Lauren + Jake

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Lauren + Jake

Intimate Wedding at the University of Michigan Hospital

As most of you know I have been on an extended maternity leave since October after our little girl was born with congenital heart disease. I had planned to be back in the office by January, however, Simone was hospitalized again at the end of December for heart failure and had to remain there until she was stronger for her second open heart surgery. While it wasn't the plan it was very important to me to be completely present with her so I took a little more time off. I'm happy to be able to say she is doing amazingly well after her surgery earlier this month and we are finally home.

You're probably like "What does this have to do with Lauren and Jake?". Well you see a wedding photographer request was posted in a Facebook group I'm in and I knew immediately I had to be the one to shoot. It hit close to my heart and you'll see why.

Lauren and Jake got engaged this past January. At the beginning of February, her mom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and immediately hospitalized and started chemotherapy at the University of Michigan. This was a shock to their whole family and Lauren immediately realized that the “dream wedding” in Upstate New York she had already started planning might not be possible. She called her sister on a Tuesday and said “I think Jake and I are going to get married this weekend when you’re in town.” Which thus launched a very quick wedding planning quest. And that's exactly what happened! I spoke to Lauren's sister Jenna on Wednesday, met them on Thursday and shot their wedding on that Saturday. 

They were married at the University of Michigan Hospital on February 24th in front of their very closest family and friends. It was intimate and full of love and laughter and perfect. I am very honored to have been the one to capture their day and blessed to have met this family..

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Simone

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Simone

My daughter. My hero.

I don't think I have the words fully yet to describe the roller coaster we’ve been on for the last year nor did I intend to share any of this with you. But the more and more we get to know our Simone, the more I feel her story needs to be shared. And I want to share this with you, my clients and prospective clients because being real and authentic are very important to me and this is my story. I wanted you to know me, my family and my why when you hire me to capture your stories.


We see them for who they truly are— little heroes. We know the secret— that sometimes the most heroic are those who, without needing words, teach the world what it means to love and to fight. Their fight is unfathomable. Their love is sweeter than life itself. Their impact can easily change the world. After all, it’s permanently changed ours.
— Lexi Behrndt

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“There’s something wrong with your babies heart.” 

I still remember this moment and how fast my heart sank. At my 20 week ultrasound, our baby was missing chambers in her heart. A couple days later we found out our baby had complex congenital heart disease: tricuspid atresia, transposition of the great arteries, large VSD and coarctation of the aorta.  The short version is that she has half a funky heart.

This set in motion lots of tests, doctor appointments, the unknown. We transferred all our care to the University of Michigan since they were the ones that were going to be able to fix our babies heart. We found out she would need three open-heart surgeries to live and while this will correct the blood flow to and from her heart, she will never have a normal heart. We were so scared and had to idea what the future would hold. We spent the next 20 weeks learning everything we could about her condition and working through all the emotions you have when you find out you’re not going to have a healthy baby.

This experience forever changed us. She is a miracle. She is a warrior, my hero. My Super Simone.

Our journey so far is full of tears, unknowns, lots of love and real life. This is us.


October 20, 2017 // She's here!!!

She came into the world at 2:40am, weighing 7lbs, 9oz. She was perfect and our lives changed forever. I had to give birth in the OR because they needed to be prepared for any unknowns. The was a team ready to take her as soon as she was born. This moment in a blur so I am so thankful for the nurse who captured these photos and that I was able to hold her for a few minutes.

Simone was immediately taken to the Cardiac ICU, she needed life-saving medicine to keep parts of her heart open until surgery. This made her swollen and very irritable, uncomfortable and she didn't want to be touched. This period of time was really hard because I was postpartum and wasn't able to care for her in any way. I held her maybe three times and even that took two nurses to put her on my chest . I was not prepared for how difficult the pre-op stage was going to be. Her heart rate was so high and she was breathing super hard for days. We couldn't do anything for her but just trust her nurses and doctors and wait for her surgery.

Surgery day

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up

This day was the hardest day of my life. Holding my four day old baby, knowing this was the last time I was going to hold her for a while, knowing they were coming to take her soon, knowing they were going to stop her heart and hope it will start again. It was so much and I cried and cried until they took her. I just kept telling myself she needed this surgery and we needed to be strong for her.

The time she was in surgery felt like a lifetime. I think it was almost 10 hours until we got to see her. That day is a blur. We sat in a dark, quiet waiting room. We had moments where we were totally silent and moments where laughter was exactly what we needed. Our hearts raced every time we heard the door open and our breath got a little easier with each update until the nurse came in and said she was back in recovery.

While we were in the waiting room this song played: "Rise up" by Andre Day and we know that it played in that moment for a reason.

Simone came back from surgery with her chest still open. They tried closing her chest the next day only to have her stats drop too much throughout the day and they needed to open her back up. Her chest remained open for another five days. During this time she was still intubated and sedated. There was nothing we could do to care for her and we couldn't hold her. I then realized that this was the hardest part. My arms ached to hold her, to hear her cry, to see her eyes. I had a baby but was not yet able to be a mom. I sat by her beside, cried and held her little hand for hours. I was not mentally prepared for this time in the hospital, I never thought past her surgery and what the recovery for her, for us.

On November 4th she was taken off her breathing ventilator, we were able to hold her for the first time in 12 days! But later that day her lung collapsed and we spent the whole night worried about her having to be re-intubated as the doctors and nurses did everything they could. But she's a fighter and fought through it all.

The time in the hospital crawls but also goes at super speed. If you've ever lived in the hospital, especially the ICU, your day is spent just waiting and being patient but also having doctors and nurses in and out all day long. We spent lots of time just sitting by her bed but with so much going on the days just went by so fast.

One month old

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Right before Simone turned one month old we were able to leave the ICU to go to the general care floor. We were able to start caring for her for the first time. We got to start the journey of getting to know this extraordinary girl.

We were finally able to take Simone home on Thanksgiving 2017! When they told us she was ready I couldn't believe it! We spent 35 days with nurses and monitors. The days were so long I never thought we were going to get to leave. Simone will need her second heart surgery at the beginning of April.

Two months old

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We were home a month (we did it!) when Simone turned 2 months old! She was growing stronger every day. We are definitely enjoying all the snuggles.

Three/Four months old

Simone was admitted back to Mott on December 29th for heart failure and had to remain in the hospital being monitored while we waited for her second heart surgery that had to be moved up to the beginning of March.

I am so thankful for everyone at Mott that is taking such amazing care of her and all the support we have received. 

I am so honored Simone is getting to help spread awareness about Congential Heart Disease in this new video by Lexi and Zach Read for Today.

5 months old // An update

Simone had her second open heart surgery at the beginning of March and boy is she a superhero. She is the happiest, sweetest, strongest warrior.

She was in the hospital for 14 weeks and I couldn't be more thankful to finally have my girl home. We left behind lifelong friends including nurses, doctors, PT/OT and other patient families at Mott's which not surprisingly also feels like home. 

This isn't the end of Simone's story as we will have her third surgery looming in the distance but for now, we will be loving on this little lady.

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Emily + Anthony

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Emily + Anthony

Fall Ann Arbor Wedding at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Not sure if you'll believe this but it was 95 degrees on Emily and Anthony's wedding day! Fall in Michigan can be so unpredictable however it didn't stop us from having the best day! I am so blessed to have captured their wedding and get to know these two and their amazing family.

HUGE thanks to Heather and Nicole for coming along with me to capture this wedding, I could not have done it without you!! Anyways, here is a little more from Emily and Anthony's wedding day!

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