Sunday, May 14, 2017

Julian James Tuckwiller.

Angel Baby. 



There are some things that you just know. If you peel away the layers of self-doubt and questions, and really listen to your intuition, you know things exist before they’ve physically manifested in your life. I knew I was going to marry Ben 5 seconds into our first date. Before he ever spoke a word, as he was walking up the stairs to my apartment, I went from being skeptical about the institution of marriage to knowing that I was meeting my future husband. I just knew.

Not long after Ben and I started dating, I had a vivid dream. In my dream I was holding the most beautiful little boy I’d ever seen. He had dark curly hair and big blue-green eyes. He was magnificent and I was so in love with him. I knew that it was our son, and I knew that his name was Julian. I told my mom and Ben the next morning that I’d met our son in my dream and I got to hold him. Even now as I type this, my eyes are filling with tears of sadness and gratitude.

In my 20’s, I tried so hard to not get pregnant because I thought it was so easy. In your 30’s, you hear your friends use words like ‘infertility’ and you realize that maybe, it’s not so easy. I know it only takes ‘one time’, but when it really does happen after one time, it’s hard to warp your head around it. I thanked God for the ability to get pregnant so easily but I was nervous that our lives were going to change, rapidly. I’d spent the last 5 years of my life building a business and creating my dream life. That life looked like two puppies who do whatever they want, a beautiful home with beige couches, incredible trips all over the world, sleeping in on Saturday mornings, going to the beach on a whim, and the list goes on. This year alone we had two trips to the Caribbean, booked and paid for.

I knew I got pregnant three days after Ben and I conceived. When the first test came back negative, I was shocked, because I knew I my gut I was pregnant. I wish I knew dates, but truthfully, no date mattered before March 26, 2017- the day that my pregnancy test came back positive. It was the day our lives changed and we found out we were going to be parents.

Admittedly, it took me a few more seconds than Ben to wrap my head around the idea of our family growing and the change that meant. A few days after we found out, Ben took me to the beach, put his hand on my belly and told our baby our love story. It was a perfect day- it was also the day the doctor called to tell us that we were 5 weeks along. On the way home from the beach, Ben reached over and put his hand on my tummy and said 'I can't believe how much I love this baby already'. Perfect.

We shared the news with our parents and a few close friends but mostly we started dreaming about everything- the adventure that this meant for our family, nursery ideas, baby names, all the good stuff. Ben said he thought it was a girl, and even though I would have loved a girl, I had a gut feeling it was a boy.

Right before Easter, I started bleeding. I went to the doctor and they said they didn’t know where it was coming from. They used the words ‘threatened miscarriage’. It felt like a gut punch. Even though that’s the general medical term for any bleeding during pregnancy, I couldn’t stop replaying the doctor’s words in my head. I started praying. I navigated through Easter weekend with a smile on my face and worry in my heart. It was the first time I realized that God could call this baby home before I ever got to hold him in my arms.

Right after Easter, the bleeding got worse and two things clicked in my heart- I knew God WAS going to call this baby home and I knew it was a boy. My praying shifted from asking God to let me keep this baby to asking God to lay his hand on my heart. The prospect of losing this baby that I had already fallen so deeply in love with, was debilitating. The thought of it felt suffocating. I couldn’t understand why God would give us this baby to love only to take him away from us. Ben was so optimistic and I could never bring myself to tell him that I knew that I wasn’t going to get carry this baby full term. Every day when I woke up, I was overcome with gratitude that I got to spend another day with my son in my belly, but in my heart, I knew it was one day closer to my baby becoming an angel. The days came and went and we got to see our baby’s heartbeat, it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

April 26, 2017.

Exactly one month from the day we found out we were going to be parents, God called our baby home and I gave birth to an angel. I was blessed that it happened in the privacy and comfort of my home. Ben was on his way home from work when it started. I cried. I sobbed. I laid in the bathtub till the shower ran cold. No matter how much mental preparation you have, nothing prepares you for when it happens. I was scared and heartbroken. I wanted THIS baby to be ours with every fiber of my being. I made one last plea to God to let us please keep this baby. Ben held my hand. He carried me to the bedroom and tucked me in. He called my mom and hugged me. I cried harder than I ever have before. He told me then that this baby was ALWAYS meant to be an angel. God hadn’t changed his mind, this was all part of God’s plan. Our baby’s purpose on earth and for our family was so much bigger than we could understand.  I cried even harder. I knew he was right. I believe that the paths for all people and things are laid out long before God created time. I don’t believe that if I’d caught God on a good day, that he would have let us keep our baby. I believe in a loving and merciful God and I know in my heart, he sent us an angel. That angel changed our hearts and changed our lives but that he was never ours to keep. Maybe no child is, they are all on loan from God and we all get to love them and protect them for as long as we are supposed to.

