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Baby James’ Birth Story

A Story of Loss & Hope

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I have thought long and hard about this post. Do I share about James’ birth just like I did for Evy? Do we want the world to see our special baby boy or should we just keep these photos to ourselves? Will the internet be able to handle a story like this? How do I share the story of a birth and the story of losing a baby at the same time? Despite all of these questions, I know deep down that we’re supposed to share his story…. and we want to. I know that by sharing about James’ birth and the end of his life here on earth, I’m extending his legacy and allowing God to use what he walked us through for His Glory… but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I’m so thankful that God has allowed Michael and me to share our journey, because it has allowed us to share our son with the world. I know that not every parent who loses a baby will have a desire to share like this. My hope is that what I share about our experience can somehow be a voice for those who have experienced the same pain and longed for the world to have a better understanding of what they went through. My hope is that through James’ story other families who are walking through devastating loss will somehow see a glimmer of hope despite living through the worst season of their lives.

Michael and I have both found that talking about James and his story is something that we love to do. I love it when friends ask me to tell them how his birth was or ask about what he was like. I even love explaining about his complications and every detail that wasn’t right. I just love being able to talk about my baby, but what is ironic is that because our situation is so sad, most people don’t ask or even acknowledge what has happened because they don’t want to upset us. No one wants to say anything that will make me cry and so a lot of times, talking about James is avoided. That’s totally understandable. I’m sure that some parents in our shoes would rather not talk about their loss and that’s understandable….. but for Michael and for me, it’s so important to us to share about our baby. So here I go…..

For those who are just finding out about our story, you can read a letter that I wrote to James right after we found out that he had severe complications. You can read that letter HERE. His 20 week ultrasound showed that he had a cystic hygroma, a heart defect, and severe hydrops. We decided to do an amniocentesis and within a few days we knew that I was carrying a baby boy with Down Syndrome. We knew the moment the doctor shared our devastating news that we would carry him as long as the Lord allowed him to live. That was the hardest and also the most rewarding decision that I have ever made in my entire life. I didn’t have a lot of strength or energy to blog about his journey while I was carrying him for the three months that he continued to live. However, I did share what I could on Instagram and you can read those posts HERE. Those were the hardest three months of my life. Loving a baby while each day knowing that it could be our last with him slowly tears you apart. There were days when I would sob on the shower floor and pray that God would take my baby and end his suffering, and then an hour later I would be crying in bed, holding my belly and telling my baby boy how much I loved him. The mental battle to try to simultaneously experience joy and sorrow was sometimes too much to bear.

For 11 weeks, Michael drove us to weekly high-risk ultrasounds that we didn’t even have to go to. We only kept those appointments because, as parents, it seemed like the right thing to do to check on our child every week that he was still living. There was nothing medically necessary about these appointments. Our Doctor graciously let us schedule our ultrasounds at the end of her work day so that we wouldn’t have to sit in a waiting room full of pregnant women, and so she wouldn’t be rushed and could spend as much time with us as we needed. We would see his fluid around his head, his puffy arms and legs that were very short because of his Downs. We would see his heart rate that never strayed far from the 130’s. We would check his diastolic flow from the umbilical cord and it was always strong. We would see the ever-growing amount of fluid in his abdomen. Each week it seemed to get a little worse. It got to the point where we couldn’t even see certain organs anymore. Some of them were compressed because of the fluid, and some were shifted and unable to be seen because of the pressure. Our poor little boy. How he survived almost two months longer than any doctor expected him to blows our minds. He was incredibly strong. Every time that we showed up for another weekly ultrasound, Dr. Troyer would say “You guys have a fighter!” and she was right.

Since we’re talking about our ultrasounds and the many many appointments that we had… let me just say…. doctors who call your baby BY NAME… even when they know your baby is going to die… even when they know that there is nothing that can be done… even when they could view your appointments as a waste of their time… are a GIFT. I cannot explain how much it meant to us that our doctors knew our baby’s name and used it constantly. He wasn’t just a baby with complications to them. They recognized that this baby was our second child and our son whom we loved. Dr. Troyer would say “Well, let’s keep getting to know your little guy” every time we came in for an ultrasound and I loved that. God blessed us with a team that treasured our baby just like we did. I carried James until I was 31 weeks pregnant, and so being surrounded and taken care of by an amazing medical team was a gift from God.

