know, the kind where you sit there for what seems like 20 minutes still peeing. Still, nothing totally abnormal, pregnant or not. As I was going back to my bed, my husband woke up and asked me if I was okay. I said I was fine and sat down. I wondered if my water had broken… but I didn’t want to hit my call light and tell a nurse that my water broke and then have it not be true and then feel like an idiot. So, I sat there. Then, I peed everywhere. Okay, now my water broke. Oh, crap! Crazy lady was back! I looked at the clock and it was about 12:30 AM. Ouch. Painful contractions had finally made their appearance. I was finally dilated to a four, as opposed the one centimeter I had been at for weeks. I tried to stay moving, walking, bending, leaning, anything to try to ease the pain. My husband followed me around and became a railing for me. I looped my arms around his neck and dangled from him, I leaned on his lap, and I leaned against his side. Nothing really helped and I couldn’t concentrate very well. Helplessly, he asked if there was anything he could do. I finally looked him in the eyes and found my pain relief. I stopped focusing on the pain and just focused on his beautiful crystal blue eyes and hoped that our peanut would have his eyes. I could feel my body relax just looking at him. “Count” is all I could say. As a result, he counted. He counted to ten repeatedly for hours all the while keeping eye contact with me. He made the mistake of breaking eye contact and I had a mini flip out moment where I panicked until our eyes met again. It was just my husband and I working on getting our peanut in our arms. I can’t tell you how many people were in the room or who was in the room. However, I can tell you I have never felt more love for my husband before. Every girl dreams of having a man to be your rock and to hold you when you are weak and this is exactly what he did for me. He held me and kept me calm. I had been so angry with him for being calm and collected before and now his calm demeanor was the only thing keeping me focused. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Within a few hours I was nearing seven centimeters and was totally ready for the drugs. The rest of my experience is somewhat of a blur. I remember getting an epidural and it most definitely eased my contractions. However, I was still throwing my legs in the air and had complete feeling of them. That was a scary thought. I thought that was all supposed to be numb… but what did I know. I was a first time mom that had never done this before. Things calmed down some and I was checked again to see what progress we had made. I was ready to start pushing. Well, technically my body was ready for me to start pushing. I was nowhere near ready to start pushing. Too bad so sad. I had to push. The first few pushes were easy. I thought that the rest would be a breeze too, with this epidural and all. Ha. Wrong. Oh my holy searing pain. I had to keep pushing. That was the only way to meet my peanut. After a few more pushes, she was out and in my arms at 6:51 AM. My heart melted and my chest ached with love. Within seconds of seeing her, I loved her so much that it actually hurt. “Happy Birthday,” I said. Of course, they swoop your baby away so quickly. “Come on baby, breathe,” I heard somebody say. I couldn’t see my peanut at this point as she was surrounded by nurses and my husband. So I looked at my sister (in-law if you want to be technical), best friend, and birth photographer and said, “why isn’t she breathing?!”She smiled oh so sweetly at me, waved her hand in the air, and said, “she’s fine, there is nothing wrong at all.” Phew, I breathed in relief only to hear the doctor say that she was going to start on my stitches. The what!? Oh no… “how bad is it?” I asked my doctor. She replied, “mmhmm”. Gee, thanks for the comforting words doc. O well. My peanut, Arawyn Mae, was finally here. She was in my arms and she was breathing. She was here and I could kiss her and love her.
Forever. That is how long I get to love my peanut, Arawyn Mae. My birth story is a blur, as I’m sure is the situation for most women giving birth. I barely remember certain parts. Even with all the pain and fear, it was the fastest seven hours of my life. Luckily, my story has been captured in photographs. I can look back at those photos and be told by others the parts I don’t remember. I can look back at those photos and become overwhelmed with emotions. I can cherish those memories and the story of Arawyn’s arrival.
50 years ago my grandparents adopted my mother and authored into existence the very beginning of my journey. There was a little baby, Joan, who would have been my aunt had she not been born premature, well maybe, but in all reality if she had lived my mother might never have met my grandparents and they happily would have lived out their lives with two beautiful and healthy children. But God had plans, plans for hope and life, plans that included adopting a little wiry curly haired girl who would keep my grandmother up most nights and run-ragged during the day.
