Babies and their feeding tubes were at the center of this Tennessee photographer’s newborn photo shoot, titled “Fed Is Best.”
Six-month-old Katherine was one of the three babies who proudly showed off her GI tube with her mom, Lizz Hendrickson, during the session held with Anna Stacy Photography.
“This has been such a unique experience,” Hendrickson told InsideEdition.com. “I wanted pictures to remember this, especially at this point in our journey, because we’re finally at a good place.”
The 25-year-old Chatanooga mom explained that she and the other moms in the photo shoot were good friends through the tube-feeding community, and it made it all the more special to share this day with them.
“All three of these babies have tubes for different reasons,” she said. “To be able to highlight not being tube-fed, but that there’s so many different reasons why that has to be an option … it was really special.”
Katherine was born happy and healthy after an uneventful pregnancy, but it became immediately clear in her first few days of life that she would have problem feeding.
“Even night two, when we were still in the hospital, she was just not feeding properly and we kind of knew something was up,” Hendrickson said. “She had a really bad swallow where she was aspirating pretty consistently, even on really thick liquids.”
Over the next several weeks, doctors tried everything including a tongue-tie surgery, an anti-reflux surgery and endless tests until it was finally decided that Katherine would use a GI tube and take formula.
“When the pediatrician mentioned formula, I just bust in to tears,” Hendrickson said. “It’s not because there’s anything wrong with formula babies, it was just that it was not the expectations.”
She explained that she was extremely passionate about breastfeeding and had a great experience breastfeeding her elder daughter, 3-year-old Charlotte.
“It all came to a halt because she just couldn’t,” she said. “Always fed is best, always, but you never really understand that statement until you have a baby like Katherine. You have to drop feeding tubes and go see specialists, and everything like that.”
Hendrickson said the photo shoot was a way for them to celebrate their journey to getting Katherine fed and to spread awareness on tube-fed babies.
“It’s just not talked about,” she said. “Us tube moms hide in the corner because it’s scary and it’s intimidating. I want to help get the word out that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s what we have to do for our babies, so we do.”