Welcome to the World Ella Kate White
I hope that you don't mind this post being somewhat personal! I took an extended break during photo processing to compose this post. As I moved from image to image, I pieced together my relationship with Jennifer LaHaye & had entirely too much to say. Sure, the images below are the end result of this specific event but I am forever left reflecting on the entire process. There are almost no words.
I met Jen in 2010. I lived alone in one apartment of four in an old house off Union Street. After an infestation of rats & a strange pig-dog that had taken up residence in the abandoned yard next door, I couldn't manage to stay there alone. (Yeah, even as a grown-up, strange noise in the night freak me out!) My friend Becca invited me to rent a room in a house she was sharing with one other person, Jen. We had also socialized on the river once with a group of friends & later became co-workers. I remember one night, after staying awake & ugly crying alone over a recent breakup, I climbed in bed with her & we both professed our hate for that specific heartbreaker. I never had a lot of girlfriends growing up & I can truly say that was the first time I felt like another girl had my back. Over the months, we shared more stories of boys & love & work & life. Even after I moved out to be with my now-husband, we remained friends. We grew closer together at work & even almost got fired together - a story that will go down in history! We both began pursuing a nursing career, still in our core, working for "the man," & holding on to the thought we would one day be looking back on those moments while holding our nursing degrees.
Later, time & distance did what they do best & communication became sporadic. I graduated nursing school & then Jen graduated nursing school I couldn't have been more proud of her. I remember while working in the office, Jen shared with me her desire to be an oncology nurse. I could always see myself in emergency but her reason for becoming a nurse was different from mine. We both had experience on the "other side" of medicine that paved our way but Jen almost seemed to drift away as she spoke of nurturing people going through probably one of the most difficult times of their lives. I wanted to know all the things & act quickly. I wanted to do what people thought I couldn't. I wanted to educate & advocate! Jen wanted to open her heart & extend a part of herself when a patient needed it the most.
I remember seeing her pregnancy announcement on Facebook & being so excited! One day, she invited me & a couple of other girls to spend the day with her while she was in town. It was as if no time had passed. Except, at that time, her belly brimmed with life.
When she asked me to photograph her baby girl's arrival, I couldn't have felt more shocked & honored. She had made it clear she only wanted one other person in the room but there was no way I was going to miss it.
I had never photographed a birth before. Butterflies swarmed by insides the entire day. I watched a couple comfort one another through the unknown with no words, just gentle touches & light kisses. I reflected on my own birth experiences & how I scream-cried as my first son was placed on my belly. All day I choked back tears. I coached when I could but knew Jen possessed the strength to carry out the work - she had to find within herself the ability to bring forth life. Through the foreign movements & many stages of Saturday, July 1, 2017, Jennifer became a mother to beautiful Ella Kate White. I couldn't stop grinning as I watched her partner, Josh, look at another person probably as if he was truly looking at another person for the first time ever. I cried when Jen cried because I was proud of her & knew how she felt. I smiled as Ella Kate found her mommy & daddy & took it all in. I gleamed with excitement as the three snuggled close &, together, welcomed this new chapter in all their lives with open arms.
Jennifer & Josh will go home with their baby girl & discover firsthand what parenthood is truly like. But they are prepared & I truly (no matter how cliche it sounds) couldn't be happier for them.
I can't wait to watch Jennifer grow in this new stage of life. I'm excited to share parenting stories & reflect on these moments.
To say it was an honor to photograph the arrival of Ella Kate is an understatement. In fact, words escape me.
Enjoy these photographs! <3