Jess is a Family Nurse Practitioner. We got to know each other when I photographed her and Ronan’s engagement, wedding and simply have become friends. I often say that when I meet couples for their initial consultation, I’m hoping to meet my new best friends. These two are an exact example of how that can go oh so well. We instantly clicked and have been friends through many transitions that life brings now.
Jess and Ronan both came over with their daughter for back to back 2Roll portrait sessions. You’ll hear from Ronan in a few weeks but first, meet Jess.
I find that clichés are inherent whenever you’re looking at a major life change. If you’re getting married, you’ll hear things about “practice saying ‘yes dear’” or, if you are moving, it is the worst thing on earth. Since she is a new mother, I asked Jess how she felt about the baby-related clichés that we all hear. For her, it was the cliché statement that she is married to her best friend. She talked about how over time, they have grown together into a true partnership.
Because of this deep partnership, Jess is really excited about going through the science experiment of being a parent alongside Ronan. Together, they’re prepared to be the stable one that the other needs to get through the day.
Bringing a child into the world is often a singular focus. You spend time planning to get pregnant, then are pregnant and now have a child. I asked Jess if she is able to start thinking about what next is for her. For her, this transition has been a very different next than she expected.
In their centering (a pre-baby group class), the midwife had talked about the discomfort that will begin with Day 1 of the baby’s life. Jess told me that “I had 3 days of poor sleep [during labor] and I haven’t had a full night sleep since.” Now she finds herself in the “thick of it” wondering, When is this kid ever going to sleep?
But she also says that bringing a baby into the world teaches her so much more. There is a lot of sleeplessness, but that’s also when you learn your personal limits. It makes you honest about who you are. You rely so much on the strength of your partnerships in life and community.
Driven people failures
There are few couples I know who are more driven than Jess and Ronan. With that, I wanted to know how they deal with those failures. Does that get them down? But Jess really viewed it as the opposite. Yes, they’re driven, but, as doctors, they both have scientific minds. So, whenever they run into issues, they feel less like roadblocks and more like chances to try other options. If A doesn’t work, let’s try B. They have a hypothesis of what will happen, but over time are able to test them out on their daughter. They understand that failure is a part of life, but only through those failures can you learn.
They are also recognizing the element of empathy that the club of parents holds toward each other. She talked about a recent trip to Santa Fe, NM and were at a restaurant for dinner. Their daughter was not exactly having it and the waitress just held her so they could eat food for 10 minutes.
Jess talked about the importance of exposing yourself to new ideas and plans as well as practicing the mindset of being willing to try a lot of things. What might be the cure for others might not work for you, but the important part is to keep trying the new ones to see what is successful, even if that’s just for right now.
Be an individual
It is often described that when you begin life as a parent, it is hard to define yourself. Jess reiterated that by saying “I still don’t know where the edge of me begins.” She talked about how it was a little easier for Ronan to compartmentalize the various areas of his life and keep going on with what makes him who he is because the life of a dad isn’t quite as literally attached to their child as to the mom.
It’s been a hard time during the winter because so much of how she had previously viewed herself was as an outdoorsy active person.The combination of motherhood and winter really weighed on each other. At the same time, there is always hope. Spring is on the way. To go back to the earlier clichés, seasons come and go and, over time, the new iteration of Jess will come out. She recently was able to get back on the ski slopes. She was only able to do 4 runs and then called it good. That is something that her previous self would have been appalled at, but now those four runs were just what she needed. They represented one more step toward a new title that doesn’t remove the other titles of who she is, but adds to the complex person she truly is.
Camera: Mamiya RZ67
Film: Kodak Portra 160, Kodak Tri-X 400
Jess is such a happy, bright person. For those reasons, I picked a really clean and not overly punchy film to use for her portraits.
Thanks again to Jess for sitting down with me and being so open. I loved hearing her stories. As an almost-father, there is so much that scares the poo out of me from this conversation but by the fact we were able to still have the conversation still gives me so much hope.
If you’re interested in doing a 2Roll Portrait session, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat!