Sunday, April 7, 2013

10 Kids = 5 Whole Hearts (HLHSer's Session)

Yeah, you read that title right. This post will include 10 very specials kids, who together make up just 5 whole hearts.

Let me explain: these kiddos all have a rare type of congenital heart disease (CHD) called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Essentially, the left side of their hearts did not form correctly in utero and so they are now severely underdeveloped, causing the right sides of their hearts (the weaker side) to have to work as a whole heart. To do that, these kids have to undergo at least 3 open-heart surgeries (if not more!) to get to a point where their hearts can support their bodies, until eventually some of them will need a heart transplant. So between these 10 kids there are only 5 whole hearts.

These kids are incredible though. With shirts on you'd never know anything was wrong with them. They love life and truly live their lives to the fullest! We could certainly learn a lot from them. They are so strong and such an inspiration.

Of course, their families are nothing short of amazing as well, and in this session we included all 10 moms. I can't even begin to explain the bond between them... wow! It was amazing to see. Some of these mom's met the day of the session, yet they got to talking like they were old high school friends. You know why? Because only they know what each other has gone through to keep their children alive. Though no two journeys with HLHS are the same, they have walked in each other's shoes. It was really so amazing to watch these ten mothers and children come together like old friends with one common denominator - HLHS.

So, enough talking - here are the pics!

Meet Jennifer and her 6 year-old Landon.

Landon was the oldest of our little HLHSer's and boy is this kid handsome or what?! Plus you really don't want to mess with this kid - he knows karate! :-)

Now meet Sherry and 4 year-old Grace.

This little diva was so adorable and has the most awesome manners!

If you've followed my blog-site at all then you know this guy and his gorgeous mama! This is Sara with 4 year-old Townsend.

This kid was in such a silly mood and that hair! Oh how I love that hair!

If you've followed my blog-site at all then you'll also remember Amy and her little dude, 3 year-old Bodie.

This kid is UNSTOPPABLE. It would be Bodie who would end up muddy at the end of the session, right?! His next open-heart surgery is coming up in a few months. One of Amy's worries? That his next surgery is supposed to give him more energy. He's already unstoppable, so what will he be like with more energy?! I just have one thing to say: good luck Amy! :-)

You may also remember Sabrina with her gorgeous little girl, 3 year-old Lorelei.

This child is so, so beautiful. I love her serious face. She can totally be in a children's magazine!

You'll definitely remember Michelle and her little man Lucas. He just celebrated his second birthday! (post before this one)

Lucas was being so goofy for this session! Just a few months ago he nearly died, so to see him being goofy and not sitting still was AWESOME!

You may also remember Janine and her little Cameron, who will be two in just a couple months.

Cameron is ridiculously happy. I mean, really!

Now meet Melissa and her 18 month old Ella.

This little girl is an absolute joy and SHE SINGS! Yes, you read that right, this little one sings "You Are My Sunshine" with her mommy so beautifully :-)

Also, meet Suszy and her handsome 18 month old, Greyson.

This little guy was just too much. Seriously! He was just hamming it up for my camera and he was so happy the whole time! And I got a kiss from him at the end of the session - what better way to end a session like this??

And last but certainly not least (I posted by age, just FYI!), meet Christie and her little 7 month-old man Bennet.

This little guy was too much! Such an adorable little guy and for a kid with half a heart he has such a strong cry! :-)

And here are all 10 moms and 10 kids! But first I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to:
  • Mike (Grace's daddy)
  • Sierra (Bodie's big sister)
  • Stephen (Lucas' daddy)
  • Joe (Bennet's daddy)
Seriously, without you guys this would not have been possible. Thank you for standing behind me and making goofy faces, singing, jumping, playing peek-a-boo behind my head, throwing candy in the air and just about anything you could think of to get all these kids' attention! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

So all 10 kids are from two different hospitals: CHLA (in Los Angeles) and Rady's Children (in San Diego). These are the CHLA mamas and kiddos :-)

And all the CHLA kids!

Here are the Rady's mamas and kiddos :-)

And the Rady's kids! Seriously, I told you that Greyson was too much!

One more of all the mama's and kiddos in their first outfit :-)

We then wanted to change the kids into a second outfit but thought to do some shirtless shots first to show off their battle wounds (aka -  scars). They loved showing them off!

This is one of my favorites, as Bodie shows Stephen (Lucas' daddy) his battle wounds, and he also wanted to know if Stephen had the same wounds.

Just a bunch of scars coming up :-) One thing I forgot to do was ask how many heart surgeries each kid has had and total them up. I bet we're easily looking at 25-30 surgeries just with these kids, if not more. Absolutely incredible.

Here's the CHLA crew again :-)

And the Rady's bunch :-)

All 10 little ones, bearing more scars than anyone should ever have to. The doors to their hearts... "zippers" as some of us call them.

And here they are in their second outfits :-)

And here Kenny joined in. Kenny is 24 years old (I think... I could be a little off in his age, but for sure he's in his mid-20's) with HLHS, and he's such an inspiration to all these moms. Though, like I said, no two HLHS journeys are the same, Kenny gives them HOPE.

All the mamas and their kiddos....

And we ended it all with all the mamas, all the kiddos and Kenny :-)

Ladies, what can I say? Thank you so much for going along with my and Melissa's crazy idea! I think when Melissa suggested it I never imagined how big this would get, and how truly inspirational it would be! Thank you so much for your patience as we moved the dates twice to accommodate for weather and avoid that brutal cold and flu season we had, and for making the time for this. To the San Diego mamas (Sherry, Jennifer and Suszy) and the mamas driving from north of us (Michelle, Melissa and Christie), thank you SO much for driving hours to get here! And for the LA mamas, thank you for fighting traffic to make it! And once again, thank you to my AWESOME helpers (Mike, Stephen, Sierra and Joe)!! I honestly couldn't have done all this without you, thank you!!

This session was such an honor to do. I left so inspired from seeing these 10 incredible kids just thriving and enjoying life and living to the fullest, as well as seeing the strength sitting within all 20 of you (and the rest of your families, of course!) as you walk through this difficult journey. And Kenny and Julian, thank you so much for joining us!

I hope you enjoyed the little sneak-peek! Hugs, Brenda