Featured on the Huffington Post: National Midwifery Week 2017

National Midwifery Week was earlier this month, and though I do tend to think we should shout our love for our midwives from the rooftops EVERY week, it's still lovely to have a week during which to formally give thanks.  

The Huffington Post celebrated this "holiday" of sorts by compiling 30 photographs of midwives at work.  I'm thrilled to have an image included.  Definitely click on over to see all 30 photographs - they're amazing.  


Pssst.  Love this image, but left wanting more?  Click here for the full birth story, authored by none other than the beautiful mama pictured here. 

Ella Grace: Fighting PFIC at Seven Months Old | Fairbanks, Alaska

This is Ella.  



This is Ella's mama.  



And this is Ella's family.  

The whole crew.  

The whole crew.  

This is Ella moments after she was born.  (Yup, I was there.)  I think you can feel the ecstatic reverence of her family's gaze in this picture; she was an answer to their collective prayers, and they chose Grace ("God's favor") as her middle name to codify how thankful they are to have her.  Attending her birth was one of the more remarkable experiences I've ever had.  

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Ella Grace is seven months old as I write this.  A little shy of a month ago, everything changed.  Kassandra texted me over Labor Day weekend to let me know they were in Anchorage in the Providence PICU.  Ella was in liver failure.  

I can't convey how shocked I was to hear that.  Liver failure??  This of course pales to what Ella's family was experiencing.  (*This seems like a good time to note that this whole entry is a paraphrased summary of second-hand narrative - there are of course a lot more nuances to everything.  But this is the jist, as much I've been able to piece together.)  After months of mild but nagging concern, Kassandra and Mike again brought Ella into Urgent Care, never expecting that they would be aboard an air ambulance to the PICU mere hours later.  All told, they spent a week in Providence with little more than the clothes they had thrown on that Monday morning.   

Ella improved rapidly.  She was able to leave the PICU in favor of a regular children's ward room after a few days, and soon they no longer felt she was in liver failure, but referred to the episode as a liver injury.  But they still didn't know why.  There were a whole lot of tests and a lot about what it wasn't (and a lot of stuff on the "wasn't" list was GREAT stuff to have ruled out!), but by and large it was still a mystery.  The Ryan family was discharged and able to come home to Fairbanks (while still remaining in close contact with Ella's new specialists in Anchorage) still waiting on answers.

The day after they returned home, you could see how improved Ella was - barely a trace of jaundice even in the whites of her eyes.  There was so much relief in her improvement.  

Why yes, I am a living Cabbage Patch Doll.  

Why yes, I am a living Cabbage Patch Doll.  

But it didn't last.  Slowly, her liver enzymes started to show deterioration again; she had to wear little baby socks over her hands to stop her from scratching the terrible itching; and jaundice begin to creep across her complexion again.  At this point, the Ryan family prepared for a trip to Seattle Children's Hospital for a camera-assisted liver biopsy and exploratory surgery.  

As it turns out, one of the dozens of tests they'd been waiting on came in with genetic results just before they left for Seattle.  The biopsy surgery went well (apart from being terrifying, of course), and the next day, they got the news that the biopsy confirmed the test results.  

In Kassandra's own words: Yesterday’s biopsy confirmed [Ella's] diagnosis of a very rare genetic disease called Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis, or PFIC. she has a mutation for Type 1, and for Type 3. However, since she only has one mutation for Type 1, they aren’t diagnosing her as Type 1, because it typically takes two mutations for Type 1 to present as disease. So she is officially diagnosed with PFIC3. In most cases, Type 3 is “better” to have than Type 1, but not always. This disease presents differently in everyone, and it’s not common enough for them really to know what to expect for Ella. At some point, she may need a liver transplant. Or her liver could stabilize and potentially be ok.

There was talk of removing her gallbladder, but that won’t be happening at this time, and we are praying it becomes a non-issue entirely.

PFIC is characterized mainly by the intense itching that comes from bilirubin build up in the system. We have a starting medication to try to help keep it at bay that we will use as needed. And other options to try later if it doesn’t work.

