On the 12th March 2014 I met one of the most loving and beautiful couples I have ever had the privilege of knowing….more importantly, I met their divine daughter Ada Grace. I was the first pair of hands the obstetrician handed her to and I spent most of her short time by her side. Sadly, after one week and a very brave fight, Ada grew her angel wings. In that teeny tiny week….sweet Ada changed me as a person, she changed me as a mother, she changed me as a nurse. I know she has made me better in her short time. It is with beautiful bravery that her sweet mumma and papa share her story……
They barely had a chance to say hello, when it became time to say goodbye. Josh and Aimee Collins knew from the 19-week scan their daughter was probably going to die from an as-yet undetermined degenerative condition. Instead of taking the available option of termination, the brave couple decided they really wanted to meet her. “We don’t really know what was wrong, we may never know what was wrong with her,” Mr Collins said. They went through the full 40-week pregnancy, knowing the precious first child they were awaiting wouldn’t be able to stay with them long. “They gave us the option of terminating, but that was never really an option for us,” Mr Collins said. “We took the approach we wanted to meet her. It was really important to meet her. “I feel sorry for people who have stillborns as they don’t have time to prepare themselves. We managed to get a good 20 weeks before she was born as a chance to readjust our expectation, and that of our family too. “It would have been so much harder not knowing.” When Ada Elizabeth Grace Collins was born at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital on March 12 last year, she was beautiful. From birth, Ada was hooked up to a ventilator, and the couple only had one week to share with their daughter. But this provided them with a lifetime of memories to cope with the devastating heartache of allowing the life-support to be turned off, when it was time for her to go.
“On our last night, the amazing pediatrician at the Mater came and told us there was nothing much more they could do,” Mr Collins said. “They had tried everything and she was not going to get better and we discussed reducing the level of care the next day. “We knew it was going to be a hell of a night, knowing the next day we would withdraw care. But half an hour later Ada extubated herself, she took the tube out herself. “We got to take her up to our room at Mater and have a little night with her together.” Ada died knowing only love in her short life.
In the year since losing Ada….Aimee and Josh have been living life to the fullest in her honour. In August last year they opened their Alexandra Headland gastropub ‘Black Bunny Kitchen’, inspired by Ada. They chose this special name as when Ada was born she was given lots of bunnies, so it only seemed fitting that they include her in their newest family venture. Then on 21st August 2015 their lives changed again, when sweet Elizah Poppy Grace was welcomed earthside. A beautiful rainbow after the ravages of the storm.
Of course, I could think of nothing more special than capturing Elizah and creating some special memories for this gorgeous family. But a traditional studio session was not to be. Due to a number of issues, they couldn’t make it down to my Brisbane studio from their home on the Sunshine Coast, so with the help of my beautiful friend, another one of Ada’s nurses, Steph, we took the studio to them!! A four hour round trip…lots of poop, pee and vomit, mostly from Elizah, it was a day filled with love and laughs.
We spent the day with the sweetest little princess who gave us lots of cuddles, and let us capture some gorgeous images for her mumma and papa. Ada was definitely with us on the day and I feel so blessed to be able to include her in Elizah’s session. One of my beautiful vendors heard Ada and Elizah’s story and gifted the most divine little ‘Black Bunny’ to not only photograph with Elizah but for her to keep in memory of her sister and in celebration of ‘Black Bunny Kitchen’.
Aimee also shared a special moment with us that we had to include in Elizah’s session…..
The day Ada passed away, the Mater Chaplin hung around to say a prayer and she had typed up a booklet with the poem “a Symbol of hope” (about the butterfly). We ended up reciting this at Ada’s funeral and had 6 butterflies to release. Josh’s butterfly didn’t fly away when Josh opened his box, and mine brushed my hair and flew away. Josh’s one just stayed put on the box, and so I went to get it and it flew from the box onto the rose petals surrounding Ada’s grave. It stayed there for a awhile before my nephew ran over and then it just kept fluttering around and landing on the grass as it was chased by the kids. Yesterday I took Elizah outside for a second to get some air and a splash of sunlight and there was a blue moon butterfly fluttering around. I was just pacing the decking while cradling Elizah & the butterfly landed on her and stayed there for a few minutes before flying away again!! It was so magical!!
“My brave butterfly…your body may have died but your fighting spirit will forever be a part of me. For as I carried you in my womb through your life, I will carry you in my heart through mine”.
Aimee and Josh….thank you for trusting in me to care for your beautiful Ada, and for choosing me to create memories with your darling Elizah. I feel completely blessed to watch your family grow and to be a part of both of your daughters lives. Thank you to Steph for sharing in Ada’s journey with me as my colleague, for helping Elizah’s session happen and just for being you. Thank you to my amazing Heartfelt colleague Stewart Ross for sharing his stunning images of Ada. Thank you to Love That Prop for making Arthur the cutest Black Bunny, I know Elizah will love him for forever!