Usually when I share pictures from these shoots on the blog, I write a paragraph or two about the family or kids to add some perspective to the pictures. But when it came to the Bates family, who we shot at our mini-session shoot at UT Gardens a couple of weeks or so back, I felt like I couldn’t do it justice myself. So I asked Tamara Bates if she would share with us the story of the last two years in the life of her family. I think you will agree with me that it’s a testament to God’s grace and mercy. Here’s their story, in Tamara’s words:

On Sept 27, 2008, I went in to deliver my fourth baby. I was 38 weeks pregnant and had a sonogram just two days earlier which showed my baby boy was looking good and healthy. I felt a little uneasy, but I could not argue with a sonogram. When I arrived at the hospital to deliver, our baby had no heartbeat. I went on to deliver a 7lb 9oz beautiful baby boy named Elijah (meaning Yeweh is God) Edward. To this day we have no idea what happened. The autopsy found nothing and the blood tests were normal!

At this same time, Gary was not feeling well. The same day I had the sonogram he was being released from the hospital with what we thought was a virus or bacteria in the ear. As a matter of fact, he did not even go to the hospital with me to deliver because he was getting round-the-clock IV antibiotics/antivirals and still was not feeling well. A precious friend did later bring him (and his medicines) to the hospital so he could be with me while I delivered.

The day after Elijah’s service Gary went in to have an operation on his ear. Soon after the surgery we began to realize things were much more serious than we thought. He was loosing control of his facial nerves. He could not smile, blink, or speak. So, the doctor quickly sent us to Vanderbilt Hospital. We were there for four days. They sent us home with the diagnosis (wrongly) of Shingles in the ear. We ironically count this time invaluable because for four days we were alone in a small hospital room and were able to laugh (as best he could with only one side of his face working), cry, pray, talk, reflect and cry some more. Through all of the tears, heartache, physical pain, and confusion God held us in the cleft of the rock. We felt closer to Him than we ever have before.

Gary continued to struggle physically. His facial paralysis was getting better but his ear pain was not and he continued to get weaker. Finally, in Feb 2009, with his kidney function down to 30% and 50% of his kidney cells damaged, he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis (it affects the sinus, lung and kidney). The treatment is corticosteroids and a chemo drug. And for the past 14 months with the aid of medication, time, and prayer Gary is in remission and to the doctors surprise his kidney function is 100%!! Of course, we’re not surprised because God is the Healer. He is our comforter, strong tower, our very present help! He gives and takes away. As hard as that is to understand and even harder to experience, I accept it and stand in awe that He cares about me and is good ALL the time.

I am thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to nurture our other three beautiful children and have a loving, adoring, restored husband. The Bates family has been carried through the fire. And we know that in life or death that we belong to God!……..

I am honored and thankful that we were able to photograph this wonderful family. Enjoy.