January 2009 Newsletter/Blog

Happy New Year! I hope you are off to a wonderful new start in 2009. I love new beginnings. Since I am a “detail” person, I love getting a fresh new calendar and planning out my whole year.  It makes my life easier as I juggle all the roles I have as a wife, mother, and business owner. A new year is also a great time to reflect on the past year, and set goals for the new one. This monthly newsletter/blog has been one of my goals that I’ve wanted to do consistently for years and it’s a great feeling to FINALLY achieve it. I enjoy keeping in touch and it’s been great to hear from many of you.

Another one of my goals is to have fresh baked whole wheat bread every week. My mom surprised us with a Zojirushi bread machine for Christmas. We were so excited because this is the type that has two paddles, perfect for making whole wheat bread. We grind our own wheat and flax seeds to make it extra healthy. My sister Laura and my mom have been making bread with this bread machine for years and it was one of those things that I kept putting off. You have to order the supplies in bulk and buy a grain grinder…so it’s been a learning curve on where to buy everything. But I am so glad we made the jump. We now have 45 pounds of wheat! (So if there’s ever a famine, you know where to come 🙂  But what I am really excited about, is that my sweet husband David likes to bake bread! He comes up with different recipes and we all stand around like baby birds when it is ready. David also got a smoothie machine and he makes refreshing fruit drinks almost daily. He is wonderful! Maybe you’ll get lucky and come to the studio after he’s made some bread or a smoothie!


Keep your children and grandchildren close to your heart with photo jewelry from any of your Susie Gilmore sessions. They are precious!


Susie is offering personalized Nursery Decor. Just email her a picture of your nursery and she will design your session to compliment the room. Pictured below is Chris and Michelle Johnson’s nursery with a mock up of portraits. This makes it easy to see how the final product will look. Chris did an amazing job on the green stripes with painter’s tape and a patient heart. Wow! Great job Chris!


Susie can also personalize your crib frame with your child’s name and favorite quote or verse. Pictured below is my son’s crib frame. It features his 2 month portrait with his name and a verse from Micah 6:8. “And what does the Lord require of you, to do justice, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” I love his animated expression.


I consider everyone I’ve photographed to be a part of my “studio family.” I have photographed many wonderful and interesting people over the years and I wanted to give you a glimpse of their stories along with portraits we’ve created. So come meet the rest of the family! January’s featured clients of the month are Jim and Amy Cox. I first met them when they came for a maternity session. Amy was “very” pregnant with twins and she had a perfectly round tummy.

Before they tell their story, I wanted to tell you about maternity photography. It is a fairly new concept and not something that our mothers or grandmothers ever had taken. But it is a time in a woman’s life which is special and  important to remember. Maternity photography records the radiance and inner glow of an expectant mother. It is one of the most beautiful times in a woman’s life and such a miracle that we are given the privilege of carrying and nurturing life. And when a spouse comes to the session, it’s just icing on the cake, because I capture their special bond, friendship and deep love for their unborn baby (or babies). When their child sees the maternity portraits, he or she will know the deep love that their parents had for them because the images radiate it. There is a sacredness and beauty in this type of portrait. I look back at my maternity portraits and remember all the special emotions and feelings associated with carrying my baby.

Amy and Jim are a precious couple who have been through a very difficult year. They have endured deep loss and glorious gain. So get a box of tissues as they tell their story…


My husband Jim and I have been married for 15 years.  We got married very young.  We were both 20 years old.  Jim was in the Navy for about 12 years.  He was a Nuclear Machinist Mate, first class.  He is currently a Chief (E-7) in the Navy Reserves.  When Jim got out of the navy, both of us went back to school full time.  We sold our house in Virginia and moved to Illinois to attend Southern Illinois University.  We graduated in 2005.  Jim got a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Technology and I got a Bachelors in Dental Hygiene.  We moved to Cary right after graduation.  Jim works at Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant and is currently finishing up about 18 months of license class to become a licensed operator at the plant.  I was a Dental Hygienist for the past 3 years.  I worked for Dr. Bill Wynne in Raleigh, but now stay home to take care of my Twins, Aiden and Leah, and I love being a mom!

