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Two weeks ago today, I was prepped and wheeled into a cold & sterile room for surgery. And, when I awoke, the first thought that came to my groggy mind was:

My baby is gone.

I went in 10 weeks + 6 days pregnant with my miracle baby, little Bean as {her} daddy would call her. 9 years of waiting, praying, crying, hurting, longing… just gone.

My husband Daniel and I had tried everything except IVF. I mean, everything. Through the rounds of doctors and testing, everyone just labeled me as “unknown.” Hubs and I deciphered it was an implantation issue and that nothing was going to work. 2 years ago we just allowed ourselves to accept that getting pregnant was not how we were going to start our family, and we were both okay with that. I’ve always been very open about my struggles with long term infertility as I’m not ashamed of it, it’s my story and if we hide our biggest struggles, how can we expect anyone to understand what we’re each going through.

Then, in February, just a couple months ago, we found out we were surprisingly pregnant. I wept with so much joy, thinking of Genesis 30:22 “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.” God had finally remembered me.

We announced to our family the day we found out, and to everyone else the next day. We were too elated to keep this a secret and wanted to celebrate this little life. I felt so convicted that this was finally our time and we did everything right with prenatal care, took so much precaution with me, and I struggled but prevailed to trust my body to take care of little Bean, because when you haven’t trusted your body for 9 years to work right, it’s hard to just hand over that trust. But I did, and worked through the sickness that followed, rejoicing to be sick. We saw baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound at 6 weeks + 4 days and allowed ourselves to start making plans, to start feeling like we could actually join this ‘parent club’, which was so exclusive.

A couple days before our second follow up at 10 weeks, I was starting to feel better. I thought, ‘Can I really be this lucky to get over the sickness at 10 weeks? Everyone says they were sick up to 14-17 weeks.’ I asked Daniel if anything could be wrong since I was feeling better and we both brushed off the silly thought and just had a ‘We’re having a baby!’ giggle.

That was the only fleeting second I thought anything could be wrong. And two days later, when we went for the follow up so eager to hear that little thump thump thump, we couldn’t find Bean’s heartbeat. Daniel and I knew the second the image came up on the monitor that something was wrong. Then of course having the tech leave the room not once, but twice, only confirmed it. The midwife thought the tech told us and the tech thought the midwife was going to tell us, and so the midwife was just “I’m so sorry” and I had already been crying but we had to get her to reiterate what the problem was. It was a mess.

My body failed me. They estimate that the baby passed somewhere between 7-8 weeks and my body had shown me no indication that anything had happened. They call it a ‘missed miscarriage’. So not only was I grieving the loss of our baby, but I came to realize that for the past 2-3 weeks I was planning, picking out names, talking to my belly, all for nothing. That I was lied to and felt so cheated out of everything.

We left the office that day numb, unable to speak, our world just completely shattered. Slowly we started telling the family. And the next day, knowing I was having a very necessary D&C surgery in the morning, I had to let everyone know what had happened. I didn’t regret sharing the pregnancy news so early, I was glad everyone had had a chance to get excited over Bean’s upcoming arrival, because it was the only time I would have to share our baby with everyone. There would be no birth, there would be no pictures, just this brief flicker of time that Baby Strom was real.

What I did not expect and caught me completely off guard, was the incredible, sensational amount of support we received when the news of the loss of our baby had spread. Our families were heartbroken with us and it’s been hard to talk with them, I will admit, and so it was the community of our closest friends and so many supporters from my NICU work that stepped up to really really let us know that we were loved, our baby was so very loved, and countless prayers were being lifted up for us. When I was wheeled into my recovery room after surgery, I was greeted with flowers from the hospital staff who I had worked with in the marketing and NICU departments countless time. Flowers were sent to my home from one of my NICU families who had moved away, cards were sent, gifts to help deal with grief were sent, one of my dear friends provided dinner so we didn’t have to cook, and hundreds of messages of thoughts, prayers, and comfort, so many from people I have never personally met. Many shared their own struggles over their pregnancy losses, virtual hugs were sent all around. So even during the time I hid away from the world, the world was still at my door saying “We love you!”

