indianapolis photographer | brandi's story

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photos by Indianapolis photographer Ashlee Lauren

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I have two boys. Braxton is 9 and Eli is 3.

Braxton is a very kind-hearted child. He is always looking for ways to help others and would give the shirt off of his back without being asked. Braxton is a thinker and analyses everything that is happening around him. He is extremely intelligent and loves to learn about new things. Since he was one I have told people that he would be smarter then his daddy and I. I think that’s already come true, but I’m not ready to tell him that. He enjoys sharing life events with strangers and is always looking for a way to make people laugh. Braxton is also an amazing soccer player and when he is goalie nothing gets past him. Braxton has always been my strength and has helped me to get through many dark times. He has also had some struggles of his own, but the way he handles them amaze me. He looks to God for guidance and puts his worries in His hands. He has also recently asked to be baptized and we are excited that he has made this decision.

We refer to Eli as our sour patch kid. At first he can be a little sour and feisty, but if you give him time he will show you his sweat side. He is my little ball of energy and is full of excitement. He takes some warming up, but he truly loves people and enjoys forming connections with everyone. He has a way about him -- he finds one thing that stands out about each person and he focuses on that. For example he love to fish with his papaw, wrestle with his uncle, tell stories to his aunt Marla, and sweet talk his grandma into getting anything he wants. He loves to wrestle and enjoys anything that allows him to be active. Eli also has a passion for animals. He could spend everyday at the zoo naming and categorizing different animals without ever getting tired. He loves to watch documentaries on dinosaurs and would choose those over cartoons any day.

Both my boys are very loving and kind-hearted. They never go a day without making sure mommy has lots of hugs and they never forget to tell me they love me. There is never a dull moment in our house and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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THE STORY | I always wanted to be a mom, but prior to getting married I found out that the journey to motherhood would be difficult. I convinced myself that I was happy helping to raise my siblings and didn't need to have children of my own. I think I was trying to cover the pain of thinking I wouldn't have my own children by telling people it didn't bother me.

We tried from the day we got married to get pregnant with Braxton. When it didn’t look like it was going to happen, my husband decided to follow a new journey. He joined the Air Force and a week before he left we found out that we were pregnant; I took the test the day I missed my period. His daddy and I screamed, cried, laughed, and celebrated. We told everyone from day one.

Being pregnant with Braxton was difficult and filled with complications. I became extremely depressed and remember telling the Dr. "If I wasn't pregnant I would walk in front of a bus." I had several kidney issues and was constantly fearful that I would loose Braxton. At around 18 weeks they ran a test that came back indicating Braxton had Down syndrome. I cried for three days and was fearful of how I would raise him. I walked into the Dr. office and the first thing they asked was "do you want to terminate the pregnancy?" I looked at the Dr. and said "that never even entered my mind, this is my child and we will be just fine." I was alone -- my husband away in basic -- and I was a mess. We moved to Alaska two month prior to Braxton being born and that created additional stress. The only thing that kept me going knew he was growing inside of me. He was born in September and BAM post partum depression hit. Then when he was 7 months old my husband was deployed. Braxton was my strength through all of it. I have to be strong for him. He helped me to smile and see the joy during a time where I was really hurting. Still to this day he is my strength. He is the reason I kept going.

After we had Braxton we never tried to prevent pregnancies, but we didn’t really start trying until two years later. That’s when the miscarriages started. Every miscarriage was harder then the last and I started to find myself slipping down the road of depression again. We saw several Doctors, two fertility specialist, took countless medicines, had lots of testing, and two surgeries. I was told in October of 2010 that I would never get pregnant without IFV and if we were not pregnant quickly then I would need a full hysterectomy. We started the process of adoption and were excited to welcome a baby girl into our life. In February we sat in the hospital parking lot as we received the phone call. The call that told us the father of our daughter wanted to keep her and we would not be allowed to pick our daughter up that day. I ember crying as we walked through the hospital to the fertility doctor's office. We sat in the waiting room and the nurse asked me why I was crying, she smiled and said, " Well, I think I need to show you something." She led us to the exam room and rolled in and ultrasound machine. There on the screen was my Buddha’s tiny heartbeat. I was already 9 weeks pregnant. My heart skipped a beat, my husband smiled bigger then I have ever seen, and all the start aligned. Eli is our miracle baby. He was born early due to low fluids, but you would never know. A really bad day turned into the second best day of my life.

