holland's story | a surrogate birth

I love stories.  Always have and always will.

And I have found my perfect niche in which to use my art and words to tell them.  

Birth stories are always my very favorite to tell.  The totally unpredictable nature, the raw emotions (as if the camera isn’t there), and the love.  Oh the love!  

More than a year ago I got an email from a local girl who said she was in the process of becoming a surrogate and wanted to hire me.  She said she knew the story needed to be told through pictures and she knew (even though there was no baby yet) that I was the one to tell it. 

(chills)

And on a cold February morning, with a gleaming full moon that hadn’t gone to bed yet, I was able to do just that.

This is a very special story.  Two paths woven together to form a bond that will not break.  The story of two families and their journey to bringing home a baby girl.

This is Holland’s story.  

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This is Peter and Megan and their son Eli.

Although you wouldn't know by watching them all run around and play together, Megan nearly lost her life when she gave birth to Eli 3 years ago.  Months in the hospital, unable to see or hold her baby for weeks.  It was incredibly traumatic.

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When it came to having another baby, Megan carrying the baby was out of the question and so they pursued surrogacy.

If you are unsure of what surrogacy is, Megan explained it to me in the cutest way.  It's like making a casserole in your home, using your ingredients and then taking it to someone else's home to bake it in their oven.

I just love that!

And here is their "oven" Jessica.

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Jessica is one of the kindest, most humble, and most giving woman I know.  She has two children of her own and she and her husband decided that they wanted to help someone grow their family.

And so their paths collided.

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Before I met with both families, I couldn't help but think that it might be slightly awkward.  I was so unfamiliar with surrogacy and most of what I knew was from negative articles or snippets on television.  But I was proven SO wrong within minutes of watching them all interact together.

I can't quite explain it, but these families just go together.  Like they were meant to be together from before the beginning of time.  There was no awkward sidesteppings or awkward silences. There was just complete joy and gratefulness for all involved.

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And these two women.  Their bond is stronger than sisters.  I watched them giggle and chat while their children played together in the distance and tears just welled up in my eyes.

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On the day Holland was born, it was decided that she would come by way of c-section.  The families gathered and there was a different feeling in the air.  Such anticipation and also a little bit of breath holding.  I knew that as we got closer to the OR that the events of Eli's birth would come pouring in.

I wasn't able to be in the OR but I was right outside of it and got to hear their exclamations of "It's a girl!" and "Look at those cheeks!" through a crack in the door.

At first, I was slightly saddened that I wasn't able to capture those first few moments but it suddenly hit me after they were done with surgery, that I had a very important job to do.  To capture those first few moments of bonding for Jessica.  Because I know that throughout all the months of morning sickness and being uncomfortable, she was picturing this joy.

One of my very favorite moments of the day was, in the nursery, Peter called the surgeon who saved Megan's life on the operating table 3 years ago, and thanked her and told her they had named their healthy baby girl after her Holland "Montgomery".

(tears, tears and more tears!)

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In the end, I witnessed both women in tears, just grateful.  Jessica gave the greatest gift of life and Megan so gracefully received it with such genuine gratitude.

To be witness to such selflessness is inspiring.

Thank you to both families for trusting me enough to capture their story. .  I can't wait to continue to watch as Holland grows and as your families draw closer to one another through the years.

www.helenjoy.com