A couple days ago I was approached by one of my former clients. She told me that she had this friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer and was going to be starting treatments in the next week. She asked if I could squeeze her in SOON as she was planning on letting her kids shave her head this weekend. I immediately agreed and we scheduled the session for Thursday.
I didn't know it at the time but this session was going to change me. Hearing this strong woman's story moved me in a way that I can not put into words so in stead I am going to share it with you in hopes that it will touch your heart in the same way that it touched mine. I hope you read her words and walk away feeling stronger, braver, and with the confidence that you too can handle anything life throws at you.
"I was born with spina bifida. My parents had no idea until I was born and had a lump of fluid on the bottom of my spine. When I left the hospital my parents took me straight to UCSF andI had my first surgeries when I was just 3 months old. The Doctors there said I would never walk or be potty trained...I was doing both by he age 2. Then they said I wouldn't walk after 5. I proved them wrong. Then it was 10, 12, 16, 20, 25. They said I would never have kids. I gave birth to my son at 24."
"When I was 21 I got a bone infection in my foot while on vacation in Hawaii. I found out the infection ended up being Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The doctors told me I had a 50/50 chance of living. They removed the bone in my foot but couldn't get me to heal so they wanted to amputate. I went to a different clinic in Daily City every week for a year and a half for care. I ended up getting MRSA again and again they didn't think I would survive. After 4 surgeries I was finally infection free and my wounds were healed."
"When I was 16 I stopped counting how many surgeries I've had because I was over 50. I honestly couldn't even throw a number at you now. I'm stubborn and I love being told I can't do something because it makes it easier for me to accomplish it. One of my best friends was suddenly killed in a car accident in August of 2016. We had been best friends and next door neighbors for years, we basically raised our kids together and our lives revolved around each other. I took her 3 kids in immediately. Next month we are going to trial for full custody and I've just been praying that the cancer diagnosis doesn't affect my court battle. I've loved these kids like my own for years."
Now, after conquering multiple battles that could have defeated even the strongest of women this gorgeous lady is beginning her fight against Breast Cancer and she is doing so with one of the fiercest spirits I have ever known. When I told her I was sorry that she had to go though this her response was "Don't be sorry. Cancer picked the wrong girl."
I couldn't agree more.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with you Ashley and I very much look forward to doing it again. You are an inspiration to ALL women and I am so proud to know you.
Go give Cancer that Ash Kicking you were telling me about. We're going to be here rooting you on. We've got you.
Three years and one day ago I got my very first digital camera.
I didn't realize it at the time but this was a huge moment in my life. I didn't know it then but this day something inside me changed. From that moment forward every ounce of free time I had was spent reading, learning, and practicing. I asked anyone and everyone to let me take their photo and a few short months later Kimberly Ann Photography was officially born.
One day not long into my photography journey one of my best friends asked me to take some sexy photos of her for her husband who had just signed up with the Marines. She wanted to have something special to send to him. This wasn't a type of photography I had ever done before but I figured why not! So she came over, we set up some lights in my guest bedroom and hung a black sheet over the window and that was it. It was go time.
What follows are some images from that first session. I had owned my camera for all of about 3 months MAYBE and... well... You're welcome.
I am especially proud of this next one. Whooooa baby.
This was the day that really set my soul on fire. Are these images technically perfect? no. Far from it. But I had a TON of fun with my girlfriend. She LOVED the photos. Her Fiance LOVED the photos. And I realized very quickly that Boudoir was going to be my favorite.
Over the next few years I shot a handful more boudoir sessions for friends - all of which were outside because I didn't have a studio or the budget to rent out a nice room at a local inn. My love for boudoir continued to grow and I can vividly remember daydreaming about doing all boudoir all the time. It sounded like such a fantasy.
"I want to have THE boudoir studio in Humboldt. I want girls to think of me when they consider having boudoir photos done."
-me, a year and a half ago
One day I discovered a gorgeous new location for boudoir photos in Eureka - a beautiful 6,000 sq foot victorian with an amazing owner who would let me rent it out for $90 a day. The second time I had a session there it was a stormy day and really dark. I left the session borderline in tears because I was convinced that everything I shot was going to be trash. I thought for sure I was going to have to offer to reshoot her entire session because it was SO dark. When I uploaded my photos everything changed. THIS. THIS is what I am meant to do. From that day forward I shot every session like it was pouring rain.