Everyone, including the doctors, were amazed that James continued to survive. We couldn’t explain it, because while his condition continued to worsen, his heart would continue to beat. However, after a while, we started to realize that because James was breech, that meant that his heart had gravity on its’ side. Despite his severe and irreversible heart defects his little heart just kept beating. As the end grew closer, we realized that a baby with a good connection to his momma can have a body that is failing in a million ways but if he’s strong, he can keep going for a long time….and that’s exactly what was happening with James. He was still living inside of me but he was slowly fading. I felt him move one night about a week before I delivered him. He didn’t move much after 24 weeks but he moved around enough that night for Michael to feel him and that meant the world to us. Every week that he lived inside of me seemed like a miracle but it also seemed to become more and more painful. I am so thankful for the time that I had with my baby while being pregnant…. but anticipating the loss of a baby each and every day is unbearably hard… especially when you know that your baby’s body is continually declining.

The week before I was induced, I was showing signs of pre-labor. Without going into a crazy amount of detail, you should know that this time frame was incredibly hard for me. Physically, I wasn’t doing well. I was 80% effaced and dilating. I was at risk for developing Mirror Syndrome because of the severity of James’ complications and mentally, I was a wreck. I knew that the end was coming but I didn’t know how or when or what it was going to be like. It was around week 30 that my body started to change and we started to see some red flags arise. I have never prayed and begged God for answers and wisdom as much as I did that last week of April. I was induced on May 1st and I prayed for peace that surpasses any understanding. Walking into a hospital…. the same hospital where I delivered a healthy baby just 14 months prior… should have been traumatic. Putting on a hospital gown and seeing a bassinet in the room but knowing we wouldn’t have a breathing baby inside of it should have been incredibly hard for me…. but it wasn’t. Only having a contraction monitor on my stomach, but no heartbeat monitor should have been hard to handle, but I was okay with it. Seeing midwives and nurses that had helped deliver Evy should have been traumatic because this time, my story would be ending so differently. I had such a peace…. it doesn’t make any sense…. unless you believe in a loving God. That’s the only answer. This is too emotional and too devastating of a situation to just chalk up the peace that I experienced to me just “pushing through” and “being strong”. When I think back to that morning, the worst part was honestly standing in the waiting area of the hospital with another couple who was also being induced that morning. The mom smiled at me and said “Whew! I’m ready to get this baby out! I bet you are too!” and I had to refrain from thinking about what we were about to experience. That woman had no idea that we were about to deliver a baby without a heartbeat while she would be meeting her 4th baby. Her other children would be coming in to meet their new sibling while my daughter would be meeting and also saying goodbye to her brother. Somehow, I just smiled at her and nodded without falling apart.

They started pitocin around 9am and thankfully I progressed quickly and easily. They broke my water and literally nothing happened. There wasn’t any water to break. Our poor boy’s amniotic fluid levels were so low, but just the act of attempting to break my water intensified contractions and I was at the unbearable, can’t talk, trying not to scream or break Michael’s hand part of labor. It was happening fast and while I’ve always wanted to experience a natural birth, this was NOT the time for that. Maybe one day I will have a pregnancy that will allow me to experience labor that way. :) I got an epidural, and Michael went to grab lunch in the lobby with our families. Fast forward to about 40 minutes later, and I could tell that it was time. Both with Evy’s birth and James’ birth, I have felt pain through the epidural but the relief that it gave allowed my body to relax enough to get me to the place of pushing extremely fast. The nurse came over to talk to me and check my progress, and I knew it was serious when she told another nurse to go get Michael from the lobby right away. They called my OB but grabbed a midwife to be with me in case my OB wasn’t there in time. Michael rushed back into the room and our best friend Jill was with him to take pictures. I saw her and held her hand and cried. I think it was hitting me that I was about to finally meet this sweet boy that we had spent months loving through ultrasounds….. but I also knew that he wouldn’t be alive. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be in that position. It was all so overwhelming. I pushed for about 15-20 minutes. It wasn’t pleasant delivering a breech baby feet first, but I’ll never forget hearing Michael say “Oh Katelyn… you can see his face” as soon as he was out.

That was my miracle.

I literally have written in my journal “Jesus, just let us see his face. Please just let us see his little face.”

