July 12, 2018
Guys, this post is so, so special for me and I have been patiently waiting to share all of these beautiful images with you! You may have seen a few sneak peeks on Instagram but there are many images from this session that I needed to keep secret until it was safe to share the news! One of my best friends, Rebecca, is having a baby! I don’t even know where to begin or how to stay focused because I am so damn excited to be a part of this journey in her life, but I will do my best for all of you.
Rebecca and I met in 2014 at Parkville High School, where we met every Thursday evening for our graduate program. We happened to sit next to each other on the first night of school and never chose another seat for the next three years. Over the next six semesters, we became best friends. We ended up working together at North Harford High/Middle School, we complained about the hard seats and the grueling school work, we lifted each other up on the hard days, we teamed up for every project, and we have shared more tears and laughs than I can count. She is my “otter” half and I love her more than I can put into words. We just connect on a rare level and I am proud to call her one of my best friends. We both share Alex and Ani bracelets of otters because we like to use the word otter to describe our love and friendship! I love her like no “otter.” Otters are known to hold hands to secure themselves from drifting apart and they are symbols of friendship and unity. “Rafting side-by-side, otters are comforting creatures adaptable to change and transition.” As best friends, we stick together in celebration, and in times of fear we lock ourselves together and hold on for dear life. During this time in our lives, where school added extra stress and our lives weren’t quite where we wanted them to be, we held on for dear life.
As we studied Teacher as Leader in the Autism Spectrum Disorder, we grew as educators, individuals, and friends. Rebecca also grew as a step-mom. I just loved watching her fall in love with Tyler, her boyfriend Scott’s little boy (her step-son), and witnessing all the ways he also grew because of her love. You see, Tyler has autism, so as we learned more about making changes in this world for individuals on the autism spectrum, Rebecca applied everything she could to help him grow and achieve new things. He is bright, full of giggles, and absolutely LOVES sea creatures. I always welcome his teachings on each of the different forms of life our oceans hold and his enthusiasm for the things he enjoys. Rebecca has been such an amazing part of Tyler’s life, and even though she wasn’t sure she ever wanted to have children, she just can’t help but love that little boy.
Lately, Tyler has been asking for a baby brother or sister and Rebecca always joked that he would have to wish for something else, even though they were secretly trying. Just a few months ago Rebecca called to tell me that his wish came true, and she was excited but freaking out. She was afraid of what this new chapter of her life would look like. She was afraid of her body, relationship, and lifestyle changing. Rebecca found love and happiness and all she wants to do is hold on to it and never let it go. When she called me from work, unsure of what to expect, I reassured her that her body, relationship, and lifestyle will change for sure, but that it will change in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. I feel like moms-to-be don’t talk about this part of their story enough. It’s like it is taboo or something, but it is COMPLETELY NORMAL to be scared and unsure during a time like this. Rebecca’s fears didn’t last long at all and she immediately fell in love with the little human growing inside of her, just like she fell in love with Tyler. Now, I get a message every morning with ultrasound images and updates on how baby Mckinney is doing. It is the highlight of my morning. She is going to be such a good mamma!
Rebecca planned for me to capture her sharing the news with her little family of three from our very first conversation about it, but I wasn’t going to be back in MD for a few weeks, so poor Rebecca was stuck holding on to this secret, the biggest secret of her life.
Finally, on May 25th, 2018, Rebecca had the chance to share that her family was about to grow by two more feet! To encourage Scott to come out on a hot evening for photographs, Rebecca told him that it was something I needed for advertisements and website updates. He has always been so willing to get photographs taken, whether it be for their own gallery canvases or helping us build our portfolio! We started off the session with some beautiful sunset photographs, and eventually brought in a few props to use for the announcement. The first prop was a chalkboard. I asked Scott and Rebecca to each write something they love about the other, while they were facing away from each other. On the count of three, they both turned around to face each other and read the chalkboard messages. Scott wrote on his chalkboard that he loves how caring Rebecca is, but Rebecca wrote that they are going to have a baby! At first, when Rebecca flipped over her chalkboard, Scott wasn’t sure if the chalkboard was part of the advertisement for MaeWood Photography or if they, in fact, are going to have a baby! So I had to carefully hold the camera while recording this sweet little video, and tell Scott that he indeed was going to have a baby! His eyes lit up, he joked that we all tricked him, and he just hugged Rebecca and gave her kisses from her forehead to her lips.
Meanwhile, Tyler was helping me with props and drawing his own picture on a chalkboard as he ran around saying, “We’re having a baby!” The joy and excitement just filled this beautiful field in Northern Harford County, MD as the sun set and the lightning bugs began to appear. I am always honored to capture love and joy with our couples, but like I said, this one was just extremely special to me.
Rebecca, you are a beautiful soul. You are firm. You take zero bullshit and you accept no-nonsense, which are some of the million things I love about you. But I also love how giving and caring you are. You are going to be a mom your mom would be damn proud to witness. Thank you for sharing this journey with me, not only as your friend and photographer but as little baby McKinney’s Auntie Jes. Your friendship has gotten me through some of the toughest and celebrated times in my life, and even though we have only been best friends for four years, I look forward to being best friends for the rest of our days. I want this time in your life to just slow down, but I also can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you accomplish as a mamma. I love you and I am so, so proud of you.