What follows are some photos that I took that day. I am so glad I didn't throw them out.
This gorgeous girl was the first one to say I could post her pictures on social media. That was in December of 2015 - just 6 months ago... It's hard to believe that so much has changed since then. Once she allowed me to share some of her images women IMMEDIATELY became more comfortable with the idea of a session. It showed them that boudoir is BEAUTIFUL and TASTEFUL and INTIMATE. It is a vulnerable and empowering experience that really shows you how beautiful you are.
A HUGE thank you to the 38 girls I have worked with so far in 2016. You are making my dreams come true every day. You are feeding my passion and allowing me to live a life that was only a daydream a few months ago. I will forever be grateful that you trust me to capture these intimate moments. You make my life and I truly and deeply love each and every one of you.
Here is to the another year of learning, growing, improving, and meeting phenomenal women who inspire me to be better every single day. <3
Truman was a calm baby. Stoic and strong, yet gentle and sweet. He was the strongest person that I ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is my hero and my greatest teacher in life.
I was surprised at how affectionate that he was when he came out. The last time that I touched him while he was conscious he was sweeping his feet back and forth on my hand. I remember my heart melting and thinking how lucky I was to have this perfect little person in my life who made my life complete.
My life up until I found out that I was pregnant was not the easiest. I had a lot of pain and loss in other areas of my life. I felt like Truman was my happy ending, he made everything perfect. I had everything in the world the minute that I found out that he was with me. That innocence and feeling of pure completion lasted the pregnancy and those 4 days that he was alive. I don't think that I will ever feel that level of peace, innocence and pure joy again in my life because I will always be longing for him. I feel like I am split in two- part of me is here, grateful to be alive, holding on to life with his little brother and his Dad and part of me is off with him, wherever he is or isn't. Every cell of me misses him. I will always wish that he was here with us growing and learning and enjoying life, as he should be.
I want to thank Truman for teaching me how powerful a mother's love is- how it transcends everything including time and death. For changing my life. For being part of it. For making me a mother. For being a joy to carry. For trying as hard as he did. For making me proud. For teaching me how brave and strong even the tiniest people can be. He lit up my life.
So I go on living, doing the best that I can in honor of him.
There aren't any words for life after your child dies. Words become obsolete and nothing can remotely describe the anguish. The grief is crushing. The tears, the pain, the questions, the confusion, the shock, the anger, the awkwardness. Time becomes the most abstract thing. Losing Truman for me was that pivotal point in my life where everything changed and everything that I thought that I knew about life came into question. You enter into another world. It's just not something that you can get non-bereaved people to understand by even attempting to explain it. It's just to big that the imagination does it no justice. That's where the loss community comes into my story. I was isolated in so many ways but I found healing in other people who have walked this path before me and with me. There is no one in the world who knows how hard it is to get up out of bed and keep breathing, keep trying, keep fighting, like those who have had to say goodbye too soon. Those who had to plan a funeral instead of a birthday party, those who have unused baby shoes and empty baby blankets instead of full and used ones. The secondary losses of friendships, health, hobbies, jobs, etc., all can be lost as well. The facts are people say ridiculously stupid things when you lose a child. Most don't want to talk about about it. Some want to fix it, for you to not be sad and just go back to being who you are before the loss happened. Life becomes a constant state of uncomfortable moments. There are burdens that pile on top of the already heavy load of going on living without your child. I think the loss community is breaking the silence and helping parents to heal and lightening the load. When we tell our stories and experiences it helps other people know how to support these families after a loss and as far as grieving goes. It gives concerned family and friends insight in to what is totally normal and to be expected. There is so much healing to be had in similar experiences.
We are a family of 4 in every way, we hold one child in our arms and the other in our heart. Whether others see Truman in our daily lives or not, he is there with us, always.
I got pregnant in April of 2006 and had our son, Alex Miguel Jimenez in 2007. He was perfect even though my pregnancy was rough. I was sick the whole time and even had to be hospitalized once to get fluids back into me. All the time everyone told me he would be fine and they were all right, he was just perfect. At this point, I decided (We) decided I would stay at home and raise him. Things got tight and my husband ended up losing his job of over 18 years and needless to say we ended up losing our house, cars and our doggies. Alex was about 3 years old at this time. We moved into a rental house, my husband found a great job and we started digging out from the whole we had created. I found out not too long after the move that I was pregnant and we were excited, however Alex was still in diapers and I had lost so much weight. I was the smallest I had ever been due to all the stress in our lives, and in my own parent’s lives as well. I made an appointment and we went to the first ultra sound to see how far along.That was when we found out that I had miscarried.
