Written by Danielle Gray, Isla’s mum
We found out antenatally that Isla had a ‘cyst’ in her chest that would possibly affect her after birth. Her first two months were stress free however she struggled to gain weight and developed bronchiolitis on numerous occasions requiring hospitalisation and feeding tubes. The aim was to ‘fatten her up’ for the next two months before surgery. It was discovered that the cyst was on the oesophagus and was pushing her heart and lung across to the right side of her body making breathing difficult.
Surgery occurred on 15th April 2015 at four months of age in the Royal Children’s Hospital. After 5 hours in surgery the cyst was successfully removed and Isla began her recovery. With some minor hiccups along the way, Isla came home a week later. Another few hospital admissions followed, however since 7 months of age Isla has been tube and hospital stay free!
For me photography is writing a story with imagery. A sequence of images can paint a thousand words, show the feelings and feel the emotions. We all have a story to tell, we all are given unique life lessons for whatever reason, it’s just a part of the journey and hopefully though through the chaos we find the meaning and become better people. My heart goes out to any family that are tested to their limits and find their own strength to push through another day.
I first met Danielle through a mutual friend and we had a session together when Isla was a newborn. I remember the session clearly, photographing Isla with her two older brothers Charlie and Ollie. Charlie being the oldest had the important job of holding his baby sister like the protective big brother I’m sure he’ll be. Ollie, well, he kept mum on her toes just trying to get him in position so I could take a few shots, the cheeky 3 year old he is! All the while little Isla slept, comforted by the noise of everyone.
I didn’t know at this stage that in Isla’s tiny little body that she had the cyst, she was the perfect little baby girl for her newborn photo shoot.
In the months after our session I bumped into Danielle on a few occasions. The first time I mentioned to Danielle that I noticed she was “child free” at the shops however that was when Isla was in hospital and had recently been through surgery. As a mum too I felt very much for Danielle and her family. A few months later I ran into them again this time with Isla propped up in the shopping trolley it was good to see her happy and bright as button!
Isla may have had a rough start to life but for this little girl turning 1 definitely was something to celebrate! I love that I can give the gift of special photographs.
Isla has missed a few of her developmental milestone like crawling and walking that most babies reach in the first 12 months. I was so amazed to see how quick this little girl bum-shuffles her way around the floor! Her little spirit not holding her back by any means.
To see the smile on her face, and fairy wings to boot, this is a happy ending story.
Our lives can be turned upside down in an instant and having a beautiful portrait is about celebrating you and is important for every generation. #existinphotos
I wish Danielle, Leon, Charlie and Ollie all the best in celebrating their daughter and sister a happy first birthday xo
“…nothing can dim the light that shines from within…”
HAPPY EASTER… hold your those special to you close and be safe over the holiday period xxx Lauren
Happy Easter Isla, look how far you’ve come over the last year, hope those bunny ears still fit xo