Last month I was so thrilled and humbled to learn that two of my images were selected for inclusion in the 2015 VOICE Image Collection. This year has been such a sweet time of growth and settling into who I am as an artist and photographer (which I plan to blog about very soon…), and there is something really vulnerable about putting your art out there that is YOU, and then letting go of what comes next or whether people love it or hate it. I’m so very grateful for this season of personal reflection and growth, and then to have my work recognized is just a delightful icing on the cake.
Today I’m sharing the two images that were included in the 220 image collection. This first image is in the “Newness” category, and is my little nephew Chase at 2 weeks old. After I took this image, I immediately referred to it as “Chicken Legs” because it captures his tiny baby legs with all the loose skin and too-big onesie. Those skinny baby legs are so fleeting and easy to forget, so I love to document this distinctly newborn characteristic. When I submitted the image and needed a title, I chose “First stretch”, but at the end of the day, this will always be “Chicken Legs” to me.
The second image featured in the collection is in the “Self Portrait” category. I took this photo of myself with my 11 week old twins in 2013, really just to document the changes that my body went through gestating 10+ combined pounds of baby plus an undisclosed amount of non-baby weight to carry these babies to 36 weeks.
This twin pregnancy was really stressful for me, so much so that I haven’t ever written about it until now. Anyone who has experienced near loss of a pregnancy knows how scary and out-of-control you feel with the uncertainty. Couple that with infertility, and you have the perfect storm for insanity. I started bleeding at 6ish weeks. We weren’t sure if the babies were going to stay or go, was how I put it. The scariest bleed happened at 13 weeks, when I felt a giant gush of fluid, then went to the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and watched blood pour out of me. I put on a pad, drove the 10 minutes from work to Urgent Care, and in that time soaked through the pad, through my pants, and onto my car seat. I wrapped my jacket around my waist and went it. The babies weren’t going to stay.
But you know what? By the grace of God, they did. In hindsight now, I see that I squandered a lot of joy during that pregnancy. I missed ordinary moments of magic with my 3 year old, because I was so preoccupied with worrying about the pregnancy and preparing myself for the worse.
I was hospitalized at 32 weeks with pre-term contractions. The doctors prepared us to deliver the babies prematurely. I got 2 steroid doses to mature their lungs. But then the contractions stopped.
At 34 weeks, I developed stretch marks. A lot of them. And I was really happy about it! Because that meant the babies were growing bigger and still cooking. I started to let joy creep in. As I’m typing this I still get all teary-eyed and have this emotional knot in my throat taking myself back there. If I’m completely honest with myself, it was such a vulnerable time in my life, facing the reality of every day not knowing whether your babies are going to “stay or go”. And now that they’re here, the kind of bad news is that this vulnerability never really goes away. In fact, it’s really much worse now that I know these wonderful little people. This stuff can be so heavy and stifling and make life really scary. Really, the only way to get through it is to be so very grateful for the stretch marks on my belly and the moments I have with these little people who call me mom.
A funny side note about this photo is that it totally captures my twins’ different personalities. Morgan, on the left, is having a characteristic meltdown, while Bennett, on the right, is like, “Dude. Chill.” hahahaha.
Please check out all of the other very inspiring work of my fellow artists by clicking on the VOICE icon at the very top which will take you to the collection.
Carrie Yuan is a family photographer in Seattle, Washington, specializing in documentary family photography sessions that honestly tell the story of your family’s here and now. Carrie’s passion is to document the full-of-love journey that is parenthood and childhood (with a sprinkling of humor), in all its chaos & beauty. Carrie lives in Seattle with her family: a husband who is pretty excited about the start of football season, a five year old who is on the brink of KINDERGARTEN, two year old boy/girl twins who have found joy in scootering and riding bikes around the block, and a lab-ridgeback canine who sure takes a lot of abuse from the kids around here.
Carrie is currently booking family documentary photo sessions (that do NOT require the purchase of new outfits, or cleaning your house), in-home newborn sessions in the Greater Seattle area, and hospital newborn sessions in Seattle hospitals.