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If you don't burst into tears upon viewing this photo, you'll at least get a little choked up. We're almost certain of that.
After all, photos of new mothers with their young children are already enough to leave us breathless. But this one features something a little different: Nikki Colquitt, an expectant mother, sits in a hospital bed just before giving birth, her oldest daughter perched atop her bulging belly, hugging her around the neck.
The photo, beautifully shot by Portland-based photographer Laura Paulescu of Crowned Photography, has captured the hearts of so many around the world. And as the woman behind the lens told TODAY in an email, "this is the beauty of true documentary birth photography."
Paulescu captures the moment a family welcomes a new baby, so there's no posing or directing while the labor and delivery process is going on.
"At this time, the mom had both of her older children running around the hospital room while she was in early labor, before their dad was running them home to stay with a sitter," Paulescu wrote. "When her 'little' big girl (whose birth I also photographed) climbed up on the bed to say goodbye, she scooped her up over her contracting belly and they just held each other so close."
According to Paulescu, the mother-daughter pair stayed like that "for just a few sweet moments" before the young girl climbed down.
In fact, when she "officially" said goodbye to her mom, she "gave her a nonchalant 'see ya,'" said Paulescu. "But that moment of the last hug goodbye was just so special, and I'm so honored to have frozen that moment in time."
A mother of two herself, Paulescu can relate to the joy and overwhelming anticipation she captured in that photograph.
"Holding your 'little' one so close one last time, before they aren't the little one anymore ... that's a moment that stays with you forever," she said. "Giving birth is so much more than the moment when a baby is born. It's a whole beautiful mess of hellos, goodbyes, joy, sadness, sacrifice ... and love that overwhelms you more than anything in your entire life."