Two out of the last three years, I’ve worked with the family of an honest to goodness miracle. Was to be three out of the last three, but Grayson fell ill on the day of our shoot last year and had to spend the day at CHOP. When I first met her, she was not yet 2 and was hooked up to oxygen. You could only tell if she was crying by her facial expressions. She did not make noise. But she’s long been off oxygen and she’s surpassed most predictions made about her to-date I just had the opportunity to photograph Grayson’s family again and I wanted share some images (from both 2013 and 2015) and information about this amazing girl. But the story is not mine. It’s Grayson, Stephanie and Tom’s story. So I’m letting Stephanie tell it. Thank you Stephanie and Tom for bringing me into your lives. Grayson is an inspiration. A miracle. And you both are true examples of the strength of a parent's love for their child. Miracle. That is the word I use when I describe my special little girl.
On July 21, 2012 I was not feeling well and had pain in the back of my neck. I figured I slept on the pillow wrong and caused my neck to be stiff. I remember laying down on the couch and my husband and dog were sitting next to me. Next thing I know it was 4 days later and I was waking up in a hospital bed and was told I had my baby girl who was fighting for her life.
I had sudden eclampsia with a seizure (and to think that I had a perfect exam the week before). Over time I have had some brief memories come back, such as remembering it being dark out and hearing choppers from a helicopter and telling a dark haired man to not hurt my baby. This was me being airlifted to Jefferson University and talking to the doctor on flight. The doctors had informed my husband and parents that if they did not deliver the baby soon she and I could both die.
Grayson was born at 26 weeks weighing 1lb 3oz and 11 inches. She fit in our hands. She was given a 10% chance of surviving the day and has a grade III brain bleed that never resolved. She surpassed those odds and continues to defy so many, such as being told that she would never walk. Today all she does is run! We had to wait 34 days before we could even hold her. She was in the NICU for 236 days (a week shy of 8 LONG months). There were several times during those months where we didn't know if she would make it but whatever challenge was in her way, she pushed it aside and survived. It's an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy but one I am thankful for because it taught me so much about myself and the meaning of strength and believing in miracles and the power of prayer. She was on oxygen until she was a few days over 2 and she is still gtube fed because she will not eat solid food.
In March 2015, a few months before she turned 3, Grayson was diagnosed with Autism. We had a feeling for a while due to the "signs" (loss of speech, stimming behaviors, lack of engagement with others). It's been hard to swallow her diagnosis some days (as a Mom I feel robbed at times, having a preemie and now a child with autism nothing has been "normal" but then again what is normal??). Grayson is nonverbal but has so much expression with her eyes!! I feel like we are on this journey and given the incredible blessing of our daughter for a reason. We do all that we can each and every day to help Grayson. She is a very happy little girl who loves to run, swing, and give hugs and kisses. She has taught us so much about life and we celebrate each and every milestone and we will continue to do so. I know I will be jumping from the rooftop whenever she says mommy again!! She is proof that miracles do exist.