I recently had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with my friend Stacey, her husband, their 2 tiny cuties, and their 2 fur babies for photos.  I have recently started asking clients if they have a story they would like to share along with their photos because these photos are about your family, and your story, and I feel that *you* can tell that story better than I can.  I relate to Stacey’s story in so many ways.  She and I have our former careers in common, of course, but I mostly relate as a mom who has also struggled with my own health, self care, and finding my own identity in motherhood.

From Stacey:  

I can’t believe I’ve let 4+ years pass since getting professional family photos taken. To think that it was just me and my husband back then, and since that point we’ve added two pups, two beautiful children, taken on 3 moves, and major career changes. That’s a lot of living in just a short amount of time! Ironically, Jamie was the last photographer to do a full session with us – back when we had just left our corporate advertising jobs together – so it only felt fitting to ask my friend to do us the honor this go round.

This door, this couple, LOVE.

Stacey & Robert’s 1 Year Anniversary Photo, 2013

Can I be honest about why we waited for more photos? A lot of those years were spent working through some health issues and battling major anxiety on my end. For about a year after my daughter was born, I didn’t want to be photographed because I honestly didn’t recognize the woman I was looking at in the mirror each day. And to put on a smile in front of the camera felt too hard, too fake and not worth the money.  That’s crushing to admit because clearly a lot of incredible memories were made during that time. But I had hit a wall emotionally and physically. While I never got the official diagnosis for postpartum depression, I’m more than certain I checked off a lot of symptoms from the list. Sadly, I also kept a lot of these very private.

My path ended up leading me to work with a functional medicine practitioner. It was the best decision because we tested everything and it was through that approach that I learned that my body had been so maxed out that I was experiencing massive Adrenal Fatigue. This was a game changer for me because it finally allowed me to understand how lifestyle choices I had been making over the years were suddenly (and massively) catching up with me. It inspired me to overhaul my eating choices, honor self care to a whole new level, cut back on alcohol, and explore other holistic tools to manage stress and balance my hormones.

As my body began to realign, I felt more grounded than I had in years. The debilitating anxiety lessened, the brain fog cleared, and I finally had the energy to show up in life the way I wanted. I felt like Stacey, finally. Along the way, I dove into the world of essential oils to support myself emotionally (and also because they work wonders on kiddos!) and somehow found a voice and mission within me I didn’t know existed. It’s become my happy place to share and educate other women on these tools, so it was especially sweet to have Jamie document that part of my life as well.

These photos really represent so much to my little family. While I have love in my heart for the woman who was beginning to struggle 4 years ago, and for the version of me who almost crumbled 2 years ago, it’s just amazing to savor this incredible life I’m living now. No fake smiles required.

You can follow along with Stacey and her family’s journey on instagram by following www.instagram.com/halfhealthymom.

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