His swelling around his head was incredibly severe. On the ultrasounds, it looked like there would be so much fluid in his face that it would be impossible to see facial features. Because of this, we had had numerous conversations with both of our doctors about how to be prepared to see him because it could be alarming. We were prepared to meet our baby and love him no matter what he looked like. We knew that it was very likely that our baby may not even look like a baby, and every week our ultrasounds pointed towards that being true. I struggled with this so much…. I also struggled that he turned breech around 22 weeks and never flipped back around… leaving me with a way more complicated delivery. I prayed things like “Really God?! With all that we’re going through, you can’t allow him to just flip over?! Why does it have to be EXTRA complicated?!” However, what we didn’t realize is that when James’ turned breech, his face was pressed up against the placenta, and because he didn’t flip or move for weeks and weeks the pressure of his face up against the placenta pushed the fluid away from his face. This is why we were able to see his precious face. I cried over him the moment that he was born and thanked God for giving me that miracle. It was evident that his body was never designed to live outside of me…. but he was so beautiful. He had the cutest face… He had the softest little hands and feet….he had beautiful lips just like his sister…. but most importantly, he had the tiniest amount of red hair!

Labor was 6 hours instead of 26 like it was for Evy and I’m so grateful for that. I remember feeling heartbroken, relieved, joyful, and thankful the moment I held James for the first time. You would think that going through the pain of labor only to deliver a baby that isn’t living would be terrifying, but it wasn’t. It was a Holy moment. I cried… Michael cried… but then we enjoyed getting to have time with our baby. Michael bathed him, I put him in a tiny outfit, we brought Evy in to meet her brother, and then our families came back to meet him. Again, you would think that having your family meet your baby after he’s gone would be incredibly sad, and it was at moments… but more than anything, it was a sweet time that I’ll always remember as being joyful. I actually remember feeling very excited for our families to meet him and see him. I was proud of him, I was proud of myself, I was proud of Michael. We had physically come to the end of the hardest season of our lives and we finally had our amazing baby in our arms. We took pictures, we took videos, and then everyone gathered around my hospital bed and Daddy prayed over us.

Our time with James was incredibly sweet. Someone once said that one day I’ll be able to look back on this season of my life and have fond memories of it. That seemed crazy to me back when I was pregnant and barely hanging on…. but I’m already able to see how it’s true. Having to say goodbye to his earthly body less than a day after getting to “meet” him for the first time was so hard. I just can’t explain how it feels to say goodbye, to know that your baby is never coming back, and that that was the last time that you’ll see him. It was the most emotional part of the entire experience. However, a few hours after we said our goodbyes, we once again felt such a sense of peace. We knew that our son was in heaven and because of the Gospel, we know that we’ll be able to see him again. The sadness will continue and our family will always feel like there is someone missing, but we have seen God’s goodness and His grace in a way that a lot of people NEVER experience in their entire lifetime.

James 1:2-4 says to consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds. It’s hard to understand a verse like that in the midst of normal life. Little trials that are annoying and frustrating seem pointless…. but when you experience tragedy, it almost seems easier to realize that God has a purpose in it, because there is no other explanation. There isn’t any other type of hope that can come from losing a child. After experiencing a stillbirth and the journey that we just walked through with James, I can honestly say that we have never known the Lord more intimately than in our most desperate moments the past 5 months. It’s made me realize that there is so much more of my life that God desires to be a part of. There is so much more that He’s asking me to trust Him with. I’ve learned what it means to truly believe in the promises of scripture instead of just having them memorized in my head. I’ve realized that the type of love that I have for James is unlike any type of love that I’ve known before. I’ve learned to trust that God has a plan for me even when it would be easier to believe that He has just forgotten about me. I’ve had to live my life with absolutely no control over my future and that has taught me to trust God in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Michael and I are experiencing our marriage in a way that I think God intended it to be years ago, but pride and shame and tension got in the way. Our families are loving each other in a deeper way because little problems seem pointless after walking through the pain of the last 5 months. We’ve developed a new appreciation for life and healthy babies. We will never take a good doctors appointment for granted ever again. We understand the pain of other parents who have lost babies in a way that those who haven’t walked this road will never truly grasp. Lastly, we have learned that percentage chances of horrible things happening to us mean nothing. My hand tumor during Evy’s pregnancy happens to one in a million pregnant women. The chances of being 30 years old and having a baby with Down Syndrome is a 1 in 3,000 chance. What we have walked through isn’t about chance…. it’s about purpose.