I was very sad, crying and my husband there to comfort me, however I really felt that it just wasn’t a good time in our lives and that maybe that miscarriage happened for a reason. We moved again after Christmas to another house closer to my husband’s job and a littler cheaper rent. Alex turned 4, then 5 and then in June of 2012, we found out again that we were expecting. I was so excited as was my husband, we had been trying for this baby and really wanted to give Alex a sibling, he had just started his first year of Kindergarten and I had gone back to work full time. My husband was still with the same great company. I was very sick again with Avery and had to go to part-time at work, which eventually led to me being laid off, kind of a good thing I thought, since I was so sick everyday!
We found out in early October that we were having a GIRL! I was so excited. I told everyone I will be happy either way “as long as it’s healthy” you know, what everyone says, but deep down I wanted a girl and I wanted to have one of each. I felt so blessed and told everyone one of each, life is sweet!! And so began the name game….It hit me one day and I thought Avery, I told my husband as we were driving and he said that’s it! He told me he got little goose bumps when I said her name and that’s how he knew it was the right name!
My pregnancy continued to be rough, but I got used to the morning sickness and found that not eating anything after 8 pm worked wonders on how I would do late that night. I tried hard to eat and drink and keep healthy stuff in me, but I sure did eat my share of jelly beans in the spring, I think I tried every one they made….I spent my days taking Alex to school and picking him up and napping in between, I was living the good life and my husband kept telling me I better not get used to this as we were about to have a new baby and surely life would be wild and crazy those first few months. I was nervous about being a new mama again. I kept thinking, will I remember everything that I did with Alex? Sure, I thought like riding a bike…right? I spent these months also shopping and buying lots of girly stuff, digging out old things of Alex’s and re-selling on a moms group I belonged to. I was so proud that I had everything ready for Avery’s arrival I just needed her!
I feel bad now, looking back and struggle with my actions during this pregnancy and even with Alex. I was so sick. Complaining a lot, telling everyone “this is the last one, I’m never doing this again”. It’s almost like I was jinxing myself I regret those feelings. I regret saying that and hope and pray Avery didn’t feel my hate for being so sick while pregnant. As I reached my last trimester I was so happy to almost be done! I told friends “stick a fork in me, I am done”. I had a final, or so I hoped doctor’s appointment on Friday March 22, 2013. My regular doctor was out that day and I was told in advance I would be seeing one of the mid-wives. My regular doctor had never been out so this was my first appointment without him.
The midwife’s nurse first came in and took my weight and then asked if I was sure I was as far along as I thought. She thought I seemed small, (Again being sick I struggled gaining weight the whole time but it wasn’t a big concern I was told). She asked if my due date was from my last known period or just from my scan, I told her my scan. Weird I thought…she then said “Well dang girl, you look great”. I beamed and was happy to hear that.
The midwife came and did the usual stuff and we listened to Avery’s heartbeat, (for what I now know would be the last). It was nice and strong just like it always was EVERYTIME we came in. She stayed on it longer then my regular doctor and I asked her if it sounded okay, she assured me yes, sounds great, just like I always heard! I then told her, I want her out ASAP! Can she scrap me? She said “Yes” and did so.
I sometimes now wonder if I had seen my regular doctor would he have been able to catch something she didn’t’? But he assures me that even a stress test wouldn’t have changed the outcome. I made another appointment as told. The midwife told me she was pretty sure I would be having this baby sometime that weekend or maybe a couple more days thereafter. Saturday came and went and by Sunday I was ready to have her. I told my husband let’s get out and walk a bunch so we did. We went to a hiking trail but just walked for a little bit. We bought some strawberry plants to plant in our garden and I stopped at the Koi pond they have at the nursery and asked my hubby to take some pictures of me and Alex and my large pregnant belly, those are the last images I took before we lost her.
