Welcome Norah Jae! Grovetown, Georgia

“Oh my gosh, I think I’m gonna pass out.” My sneakers hitting the pavement of the track, panting for air, the lights going dim. Sarah Jo, running with the utmost ease at my side, saying, “If you feel like you’re going to puke - you push through it and keep running, Walker!” Yes, this is how I met my dear friend Sarah Jo; she was my Air Force PT leader. She pushed me after hours, twice a week, making sure I passed my upcoming PT test. It was in those extra hours I was amazed by this young Airman, her determination, motivation, passion, and frankly... her kindness (even if it didn’t feel that way on that last lap). Hours around the track turned into office lunches and coffee dates. So when I got out of the Air Force and she still called to meet up with me early 2018 for coffee I was eager to see how she was doing!

It was a brisk morning when we met in Grovetown for some Starbucks. Ten minutes into our conversation she slyly slid her phone - the ultrasound picture - across the table. Grinning ear to ear she asked, “Will you document this journey?” Flashing back to our conversations about her disappointing doctors visits, the longing, the tears… my heart welled up and so did the tears. “Will I ever! I’ll document the heck out of it -” Tears streaming down my face in the middle of Starbucks. We got some weird looks I’m sure of it. One of the happiest moments, I was giddy all day!

First up - taking photos of the announcement! This was my first time meeting Ben but it felt like I had known him for years after hearing about him. He was just as kind, sweet, and goofy as she had told me! I think the general consensus of how they were feeling was elated shock, and the whole evening at Euchee Creek trail was joyful bliss.

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Not too far down the road was their gender reveal party. When Sarah Jo told me Ben envisioned colored powder exploding from the dirt bike exhaust pipe - I wasn’t too surprised lol. He worked with dirt bikes all day long, it’s his first baby. I think the first half of the party was Sarah Jo insisting that no, he couldn’t keep his jet ski in their pool. These two, I tell ya! Ben, so sure that it was a boy, and Sarah Jo all the way team girl - asked me to take the envelope from the doctors office holding the results and to fill the exhaust with the corresponding color. Everyone left the gate and went to wait while Ben’s coworker, Brook, and I opened the small envelope. A whisper scream, is that a thing? Because thats definitely what we did. A GIRL!! Okay, okay, hands shaky we filled the exhaust and stepped aside as everyone came in and Ben revved the engine. OH MY GOODNESS! Their reactions!!!

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Proud grandmas!

Proud grandmas!

Ben and Sarah Jo practically live at the lake on these Georgia summer weekends, so of course we shot their pregnancy photos at the beach here at Pointes West. These two were absolutely radiant expectant parents and their whole session was gorgeous!

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The waiting, long waiting, Sarah Jo was so ready to meet her baby girl! She came right after her due date and such a beautiful little thing. Norah Jae Elizabeth born August 30th, 6 pounds 12 oz of pure perfection. And all that hair!!!

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I spent that Saturday morning soaking in all her sweet newborn-ness and catching up with the proud parents. Ben’s caution when picking Norah up was so sweet and funny, I’ve added to my personal highlight reel of hilarious moments- as he took Norah from Sarah Jo to lay the baby in the basinet he grabbed Norah’s bottom with one hand and laid her head in the nook of his elbow, then his other hand .. well he hesitated. He muttered out loud, “No… she’s not a football. How do I do this?”

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A few weeks later and not too long ago, I went back to see how they’d settled in and took newborn lifestyle photos. Her darling nursery had been decc’d out in pastel flowers, golden accents, and white furniture.

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Needless to say, Ben had become a baby holding expert as I watched him gently rock Norah. She was wearing the gown that Sarah Jo had worn as an infant, and her father before her. The “Jae” in Norah Jae a tribute to Sarah Jo’s father, James, who passed away in 2015, while Norah & Elizabeth are familial names from both grandmas.

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Their session was a dream. These two were so calm and collected, and madly in love with their newest addition. Norah’s little tongue is so adorable, always sticking it out for the camera!

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It’s hard to find the words that do this family justice, the love they have for each other, for their friends and family, their hard work, and all of it paying off - the proof is in this tiny beautiful baby girl. But luckily for me, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Ben & Sarah Jo, thank you for inviting me into your lives, for the chance to meet your friends and family, for the honor of taking your pictures, and for being such amazing people.

Norah Jae Elizabeth, you may be tiny but you’re gonna do big things and have a great big heart - just like your parents and their parents.

Love, “Auntie”Araka