The biopsy also looked to see how damaged her liver is. Untreated PFIC will often lead to cirrhosis, and they wanted to make sure Ella wasn’t heading in that direction already, and she’s not! There is some very light scarring at this point, but nothing that they are terribly concerned about, and that will continue to be monitored as well.

So now the plan is simply to monitor her. We will need to return to Seattle in about a month for a follow up, and we will repeat labs at that time. In the meantime, we will continue the medications she is on to help keep her bile thin, and to help supplement her vitamin levels. We will also keep doing weight checks at home.

... we were devastated by the news we were given. Today we have more hope for a full life for our girl. This isn’t the answer we were hoping for, but God is still GOOD. We still trust Him and the purpose he has for Ella. I know we will have hard days, especially given that we really have no concrete answers here. But God is faithful and he will walk through this with us! Thank you all so very much for your continued prayers, they have carried us through this very stressful and uncertain time. 💕

Kassandra's strength humbles me greatly.  I have so much admiration for her ability to be grounded yet hopeful, joyful, in the face such unexpected adversity.  

If, like me, you're aching for any way to extend a little love and support to the Ryan family during this time, you're in luck.  Friends set up a You Caring page to collect donations to help offset all the incidental costs of travel and out-of-pocket medical care.  In addition, donations of Alaska Airlines miles would be incredibly appreciated - if you'd like to donate miles to the family, please contact me directly for info.  More than anything, the Ryan family would appreciate your love, thoughts, and prayers for Ella and their family.  

Shortly after sharing the diagnosis, Kassandra wrote this on her Facebook page.  I just wanted to take a minute to say a huge THANK YOU. It does not feel like enough, a simple “thank you”. But I say it from the bottom of my heart. I am so blown away by the support we have received from everyone, even complete strangers to us have donated to help offset the costs of all that Ella is going through. It has been such a blessing for covering the cost of simple things that would have been stressful without this help. Such as meals when we are out and about, and when we were in the hospital, and supplements we got for Ella today. Little costs that really add up. And these funds will help us cover Ella’s main med that she is on (that thus far, insurance is refusing to cover) for the near future. Every single one of you who have donated have really helped to lighten the load in a big way, and we are just so grateful. I never expected to receive the amount that we have. So thank you for giving so generously, each and every one of you. It means so much!

Fairbanks, I love watching you rally around the people you love.  You rock, little city.  

Ella's YouCaring page is here.  

Studio Open House & Client Appreciation Night: Oct 31, 2017

I haven't really written about it much here (because that's what life's been like lately!...), but there was some big news during the spring of 2017.  "Big" for my little business, anyway.  I took the leap, signed a lease, and RENTED A STUDIO.  

Even though my passion remains working with families in their natural habitats (that is to say, their homes and/or the great outdoors), having the studio in my back pocket has brought so much flexibility that I am LOVING.  It's great for newborn sessions - no more frantically rearranging your furniture and cranking your heat to 90 - for headshots, product shoots, and just as a great neutral indoor spot when, for whatever reason, your home just isn't the first choice.  

I share the space with my graphic designer friend, Jen of 590 Design, and it's a little slice of heaven.  

And so, long story short, I'd like to invite you to come and see it!  We have the space at our disposal, and I'm itching to use it.  I realized the upcoming season was perfect timing to do something that's long been on my list: a client appreciation event, as a way to say thank you to all of my clients who value my small business, build photography into their budgets, and hire me year after year.  

I'll have the studio open from 4:00 - 7:00 pm on Tuesday, October 31 with some light refreshments, pseudo-trick-or-treat goodies (I have several non-candy plans and may end up getting egged, we'll see), and I'll be offering complimentary in-costume portraits.*


If you're a client, you should have a newsletter with all the invite info in your email inbox!  If you didn't receive it, shoot me a line and I'll make sure you're in the know.  

*Complementary portraits are for existing clients of Sarah Lewis Photography ONLY.

Fall 2017 in a Nutshell: Upcoming Events

There is so much goodness coming up!  Even though it means Fall is going to be even crazier than summer (if such a thing is even possible...), I can't help but be excited for all the fun ahead.  

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So, in short order, here's what's coming down the pipe.

If you're in need of details for anything, or if you'd like to book a spot for your family, please don't hesitate to contact me!  