In October of 2006 we decided to try to have a baby.  We always wanted children, but life just happened and it never seemed the right time before.  We got pregnant within 2 months and we were SO excited.  I wanted a little girl so desperately!  In April of 2007 we went for an ultrasound to check our babies health and to also find out what we were having.  We couldn’t wait to find out.  The doctor came in and told us there were some things on the ultrasound that concerned him. Our baby was exhibiting signs of Down Syndrome.  We were devastated. We were expecting a very happy visit, and instead we were told our baby could have health problems.  The doctor told me we could do further tests to know for sure.  He started to leave the room and he forgot to tell us what we were having. He came back and told us we were having a baby girl!

We were so happy, but the news was bitter sweet. Was our baby girl going to be okay? They drew some of my blood to do further testing in order to screen for Down Syndrome. They told me we could do an amniocentesis that day.  I told them we didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize our baby and we did not believe in abortion, so we declined the test. After much prayer and talking with my doctor, who has strong faith in the Lord, we decided to have the Amniocentesis, just to know for sure if our baby girl did have Down Syndrome.  We wanted to know for sure so we could prepare ourselves for all of the challenges she would face and so we could be better parents. The results of the amniocentesis were positive. Our baby girl did have Down Syndrome. We later found out that our daughter had a heart defect, which is very common in babies with Down Syndrome. She had two holes in her heart. The cardiologists were very optimistic that she would be just fine and would have successful heart surgery at about 3-6 months of age. After a lot of tears and prayers, we came to terms with our babies diagnosis and we continued to prepare for the birth of our sweet baby!

When I was about 7 months along, the doctors found fluid around my baby’s lungs. They were not sure why it was there or where it came from.  They had me come in twice a week for the rest of my pregnancy to have an ultrasound so they could monitor the fluid and her health.  Around my 36th week, we rushed to Duke University because I was starting to experience some bleeding.  After a few days of observation, the doctors decided it was best to deliver our daughter by C-section because of the unexplained bleeding and because of all of her health concerns. On September 18, 2007, our daughter Ava Grace was born. I never heard her cry.  They rushed her into another room where they inserted a breathing tube.  They wheeled her past me while I was on the operating table so I could see her sweet face, before they took her away to stabilize her.  They inserted two chest tubes to try and drain the fluid from around her lungs.

When I finally got to see my baby and touch her for the first time that evening, I was overcome with so much love for her! My heart broke for her. She had so many wires and tubes attached to her.  She was fighting for her life.  We took so many pictures of Ava and decorated her hospital bed with toys and pictures of her nursery that was waiting for her. We loved her so much and couldn’t wait to take her home. One day the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do for Ava. The fluid was not draining from her lungs, she was building up more and more fluid in her body every day.  They believed her blood vessels had holes in them and could not properly get rid of the fluid.  Her health was rapidly deteriorating. We had to make the agonizing decision to let Ava go. After 7 1/2 days, Ava went home to be with Jesus.

It was the hardest thing we have ever experienced. Our faith in God is what got us through. We have a wonderful church family at Midway Baptist Church who rallied around us and were an amazing support system for us.  We know God does not make mistakes and he had a plan and a purpose for Ava. We also were comforted in the knowledge that she was alive in Heaven and that we would see her again someday. As we mourned the loss of our daughter Ava, we questioned when we should try again to have more children. I feared waiting too long because I didn’t want the baby to have health problems associated with advanced maternal age, and I didn’t know If I would be able to get pregnant again right away.  We wanted another child to love, but we also didn’t want to move past Ava either.