As she grew, the late nights of worry didn’t stop and the trials of parenthood continued and do to this day. But like all great journeys and selfless acts, there are fruits of your labor. I like to think of my siblings, cousins, and children as the some of the fruit of my grandparents’ labor.
I am eternally grateful for God’s grace that has been so preciously and intentionally woven into my story through adoption and for showing me how much he loves us – his adopted children. Romans 8:14-16
All who believe are adopted children of God. I grasp onto these words daily as I struggle to understand how God could love us so infinitely and be so incredibly patient with me. My life would have looked so differently – it may have never have been. Likewise, had my maternal birth grandmother not valued life and chose to give up her baby for adoption, history would have been altered. So many lives would never have come to be, so many beautiful moments of life and laughter never would have been uttered.
God has put it on my soul to have a heart for children, babies, orphans, – people. James 1:27. How could I not? With the adoption of my eldest son, a legacy of hope and love continues. What an incredible feeling it must be to be 80 and look back on your life, the sacrifices, the pain, the kisses, the anxiety, the struggle and see the light. The light that comes with a life full of Jesus, and yet see all that time wasted. Time you wish you had spent differently – done differently – cared differently. My hope is that I will look back on life and see how broken I was and yet how merciful God was through my brokenness and shortcomings. I know I am not a perfect father and I never will be, but I can point my children to the one who is. To live a life without regret means one must be in a constant state of rejoicing and repentance, offering grace and forgiveness willingly and giving of yourself until it hurts. Already I feel I have wasted so much time wrestling with God and looking outside of His word for truth, but our God is the God of infinite chances and boundless mercy.
This little girl couldn’t have found a more loving family. Her future is with the Lord and for that and so much more, I rejoice! Jeremiah 29:11 Their story is one worth telling, but it is theirs to tell and is one that is still being written. Baby M meets her four siblings very soon and with open arms and endless kisses she will be welcomed whole-heartedly into a family filled with joy and purpose in the Lord.
I continue to pray that God will use me (us) to glorify him through the imagery we create and the stories we tell. If these photographs can bless this family and remind this little girl someday of how precious God made her and how much her mother and father love her, than I count it a blessing and it is worth every daily struggle. Psalm 139:13
Someday she will undoubtedly have questions, ones that are not always the easiest to answer. Questions that strike you in your core and make you question you fatherhood/motherhood. But with God’s help, we will have the words that are laced with kindness and patience that speak truth, in love, to our children. The truth that God made you and he loves you unconditionally, even when we fail – especially when we fail. He loves us. He loves us. The words that stop me. break me. and remind me that I am a child to a Father who found me, adopted me, and gave up his own son to die for me. The Story of what love IS!
This Christmas I want to see through the wrapping paper and the flashy gadgets and see a baby in a manger born 2000 years ago who changed the history of mankind forever; and be reminded of Joseph, who loved a son that wasn’t his own. Furthermore, I want to see myself, once a helpless orphan, as an adopted son of the Lord Almighty – who has EVERYTHING to be thankful for! 2 Corinthians 6:18
Charlie is a handsome little man and he just so happens to have some of the coolest most adventurous parents around. C.S. are his initials, after the revered theologian and apologist Clive Staples Lewis and from the looks of his parent’s library, he will be read to a great deal. Katie and I cherish these intimate family sessions, which give us a wonderful opportunity to meet new parents and capture their first formal family portraits. We count this as such a great blessing and feel refreshed after a few quick hours spent with this loving and faithful family.
We look forward to watching Charlie grow, but not too fast.
This sweet little girl stole our hearts. We were so looking forward to capturing some of her first photographs after shooting mom & dads portraits just a few short weeks prior. Grandma’s house served for the perfect space to have Ella’s in-home newborn session. Original hardwood flooring, from a 100-year-old farmhouse, allowed for the beautiful backdrop with her sleeping in the pumpkin. Katie just so happens to be the baby whisper and stylizer, I simply set up the shot, so I don’t take much credit for these. Ella truly is a sweetheart and she has some pretty incredible parents. I am sure this little one will be so loved.
Our dream one day is to have a natural light studio and office space where we can meet with clients and photograph newborns and seniors; however, we will hope to still offer these in-home portrait sessions.