Our lives are not our own. We don’t exist just to live, work, and try to survive what life throws at us. That would be such a SAD life, and there has to be a bigger story for the world. Life has to exist for something more. God is writing a story in everyone’s life but it’s up to each one of us to choose to allow Him to change us. Allowing God to transform us, teach us, and carry us through losing James is ultimately going to be a turning point in our life. We’re going to look back on this season years from now and realize that we became more of who God designed us to be because our son existed. James’ life is a part of the story that God has allowed us to walk through and it was and continues to be purposeful.

We had a small, intimate memorial service for our baby boy at our home a couple of weeks ago. Our family and some close friends gathered on our property and we planted a weeping willow tree in memory of James’ life. We spread some of his ashes, we sang and worshipped, we prayed, we thanked God for our son, and then Michael and I read letters to James. We both promised to share his story for the rest of our lives no matter how hard it was. Today, by publishing this blog post, we’re starting to fulfill that promise and it is our hope that lives will be forever changed because of our baby boy.

Below you’ll see a few pictures of me when I was still pregnant with James. We took some final maternity photos after realizing that our time with James here on this earth was about to end. Then you’ll see some pictures from James’ birthday in the hospital. We have hundreds of pictures with him but we have selected only a few to share with the world. Then you’ll see a few pictures from his memorial service and while it may seem like we were only sad in these images, there was also so much joy in our tears. At the end of this post, I’m sharing my letter to James and then Michael’s. There is no better way to share how we both feel about our little guy than to share those words.

If you’re still reading all of this…. wow. I’m sorry this is a novel, but I appreciate you loving us and being invested in our baby’s story. It means so much to us to be able to share about him and we’re grateful that God has given us this space on the internet to do so. There will be more posts in the future… more stories and more about our experience as we work through this next season. I’m hopeful that we can eventually help share ways that other parents in our situation can survive and even thrive in the midst of their tragedy. Eventually, we’ll have a film of James’ life that shares his whole story and we’re excited to share that one day. Enjoy these images and getting to know our baby. :)

