Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Awareness Week Photo Project
It has become a tradition in my photography business that I work on a few “giveback” projects every year to help promote child & family well-being – an area that particularly interests me. It could be in the form of donating a session as a prize to support a campaign, hosting fundraising minis for a particular organization, and sponsoring a complimentary session to help raise awareness for a cause. I often research online to find the match. This year, I came across Melissa’s post in a Facebook Mom group. After connecting with her, we agreed on this photo project to together raise awareness for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD).
The heart community celebrates February because it is known as heart month. It is a time when the community can raise awareness of a disease that isn’t spoken about nearly enough as it should be. This is Brielle’s first heart month and Melissa wanted to find someone to capture the beauty of her scar.
I never want her to be ashamed or embarrassed of it because this is her fight, her journey, her story. She has overcome so much in such a short amount of time and I could not be happier to advocate for her until she can tell her story.– Melissa, Breille’s Mommy
1 out of every 100 babies is born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). Brielle is that 1 out of 100. Her CHD is called Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF), which is 4 defects within her heart. Usually, doctors like to wait around 4-6 months to operate so the baby can gain weight and hopefully have a better outcome in their recovery. Sadly, that was not Brielle’s case. She was in the hospital for 5 weeks before her team of doctors said she can no longer wait for her surgery. She needed it now. At 40 days old, Brielle had her chest cut open and her sternum broken, so the surgeon could fix her heart. This surgery should’ve taken around 6 hours but it ended up being 9 hours because her surgeon found a second hole in her heart, which is rather uncommon with ToF. Her little body went through so much in the 3 weeks she stayed in the hospital recovering but thankfully, she chose to fight. Even when she was in pain, she still managed to put a smile on her face. After 61 days of being inpatient, she was finally discharged.
Unfortunately, Brielle and most other ToF patients will need more interventions on their heart throughout their life. I notice a common misconception is people assume that since the initial repair was a success, that there will never be a need for other surgeries/procedures, which is incorrect.– Melissa, Brielle’s Mommy
During my initial research, I confused the acronym CHD with CDH. I prepared a 2nd backdrop that resembles the colors of the CDH ribbon. It is supposed to be a surprise in addition to the heart theme backdrop Melissa and I discussed. Melissa corrected me that CHD’s ribbon is blue and red. However, she happily accepted the surprise because the color is also a rainbow color.
Brielle is my rainbow baby that has changed my outlook on life. She made me realize how incredibly precious life is and that you should live every day like it is your last.Melissa, Brielle’s Mommy
According to Melissa, the 6 photos in this blog captured Brielle in different attitudes of hers. Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is observed each year during February 7–14. Brielle is participating in the 2022 Share Your Heart®Photo Contest hosted by Mended Hearts®. You can vote for her daily here through 2/28/2022.
Brielle’s photoshoot falls under the sitter milestone during a baby’s first year. Interest in learning more about a sitter session? Visit my Sitter Portfolio.
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