Our Miracle Baby

A journey through NICU

I’ve been a little MIA folks and for good reason.. we welcomed our little miracle Van Connor into the world back on the 27th of May. It’s been quite the journey but we're so blessed to finally have our boy home with us.

I make them impatient, Van a little more so then his sister. Born at 31 weeks + 5 days, we spent about a month and a half in and out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at John Hunter Hospital, where our boy received the most professional, gentle and loving care our family could have ever hoped for. There’s not a nurse or volunteer on the NICU ward who doesn’t love what they do and they are all saints in our eyes!

The night Van as born unfolded as fast as lightening. I'm certain we wouldn't have made it to the delivery suites had I not already been in admitted to hospital. Blake arrived just in time to have his hand turned to mush as I clung on for dear life through the ring of fire. Van came out lungs blaring, a huge relief! I reached out and popped him on my chest for a quick cuddle before the NICU nurse took him to check him over. It didn't take long for his cries to turn into a gurgling sound, a sign that he was struggling to breathe on his own. Van and Blake were off to the nursery and I was left in the delivery suite for what felt like eternity to be monitored over the next hour, thankfully Blake was keeping me updated every couple of minutes and my midwife was a witty, kind and positive superwoman who kept my delusional-self sane for the duration of that blurry wait.

Despite spending the last hour counting down the minutes, I was overwhelmingly nervous when the time came to see Van. I fussed around unpacking and repacking my things, took a long shower and was shakey as hell as I tried to pull myself together. Due to threatened preterm labor from 26 weeks (thanks to a shortened cervix) I had a lot of time to mentally prepare myself for this moment which I think is why I remember it being really beautiful. I was just so relieved that he had made it here safely that I seen past all the distracting monitors and machines attached to his tiny frame and seen this little 1.7kg bundle of perfection.

It was quite the cocktail of emotions when I held Van for the first time. Skin-to-skin I could hear and feel the bubbles from the CPAP against my chest as the air entered and opened up his little lungs, a subtle reminder that my boy had more growing to do and was not yet strong enough to get by in this world without medical assistance. After a few days of my own recovery in the hospital it was time for me to return home and leave my little fighter in the trustworthy hands of the NICU staff. Whilst I knew he was in the best hands possible it ripped my heart out returning from hospital with empty arms.

A little warm body quickly filled those empty arms whenever I arrived home. My daughter was missing her mummy and the guilt followed me everywhere, when I was at the hospital I was missing Lennon, when I was at home I was missing Van. It goes against all your natural instincts to leave your baby behind in a hospital and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

For the first week or so we could only get Van out for one kangaroo care cuddle a day, which meant there were days I couldn't hold my boy as I knew it was important to share this special time with his daddy. One of the ultimate special moments was when Lennon met her new baby brother, I'll never forget it. She smooched every inch of that humidicrib and gave it her all to try and hug him through it. Nearly 3 months on and she's still totally smitten, always invading his personal space and smothering him in affection.

Van was flying through his NICU milestones. He was off CPAP after 4 days and after a few more days he was moved from Intensive Care to the Special Care room where he would continue to grow big and strong.

I wasn't long until Mr Impatient was latching on for breastfeeds well in advance for his corrected gestational age, gaining weight and moving into an open crib. There was a skip in my step for days after this one! Everything seems 10000% better, easier and more natural when your babe moves to an open crib. The nappy changes are easier, the cuddles are more frequent, you can study their face endlessly and there's no more gawking through a clinical plastic box.

Van was up to 5 breastfeeds a day, every 3 hours and tube/bottle through the night. The 5 trips back and forth to the hospital a day were draining, but living so close meant Blake and I could juggle our time between the two kids and we were so fortunate to have that luxury. Everything was going smoothly and home time was in reach, until from from no where Van took a turn and required oxygen for a few days. A relatively small hiccup, but it was a hard one to mentally cope with when we'd built our hopes up so high to be bringing him home.

Finally, after one whole month we got to take our boy home. Our little family were all together and the happiest we'd all been in months... but the cruel viruses of Winter decided to make a very unwelcome appearance at our household. Van's taste of freedom was scarce, we had only had him home for 6 days before we had to rush him back to hospital. 

Tests came back positive for RSV bronchiolitis and we were warned the worst was yet to come. It was back to square one in a humidicrib, tube feeds, high flow oxygen and lots of suctions to clear his airways. This time round he was too sick to get out of the crib at all and I was completely shattered. Never in my life have I felt so helpless. He needed to be in his mumma's arms more then ever and all I could do was watch on next to his crib as he rode out the worst of it in isolation. A cruel reminder to stay away from newborns if you're sick!!

After 5 days he finally built up enough strength and energy to begin to wake up. The worst was behind him and he got stronger each day.

At long last we finally got to bring our healthy strong boy home.. for good! Our hearts are full and we are so SO proud of this little fighter of ours.