That’s when it all gets fuzzy- I don’t remember much after that. It almost felt like an out of body experience. It was a sadness and emptiness (physically and emotionally) that I’d never felt before.
I think a tragedy, like the loss of a baby, either brings a couple together or tears them apart. I was so fortunate that the loss of our baby brought Ben and I so acutely in sync. It was like we were one heart in two bodies; we developed a 6th sense just for each other. We turned inward to our marriage and leaned on each other during some of the most intense grieving of our lives. I fell deeper in love with my husband than I ever thought possible. 

From the moment we learned about our new roles as parents, our entire lives revolved around our sweet baby. For the first two days after I learned I was pregnant, I just sat on the couch and touched my sweet baby belly. I couldn’t get enough of it. He was so loved from the moment we learned that God had entrusted us with him. He wasn’t just a pregnancy, he was our baby, who happened to be in my womb and we loved him more than anything in the entire world.

Ben had a way of putting things into perspective to bring me comfort.  He said he unequivocally believed that our son had come to me in a dream. And that I had met him and that I’d already gotten to hold him. Ben said ‘He loved you so much, he couldn’t wait to meet you either’. We didn’t have to think long for a name, he’d already shared his name with us in my dream, Julian.

After we miscarried, I remember wondering what we were going to do. If we’d passed our baby at a hospital, I pictured them taking him away and running a barrage of tests on him to see what happened. But what happened for women who passed their baby at home? There was no instruction manual on what to do and I’d never heard anyone talk about it. Ben and I read a thread of posts of women who didn’t know what to do with the physical form they’d miscarried. Ben read one story about a woman who living with her passed baby in her freezer in a freezer bag for years because she didn’t know what to do. Ben came across a post with a piece of information that was a game changer for us. He read about services that some funeral homes offer to couples in our situation.

We took Julian James Tuckwiller to Nelson’s Funeral Home on Laburnum Ave. They were incredible. They were the first ones to call Julian by name- they never referred to him as ‘our pregnancy’, they used words like ‘your son’ and ‘your baby’. The first time we saw ‘The parents of Julian James Tuckwiller’ was on his cremation papers. They validated our grief in a different way than the doctor’s office. Julian wasn’t just an ‘unsuccessful pregnancy’….he was our baby, and we loved him very much. 

The hardest part for me was leaving him at the parlor. The whole process felt life a dark fog. When we walked out after signing all the papers, I felt like the universe reached into my chest and ripped my heart out. It was the first time since we found out that we were going to be parents that my son wasn’t with me. From the moment I learned I would be a mom, I felt like my life’s mission was to protect my baby at all cost, it was an honor and a privilege I took so seriously. When we left Nelson’s Funeral Home, I felt helpless in a way that was indescribable. I had left my son there and I couldn’t protect him. Even though he was already an angel, the concept of not having my baby with me, to love and protect, made me feel helpless. It was a sorrow that was deeper than sad. It was a low that dug deeper than I ever knew I could feel.

We wrote letters to our baby. We spent an afternoon in a local park. The wind was blowing so hard and Ben said it was Julian blowing us kisses. We told him how much we loved him, we thanked him for making us parents. We told him that our short time together on earth as a family was the greatest gift of our lives and we would forever be thankful to him and for him. We told him that if he meets his siblings before we do, we hope he tells them how excited we are to meet them and how loved he is by us. The idea of Julian meeting his siblings in heaven before they come to us on earth brings me an indescribable sense of peace and comfort. His role as their big brother will start before they ever reach my belly.

I have to know that our family in heaven was waiting for Julian when he got there. That my Grandma Punk swaddled him up the moment he arrived in heaven and gets to spend her time now giving him baby snuggles, playing with him, loving him and taking care of him until Ben and I get there. It kills me that I’ll have to wait to get to heaven to give him this lifetime’s worth of hugs and kisses all over his sweet face.

Julian was cremated with the letters that we all wrote to him along with a little grey elephant my mom got him when she found out she'd be a grandmother. We had his ashes put into necklaces- a cross for Ben and heart for me. The thought of keeping our baby physically close to my heart brings be comfort. I would weld this little necklace onto my neck if I could. It’s the physical form that we get to keep of a little miracle that God sent our way.

Right after we lost Julian on earth, I read so many testimonies of women who had given birth to angels as well. Miscarriages are so much more common than I realized, I just don’t really hear people talk about them. Maybe there’s not a space to do it comfortably, maybe because they don’t want to. It did bring me comfort to know I wasn’t alone. Somehow reading other women’s stories allowed me to engage their experiences enough to use it as a tool to understand my own grief. I could pick and choose what parts of their experience were useful in my own grieving process. It’s in that spirit I share our story, that it might bring comfort and peace to a couple who is going through the same thing.

