An American photographer has broken our hearts with her story of a very special photoshoot for an 8-week-old baby boy named Aiden who was born with microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a very rare birth defect where the baby’s brain doesn’t develop all the way leading to a much smaller head size and many complications. In America, microcephaly is detected in 8.7 babies per 10,000 live births. In Australia, this number is 1 in 25,000 live births.

Aiden Microcephaly Photoshoot
Little Aiden lived for eight weeks. These images were taken one day before his passing. Source: Jennifer Ryals Photography Facebook

The cutest little fighter

Aiden wasn’t supposed to survive the birth. But he did. He came out fighting and didn’t stop fighting until his last breath. He was determined to spend as much time as possible with his loving family. And he did.

In fact, he spent eight perfect weeks with his mum, dad, grandparents and aunt. Jennifer, who owns Jennifer Ryals Photography in Texas, managed to capture the pure pride, love, joy that Aiden brought to his family from behind the camera and just in time. One day after the photo shoot, this loving family said their final goodbyes to Aiden.

Microcephaly photoshoot with Aiden, Jennifer Ryals Photography
Aiden was born with microcephaly. Source: Jennifer Ryals Photography Facebook
Aiden was deeply loved by a lot of people. Source: Jennifer Ryals Photography Facebook

‘Can you do the session tomorrow? We don’t have much time’

Although Jennifer, a wedding photographer and mum, admits she normally doesn’t do newborn photography, something in her heart told her to do this one shoot.

Aiden’s aunt arranged it, asking, “Can you do the session tomorrow? We don’t have much time.”

Jennifer was unaware of Aiden’s microcephaly – all she knew was that Aiden had just gotten out of the hospital.

As Jennifer tells Love What Matters,

I didn’t really ask for more details so when I showed up and saw him for myself, I was completely surprised. He was so tiny. So perfect. As soon as his mum brought him into the room, I was immediately teary-eyed.

But they weren’t tears of sadness or pity, it was genuinely pure joy. He was the cutest little fighter I have ever seen in my life. His perfect face drew you in and there was no escaping it.”

Source: Jennifer Ryals Photography Facebook

The amount of emotion in the room that day was unexplainable but Jennifer managed to capture it all from behind the lens.

Watching his family interact with him was so bittersweet. You could tell he was the most loved baby in the world, but also it hurt my heart so much to see his grandpa cry as he held him.”

Microcephaly photoshoot, Jennifer Ryals Photography
Grandfather and grandson. Source: Jennifer Ryals Photography Facebook

As Jennifer left Aiden’s home, she was understandably upset and saddened for the family who would be forced to say goodbye to their little fighter. Aiden wasn’t expected to live much longer but they didn’t know how long he had left.

Jennifer spent that night going through the 270+ photos she had of Aiden, editing and reediting, ensuring they were just perfect.

Aiden with his parents. Source: Jennifer Ryals Photography Facebook

A lasting memory 

The next day Jennifer got a phone call from Aiden’s aunt. Aiden had died that morning.

I wanted to believe it was a mistake or a dream. My heart is shattered for that family that loved that baby so much.”

Jennifer was able to give Aiden’s family a photo book of beautiful images to remember their little fighter, photos that will most likely line the halls of their homes and will remain with them forever.

My heart hurts 

Not only is she grateful to have had a chance to meet him, but spending time with Aiden also made Jennifer see the bigger picture and value her own children.

Like most of us, sometimes it’s easy to let the day-to-day stress take away from the joy that our kids bring us.

My heart hurts for my kids that I don’t appreciate as much as I should all the time. In that moment, as I sat there in bed crying, looking at my two sleeping boys, I could hear my voice playing back every single time I’ve yelled at them. 

 But my heart is also full with gratitude because I know I am a better person for being allowed in their home and for getting a chance to hold that perfect little boy for a while.”

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Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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