Don't ever let the Doctors tell you that you cant have kids. Doctors are human being and they make mistakes. Only God truly knows your future.

I knew they were both boys while I was pregnant, even though I was hooping for a girl with Eli. I knew from day one that they were both boys. I could just feel it in my heart.

Braxton’s birth was complicated and hard. Eli's was also complicated, but I had a peace inside of me with his birth. I knew God was protecting him and I never experience the depression with Eli like I did with Braxton. Both labors were long. I tried to make it with out meds, but I couldn't do it.

What's it like to bring home a new baby? Scary, exciting -- like something you will never forget. Bringing Braxton home was really scary. Just my hubby and I in Alaska. The only people we knew were another young married couple who had arrive at Elmendorf the same week we did. Braxton had Acid Reflex and would stop breathing at night. I don't think I slept until he was almost two. I don't know how I did it, but it's like God gave me energy that I never knew I could have. I ran on fumes and lots of coffee his first two years. Eli was also scary because he had some medical issues from the start. He wasn't gaining weight, he had several respiratory issues and wasn't fond of sleep. I still haven't had a full nights sleep and he is three.

I was nervous about everything with both boys and the nurses at urgent care knew us by name. They became an extension of the family because they knew I was one of those moms. You know the one that takes their kids in for every little thing. Its not as bad now as it was when they were infants, but we still visit the urgent care once in a while.

Being a mom has made me want to be a better person. I went back to school and got my bachelors degree in early childhood education. I have a greater appreciation for family and the bonds that my kids share with them. They make me want to be a better me. I mess up, I make frequent mistakes, but I learn from them and I push on. Being a mom is not easy, but describing it as hard is not the right word either. It's like organized chaos.

The best part about being a mom is the love that I see in them. Their smiles, hugs, laughter, silly stories, and yes, even the melt downs are all what makes this journey amazing. Your heart is literally walking around outside of your body.

The most challenging thing is when I don't understand their thought process. We teach our children so much, but we can't teach them everything. They will learn through making their own mistakes, and sometimes that is hard to watch. I know that's how it's supposed to be, but I want to protect them from the world. I hate seeing them get hurt especially when I could see where things were headed, but couldn't do anything about it.

My friends Amanda, Katherine, Amy, and JoJo helped me with the first few years of Braxton’s life. They were and still are our military family. My sister Ashley, she wasn’t able to be there physically, but she always answered the phone when I called. Even if it was the middle of the night. She would cheer with me when Braxton would reach a milestone and calm me when I was scared. My husband, he is an amazing father and extremely supportive. He allows me to make mistakes and does not criticize me for them. Now that we are home in Indiana I have the support of a large family. The boys have cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and lots of loving friends who are more like family. Most of all, God. He trusted me with these two blessings and I don't want to mess this up.

I'm surprised by how motherhood causes you to say the most random things; the words that come out of my mouth and the stories that have unfolded. Who knew that "don' drink the dog's water" would be a normal sentence in my household.

I wish I could hold onto their joy.

Even on a bad day they still find joy. I want them to keep their innocence for as long as possible. And I wish I would always have their tiny arm hugs that make me feel like my hears will pop off; the small laughter just because I made a silly face or sang a silly song.

We live in a very cruel world and my boys are uniquely them. I don't want them to have to worry about the adult stuff yet. I want them to enjoy being kids and not have to worry about mean people. I want them to love everyone and not buy into this new hate that is brewing within our society.