We finally made the decision to try again and were surprised when we once again got pregnant after only 2 months. We were so worried that this baby would have health problems as well.  We went for an ultrasound as soon as we could.  At about 7 weeks along, we went for an ultrasound.  The technician asked me if I was taking any fertility medication.  I said no, and at the same time squeezed my husbands hand. Surely she couldn’t mean…..Yes…we were having twins!  All I could do was ask over and over, “Are you sure?”  She was sure.

God had blessed us with two babies! I was immediately reminded of Job in the Bible.  He lost everything, but still trusted God, and God gave him everything back DOUBLE!  We don’t know why God’s plan was to give us Ava, only to bring her back home to Heaven so quickly, or to then bless us with Twins.  All we could do was wait on Him and trust Him.  When it came time to find out what we were having, I must admit, I yearned for a little girl.  We found out we were having one of each!! A boy and a girl!  We were SO excited, and amazed, and thankful to God! Aiden James, and Leah Rose were born on September 8, 2008.

They were perfectly healthy!  Every doctor’s visit had nothing but good news for us.  In less than a year, we said goodbye to our daughter Ava and welcomed two more children into the world.  It has been an emotional year to say the least! Aiden and Leah are healthy and extremely happy babies.  They fill each day with love and laughter. They are such happy babies.  It has been a wonderful and challenging experience so far.  I love taking care of them and loving them.  I even love changing their diapers….all 16-20 per day.  They seem to talk and laugh a lot when they are on the changing table. They are growing so fast!  I love them so much! We thank God for every day we have with them.

We first saw Susie’s photographs when we started going to Dr. Brannon and Roger’s office. We always admired Susie’s photographs when we would go for our routine visits to Dr. Rogers. I never got to take professional photographs when I was pregnant with Ava.  We took lots of pictures with our own camera, but I always wanted some that were professionally done.  Susie’s photographs are so beautiful. Being able to see her work all around the doctors office let me see the quality of her work. When I spoke with her on the phone, she was very warm and inviting.  She was genuinely excited about capturing the special moments in our life.

I actually dread having my picture taken.  I am not photogenic at all!  Thank goodness for digital cameras. When my husband tries to take a picture of me, I look at them and have him try at least 4 or 5 more times before I get one that is half way decent. I thought for sure my photographs would be ruined by my inability to photograph well.  I was so surprised when I saw my maternity portraits.  They were BEAUTIFUL!  Susie talked me through the session and made me feel so at ease.  She has lots of creative ideas and is very open to suggestions for poses. She made me feel beautiful during our photo session and she made it very relaxing and fun.

When we came to our slideshow presentation, Susie had warm, freshly baked cookies waiting for us.  Beautiful music accompanied the slideshow of our images and my eyes immediately flooded with tears.  I had to ask for some kleenex right away.  The images brought tears to my husbands eyes as well.  We were blown away.  We were so happy with the photographs that Susie took. As beautiful as the images were on Susie’s computer, they are even more beautiful in person.  When I held the photographs in my hand and saw the large wall portrait that we chose, I was so happy and so thankful that she was able to capture such a special time in our lives so beautifully.

We joined her Baby Plan and came for our complimentary newborn session.  I wondered how it would be trying to photograph two babies.  Susie was so accommodating.  She had the room nice and warm for the babies and she was so patient.  It all went so smoothly and it ended up being a wonderful experience.  Aiden and Leah slept through most of their newborn session, they were so relaxed.  That made for some beautiful photographs.  Susie made me feel very comfortable during our sessions.  She encouraged me to take my time and nurse the babies if I needed to.  She would photograph one of my babies while I nursed the other and was very flexible and utilized the time we had very well.

