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The Gift of a Maternity Portal

The Gift of a Maternity Portal

I turned 33 on the 22nd of September. I had many thoughts. In about a month, I will be laboring. In no time at all, we will meet our child. But even as the days pass, this moment feels further and further out of reach. The enigma of my last month of pregnancy: the month will be short; the hours are long. The day will come. When it does, my husband and I will rejoice the birth, the groundwork for many celebrations, of our child. Though my mind takes more time to comprehend, I can wrap my heart around it.

I will be branded a mother; my husband a father. Our parents will reach grand status. An array of emotions clashes through my body. I am nervous. I am euphoric. I have peace of mind one day, and the next day I misplace my mind altogether. Despite my mental mayhem, this is the proper time. It is a magical convergence. Selfishly, I want to cage it. I want to own this moment for the remainder of my life. But, to cage it, is to kill it. This moment’s charm exists in its ephemeral nature. While I can, I bathe in it. I commemorate these last months of pregnancy through photos, thanks to a group of visionary women, and my words. The memorials create an intimate portal, a timestamp I will visit with joy and appreciation.

I do not always cherish my pregnancy. It has produced physical difficulty which breeds doubt as to whether I can handle the physical act of labor. It has challenged my mental toughness in a way I was not prepared. I have cried a lot. It has been vital for me to pause when I feel beautiful or productive. This delay allows my gratitude tank to fill for when the inevitable mental breakdown happens. More often than not, the remembrance of challenging moments has a longer lifespan in my mind than positive ones. I consciously prolong the hold on moments of beauty. This gives them the longevity in my mind they deserve.

This maternity shoot has me at a standstill. My tank is overflowing. From the curated collection of dresses to the moody makeup and rampant hair to the romantic estate where we shot, I am electrified with gratitude. My pregnancy took on Rockstar elegance in the setting sun. Though doused in luxury, when posing in front of Merritt’s camera, I felt a deep intimacy with my baby. I held her (we do not know the sex, but I feel it is a girl). I framed her. I put her front and center. She is a physical extension of me. She is enhancing me as a person and transforming me into a mother.

During this shoot, I fully acknowledge my durability. Over the past nine months, it has been hard to accept my strength surrounding pregnancy. When Ben praises my strength, I dismiss it. There is a flashback to all the times it was nowhere to be found. Even when it wasn’t felt, though strength was there grounded in the shadows. Pregnancy demands power out of a woman. This shoot not only spotlighted my power, this shoot packaged it in gorgeous lace.

Four women - Merritt Lee, Marie Miclot, Alexis Corry and Gina Ungarino - saw the strength in my pregnancy before I did. As the evening progressed, I realized my maternity shoot was not meant to be designed by me. Throughout pregnancy, I have learned to allow others to take the lead. I have accepted help where I normally do not. I am recognizing my power, but this does not mean support from others is not essential. The phrase, “it takes a village,” rings true at any stage of life. These women, my village for the evening, took thoughtful control. They created an atmosphere which honored my pregnancy and who I am as a creative.

Alexis curated a collection of one-of-a-kind dresses and accessories (the bracelets are from her own label, Lex & Lynne) to elevate this one-of-a-kind moment in my life. Marie injected carefree life into my hair and painted, with the fingertips as her brush, a fierceness she knew existed within me. Gina convinced me I deserved this pampering and brought the great minds together. Merritt pulled me outside of myself. The lens was in front of her face, but she held my hand during the entirety of this shoot. She helped me drop my surroundings and simply hold my baby.

I am grateful for these women. I am grateful to have a full belly. I may not be grateful for the sickness or the swollen ankles or the exhaustion yet, but I hope to be one day. The cherry-red lace on top of it all is this permanent portal capturing the beauty of my expansion. I am able to cage this moment after all.

Cheers, Jessa

This shoot was made possible by the creative, powerful women behind it:

Photography: Merritt Lee Photography
Hair & Makeup: Marie Miclot
Wardrobe: Lex & Lynne / Lex & Lynne Bridal
All the pieces are part of a Ready To Wear Capsule Collection available here.
Stylist: Alexis Corry
Coordinator: Gina Ungarino
Location Scout: Lex & Zach Travel

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