I want my children to be happy when they grow up. Happy looks different for everyone. I am trying to raise loving, strong, respectful, God following men, I want them to be great fathers and enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Have fun, don't stress out so much, and allow them to truly explore the world around them. Its not really a philosophy for me, more of a goal. Just let your kids be kids. Let them make mistakes, let them get dirty, join them in their silly adventure. Have fun and don't take any moment for granted. Stop beating yourself up so much. We as mothers are not perfect, but we are perfectly matched for our children. We make mistakes and we also so a lot of things perfectly.

We are raising the future. Our children will one day be the adults that run our world. What we do today effects the world tomorrow.

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my beautiful boys,

When I look at the two of you I see dreams that came true. I see stories that have yet to be told and a past that is overflowing with joy. I also see fear. Fear that I’m messing up, fear that I didn’t spend enough time with you both, and fear that I said the wrong things or made the wrong choice for your future.

When I became your mommy, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that I would find new things to worry about each and every day. Things that I had never even thought of before were suddenly present and creating worry inside of me. I also didn’t know that your hugs and a simple smile could bring instant peace to any stressful moment. I didn’t know that my heart could jump at the sound of a cry, or that your first steps would turn me into an excited mess. I also didn’t know that I was the world’s lightest sleeper and could awaken at the slightest movement coming from across the room. Most of all I didn’t know just how much I could love another human being. Its like my heart broke into pieces and each of you are walking around holding it in your hands.

There were also a lot of things I didn’t understand. I never truly understood what people meant when they said “I love baby laughter” until I had you. I couldn’t grasp why someone would stay up all night just to watch someone sleep. I didn’t get why moms would just allow a temper tantrum to happen and sit calmly next to their child while it took place. I didn’t get why people would slow down to purposefully get stopped by a train or how someone could read the same book over and over again. There was a lot I didn’t understand before I had you both, but now there is a little less.

Your happiness is the reason I do silly things that might not make sense to others. Buddy, your cuddles and hugs were the reason why I would sing June bug baby over and over again. In fact, it was because of you that I even made up the song “June bug baby” and it made my heart swell every time you asked me to sing it and scratch your back. You didn’t fall asleep on your own till you were 6 and even after that you still requested me to sing to you. Buddha your smile was the reason I would sing 5 little monkeys in the public pool and chase you like an alligator in front of strangers. Oh, and Buddha you got your nickname because you always wanted your belly button rubbed. Almost every night daddy or I would ruby your belly until you fell asleep.

Boys you are God's blessings and I am so proud that he chose me to be your mommy. Watching you both grow has been the highlight of my life. I pray every night that I am making the right choices for you both. I know that I have made mistakes and I am not a perfect mother, but I am trying. I pray that you will both grow to love God and enjoy the blessings he has given us. I pray that you both fall in love with someone who will love you as much as your daddy and I love each other. I pray that you learn from your mistakes when they are made and use those moments as a chance to grow. I pray what any mother would pray for their child. That you both live long, happy, and healthy lives, and that you always find time to spend with your mom and dad.

For fun I am going to make a slight prediction. Braxton right now I'm thinking you will be a scientist or do something amazing with technology. Eli you will be a Vet or work with animals in some type of way. I say these things because of the excitement that lights up your faces when either of you are in these particular situations. No matter what you end up doing there is one thing I know for sure, I will be proud of you. I love you both so very much and I will patiently wait to see what journeys lie ahead of you both.

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Ashlee also provides magical and delightful services for: newborn photography, cake smash photography, baby's first year plans, maternity photography, family photography, and Newborn mentoring for photographers.

If you have a milestone or special moment you want to remember forever, let's chat! Ashlee loves to photograph in the woodlands and around downtown Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, and Greenwood. She also has a professional studio space available for sessions.

EMAIL: ashlee@alaurenphoto.com