Michael and my sister Emy took these for me. This was my one request before I was induced. I was huge… especially for only being 31 weeks. After delivering James and seeing the size of his placenta (3x larger than normal due to his complications), it makes sense why I was the size that I was.  I love this sweet picture with my two babies. It’s one of my all time favorites!  This was the moment he was born and we got to see his sweet face. It was incredibly sad but also so sweet. I can look at these images and remember what it felt like to finally get to hold him. I debated having pictures taken of his actual birth but I’m so SO thankful that Jill was there with her camera. These pictures mean more to me than any other pictures I have from our life.
This was my sister getting to see me and James for the first time after delivery. She’s my best friend and literally walked through EVERY day of this journey with me. She and Joe and Micah moved in with us right before Christmas and now we know why that timing was so important. We needed them here with us these past 5 months. I cried with her in the office almost everyday when I was pregnant. She watched Evy whenever Michael and I needed to get out of the house and get some fresh air. She ran our business when I just couldn’t do anything anymore. She has been the greatest blessing to me and I’m so grateful for her.  This picture is a perfect representation of my parents. They would do anything for their kids. Watching me walk through this pregnancy was incredibly hard on them. I can’t imagine seeing your daughter experience something like this and being unable to fix it. Their entire life stopped and revolved around me and how they could help me through this.  I’ll never be able to thank them for how they loved me through the last 5 months. I’m so thankful for not only the way that they loved me, but also how much they loved James. Momma would kiss my belly and talk to James just like she did with Evy. It’s little things like this that made him a part of our family while he was still with us.  James was named after Michael’s dad. He survived stage four cancer ten years ago when the odds were stacked against him. It makes sense that James was a fighter just like his Paw. He was incredibly strong and amazed the doctors with the amount of fight he had in him just like his grandad.  Michael’s mom was an art teacher for over 20 years and is extremely talented. She painted Evy a beautiful watercolor with her name when she was born and did the same for baby James. It’s beautiful!! It’s little things like this that make me so thankful that we didn’t treat him any differently than we did Evy. He was loved and celebrated just as much as she was.  I’m so thankful for this precious gift and that I’ll forever have watercolors for both of our babies.  James getting to meet his Aunt Sarah. This picture makes me so happy. I can’t explain how much it meant to us that everyone in our immediate families got to meet James. Aunt Morgan and Uncle Corey were able to be there and I’m so thankful for that!! These two have run the road from VA Beach many many times for us. I love this picture because it looks so joyful and that’s what I wanted for this day. I wanted to remember it as being happy despite the sadness. I love this picture of Joe kissing James. Joe is Emy’s husband and he comes from the most loving Italian family where kisses are just a given when you’re saying hello or saying goodbye. It’s so fitting for this situation. I know I mentioned it before but having Joe and Emy with us during this part of our life was something that God knew that we needed long before we ever did. I’m so grateful for them. I’m thankful for the joy Micah brings to Evy’s life each day, I’m thankful for the bond I have with Emy and I’m really thankful that Michael has had Joe around to share life with… the good stuff and the hard stuff. Joe and Em were the ones who went on double dates with us when I was in my worst place. They have seen us at our worst and yet still love us.
Bud, Jill and baby girl Powers! Knox must have been running around with Micah! Ty and Ash…. I texted them three days prior to being induced and asked if they were around if we decided that we needed some video clips of James when we were at the hospital. They said “Of course, We’ll be there KK”…. and they were. I didn’t realize until I was in LABOR that they were also supposed to be at the same marriage retreat that Buddy and Jill missed as well. These sweet friends gave up a week off of work, lost thousands of dollars and sat in a waiting room just to capture 30mins of our time with our baby boy. I bawled when I realized they made this huge sacrifice for us. We are so blessed with such wonderful people in our lives. We will never be able to thank them enough. This is Michael’s mom’s watercolor and my mom handmade James’ white blanket that we all held him in at the hospital. Both of these things mean so much to me.   Our best friends Buddy and Jill are pregnant with their second baby and are due two weeks after James’ due date. We were so excited to be pregnant together again and while it’s so hard to not have our baby and for our story to be far from what we imagined it to be, God has been faithful. God gave us two friends who aren’t afraid to walk through this dark valley with us. The day we drove to Charlottesville to meet them and find out if they were having a girl or a boy, they gave us this beautiful box with James’ full name engraved on the top. It was their day yet they were still so thoughtful and considerate of us. That’s been true for this entire journey. They have dropped everything to show up when we needed them to. Whether that was when I needed to cry on the phone or needed Jill to pick up a baby shower present for me because I couldn’t shop for baby boy clothes or when they skipped an entire week of a marriage retreat that they were supposed to attend so that they could be here for James’ birth.  We are so grateful for them. They are family to us and their friendship is one of the greatest gifts in our lives.  This is my sweet friend and college roommate’s baby girl, Lovrin. I’m so thankful that she was there. I cried giving her a hug. She and James would have been buddies. While I have always loved this precious girl, I have a new place in my heart for her now that I’m a momma of a sweet boy with Down Syndrome.  Babies everywhere! We’re definitely in that season of life!! Our dear friends Jordan and Amy Demos live in Arizona and have a 13 week old. They have been constant prayer warriors for us throughout this entire journey. I could compile all of my texts to them from the past 5 months and make a BOOK. I cried when they asked about coming to a service for James if we were going to have one. They literally flew across the country to celebrate our son with us in our backyard.  These two. Mandy was my college roommate and Josh lived next to us. We have always had a special relationship with them and we cherish their friendship. Josh and Mandy sang and played at our wedding almost 8 years ago and now they have led worship at our baby’s memorial service. This is what a beautiful friendship looks like… showing up on the hilltops and in the valleys. I’m so so grateful for them.  Daddy did the service. He’s probably done 1,000 funerals during his 30 years of being a pastor but doing one for your grandson is different. He did a beautiful job reminding us that while this is so sad, we can still have joy. His words during the service were so special to me… but his long text messages that he would send me and Michael encouraging us and telling us how proud he was of us for the way that we have walked through this hard season meant the most. I’m so thankful for him. This was when Evy randomly started yelling “Mommmmmmaaa” during the service at the perfect time. She was sitting behind me with her great Aunt Charlotte and it was so sweet to hear in the midst of the tears.  My brother’s job allows him to have connections to amazing Nurseries. He took on the job of finding James’ Weeping Willow Tree and it was beautiful. The night he and Morgan got to our house and we unloaded it from his truck, we couldn’t believe how big and beautiful it was!! It’s exactly what we hoped for. Each member of our immediate family shoveled some dirt around James’ tree… even the babies.  Michael’s sister Sarah read a beautiful poem that she wrote for James and it was perfect!  We decided to have baby James cremated.  Michael and I both grew up in the same small town and we have a family friend who owns Storke Funeral Home.  He’s a close friend of my dad’s and they have been serving families and doing funerals together for decades. David has a team that normally helps him but he personally came to the hospital when it was time to say goodbye to James. We got to see our baby leave with a friend instead of being taken away by a stranger and we will never be able to express how much of a gift that was to us.  So thankful for our sweet friends from all different parts of our life who came to celebrate James’.  Many, many hours were spent on the road between all of these friends. Look at this sweet Ray baby!!!
Paisley and Jade graciously gifted us these chair rentals along with two church pews for James’ memorial service and we are so grateful!
Evy’s little hand!!! She was praisin’!