Sunday night my hubby fixed us dinner and we then laid in bed and watched some tv. I told Rick, my husband that I hadn’t felt Avery move as much tonight. He then put his hand on my tummy and we rubbed and both felt her kick strong and he said, “oh I felt her…she’s fine,” I had felt her too and I believe now it was her and that she was still with us then. Early Monday morning around 6:00am I woke like I did every morning (usually to get sick), but with contractions. I waited and timed them then woke my husband to tell him that I was pretty sure they where contractions. I tried to stay home as long as possible until we needed to go to the hospital (I have always been told to try and labor at home for awhile until you’re ready). He got our son up and took him to school we told him when he got home he would be a big brother. I took a bath and we called my mom who is a nurse and she came over. By 10:00 am my contractions where pretty strong so we headed to the hospital. We were all so excited, I remember my mom saying as we got in the car, the next time you come home you’ll be a Family of 4! I laughed and smiled, until my next contraction hit. As we drove to the hospital (it’s very close) I said to my husband today’s going to be one of the worst and best days of my life! The worst for the pain but the best for the reward. In hindsight, It was like I already knew.
We got to the hospital and told them I was in labor. I got the nicest nurse, she was the charge nurse for the day. She asked me to put on the gown and then take a urine test. She then told me to get into the bed and they started hooking me up. She then said, Oh I better check the heartbeat, as she was putting the gunk on my big belly. She said, “have you felt her kick today”. My body got kind of numb and I said no, not since last night. With all the contraction pain I really didn’t even notice she wasn’t moving and I guess I thought if I was having contractions then she must be just fine.
The nurse tried and tried to find Avery’s heartbeat, asking me at one point “honey, are you breathing??”. She found mine and for a moment, I felt like all was going to be okay. She said, “okay that’s you”…..I remember my mom and husband on my left side both like deer in the headlights just in aww, of what was happening. My mom said, “oh my god Morgan”. I could feel the shock hit me, I went numb….I just remember my husband and mom clutching me and telling me it’s okay it’s okay.
The nurse then said she was going to get the Doctor. He came right in, very concerned, he asked some questions and tried to find her heartbeat. He ordered the ultra sound machine and tech. to my room and he came very fast. The ultra sound tech. was a guy and he came in cheerful. The nurse told him she couldn’t find the heartbeat, He looked at the nurse and said, “If I had a dollar for every time they were wrong,” he put the wand on me and silence hit the room.
There was lots of clicking and I put my face in my hands as I could not bear to look at anyone. I could hear him clicking and typing and it seemed like hours went by when finally my mom blurted out, “well, do you see it?” The doctor stood behind him and looked at my mom and shook his head. She burst into tears and lost it. I sat there in shock with my husband by my side, my mom inconsolable.
The doctor told me how very, very sorry he was and that he couldn’t see on the machine what caused her heart to stop. He left and gave us all some time. Later he came back in asked me to decide if I would have her naturally or c-section. I thought fast and wanted c-section. I asked how would I ever be able to push out my dead daughter? HOW?? I told the doctor (who wasn’t my regular doctor). A few hours later my real doctor came in and told me he really wanted me to do this naturally. He said that I could and that it would be better on my body and I would be able to go home faster.
I just kept thinking I want her out NOW. What does it matter, I don’t get to bring her home with me. He convinced me and I gave birth naturally with the help of an epidural in less than 7 hrs total. My beautiful Avery Michele was born at 5:46 pm, She was 6 lbs 5 oz, 19′ long. A pound smaller then Alex. She had black hair and bright blue eyes (they told me). The doctor confirmed that she had the umbilical cord wrapped once tightly around her neck and that this was the cause of her death.
I held her, she was soft and so tiny. She was so warm I just felt like she was sleeping, her lips dark but her skin still so perfect. I unwrapped her and looked at her tiny feet and wondered why they had put a diaper on her. I held her sweet hands, kissed her and then handed her back to my husband. By this time ALL of my family had come and I had all of them hold sweet Avery.
The deacon came in and blessed her. All of the nurses came in and hugged me and cried with us. The doctor even stopped my parents in the hall outside and told them he was so sorry and that this just wasn’t fair. He was pretty upset about it. Everyone reassured us there was nothing I did or could have done to prevent this from happening.
She was with us for a long time. My mother-in-law stayed with her and didn’t leave her side. My friend is a nurse there and she spent time with me and then I asked her to take Avery away. We signed papers to have her cremated, received a memory box and just like that, went home.
