March 30, 2021

Welcoming Oliver Michael

Maternity + Newborn

Recieving the Big News

My life forever changed the moment my best friend told me she was pregnant with her first child. We were a couple of months into the COVID quarantine, and I had recently returned to my hospital job after being knocked to the ground by the virus myself. Like most, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and in need of any good news I could get. I had met this friend, Amanda, shortly after moving to New Mexico. She was a new hire RN in the same unit I was a new hire CNA, and we hit it off almost immediately. Since then, she and her husband Steven have become a little family away from home to me and my husband, Dan. Excitement doesn't even begin to cover what we felt upon learning we were going to be welcoming a niece or nephew into our lives, and we couldn't- and still can't- think of a more deserving couple to be given such a wonderful blessing than Amanda and Steven.

It's a Boy!

Guesses on what Baby Bunce was going to be were quickly placed. From the beginning, Amanda just knew it was going to be a girl. Dan was 100% Team Boy, and if I remember correctly, Steven and I weren't as solidly sure on what we thought as the other two were. Names for both were brainstormed by all of us, and I absolutely had a Pinterest board of outfits I hoped to buy the little one up and running.

A few months went by, and in September, it was finally time for a gender reveal! Since Amanda and Steven are here because of the Air Force, like us, and also due to social distancing precautions, their families were included in the reveal via video calls. A small group was in attendance, and I was happy to be photographing the exciting time. Of course, as "luck" would have it, my camera decided to randomly malfunction that day. I was in a panic trying to resolve the issue up until the moment we had to drive over, and ultimately (and reluctantly) settled on my Canon G7X Mark II, a point and shoot that's pretty high quality and powerful for what it is, but still not my usual DSLR.

My frustration from the camera situation quickly turned into giddiness when it was time for Amanda and Steven to set off the colored smoke that would announce boy or girl. A puff of blue smoke burst into the air, and everyone watching let out an excited cheer as it was made known that Baby Bunce was a boy! We were going to have a nephew, and Dan and I were thrilled.

Getting Closer

The weeks and months went by quickly (for me, at least...Amanda may disagree), and her due date was getting closer by the second. She and Steven had decided on the name Oliver Michael, and preparation for his arrival was in full swing. Towards the end of January, we went out to White Sands National Park for a maternity shoot, and although I may be a bit biased, I think Amanda made an absolutely stunning mama-to-be.

If you know this couple at all, then you totally understand we had to get some goofy shots in there, too!

...Exhibit B

The Big Day

Amanda's due date came and went with no sign of Oliver deciding to make his arrival. Earlier that week, I joked that he needed to come on a day I wasn't scheduled for my hospital job (now over an hour away from where Amanda would be giving birth, due to a change in position), but of course that didn't happen. COVID rules limited her to one visitor, so I told her my plan was to tailgate her labor outside her hospital room window in the parking lot. Dan even said he'd bring his grill to keep anyone else joining in on the festivities nice and fed. We fully expected Steven to hold Oliver up to the window Lion King style whenever he made his way into the world, too. My phone volume was turned all the way up, and I was ready to make the drive over to them at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, little man decided he needed to cook for an extra day, and my celebration plans had to be thrown out when it became time for me to go to work. Amanda had been admitted to the hospital earlier that morning, and I was anxiously checking my phone as often as possible for updates. Oliver Michael Bunce finally made his arrival at 10:31 pm on March 11, 2021, weighing in at 6 lbs, 13 oz. I could not stop crying and staring at the photos Amanda sent me. He was perfect.

A Bitter-Sweet Reality

As sincerely joyous of occasions Amanda's pregnancy and Oliver's birth were, I also couldn't help but mourn mine and my husband's struggle with infertility. I have a history of PCOS (a hormonal disorder that can make conceiving difficult, amongst other things) and miscarriage, and I would be lying if I said every pregnancy announcement didn't feel like a dagger straight to my heart. My genuine feelings of happiness and excitement for our dear friends were matched with grief and anger at mine and Dan's own reality. I am so scared that I will never get to experience this firsthand, and the thought of that possibility breaks my heart.

It's this situation, though, that makes our sweet little nephew that much more important to us. Our love for Oliver is immeasurable, and we will always treasure his presence in our lives, even when the military inevitably puts physical distance between us.

The Newborn Session

I'm pretty sure Oliver knew something was going on the day I came over to take his newborn photos. He was a little over a week old at the time, and had completely slept through my previous visit (our first time meeting him!) five days prior. In order to make posing him easier, I was hoping for the same this time around. Oliver had different plans, however, and in a day full of cluster feeds, would hardly shut his eyes for more than a few minutes at a time. I worked quickly in his fleeting moments of sleep, but there was definitely a lot of stop and go. I wasn't complaining, though- that just meant more time with my best friend and nephew. By the time we felt I had gotten enough shots, we were all exhausted. Amanda and I were both covered in spit up, and Oliver was ready to be done with my studio lighting. The last thing I want during newborn sessions is to make baby uncomfortable, so we called it a day, and sat down with some pizza for us adults, and a bottle for Oliver.

I immediately got to work culling and editing photos once I returned home, and couldn't be happier with how his session turned out. Again, I'm probably biased here, but I think I have a pretty adorable nephew. I'm so happy I was able to capture some of his already hugely animated personality in a handful of shots. Amanda and Steven, thank you for once again trusting me to document such a special time in your lives.

To Oliver,

You are truly a shining light in my life, and I hope you never forget how much you mean to me. I promise that no amount of distance between us will ever keep me or your Uncle Dan out of your life. We love you so much, and will always be cheering you on and supporting you. I cannot wait to watch you grow up, and to see all the amazing things you're bound to accomplish.

To Amanda and Steven,

You are already rocking this whole parenting thing, and Oliver is so incredibly lucky to have you guys as his mom and dad. Thank you for letting Dan and I take part in this special time, and to be part of Oliver's life. He and you both will always have family in us, and we wish you all nothing but a life of happiness together.