On Saturday evening after the rain finally decided to end, the skies opened and the sun came out for some Mother's Day Mini Sessions. It truly is an honor to be behind the camera to capture mothers and grandmothers in their element, doing what they love---being with their children.
Today, when I was about to post some pictures from my sessions, I decided to take it a bit further. I wanted to add words directly from these mothers that I captured. To unveil the essence of who they are and how this journey of motherhood has shaped them. I'm guilty at looking at a picture and being in awe of the beauty of someone or how cute their children are or thinking that mama has all her stuff together and I'm struggling over here, but the thing is, when we stop comparing and start celebrating each other, we learn that we each have a story that deserves to be heard. That there is a real person behind the image. With a story. With perhaps triumph or heartache or bravery or in the trenches at this very moment.
When I asked Angie to share a bit of her motherhood journey, she willingly shared deep into her soul and her journey. A journey I had no idea about, but I'm so thankful for her to share how she experienced grace stepping into motherhood. Here are the words straight from Angie's heart...
Motherhood is nothing short of a miracle for me. Even as a child, all I really wanted was to be a mom. At 17 I was diagnosed with AML Leukemia and underwent very intense treatments of chemotherapy. Before my treatment, I was given the deprovera shot as means to try to prevent the chemo from damaging the reproductive organs, but was warned that my years of fertility would certainly be decreased and that it was not uncommon for women to struggle with pregnancy after these specific treatments. A year after I went in remission, I went off to college and there I met my husband. He is incredible and desired to be as dad as much as I wanted to be a mom. We knew we would attempt to have kids early because of the concern of my ability and time line. Almost exactly five years after my pronounced remission date(5 years of remission is when they consider you cancer-free), I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy. I was awed by God's timing! Not only had he spared my life, but he allowed me to carry new life. What an amazing, undeserved gift! I was instantly in love with motherhood, and 22 months later we had our second handsome boy. He is a firecracker and always keeps me on my toes. Soon after he turned one, I found out I was pregnant again, and we were once again filled with joy. Four days later, however, I found a lump in my neck and the joy quickly turned to fear. My greatest concern since knowing I could have children was that I would relapse while carrying a child, so this was literally like my greatest nightmare coming to life. I was too afraid to tell anyone about my pregnancy because I wanted it to be something joyful, but due to the circumstances (several people already knew about the lump), I knew that would not always be the case. So my husband and I battled our fears in silence. I have never prayed so much in life. After months of biopsies, MRIs, ultrasounds, etc., they resolved that it was benign, and they would remove it after she was born. On March 10, 2015 I gave birth to our healthy, gorgeous baby girl, and 4 weeks later we were back in the hospital to have the tumor removed. At my follow-up appointment later that week the doctor caught us off guard when he informed us that the tumor was in fact cancerous. The treatment plan is simply to remove it though and that had already been done. These tumors are frequently misdiagnosed with lymphoma and cannot fully be determined without a complete biopsy. I will never know what the doctors would have advised or what actions they would have asked us to take had they known it was cancerous. I am confident though that God was protecting my baby with every false negative biopsy. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of God's merciful healing power. I look at them and hear God whispering, "This is grace." Some days it feels like endless nights, overflowing amounts of dishes, ridiculous amounts of dirty diapers and runny noses. Other days it looks like dance parties, laughing till we cry, and throwing rocks in the creek. Most days are a little of both, but every day is a gift and an invitation to enter into the miracle that is their little lives.
Now when I look at a picture of Angie, I don't just see a beautiful mama. I see a strong, brave woman who has endured pain and fear but has continued to keep her eyes on Jesus.