The physical recovery was hard. I ended up in the ER 5 days later, but thankfully I am ok. Last Friday, I started back to work a week after the procedure, not because I had to, but because emotionally I needed to. One of my first sessions back last Friday was a maternity session. There was some concern for me that doing a maternity session a week after I lost my baby was going to be too hard for me. But, here is the thing, I believe strongly that the attitude one has following a loss will either make or break you. And as much as I cry for and yearn for my baby that I will never get to see or hold after nearly a decade of waiting for, I simply can not bring myself to rob other people of their joy over my grief. Letting grief close off your heart to loving others not only robs others of their joy, but robs yourself of experiencing joy and love. Time doesn’t stand still and each day is another day, another opportunity to live a life worth living, despite our grief.

Ladies, we need to share more of these personal struggles in our lives so we can find a way to let more joy in. If I had never shared the struggles of my long hard battle with infertility, if Daniel and I had chosen not to announce the pregnancy as early as we did, it would have made us not end up sharing the news of our loss, and Baby Bean’s brief little life would not have been celebrated or mourned the way {she} deserved. We would never have received the immense support that kept us lifted up during these darkest days, and a community would not have come together to encourage and pray for another. For all these things, I am thankful I shared our story.

Two weeks ago, I had a few moments alone in the pre-op room and I struggled as I saw flashes of what Bean’s birth should have looked like, and I desperately wondered “How did we end up here?”. As I listened to the people in the next baby tell their nurse all about their new 7 week old baby and laugh over questions about their own D&C, not knowing (or thinking) of who could be in the next bay over, I knew I couldn’t let this harden my heart. I’d already lost my baby, if I lost my heart, then I would lose myself too, and there’s no coming back from that. My body may have failed me, and failed Bean, but:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

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I’ve been photographing this beautiful little lady since she was 4 months old (every month for the first year and then every 6 months) and it’s so wonderful to see Kate’s sweet spirit really start to shine as she enters Toddlerhood! Since her birthday is in January, we headed indoors and decided to use the wonderful mixture of textures at Union Station. When we put Kate on the vent (bottom left) it happened to turn on and a gentle blast of warm air gave us the ‘windblown’ effect, as you can see Kate thought it was super fun!

We were able to cover quite a lot of ground despite only shooting for 30 minutes as I like to walk around, get a quick shot, and keep moving so we don’t lose little peoples’ interest! =) If you’ve got a quick little toddler you’d like to have me photographed, check out my new all-in-one rates! I can’t wait for this Spring when we have the new private Forest available!! Stay tuned!!

Toddler Portraits | Jessica Strom Photography 2015
Toddler Portraits | Jessica Strom Photography 2015

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My last newborn session in the Merriam studio right before Christmas with Miss Lily! We got some Christmas-y pics but at the end her sweet parents let me play since I’ll miss Valentine’s babies this year as I’m not taking any new portrait clients until April (existing clients may contact me & NICU sessions resume soon, hopefully next week!). More info on the exciting changes to come for 2015!

Kansas City Newborn Photographer Jessica Strom

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Adeline {L} and Amelia {R} came out to play yesterday for their milestones sessions. These gorgeous gals were born at 25 Weeks back in April and while I didn’t meet them in the NICU, I sure love showing them off. And when they put their heads like this for me, I told Adeline it was okay they she didn’t want the bow on her purple romper. Believe in preemies!! Look at how amazing they are!

Kansas City Baby Photographer Jessica Strom

And a cute little iPhone shot between takes!

Kansas City Baby Photographer Jessica Strom

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I had the joy of spending my afternoon with twins Sebastian and Elyse, already 4 months since I photographed their birth! I promise I didn’t do a thing to their eyes, they are that gorgeous!! 

Twins Photo Shoot Jessica Strom Leawood Kansas

And one from their birth, which was the last birth photography session on the books for me for some time.

Twins Photo Shoot Jessica Strom Leawood Kansas

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