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UPDATED - Back-to-School Portrait Mini-Sessions, September 9, 2017

It's that time of year!  Back-to-School Portrait Mini-Sessions seemed like a great idea, and I'm really looking forward to offering them again this year.  

I'll be in the studio from 12:00 - 4:00 Saturday, September 9, 2017.  Sessions include a 15 minute sitting, four finished high resolution digital files + print release, and a $20 print credit (so the grandparents can get their wallet photos!).  $50 for singletons, and siblings are $45 each.  You can pre-pay and reserve your session/s online here, or Contact me ASAP to schedule your session!  

UPDATE 9/6: This event will be a fundraiser to benefit the Ryan family.  Over Labor Day Weekend, baby Ella was taken by air ambulance to Providence PICU in Anchorage in unexplained liver failure.  As of today she is much improved but remains hospitalized in the Pediatrics ward as they try to determine what caused her illness.  100% of the sticker price of your Back-To-School Session will go to the Ryan family to help support them during this time.  


Next up: Perfect {Professional} Headshot Events - Fairbanks Small Business Photographer

At long last: the dates for the next installments of the Perfect {Professional} Headshots series! 

As always, these events include a preparation guide, an on-site sitting with a professional makeup artist, a portrait sitting, and a complete set of all finished portraits (you can expect at least 5-10 unique portraits) via digital download + print release.  The all-inclusive fee is $225, and remember, if these headshots are for your professional life, this is a tax-deductible expense!  

SEPTEMBER 16, 2017 12-4 -- SOLD OUT

NOVEMBER 18, 2017 12-4

Limited spots available.  Discounts are available if you would like to book multiple spaces for all of your employees - contact me for details.  

Don't hesitate to book your spot now!  Contact me to grab a slot.  I look forward to working with you!  

Turning One is Oh So Bittersweet - Fairbanks Childhood Photographer

It was hard enough when my own baby turned one a few short months ago.  But it somehow hits me anew when clients' babies turn one - perhaps because those babies are often preserved as their newborn selves in my memory.  I often have parents send me notes of reminiscence as their baby nears their birthday - and even though I may have literally been present at said child's birth, the fact that it's been a year still blindsides me every time.  (Also, nothing reminds you just how far behind on blogging you are like having an unblogged-Fresh 48 baby have a birthday...)  A whole year disappeared in the blink of an eye.  

Case in point: Ariana.  

And though so much has changed - the whole sitting up, mobility, and eating solid food thing - I'm thrilled to report that her amazing deadpan "I am merely humoring you" camera face is still going strong.  

See for yourself.  

Ariana then: 

Ariana now.

NURTURE: Art by Colleen Firmin Thomas, August 2017

I love having artist friends, if only because I sometimes get to wrangle a sneak peek at solo exhibitions before they open!  I have always been in love, hard, with my friend Colleen's artwork, so I was only too happy to help her photograph a selection of her works that will hang as part of her show in the Bear Gallery this August.  The show opens on Friday, August 4th with a reception from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.  

Colleen gave me the thumbs-up to share some of the work we photographed here.  Consider it your very own sneak peek!  But trust me, you want to see these in person (as you would with any artwork, but these are three-dimensional works, so you REALLY need to experience these in the flesh!).  

You can follow along with Colleen's career on Instagram and her shiny new website.   

Little Sessions in the Peonies at Alaska Peony Flowers: July 8, 2017

UPDATE: July 8 Little Sessions are SOLD OUT!  If you're interested in a make-up session, please contact me!

The peonies are set to bloom in the next few weeks, and that means it's time for Little Sessions at Alaska Peony Flowers' farm in the Goldstream Valley!  

35-minute Little Sessions are a sweet spot between mini-sessions and full custom sessions, and are a great opportunity to grab some beautiful portraits.  Couples, families, and individuals are welcome.  The inclusive fee of $175 includes your session and a complete set of high resolution images via digital download.  

Sessions begin at 12:30 and will go into the 5 o'clock hour!  Reserve your spot now.  If there's a time you prefer, please leave me a note letting me know, and I would also love it if you would let me know how many people I can expect for your session (including the ages of any kiddos).  

I can't wait to see you there!