I would highly recommend Susie to anyone who is looking for quality portraits. She is so easy to work with and she genuinely cares about creating treasured memories for us.  She also genuinely cares about us.  She is a great listener and is always so excited to see us and see Aiden and Leah.  She takes a special interest in all of her clients.  She even went out of her way and ordered a book for us to help us get our twins on some type of schedule. We are now “Baby Wise,” thanks to Susie. (Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo) We have ordered so many photographs from Susie. She is so good and takes so many great pictures, the hardest part is having to choose which ones to leave behind.  With the baby plan we will receive a framed collage of portraits of Aiden and Leah’s at 3, 6, 9, & 12 months.

We have a beautiful wall portrait of my husband and I when I was pregnant with Aiden and Leah.  It is such a special portrait.  We decided to hang it in our bedroom to remind us how in love we are and how in love we are with our babies.  We had a special collage made for Ava.  During our maternity session, Susie photographed a bracelet I have with Ava’s name on it, a necklace that Jim bought for me that depicts a mother and child, and she photographed us as we held a photograph of Ava.  Even though Ava is not here on earth with us, we were able to include her in our family portraits. That meant so much to us.

My maternity portrait is featured on the cover of Susie’s new book, The Miracle of Life which features heart-warming portraits of expectant mothers, fathers and babies with inspirational quotes. There are a few more portraits from our session inside the book.

Being pregnant is such a beautiful and miraculous time in a woman’s life. I think every woman should capture that time forever, if she can. I am so thankful we decided to capture my pregnancy. They mean so much to me. Unless God decides to bless us again, I will probably never be pregnant with twins again and I’m so thankful I now have such beautiful photographs to remember such a blessed time in our lives. I loved being pregnant and I loved having such a big beautiful belly! So many people told us that they never thought of getting professional photographs taken while they were pregnant. They thought it was such a wonderful idea and many wished they had maternity portraits taken when they were pregnant. I’m so thankful we did! Aiden and Leah were alive and growing inside me, and that’s a miracle!

We decided to purchase an album for my maternity and baby portraits of Aiden & Leah’s First Year. I can take the album with me wherever I go and they are protected in such a beautiful album.  I will cherish every photograph and I can’t wait to fill up all 40 pages with gorgeous images of my babies.  I’m so thankful we decided to include my maternity photos as well.

Susie created a Birth Announcement for us with our session portraits. We were so proud to send it to our family and friends.  Everyone told us the images were so beautiful. I love the fact that it was double sided.  We were able to display three images on the front with their birth information, and on the back we chose a beautiful image of Aiden and Leah together.  We loved the birth announcement so much, we framed it and now have a beautiful 5×7 image of our newborn babies. Many of our friends and family also framed the announcement we sent them.

As busy as we are with Aiden and Leah, I’m so thankful we took the time to have them photographed as newborns and at 3 months. They are almost 5 months old and it has flown by so quickly.  I’m so glad we have such beautiful photographs to capture such a special and fleeting time in their lives. They will never be that small again, but I can always look back on the photos Susie took to remind me how beautiful  and tiny and miraculous they were and continue to be. We can’t wait to see what beautiful images Susie will capture next!

-Amy Cox   Fuquay-Varina, NC


Thank you Jim & Amy for sharing your hearts and your portraits with us. Our hearts broke as we heard your story and we rejoice with the wonderful ending (or beginning, I should say). I can’t wait to see Aiden and Leah sitting up at their 6 month session!

Service For KRISTI WALKER  Feb. 17th 6pm Colonial Baptist

Thank you for your prayers for Kristi Walker, the mother of three who has been battling cancer. We attended a Mothers group together and I received the sad new that she passed away on Friday, February 13th. Please continue to pray for her husband Chuck and three little boys as they face life without her. 

Arrangements have been made for a service of the celebration of her life. The service will be held at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina on Tuesday, February 17 at 6pm. Immediately following the service the family will greet guests in the church parlor. A private graveside service will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 prior to the celebration service. 

Have a great month and I look forward to photographing you soon.

Blessings to you!

To offer you the finest in portraiture, Susie is an active member in Professional Photographers of America, Professional Photographers of North Carolina and Photographic Society of the Triangle.

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