Just look at Blake and his babies the day after we brought Van home.. SWOOOOOOON!

Big thanks and love to our village of family and friends who are helping us raise our kids! Those of you who helped take the stresses out of every day life so our family could focus on the important stuff, we really are so lucky and will be forever grateful. A special thanks to my beautiful mum, best friend Steph and of course my partner Blake, all of who were there through all the emotional turmoil of this chapter and with me every step of the way.

To all the midwives, nurses and doctors out there, we salute you! Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are supporting their little warriors in NICU. Keep strong ♥

 

 

Summer days

Since the cold change is starting to kick in, I thought I’d share some sunshine from a few months back with Jodi and her beautiful kids. I love a spontaneous shoot, we hadn’t planned to go surfing but the sun was out, school holidays were nearly over and the kids were itching to go out for a paddle… so, why not?! Gotta love having this all on your doorstep in Port Stephens...

Rocco has arrived

This chilled out little dude entered the world on the 28th of March... Congratulations Jodie, Alex & the kids!

I could photograph sweet newbies forever, lucky the oven is cooking! But until our new little babe is ready, I'm going to lap up the newborn goodness of all my wonderful clients... Thank you to each of you who invite me along to capture such a precious time of your life, so lucky!!

The colourful fish pillow used throughout this shoot belongs to Rocco's big brother Jack. It's Jack's favourite pillow and he gave it to his Mum to take into hospital so she could be comfortable, what a sweetheart! I'll be visiting this beautiful family again soon to capture Rocco with his siblings Jack and Reese, who I've heard are in awe of him.

Our little escape to Sandbar

Our little family has been so busy since the beginning of festive season and it had been ages since we had spent a weekend with just the 3 of us (4 including the bump). Blake had organised annual leave to go to Bathurst for some car race, but I twisted his arm to head up the coast instead. Best...decision...EVER!

Most my childhood holidays were spent camping up the Great Lakes and I plan to keep up the tradition. We had originally planned to stay at Neranie but it was a little over crowded, so we camped at Sandbar instead. I can't recommend this place enough if you have young children, it's ankle deep water for as far as their little legs will take them, which means you can actually sit down for more then 30 seconds! We got a beach permit for the car and had full stretches of the beach and lake to ourselves... We'll be back up there in no time!

Maya "Fresh 48"

This was my first ever "Fresh 48" session and it definitely won't be my last! 

When we were discussing the possibility of this shoot I was so excited to be apart of such a special time. It's a huge privilege to be invited to document such a precious and personal experience. When the wonderful news arrived and I got the call to say sweet baby Maya had entered the world, I'm not going to lie I got super nervous! I quickly remembered just how overwhelming them first few days as a new parent were for myself and questioned if I was professionally ready to deliver a service appropriate and sensitive to the circumstances.  As soon as I arrived to the hospital suite though and seen this beautiful new family of 3, I instantly felt completely calm, comfortable and C.L.U.C.K.Y! 

Welcome to the world little darling.

Waiting for baby Snow White..

I'm so far behind in keeping this blog up to date, busy busy busy... but over the next few weeks I will try to catch up as I've had some of my most enjoyable sessions to date! 

Thought I'd get the ball rolling again with the beautiful and relaxed maternity session I did back in December with the back then parents-to-be Roxy and Perry, their cute fur baby Buddy and beautiful baby bump "Snow White."  I have photographed this wonderful family again twice since the arrival of their beautiful girl Maya (which I can't wait to share with you) and I just can't get enough their company! 

Roxy 36 weeks Pregnant. 

 

Baby Taj

It's always such a blessing to be invited into the home of a family as they welcome home their new baby. Milah is such a sweet big sister, just look at her reading away to her new little brother!

Indah Designs

I teamed up with the creatives behind Indah Designs and model Sophie, to launch the stunning “California Gypsy" collection over at Indah designs.  I loved everything about this shoot, even with the frosty mid-winter temps everyone was full of enthusiasm and Soph was an absolute superstar in front of the camera. The moon lit up the dunes for us to trek up and find our prime position for sunrise. Mother nature was really showing off, even giving us a pod of whales to watch, playing on the horizon just as the sun come up.

Go treat yourself to some of the stunning homewares, fashion and accessories over at www.indahdesigns.com.au

Little Brownies

What better way to kick off my blog with these cool cats. Little Brownies is a children’s shoe and clothing label which oozes dreamy bohemian goodness. I absolutely LOVE this label so I was jumping out of my skin when Jess asked me to photograph her new collection. Isla, Maycee, Tommie, Betty, Flynn, Lola and all their creative mumma's were such a dream to work with. The kiddos were so easy-going and happy to spend the day lapping up the sunshine in some cool threads, enjoying each others company and laughing at my lame jokes. Mid shoot the weather got stinking hot (there may have even been a little dude opting for a nudie run), but a change of scenery closer to the sea, with ice-creams and swims post-shoot was the perfect way to wrap up the day.