Photography by House of Hopes
Meet Samantha. She is Beauty Revived.
Imagine finding out you are pregnant for the first time, sharing the excitement with everyone, then finding out you’re having a girl and simultaneously receiving devastating news that she has a life-limiting condition and will not likely even survive birth. Imagine declining to end the pregnancy and choosing to
continue giving life to your baby and enduring the pains of childbirth, clinging to a miraculous chance of
breathing each other in. Imagine unexpectedly going into labor at 31 weeks, planning a memorial service,
leaving the hospital with only your baby’s footprints, and a grieving heart of joy having met the one you
carried and loved. Imagine returning to work and facing hard questions from those innocently asking
about your new baby, unaware of her story. For us, we imagine all of this. For Samantha, she lived it.
This is her experience of motherhood…the only one she knows. This is the story of a beautiful mother as
seen from behind the lens of House of Hopes who captured the pregnancy and birth of Lillian Grace…all
because her mother choose to selflessly give her all the life she could, despite the costs. Standing behind
the camera photographing this special time of their lives, Sam made my job of capturing beautiful images easy. She effortlessly radiated with beauty, grace, and strength as she held Lily in her belly, soaking in every precious moment she had. These images ended up being the only ones she’d have of Lily alive, and that she was – alive. Kicking and rolling around, stretching and moving without a care in the world, so
full of life, all because her mama chose to continue this journey of “Living with Lily” despite a diagnosis of
Anencephaly and facing a birth she would not survive. That same effortless beauty, grace, and strength
shined brightly as she went into labor at 31 weeks and lay in the hospital bed for nearly 24hrs enduring a
painful labor to bring her baby girl into the world. She never complained, never grew weary or discouraged or ready to just give up, even as sounds of moms in labor and new babies crying echoed into her room. She never regretted the choice to be where she was in that moment. She spoke kindly and appreciatively to every nurse and hospital staff, wanting whatever was best for Lily. It was always about Lily, never about herself. The time arrived.She welcomed all the grandparents to be a part it, not wanting to withhold the experience of any second of life Lily may have with them. Surrounded with everyone praying one last plea for life, Sam took a deep breath, looked at her husband with her reassuring eyes, and began to push. At 10:31am she held Lily in her arms with so much pride and love for her baby girl, asking questions about how to best care for her fragile body, despite hearing, “I’m sorry” and already knowing she had passed, never getting to breathe together. Sam was a beautiful mother for the past 31 weeks, but in these moments became an even more beautiful mother. The way she so tenderly held and cared for her daughter as they admired her, put her first diaper on, dressed her, sang happy birthday, and prayed over her little body was an incredible sight of beauty and love. In her own pain she comforted and held her husband. Her strength as a woman, wife, and mother was unparalleled. Sam spent the rest of the day at the hospital loving on Lily, being everything a mother should be and more, all while making difficult plans for her body and for memorial services to honor and remember her little girl. She left the hospital with baby clothes worn once and others that would never be worn, only paper work and memories, a heavy heart full of grief and joy, and an abundance of faith, but no baby in her arms. Three days later she would stand at a church in her beautiful postpartum body that reminded her of a baby she once carried, but only able to introduce family and friends to Lily through pictures on a memorial table. At the front of a sanctuary, next to her husband, she made eye contact with each person as they eulogized their daughter’s life and thanked everyone for their part in Lily’s story. Sam has been journaling her grief with hopes to write a book to help other mothers facing this journey. It’s only been two weeks since she gave birth but is exploring ways she can
honor Lily’s life and use her story for a greater purpose. Sam may not have a child to physically care for, but continues to beautifully mother and care for Lily’s legacy in the only way she’s able.