Photographer Alison Reynolds was supposed to be photographing the birth of her best friend’s second child last week. As you can probably guess, those plans had to change, due to social-distancing and new hospital rules. But sometimes, the most beautiful portraits happen in unexpected ways.
Shelle Whisenhunt welcomed baby Paulson Riggs into a difficult world. She had just lost her own mother a few weeks before. She’s a flight attendant based near Charlotte, N.C., and was recently laid off from her job. Her husband Sean, a NASCAR pit crew member, is also out of work right now. And then there’s the fact that Whisenhunt could have no other visitors in the hospital when she gave birth via C-section.
“I think, after the fact, she’s really thankful that it did happen the way it did,” Reynolds told SheKnows. “Not dealing with visitors was actually a blessing in disguise for her. She was able to just take in that time with a new baby.”
But when it was time for her to come home and introduce Paulson to his big brother Maverick, Reynolds offered to capture the moment. They wouldn’t be the best newborn shots, she warned her friend, but she used her long lens as she stood outside her car and watched the meeting in their front yard.
“It actually ended up being kind of crazy because it turned into being more about her and her oldest than even the baby, which is what I thought we were getting pictures of,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds wrote about the moment in a Facebook post that’s since gone viral: “As she holds her smiling toddler the rush of emotions that she’s now a mom of 2, the feeling like you are betraying your only child to give them the best gift of a sibling, dealing with her and her husband losing their jobs, no friends able to visit, she has just been cut open to bring life to the world while thousands of people take have taken their last breaths, the loss of her mom just a few weeks ago who never got to meet her newest grandson, the worry that she may be bringing Coronavirus home from the hospital. Not being able to have newborn photos taken, having her baby shower cancelled. All of these things hit you like brick. This should be a happy time, but instead it’s scary and terrifying. This moment made me cry like a baby right along with her.”
Friends and complete strangers moved by the photo offered to help the family and bought items off their registry. This generosity moved both Reynolds and Whisenhunt to decide to help someone who might need it even more. Reynolds asked people to nominate other families suffering during this time.
That’s how they discovered Danni, a mother of three with a fourth baby on the way, who fled an abusive partner in Brazil before finding love with her new husband. Reynolds added Danni’s story to her initial post about Shelle, and included a link to her Amazon baby registry. She’s also offering $100-$200 credits to anyone who buys something off the registry.
Reynolds doesn’t want to stop there, however.
“We’re still looking for some people who really do need the help,” she said. If you know of someone who fits the bill, head over to her Facebook page and let her now.
Looking to get something for a new mom in your own life? These baby must-haves are a good place to start.