This is the third post in a series. To see the first post, click HERE. To see the second post, click HERE. The photos in this post were taken on the evening of Wednesday, June 29.

Baby Ellie improves more and more every day! Yesterday she had another wire removed, so now she’s just left with the NG tube and a heart and respiratory rate monitor. Yay, Ellie! Tomorrow will be Ellie’s 30th day in the NICU and there’s finally talk about her going home in the somewhat near future. She must eat a specific amount at each bottle feeding and gain the appropriate weight over a certain period of time in order for her to go home. There may be other requirements, but I know eating is the big one. From day one Ellie has exhibited enormous strength despite all her challenges and continues to impress her family and the medical team with her improvements. As Tracy and Evan recently stated, something just “clicked” with Ellie and she continues to show signs that she is capable and ready to make the transition home very soon.

For those who’ve followed my previous posts on Ellie, you’ll notice four differences in this set of images: 1) she’s in a new location–level 2 NICU (which is good); 2) she is without oxygen tubes and breathing 100% on her own; 3) Grandma Lampe paid a visit; 4) all of the photos are in color!

I feel so fortunate that Tracy and Evan have welcomed me into this part of their lives. To me, this is what documentary photography is all about. It’s about capturing real moments in real time, regardless of the situation or setting. It’s about recording history for your family. If you’re interested in me photographing a slice of  your family’s life, please call or email. I’d love to meet up and discuss the possibilities. You deserve to have the story of your family told through photos… let me be the one to do it!

Sweet baby Ellie is the daughter of our good friends Evan and Tracy. Ellie was delivered by emergency c-section last Thursday and transported by ambulance from Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach to the NICU at the University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital here in Columbia. It’s been a frightening and emotional experience for their family, but each day Ellie shows signs of improvement. She still has a long road ahead of her and there are many unanswered questions as to the extent of all of her complications, but one thing is certain: this girl is a fighter.

I made another visit to the hospital yesterday evening, but this time I brought my camera. I wanted to do something for my friends and they graciously gave me the last ID bracelet they had which allows unlimited  access to Ellie’s private room. It’s an amazing gesture, because this means I can even visit if Evan and Tracy aren’t there, and perhaps document some of Ellie’s time with the nurses. Although I am anxious to hear the news that all is well and Ellie can go home, the reality is that they still might be there for a while. So in that time I’ll continue to visit and bring my camera and capture some memories for the Lampe family. Perhaps when Ellie is older and thumbs through these images with Evan and Tracy they’ll be able to not only tell her, but show her how miraculous her story is.

Two nights ago, Tracy got to hold Ellie for the first time. Evan documented that moment and I know that photograph will be one of Tracy’s favorite and most adored images of her with Ellie. The moments I captured below are from the following day when, once again, Tracy got to hold Ellie, but for a much longer period of time. And there really is no place like Momma’s arms. It was obvious when Tracy tried to lay Ellie down to sleep and she let out a cry that meant only one thing: she was not in Momma’s arms.

This my friends, is my passion… documenting life’s most real and precious moments. Evan and Tracy, thank you for trusting me with your memories.