When Cassie asked me about doing their maternity pictures, I was ecstatic! I was so excited when I found out they were pregnant, so being able to capture this time for them was a no-brainer for me. Cassie and John’s journey has not been an easy one, but their desire has always been to glorify God with every area of their life. When we discussed the session and what we would do for the photos, Cassie asked if we could do a lifestyle session, so they would have some photos of the things they have done to get baby Kayleigh’s nursery ready for her. I was really moved as I imagined their little girl, 20 years from now, looking back at these photos and feeling the love and excitement that overflowed from her parents as they prepared for her arrival! What a privilege it is to be a photographer and get to freeze these kinds of memories for people! :) What you are about to read was written by Cassie…she was gracious enough to share their story here on my blog, in hopes that God would be glorified and others would be encouraged…
When Erin asked me to be the one to write a bio for our maternity shoot, I felt humbled and excited at the opportunity to share what great things God has done, I pray that our story shows off His power and glory! John and I were married July 31,2010 and hoped to start a family soon after.However, there were a few obstacles in the way of “our plan”. God sovereignly designed for me to develop symptoms of an auto-immune disease called Scleroderma at the age of 14. My particular type of Scleroderma primarily affects my internal organs. In my late teens I came down with the flu that may have developed into bronchitis or pneumonia that was never treated, thereby causing inflammation in my lungs-which turned into scarred, unusable lung tissue. Lung specialists call this Interstitial Lung Disease. John and I were fairly certain that any pregnancy would be high risk, but we wanted to talk with our doctors to see if it would even be possible for me to carry a baby. My lung doctor told me that ” No way, and under NO circumstances would he ever recommend that I try to have a baby”, but I should seek a second opinion at Duke University. And I’m so glad we did. I really struggled with the death of this lifelong dream. My life’s aspirations were only ever to be a mother, to love and nurture a child, to disciple and train a soul and point them to Jesus, and that dream had been ripped from me and I was heartbroken. I wish I could say that I sought refuge in Jesus and trusted God’s sovereign plan-but I did not. At any rate, we went to Duke in November of 2011 and the specialists there told me that my lung disease was stable-probably had been for 6 years-and they saw no reason why I shouldn’t try to have children. They wanted to follow my case for a while to be sure that nothing changed with my auto-immune disease, but by summertime we should be set to start trying to conceive. I was elated, rebuked and humbled at God’s kindness in restoring my dream to be a mother. In July of 2012 we were given the “go-ahead”, and 8 months later I decided I was done with the stress of all the planning and waiting and disappointment. During all of that time, we truly wrestled to see God’s plan for our life and my body as kind and loving. We were not delighting in the Gospel, we were not pursuing God with our whole heart-or any of it, really. We were in despair, and very nearly bitter. And then we started attending Redeeming Grace Church; God renewed our hearts in the Gospel through the Word, and through fellowship with friends that just poured grace on us. For months we soaked up every bit of grace they could give us, for we were so dry! These friends prayed for us faithfully, prayed for our souls to rest in God’s plan, and they begged God to give us children.. They asked Him for what we no longer had faith to ask him for ourselves. In September of 2013, I struggled to pass my 5th kidney stone, the largest at 5-6 mm. My doctor ordered a CT Scan, and asked “oh, by the way-what’s up with you and getting pregnant?” I told her I’d happily take a baby whenever God ordained for us to have one. She asked if I would be willing to see a fertility specialist, I could take it as far as I thought was ethical and right, but she thought we should at least check and make sure everything was working properly. So we agreed to go, and after paying $250 for an initial consult, I choked a little and told God that it would be really cool if He gave us a baby that month, and if He did it in such a way that no one could deny that HE did it! And I thought nothing more of it until October 1st. I still had not passed the stone, and went in for a final x-ray before discussing surgery to remove it. I was pulled down a hall by the technician and informed that they could not do my x-ray because my pregnancy test came back positive…I truly did not believe him. They decided to an ultrasound instead, which meant they probably wouldn’t be able to see the stone, but it was safer for the baby. I had some time to call John at work, and he was very excited-I could nearly hear his grin over the phone. As I was having the ultrasound done, the fertility specialist called and said that my hormone levels were too low for me to conceive on my own, and they wanted to put me on something right away. And I just thought “Holy cow, but they just said I’m pregnant!” If I was truly pregnant, it was still VERY early, so I waited a couple of days and took my own test, when it showed positive I thought “well, maybe there’s something to this after all..” I waited another day and called my doctor to have labs set up, and she confirmed around 10 pm that day that I was indeed pregnant. And so I started praying. God had given me a miraculous gift, had answered my very specific prayer, and He showed me that He was not confined to work within the scope of my faith. I determined in my heart, by God’s grace, to enjoy every bit of this pregnancy, however long it lasted, whatever symptoms I had to endure, because it was all part of a gift I hadn’t believed God would give. I didn’t want to live in fear of a miscarriage, or be miserable through morning sickness, I wanted to enjoy each day, each experience as part of this gift God has given us. And He has been so kind to preserve my body; my doctors are thrilled, my auto-immune and lung diseases have remained stable, I’m not dealing with any shortness of breath as they expected. I’ve not had to go on bed rest as of yet, I’m not on oxygen, my blood pressure is great, and my kidneys are working perfectly-with the exception of some brief Hydronephrosis that God healed through prayer! I have had some horrible, all-over eczema, but never had any morning sickness. God has been so kind to keep my heart truly trusting His plan for this baby, and I have had no fears weighing on my heart. Thanks be to God for this gift. We are expecting a baby girl and we chose the name Kayleigh Miriam. Kayleigh means “Who is like God?” Exodus 15:11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
Miriam means “Longed-for child” I Samuel 1:27 “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him.”
Kayleigh Miriam is a glorious wonder that our majestic Holy God has made, an answer to prayer, a miracle.
Kayleigh Miriam is named in honor of Grandma Lana Kay Pachter and Great-great Gram Miriam Owen.