Tampa | Evey-Lou | Newborn

Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (30 of 35)

January 25th marked the 3 month birthday for sweet Evelyn (Evey) Lucille (Lou). I decided to celebrate the day by looking at many of the images that I'd taken throughout the first three months of her life.

I laughed.

I cried.

I remembered

You see, it was only three months ago that this sweet girl was born 10 weeks early to two of our dearest friends (and my roommates at the time), Ashley and Ben.

Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (1 of 35)
Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (3 of 35)

Her story is not mine to tell, only her loving parents can share it, but the power of prayer and her miraculous fight is a piece that was inadvertently documented as I did my best to capture her arrival and subsequent stay at the NICU and journey home.

Her arrival on October 25th was sudden, scary, surprising and so very, very divine. 

Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (2 of 35)
Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (4 of 35)

She spent her first night with visits from daddy, her grandmas and myself. She was tiny and mighty. Every inch of her was amazing-- so small, so beautiful.

After a day of rest, her momma had the chance to see her again for the first time since she arrived. My heart ached for the introduction that looked different than any of us could have anticipated and it celebrated for the miracle it was that this meeting could even happen.

Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (5 of 35)
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 The hospital became a home away from home for this sweet family for the remainder of October, November and early December. Evey met every mile marker with amazing grace and ease. Most days the nurses were simply in awe.

Our eyes were opened to the experience of NICU babies & families during this journey.

Endless meals served out of the NICU fridge. 

The struggle to find preemie clothes, once the baby is allowed to be dressed

Little siblings unable to visit because of their age. 

Babies abandoned by their parents, left to rely on volunteer "snugglers" for love and attention. 

I prayed when I was at the hospital. I prayed when I wasn't. I stood in awe of Ashley and Ben's courage and calm as they walked in and out of the NICU doors everyday, immersed in this life that was in so many ways unsettling.

Most days, though, the NICU was a happy place where Evey continued to grow. Little things like Ash being able to dress her, Ben being able to bathe her, and guests being able to hold her caused me to continually repent. I realized, you see, that my sense of entitlement related to the Lord's plan for this baby, had taken over. And so, my path of repentance lead to the ability to experience all of these things as true blessings given by God.

The pinnacle moment came, of course, when Evey got to come home. 

Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (9 of 35)
Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (10 of 35)
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Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (12 of 35)

The day started just like every other day and to me, felt like every other day until I took the image above. This little room had become a home away from home and I wanted to remember every inch of it, recognizing the surreal reality that they would get to leave today and not come back! 

Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (13 of 35)
Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (14 of 35)

A final kiss from Jill the nurse and the Motleys were on their way, sweet Evey in tow, ready for Christmas.

family M

She came home at 5 pounds-- the sweetest, tiniest bundle of joy and the best Christmas gift for her parents. Though it felt like I was months behind because her newborn portraits weren't done, it was so amazing to finally get to make her images at home, in her nursery, wearing her own clothes. It's the little things, my friends. Literally.

And so, I invite you to oooh, aaaah and applaud sweet Evey, post-hospital, rocking out life as a truly awesome newborn.

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Tampa Florida Preemie Portraits St. Joe's Womens (16 of 35)
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Sweet Evey Lou, I am so thankful for your life. You've already impacted so many people and are loved dearly. J and I are privileged to be your God parents and promise to lead you in love and faith throughout your life.

in Him, Laura