Katelyn’s Letter to James:

Dear James,
It’s hard to find words that can put all that we feel into a few paragraphs. It’s been 20 days since we met you and also had to say goodbye to you. That was the hardest day of my life, but it was also so incredibly peaceful. Your Daddy and I experienced such joy in the midst of such sadness the day we finally met you.

Like any parents, we wanted a normal life with you. We wanted to bring you home and watch you grow up with your sister. We prayed for a healthy baby and an easy pregnancy…. but we were never promised any of that. Those were things that, as parents, we ache for right now in this season… but when we think about our lives and what we ultimately long for, we want our children to know the Lord and we want them to leave an impact on this world. You’ve already done both of those things. You don’t just know the Father, you are with Him…. and while we long to care for you here on this earth, we find incredible peace and comfort knowing that your precious body is healed and that you are in the care of the Creator and Almighty God. Your precious life has made more impact on the kingdom than anything we have ever done in our entire lifetime.

Our time with you was so short. We loved finally getting to see your sweet face, hold your hands, and just have you in our arms. Those 18 hours weren’t nearly long enough…. but In the midst of our pain and our tears, deep down we always knew that you were His. You belonged to Him from the very beginning. He made you uniquely different and special from the moment He started forming you. While the rest of the world sees complications, we see a baby whose life was purposeful from the beginning.

This isn’t the story that we dreamed of when we found out that we were pregnant with you… but it’s a story that God has written and we know that we are specifically called to share it with the world. Other special babies will be loved more deeply because of your life. Other moms carrying babies who are also uniquely set apart will have more strength to keep going because you existed…. And people across the world will continue to reconsider how they view God in the midst of pain and suffering because you were our son. We have no doubt that hundreds, maybe even thousands of people will be joining you in heaven because of your precious life.

As your momma, my heart will never be the same. Carrying you was the hardest and yet most rewarding thing I have ever done in my entire life. I’ve always had trouble trusting the Lord and giving up control….but Everyday that I carried you after your 20 week ultrasound was a daily decision to trust that God loved me enough to have a plan for me and for you. I’m realizing more each day how much I love you, and how much I miss you. Some nights when I go to bed, I miss you in a way that is indescribable. It breaks my heart to think of how long I have to wait to see you again. Heaven seems so different to me now that you’re there. I know my love for you will never change, but with time God is going to allow the pain to subside. Eventually, I know that I’ll be able to rejoice that my baby is healed and with his Savior without so many tears and so much suffering at the same time.

Today we promise you that from this moment on, we will proudly and boldly share your story. For the rest of our lives, we will tell the world about our precious boy who was a fighter, who baffled doctors with his strength, and who changed our lives forever. Your life will not be forgotten or hidden because it’s too hard to talk about. We promise to choose to fulfill God’s purpose for your life even when it seems so much easier just to hide in the midst of our pain. Evy and other siblings will know your name. They will see pictures of you often and they will have a deeper understanding of eternity at such a young age because you were their brother. You will forever be missed and our hearts will always long for the missing piece of our family …. but we have so much to look forward to in eternity. Today we can rejoice and still experience joy because you are healed, and you are where we all long to be.

We praise God for you and we consider it a privilege to be chosen to be your parents.
I love you sweet boy.
Love Momma

Michael’s Letter to James:

To my son,

You have made me the proudest a father could be. Your short time on earth has had a huge impact on your mother and me, and with those whom we share your story. I am sure in the coming months and years I will question why things had to happen the way they did, but I will remember today and know that God’s plan is, was, and always will be perfect. Your mom and I had calls with our friend Julia where we created a vision of what we wanted our time to look like with you. We know that in Proverbs it says “where there is no vision the people perish.” We knew we needed to focus on loving you while we had you, and our vision helped us stay grounded during this tough season. For the last 2 years our vision has been centered around peace. Peace in work, life balance, peace in our relationships with friends and family, and peace in our marriage. We knew that we wanted our time with you, sweet boy, to be peaceful.

