It’s time for our favourite post around here, where we get to introduce you to another [BABE] we think you should know about. Jayme is a crazy talented photographer. Between the two of them, her and her husband own 4 businesses. And she’s a mother, and one of her sons has been through so much already in his young life. With our Babe of the Month feature we not only want to highlight incredible women doing great things in the hopes of inspiring others, we also want to lift women up who we respect, admire and recognize are going through a hard time. We all have our struggles and Jayme has been kind enough to open up about hers in the hopes that anyone else going through a difficult time can remember they’re not alone and that community is so incredibly important.
Would you mind sharing a bit of your story with us? We have so much respect for not only your businesses and talent but also how as a family you seem to have come together to be stronger than ever because of your struggles.
Our story starts out pretty normal. I moved from BC to Red Deer in 2005, met my future husband, Lucas in 2008, soon were married and started to grow our family. Lucas had a son, Evan who was 5 at the time we met and in 2010 we welcomed a baby boy Jensen. We decided to try for one more baby and in Sept 2012 we were welcomed with the news that our boys would be given another sibling. In a sharp contrast to my pregnancy with Jensen, we decided that we wanted a doula & a mid wife. I had a pretty traumatic experience with Jensen’s birth so I wanted something a bit more calm and holistic. The pregnancy started out, normal. As normal as can be. We only wanted to do the 20 week ultrasound just to make sure everything was good and then anxiously wait to see the little lady or gent come April. At the ultrasound, the tech said that due to the babies positioning, she couldn’t see the left side of his heart very well so she said to come back in a week and they will have another look. I did not particularly like this clinic so I asked our midwife to book one at the larger one in town that was better but had a longer wait time. 10 days later, on Dec 18th, we all packed and prepared for another normal scan. But when the tech turned to me and asked why we were not referred to the high risk clinic in Calgary, my world stopped. She said she needed to get the other tech to look at a few things and they would let us know shortly. So all we had to do was wait. In agony wondering if something was wrong with our baby. He came in and told us that it did not look like the left side of our baby’s heart was growing in relation to the right and that we would need to be seen in Calgary asap. cue the tears. My first thought was denial, of course. There’s no way, not my baby, there’s just no way, the scan was obviously wrong, we don’t have a history of heart conditions, no, no, no. Well, I was so wrong. After months of weekly ultrasounds in Calgary and extreme roller coasters of bad news, then worse news, then good new, then bad news, then great news, they finally told us that he has a condition called Hypo Plastic Left Heart Syndrome – basically the left side of his heart was too underdeveloped to function properly. We would need to temporally relocate from Red Deer at 36 weeks so he could be born in Edmonton and have surgery within a few days of birth. I was broken. Completely broken. There were times when they told us not to expect him to live more than a few days because of certain chromosomal abnormalities that are typically associated with this condition. I felt myself detach from this baby, which broke my heart, I tried to guard myself from feeling and understanding just what its like to hear something like that. But as the weeks went on they noticed that he had no markers for any of those issues and that let my mind turn all those horrible thoughts off, even just for a moment. During this time the only thing I found helped ease my heart was photography. I was still early in my career at this point but I took solace in photographing my son Jensen any chance I could. It stopped my mind from worrying and let me escape the stress. On April 18th 2013, our sweet baby Hudson was born and I was so in love. He was transferred to the Stollery from where I gave birth at the Royal Alec, a few hours later. At 14 days old Hudson received his first open heart surgery & 4 months later, his second. As of right now, our 4.5 year old is currently waiting for his next, and hopefully final, surgery that should take place in the next 3-6 months. While we did not choose to be a part of this heart family community, I have been embraced and loved by so many families dealing with the same issues and children that have similar heart defects. While we were at the hospital we were already brain storming ways to give back to the incredible hospital that saved our sons life more than once. And so The Hudson Heart Project was born. Each year, on the first Sunday of June we hold a fundraiser at my husbands tattoo shop in Red Deer (Classic Tattoo) and over the past 4 events we have raised over $125,000 for the Stollery. Handing those cheques over is just one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for other families who may be going through similar struggles?
If there are any families that are facing the uncertainty of having a child that has any type of heart ailment, or currently waiting to give birth to a baby with a defect, reach out. When I first found out, I did not want to talk to anyone about what we were dealing with because I felt like no one would understand. I was also in total denial about the fact that no matter what. I was in this community now. I didn’t want to hear anyones stories about what they went through because I thought, well they’ve still made a mistake and he’s going to come out fine so I don’t want to waste my time talking about this if it ends up changing. I was naive and so very wrong. I needed this community, I am thankful for this community and will support anyone that ever needs support whether that be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. I am here.
What does a busy family like yours do when you get time together? How do you have fun!
The past few years has been a blissful time in our lives. Hudson’s check up’s spaced out further and further a part, and life went back to a kind of normal. Hudson, to us, is just a regular 4 year old. His nickname is Hurricane Huds, that should give you an insight into his demeanour haha. He is boisterous, passionate, active (as much as his heart will allow) and most of all happy. We are a very busy family (we own a total of 4 businesses between the 2 of us) but we LOVE to travel. I photograph families primarily in the Rockies and jump at any chance I can to get out to Banff, Drumheller, Montana, Waterton, anywhere adventure calls. I grew up in the mountains and that is where I need to be for my soul to be filled. My boys feel the same, they adventure anywhere they go, are constantly outside building forts and living their best life.
We want to say a HUGE thank you to Jayme for sharing her story and being our September [BABE] of the Month. In case you’ve missed them, check out our other inspiring Babes!