Photos Are Everything
I always talk about the importance of photos. And I mean, I bang on an on to everyone about having photos, getting them printed, put them on your wall! In fact, I often give family members framed prints for presents. Because so many people today just leave them on their phone or hard drive. But I love holding a photo in my hand. I love hanging photos of my kids, from newborn stage to awkward teenager to young adult. All the various stages of their life are documented and on our walls. And although my kids don’t admit it, I think they secretly like looking at them too. Because a photo is proof of a life well lived and well loved.
When they were babies I took photos ALL the time. As soon as they were born, I told my husband to grab my camera! And we took the obligatory first family photos, despite looking like a zombie and still high on hospital drugs. And even though they’re not the greatest photos, they’re printed and in the kids’ baby photo album.
What If You Missed The Birth Of Your Baby
But can you imagine becoming a dad and not being there for the birth of your baby? I mean, most new parents miss their baby when they leave them for just a few hours. So, imagine how tough it would be not meeting your baby until he is a couple of months old? It’s so hard to imagine, yet many people find themselves in this situation. Which is why having newborn photos in those first few weeks is so important! These photos are permanent mementos of those early days when your baby was so little. In a matter of weeks your baby changes so much and that time is gone. Photos freeze time and capture moments that quickly pass.
Last year I met Gemma when she booked me to photograph her wedding to Wes. During our chat Gemma explained Wes was in the RAF in England and they were planning their new life long distance. However, like all good laid plans, they quickly change! And instead of planning their wedding, a gorgeous little baby boy threw a kink in their plans. And the next time I spoke to Gemma, she was booking in for newborn photos.
When Gemma came to me for Aedan’s newborn photos, it really struck a chord at just how important these photos were, particularly for Wes, who was yet to meet his new son. And Gemma and Wes’ story is so inspiring; a modern day “Love Conquers All” real life romance. So, I just had to ask her to share it.
Family photo supplied by Gem and Wes
How did you and Wes both meet?
We met online, on a baseball fan group for the Seattle Mariners at the start of the 2018 season. An Australian and an Englishman among approx 10,000 American baseball fans. Our humor was vastly different than the Americans, and we hit it off right away. We soon met in person, at the Willow and Spoon Cafe and quickly became inseparable, seeing each other everyday while Wes was in Brisbane.
Any funny stories about that meeting?
We already knew that Wes would be returning to the UK, and the opportunity for him to transfer from the RAF to the RAAF was quite complex. I was apprehensive that this meeting would result in a long distance relationship, which I wasn’t keen on taking on. Poor Wes had to face a very standoffish Gem! I think I spoke to the waiter more than Wes at the start until the nerves and trepidation subsided!
How was your pregnancy? Did you suffer from morning sickness, weird cravings or complications?
Our pregnancy was fairly textbook. I had my first child when I was 23, and I found that this second pregnancy at 35 took a big toll on my energy levels and I experienced insomnia for the whole 9 months. I picked up a sweet tooth, which I don’t normally have – but Wes is a sucker for sweets and chocolate, so maybe that was a nod from our son to him.
How was your birth experience? And do you have any birthing tips for expectant mums and dads?
In my first pregnancy, I felt like a bit of a doe eyed bambi and just followed the suggestions of the medical staff responsible for my care and delivery. My biggest regret in that delivery was that I did not have anyone who understood what I wanted and advocated for me. Thankfully I had a natural vaginal birth, because my daughter arrived too soon for any intervention or drugs to be administered.
For my second birth, I wanted an all natural water birth. I was cared for by the Birth Centre at the RBWH and cannot speak highly enough about the experience. My midwife team provided a very supportive holistic approach to maternity care, and I was supported not only by the birth centre, but the dietician and social work teams to maintain care for myself and my baby.
When my son decided to arrive, I was surrounded by people who understood exactly what I had hoped to achieve with my birth, and my son was born in a birthing pool after 2 hours of active labor. My advice is to know your birth preferences and find yourself a team who will support you through them. Anything can happen in labour, preparing yourself and your support team is key.
What’s it like having an older child with a brand-new baby? Is Molly a fantastic help?
Molly is an incredible help at home, sometimes I have to mind myself that she is not an assistant to me but still my child too. We have had a lot of transitions in the last 9 months, and she has recently started high school. In between all of the new demands of having a newborn I am finding time each week to have mum and Molly time.
She tells me everyday that she cannot imagine life without Aedan in it, and isn’t sure how we survived 12 years without him.
As a couple currently having a long-distance relationship, what challenges have you both faced?
Communication and time differences. It can be very hard navigating two lives in different parts of the world and having our lives intertwine at the same time. We both have demands on us everyday, and yet still have to make each other a priority . We have been fortunate enough to visit each other more than we thought possible since Wes left. Visits are a reset button, that get you through to the next step in our plans.
How does Wes feel being a new parent on opposite sides of the world?
It’s been a struggle, I wasn’t ‘showing’ when we spent the UK summer together, last year, so there has been an element of disconnect no matter how much we share. The new element to our relationship is now making decisions and guiding this new little bundle through life, but we get through things a step at a time.
Technology is so great now; you can talk in real time whenever you like. What technology do you two use to keep in touch?
All the apps! I feel like we’ve used everything. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Facetime, Life360 is a new one for this year, between two different jobs I can keep up with Wes’ rosters and schedules.
What advice would you give to other couples in the same situation?
Plan. You need a plan to get through the distance. Our original plan had Wes and I getting married in April this year, and moving to the UK to be together shortly after. The baby, our unexpected blessing, put a reset on that plan, but you need to know what’s coming next, something to work towards to get through the distance.
How do you manage with Wes away?
Parent wise I am fine. I am an experienced juggler! However, I miss sharing everything with him, Aedan has already changed so much in 6 weeks and it hurts that he is missing this little chunky monkeys early days. No one loves babies and children like mum and dad, and I miss sharing that with him in person.
And I know that when Wes is finally reunited with his family, he will treasure these beautiful photos that Gemma organised.
About Alison – Awesome Taker of Newborn Photos
Having a baby? Alison Cooke Photography specialises in Brisbane newborn photos, wedding and portrait photography and is an award-winning member of the AIPP. With over 20 years’ experience in the wedding, family and newborn portrait industry, Alison will capture all your favourite moments! Get in touch here. Alison is a communications specialist, writer and freelance public relations specialist. You can view more of Alison’s writing here.