Today Morgan read:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

It was amazing to experience the peace of God. We have been blessed to be flexible with work the past 4 months and focus on our time with you and your sister. Our relationship with our friends and family have been able to deepen in a way we didn’t know was possible. The peace your mom and I were able to share with each other has strengthen our marriage, and we know that is because of you.

We have had three days of non-stop rain. And last night as the sun peaked out for a few minutes I was reminded of how the disciples must have felt. The grief and hopelessness can easily take over, but we know that is not the end of the story.

In Matthew’s Gospel it tells the story of Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalen going to the tomb. The angel is there and says “Do not be afraid, for I know it is Jesus you are looking for. He is not here, He is risen, just as He said. “

James we know you are not here, but it is because of our hope in Christ that we know you are in heaven with Him right now!

James, We love you and we will share your story for the rest of our lives!

Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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5 Essential Lightroom Tips I can't edit without these!

5 Go To Ceremony Shots

5 Must Have Ceremony Shots You can’t miss these!

There are no do-overs, or second chances while photographing a wedding ceremony, so we want to make sure we capture it all!

R6 Flat Files

How to Fix Flat R6 Images We finally found a solution!

A year ago, we promised to find a solution for those who were complaining about their R6 raw files looking dull and lifeless in Lightroom. However, due to various circumstances, we couldn’t deliver on that promise until now.

The Katelyn James Podcast

Kelly is an incredible wedding photographer who has been shooting 90 weddings a year. I know, it sounds unbelievable, but it’s true! Kelly’s success and the volume of work she handles is truly impressive.

Kelly Sea & Katelyn James

Ep. 34 | How She is Booking 90+ Weddings a Year And staying sane while doing it!

The Katelyn James Podcast
Free Posing Class

Free Posing Class The KJ Way

Your sessions should be working FOR you not against you!



"Best money I have EVER spent on education! ... and I've spent a lot!”


"I love all the lessons I'm learning from KJ All Access! Thanks Katelyn!”

- Shannon Drummond, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"I find very few educational resources worth it ... this one is!”

- Kate gansneder, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Recently signed up for KJ All Access and it's EVERYTHING!”

- Kassidy Mowery, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Being able to see behind-the-scenes of Katelyn interacting with her clients has been SO impactful!”

- Angie mcpherson, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"Recently signed up for KJ All Access and it's EVERYTHING!”

- Kassidy Mowery, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER

"SO worth it! It's amazing the amount of knowledge you get out of them!”

- Brittany Lowe, ALl ACCESS MEMBER

"I learned just as much in one All Access as I did in a whole course! SO GOOD!"

- Joanna Krueger, ALL-ACCESS MEMBER
10 Steps to Starting Your Photography Business
Helping a friend survive a season of Infant Loss
How to photograph a first look in Harsh Light
A Lake Como Destination Wedding - Greg and Kate
A Letter to the Go-Getters fearful of Motherhood

The KJ blog

The KJ Blog is where you get to know me, where you meet our KJ Couples and see their beautiful wedding days, where I have been building an archive of education for over a decade and where I let you see a peek into our life, our home, and hear about our purpose! 
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Join 95,000+ others and learn, grow and get connected via our Youtube Channel! This is where I'm constantly sharing new content, talking all things gear, business, tips, tricks and letting you into the behind-the-scenes of our everyday life! 

The KJ Learning roadmap

If you're a visual learner, this real-life, behind the scenes training was created just for you!

Create clients who can't help but rave about how you made them feel in front of your camera!

A 4-step educational preset process that will make Lightroom seem like a friend instead of a constant frustation.

The only thing you'll need as a beginner to kick start your photography journey.

The most popular, most transformational KJ Course of them all! Learn how to find great light in any location no matter how challenging!

The course that teaches photographers how to master Lightroom, find their unique style and trasnform their workflow!

Not only can artificial intelligence edit your images in minutes, it can now edit your work exactly the way KJ would if I was editing it myself!

Create polished, scroll-stopping images!  If you’re tired of “normal” and are ready to access the “Next Level”, this course was designed for you! 

"I have invested in all of KJ’s education!

The way she teaches makes so much sense and I’m so grateful for her! My business will be forever changed!"

- Renee Nicolo

"KJ education has been life-changing

 It has elevated my work so I could quit my day job and work from home with our baby boy!"

- joanna k.


and none compare to what I get from KJ!"