I was also blessed to know that I was having a boy. Knowing that gave our baby a very clear identity. We were able to choose a name and it gave this baby a form for our sadness to latch onto. It would have been a very different experience for us if I didn’t know it was a boy. It would have made the grieving process no less, of course, but I’m thankful that I knew my sweet baby was a boy.

Julian cleared our hearts to be parents. He showed me everything I didn’t even know I wanted and being his mama and getting to spend time with him in my belly (however short) was the greatest honor and gift of my life. Above the sadness and grief, I have gratitude for him and to him. Forever, Julian will have been our first baby, the sweet soul who made us parents. We will share his memory with his siblings (whenever God decides to send them to us). Each day gets a little easier- I can think about him with happy tears and the gratitude for him is starting to balance out my grief. I can talk about the beautiful moments we had during our time together as a family- the moment I told Ben he was going to be a dad, the moment my mom found out she’d be a grandmother, the moment that my dear friend and I unexpectedly reveled to each other we were pregnant at the exact same time (videos and stories to come later) 😊

I asked God to please give me my sweet baby’s ashes before Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day 2017 falls on our wedding anniversary (what a year!) and the anniversary of my beloved Pop Pop’s passing. Saturday afternoon the day before Mother’s Day, I got the call I’d been waiting for from the funeral home, immediately I rushed home and ,together, Ben and I went to collect our son’s ashes.

 Every couple who experiences a miscarriage processes it differently. For some, I think it helps to put space between them and their miscarriage. For us, embracing every. single. part of it and acknowledging and celebrating it felt good for us.  Just because Julian is an angel, it doesn’t change those moments or lessen them in any way. I didn’t want Julian’s identity to be a miscarriage, that’s what happened but it's not who he was. It doesn’t define our time together.  I knew his little soul and spirit and I want to share his memory with the world. Our sweet little baby got his angel wings and is with us now in a different way. I know that. Every parent of an angel baby processes their grief differently and for us, celebrating our sweet baby and the little time we had with him is a gift that we will forever be thankful for. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Little Sunshine

My sweet clients engagement session outside of the VMFA. Happy people, in love, in the sunshine is right up my alley. Enjoy this bit of sunshine on this rainy day.




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Urban Set Bride.

I've had a wedding industry crush on Christine Greenberg of Urban Set Bride for as long as I've known of her. When I found out she was opening up her own charming little bridal shop in the heart of Church Hill last spring, I convinced ,my now fiance, Ben to join me to go to her shop opening. This girl and this shop are a much needed breath of fresh air to the Richmond Wedding scene. If you haven't been to her shop and/or you are in need of a gown, do yourself a favor and get on their books. Trust: you will thank me. Below is a little collaboration shoot with Urban Set Bride. Just a few pretty ladies in pretty dresses hanging out in Church Hill. Thanks and love to Elizabeth and her crew of talent at Seven Hills Studio (also located in Church Hill) for hair and makeup. 




Monday, February 23, 2015

Denver.

I feel like every time I go to Denver, I leave a part of myself there. 

A third collaboration with, Brittany Pritchard of Events 306, one of the most talented planners I know. See more from this shoot on our Green Wedding Shoes Feature and if you still want more, you can visit the mobile gallery. 





Friday, February 13, 2015

Nano & Thibaud's V-Day Love Shoot.

This might be my favorite couple to shoot and this might be my favorite love session I've ever shot. 

Happy Valentine's Day. 

xo, k







Monday, December 15, 2014

May 16,2015

Calling all couples! I've had an opening in my spring wedding schedule and would love to fill it with a sweet couple getting married who happens to love pretty pictures! Contact me ASAP if you are looking for a photographer!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jen and Marc. Pennsylvania Wedding Photography.

It's been a long since I've blogged-ok, ok, wayy to long and on a blogging social scale, I'm bottom of the blogging food chain. Believe me when I say, it's not for lack on content. Truth be told,  I felt a little swallowed up this spring wedding season combined with the fact that  I got schooled on my time management skills almost daily. I was so blessed with so many incredible jobs  (and wouldn't have had it any other way)- and I am committing to blogging said jobs over the next few months or so.  A dear friend  told me that she breaks her day up in 1/3's to keep a balance- 8 hours for work, 8 hours for play and 8 hours to sleep. I was so fascinated with that concept and ,yet, somehow struggled to implement into my own life over the past few months. With weddings slowing down some over the summer months till August, I have some time to focus on somethings that are near and dear to my heart.

I'm excited to share Jen and Marc's Pennsylvania wedding. I love travelling for weddings- when a couple loves my work so much that they bring me to them, it's such an honor, blogging about it almost doesn't do it justice. **View more photos from their day on their preview PASS gallery: here.**