No matter how different they all may be or where they came from, they are all here together going through this amazing, unforgettable time of their lives. I am so excited to share this series with you. This is why I love my job as Puyallup and surrounding area's Maternity Photographer. These women are the epitome of beauty. Beauty of motherhood, beauty of journey, beauty of sacrifice and last but not least, beauty of strength.
Continue reading to learn a bit about each mother and their personal journey with pregnancy and how the military lifestyle has played a role in their lives. You'll get a small insight of all of the ups and downs that some women go through and maybe even see that you will relate to some of the emotions, trials, and experiences.
Shannon is expecting a sweet baby boy, Corbin Shane, this August. Physically her pregnancy has been great and they are excited for a home birth. But mentally and emotionally, it has been difficult. Hormones are no joke! Coming from the island of Kauai,
"It literally took a village to raise a child. It's hard to find balance and time for myself" Shannon explains. I am sure there are a lot of mothers out there who can relate to this struggle!
Shannon and Mitchell have been married for 3 years come this September. Retired SGT Johnson served our country in the United States Army as a Combat Medic for 14.5 years including prior service in the Coast Guard. The military has brought them from Joint Base Lewis-McChord(JBLM) to Fort Polk and now back to JBLM. Having been to Washington twice, it still isn't quite like home. Shannon states, "I can't handle the weather enough to call it home".
Shannon has not had the experience of having a strong military community support, but from her fathers prior service at JBLM, she does have connections and friends to lean on.
They can't wait to welcome baby boy into their family and big sister couldn't be more excited! Once baby arrives, visiting family is top of their list of things to do!
This is Shannon's story. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a Mother.
Although their paths crossed during childhood, it wasn't until the summer after their sophomore year when they found each other again and started a relationship; they've now been together 7 years! Calista was born in Alaska but grew up in Oregon. While Washington is not home, she did spend a lot of time in this beautiful state. SGT Atkins has been in for a little over 4 years serving our country as a signal support system specialist in the United States Army. "The Military has brought me and my husband so many great things and so many firsts!" Calista shares. Calista and Shae set their wedding date right after he graduated from airborne school and they then packed their things and moved across the country away from everyone they knew. They enjoyed the east coast and lived there for a little over 3 years at Fort Bragg, NC. "We have met so many amazing people and have seen more places then we wouldn't have seen if he wasn't in the military."
It is exciting to announce that Everlee Diamond was born July 3rd 2017! Calista had an amazing pregnancy!
"Other than being 11 days overdue, things were pretty standard by the book."
They were thrilled when they received orders to Fort Lewis JBLM because family members are only a couple of hours away. Although extremely grateful, being a military family has had some trials.
"Missed doctor appointments and ultrasounds because he was in training. Spending the first 8 months of my pregnancy on the other side of the country from our family was also hard. But in the end, we are just grateful to have gotten pregnant and have the military send us close to him right before she was due! "
Now that Everlee is here, they can't wait to watch her grow, learn and develop her personality.
Congratulations! Miss Everlee is perfect!
This is Calista's story. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a Mother.
"First of all I was extremely shy because he was very handsome but also I'm not big in partying so I had no idea what to do but sit down somewhere and look busy in my phone" Naudia laughs. Ever since their blind date that was set up by her best friend, Naudia and Justin haven't gone a day without talking. July 29th marks their 6 year anniversary! You can see in their portraits their fun & flirty, but strong connection.
SGT Gooden has been serving our country in the United States Army for almost 6 years and really enjoys what he does as a Combat Engineer. They are originally from Houston Texas but the military has brought them from Fort Polk, Fort Carson and now here to Washington at Fort Lewis JBLM.
Pregnancy so far for Naudia has been nothing short of amazing. This baby was their surprise natural conception baby as their first took almost 4 years of fertility treatments! What a blessing! Baby's gender is a surprise and they can't wait to share their miracle with friends and family. Big brother is in for a treat!
A struggle a lot of military families go through is not being near their loved ones during special milestones such as a pregnancy.
"It has been pretty hard not being able to share every moment and growing inch with them being able to be a part of it. But we are looking forward to some family coming to visit around the little ones time of arrival"
The military has made this experience better for them and they are so thankful to not have to stress about the insurance and costs of bringing forth new life into the world.
Justin was deployed the entire pregnancy for their first child which made it very difficult for both of them. They are so excited to be able to share this experience and be on this journey together.
This is Naudia's story. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a Mother.
Karen is expecting a baby girl this August and unlike the two previous mothers, this is Karen's first baby! This pregnancy had a very rough start with Karen being extremely sick. Now that those symptoms have gone, they are anxious for her arrival! Both Karen and Nicholas come from close-knit families. With their military journey leading them away from their home states, they don't have family nearby, which has been a bit of a struggle.
PFC Johnson has been in the United States Army serving our country for a little over a year and a half. Karen and Nicholas just recently celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary and have been together for two years. JBLM is their first duty station and they very much look forward to the new adventures ahead. They can't wait for their baby girl to arrive. "Getting the chance to raise her in a good home, with loving parents & supporting families; becoming parents is the greatest thing!"
This is Karen's story. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a Mother.
Khloe is expecting her sweet baby boy Elijah at the end of the month! She is very thankful to have family close as she was born and raised in our very own Olympia, Washington. Because of her parents prior service to our country, she does enjoy traveling to see family that are not local.
Airman First Class Morris has been serving in the United States Airforce for 3 years as a mechanic. As any perfect love story would begin, Khloe and Vivian met while doing some local shopping and they were together for 2 years.
"The pregnancy hit me kind of hard, mainly because I'm still young and it wasn't planned. It was in the middle of taking classes towards my degree and working full time as a caregiver when I found out. The stress from the pregnancy, work, school and breakup made the first trimester difficult. Although, with lots of prayer, and family support, baby movement and ultrasounds helped me overcome it all."
If this doesn't show the testimony of amazing character, I am not sure what does. I am so happy that even though not together romantically at this time, they were a part of this series to document their journey so their son could have portraits of both his mother and father together.
This is Khloe's story. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a Mother.
I wanted to extend a special "thank you" to these ladies for sharing their stories. I am so thankful they willingly opened their hearts to share their experiences. My hopes are that as mothers, you can look at each journey and see their similarities and their differences and know that you are not alone.
Enjoy some group photos by Stephanie Ratto Photography, selfies from our evening along with some behind the scene shots taken by Shannon Johnson, one of our featured Mommy to be's!