A week later we had a private service to honor her with family and friends. My angel is gone but not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, think about what she would be and look like and how WANTED she was, how amazing Alex would have been as a big brother….not a day goes by that she isn’t loved!!
We love you to the moon and stars Avery Michele.
Your mommy, Morgan; Daddy Rick and Brother Alex
Throughout life a lot of connections come and go. Over the course of a lifetime you will have multiple love interests, hair stylists, dentists, and coworkers... But every once in a while you get a best friend that sticks like glue. A best friend that is with you (sometimes from afar) to share life with. ...You get to share exciting things like professional promotions, new relationships, and growing families and you have them to hold you up during the hard times like loss of a job, a loved one, or just a bad hair day. How truly lucky it is to find a friend like that. I have never appreciated my close friends as much as I have over the course of the last six weeks. Leave it to your BFF's in life to hold you up when life hands you a challenging spot. I've been sent flowers, socks, cards, books, and lots and lots of love. How did I get so lucky?
Other times in life we are given another kind of best friend. Perhaps they're not the best conversationalist, but they sure know how to listen....and they're always excited to see you...and they make bad days a little brighter... and shed all over your couch...
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to capture a girl and her best friends last weekend and I thought I'd give you a little peek at these sweet bff's. ...The furry one AND the not so furry one...
I absolutely can not believe that summer is over...fall is well on it's way and the red Starbucks cups of winter are already upon us. Where has the time gone? I'm not complaining. Eggnog Lattes have helped me get through quite a lot of editing over the last few weeks!
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to capture Rachel and Matt's wedding at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens in September. A redwoods ceremony followed by a dinner and dancing. you could not have asked for a group of more fun and loving people.
Here are some of my favorites...
The ceremony was nestled in a redwood grove. *Swoon*
The ceremony was absolutely gorgeous. This is hands down one of the most stunning wedding venues I have had the pleasure of visiting.
So much personality in this group! Watching them interact with one another was an absolute joy!
...I could say the same for these fine gentlemen.
Mr. and Mrs. Perkins. <3 <3 <3
Coral carnations and soft blue hydrangeas adorned the tables.
Every last detail was nothing short of breathtaking...
...And they lived happily ever after. Surrounded by the love and support of their family and friends. :o)
For those of you who don't know me... I'm Kimberly Ann. My last name really is Sweet - I love flowers and giraffes and anything with cilantro (except maybe drinks, that would be weird). For visual reference I'm the blonde one in the picture below...not the furry one - that's Mya - I'm the one swooning over that handsome fella that gave me my cool last name.
My Linkedin account (that I never use) sent me an email this week saying "Congratulations on your work anniversary"! It took me a while to realize it was talking about my photography business. One year! ONE YEAR!!! I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet new people and capture their memories for one whole year! How is that even possible! As I look back at the families I've had the opportunity to meet and the stories they have shared with me I am reminded that I have THE coolest job in the world and that I am forever indebted to you guys who are so kind enough to allow me into your families for an evening. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and for letting me capture a little bit of your beautiful lives on my camera. <3
This week was a real eye opener for me. I was sick, I was exhausted, I was stressed, I was overwhelmed, I was cranky, and I was a giant blonde ball of emotions because of the aforementioned situations. Not a pretty sight - I promise. And then a few things happened. YOU guys happened. I was fortunate enough to photograph a GORGEOUS wedding this past weekend and the couple (who I absolutely adore) surprised me by sending me flowers at my other work. (I'm also the Administrative Assistant to the President at CR. She's pretty much the most amazing boss ever - Hi Kathy!). Aren't they pretty?!
Not only are they pretty - they smell AMAZING!!! I've had people coming by my desk all week just to smell them. They definitely brightened my spirits!
On Wednesday I dropped off some pictures before I met up with my Team In Training Team (we're running and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - ask me about it!! It's a pretty awesome organization!) This family gave me the SWEETEST hand written card! I teared up when I read it. Their kind words absolutely meant the world to me!
THANK YOU SO MUCH for giving me the opportunity to be on this crazy beautiful photography journey. Thank you for making this past year such a great adventure. You guys really are making my dreams come true every single day.
I'm going to finish this blog up with some wedding pictures from last Saturday because I'm really feeling the LOVE right now. <3 <3 <3 Kimberly Ann
Thank you for reading! <3