Mother’s Day Winner {Calgary Family Photographer}

A few weeks ago I held a little contest.
I asked you to nominate all the wonderful moms in your life. The response was overwhelming. Each day many beautiful emails were sent in reminding me so much of the joy that it is to be a mommy.
The mom who won is truly one of the most beautiful women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She is strong, humble, beautiful, confident and sweet as sweet can be. She is a natural mommy who you can tell just minutes after meeting that her love for her daughter is both sweet and fierce.  They are both so very lovely. I was going to try to explain why and how their story affected my heart, but I thought the letter nomination I received was just so perfect that I’ll let it touch your heart too :)————-
My name is Kerry and I saw your contest post on a friend’s facebook page. I am a high school teacher and I have the amazing opportunity to work at Louise Dean School here in Calgary. Louise Dean is a school for parenting and pregnant teens. Although my job is tough at times as I see really difficult situations, it is, perhaps, one of the most rewarding teaching jobs I have ever done. The girls I work with are amazing. A lot of them have fought against many odds just to be the first in their family to graduate. We believe that education is the first step in breaking the poverty cycle that so many of them have been trapped into. 

As I said, I have had the opportunity to work with many amazing teen moms. This year, a pregnant 17 year old named Ashlynn came into my Science 24 class. She is a stunning young lady both inside and out. She worked very hard for me and never showed disrespect in any way. As her belly began to grow, I found more out about her background and personal life. Ashlynn grew up in the welfare system. She was tossed from foster home to foster home up until the time she was 16. This is a sad but common reality for many of our students. Ashlynn is different than most though, she has a strong, determined and humble spirit and- she is SMART!! She finished my course this January with a 95%.

Her due date was mid-February and I got the good news on February 12. The news soon became scary, however- as her gorgeous little girl named Darlynn was found to have a large mass on her left lung. 2 days after she was born, they didn’t know if Darlynn would survive. She was having a lot of trouble breathing and  couldn’t breastfeed without turning blue. Doctors did tests and it was shown that the mass was full of blood vessels. They were afraid to operate as Darlynn was so young and they weren’t sure how much she was going to bleed if they tried to remove it. They hooked her up to machines and waited a week as they decided what to do. 
During this time, Ashlynn was all alone other than her boyfriend. She has no parents to look after her and few friends. I went to visit her and I couldn’t believe how strong and calm she was. She had learned to change her daughter’s diaper without disturbing all of the wires going into her. She stayed by her side in the PICU night and day. 
After 2 weeks they decided to go ahead with surgery and try to do their best to remove what they could as the baby wouldn’t survive off of machines. Many prayers were said that day for Darlynn. Those prayers were heard as they opened her up and the mass had shrunk in size and had zero blood supply to it. The surgeons were able to remove it all and did not have to remove any part of her lung like they thought they were going to have to. It was truly a miracle.
After the surgery, Darlynn’s recovery was very slow. Her left lung was still 1/4 of the size it needed to be because of the mass that was there through her development. She was fully intubated and hooked up to feeding tubes for 4 weeks. Her mommy was there every second of the way singing to her, and stroking her head as the nurses suctioned her and Darlynn screamed in silence as her tubes blocked her vocal cords. I was blown away by the strength that Ashlynn showed through this all. They were slowly able to ween her off of the tubes and after 8 long weeks in the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Ashlynn was able to take her precious daughter home.
I am nominating Ashlynn for this as I feel she is one of the most amazing moms I know. Any woman would have trouble going through what she did with her first born. She is 17 years old and alone with little family support. I can’t imagine facing what she did. She handled it all with grace and maturity. She is back at school already (as of yesterday) as she knows she wants to finish her high school and move onto post-secondary. In fact, her experience has shown her that she wants to now become a nurse and work in the PICU helping others go through what she did. Ashlynn is beautiful inside and out- I know this would show up in your photos as I can see you capture so much with your work. I think it would be a very special memory for her to have these pictures as keepsakes of her first Mother’s Day after all she has been through in the past 2 1/2 months.
Thanks for considering her for your contest.
Kerry, Ashlynn & Darlynn
It has been such a lovely pleasure to meet you all.
My heart is humbled by each of you and I count myself blessed to know you.

sylviamyoung - What a touching story. Ashlynn and Darlynn are so gorgeous! I am really glad this new mom will always remember her first mothers day in a special way. What special teacher Kerry is!!! Thanks for sharing this story Sara, and as usual your work is amazing!

Heather M. - what an incredible story, sara. made me tear up. absolutely gorgeous photos of them.

ZeldaMom - That is beautiful. All of it.

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