New moms share makeup-free photos, moving stories: 'I am very blessed to be here'
When TODAY co-anchor Savannah Guthrie posted a photo of herself without makeup after giving birth to daughter Vale, fans filled our Facebook pages with their own photos capturing their emotional first moments of motherhood.
One of the most moving pictures was shared by Kristin Kapr Nutter, who was in the middle of chemo for breast cancer when her second daughter Harkin was born.
After TODAY featured Nutter's photo as Day 50 of our #100HappyDays celebration, we checked in with her to hear more of the story behind the beautiful picture.
These days, she's cancer-free following grueling battles with breast cancer and kidney disease during her high-risk pregnancy. After feeling a lump in her right breast 17 weeks into her pregnancy, Nutter, who had already been living with kidney disease, called her obstetrician and ultimately received the cancer diagnosis, just three days before her 29th birthday.
“Two weeks later, at 20 weeks pregnant, I had a single right mastectomy performed to remove the breast and my tumor, and a port placed to receive my chemo,” she told TODAY.com. “I started chemo at 23 weeks pregnant, and completed four rounds of grueling chemo, and was hospitalized for an infection — right before my daughter’s scheduled C-section at 36 weeks and 3 days.”
Harkin was “perfectly healthy and happy” when she was born at 10:20 a.m., Feb. 11, but her mom faced complications. Nutter was rushed into emergency surgery for internal bleeding. What followed, she said, were prolonged hospital stays, a dozen more chemo treatments, a second mastectomy as a precautionary measure, and a pain management program. But the news is better these days.
“I am three weeks post my last surgery and happy to report I am cancer free!” she said. “My daughter is thriving and is now 6 months old. Her big sister, my 2-year-old, could not be happier! I am very blessed to be here to share my story and I have learned a great deal through this experience.”
Nutter, who has chronicled her journey on her Pregnant Pink Warrior blog, said she shared her story with TODAY to raise awareness about breast cancer. “You guys are so inspiring and I watched you every day throughout this journey,” she wrote. “It was the bright spot to my mornings.”
Other TODAY fans can relate to delivering a baby while fighting breast cancer. Sara Erzen posted a photo of herself “just after I delivered a healthy baby girl, despite a breast cancer diagnosis in my 5th month of pregnancy and 4 rounds of chemo.”
Kristin Sanborn Todd said she faced the same battle. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34 weeks pregnant and had gone [through] surgery just a week and a half before this picture.” she wrote.
Some new moms faced different kinds of adversity.
Amy Carney shared a photo of herself and her husband “getting to love our little one before she was airlifted” to intensive care in another hospital. At the time, she said, the baby was 2 pounds, 4 ounces, but is now 23 pounds at age 2½.
Jamie Sue Kuhn snapped a first shot of her baby next to a smartphone on a conference call with the baby’s father, who’d been deployed.
Amanda Hiatt shared a similar story and a photo of her daughter’s father watching from a laptop, as he “was unable to make it back from overseas until she was 7 months.”
Janelle Dahlgren said she experienced “two losses” and problems during the pregnancy of her second daughter, Ilsa Sabine.
Olivia Ryan said she’d endured six miscarriages, but “birthing our healthy daughter was one of the most memorable moments of my life.”
Stacy Bell Lundy shared a photo of the moment she met her first biological child, Tessa Gray.
Other moms shared their stories from additional perspectives. Kerry Gibson proved that age doesn’t have to be anything but a number, as she wished Savannah congratulations “from one 40+ first-time mamma to another.”
Carissa Shawver Traut didn’t go to the hospital for her groundbreaking (literally) delivery, which took place in her bathtub.
Jennifer Jameson Williamson showed off the first time she held her triplets:
Lots of moms couldn't believe how time flies. While Desiree Love’s children are older these days, her love for them didn’t stop her from sharing the moment her daughter was born.
And this couple proved a great sense of humor also makes for a great photo in the delivery room.
Check out even more photos from TODAY fans who captured the beauty of parenthood:
You can find more beautiful new-mom photos and keep sharing yours on TODAY's Facebook page.
Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.