I’m so proud of my friend Ash Adams  for her work on this photo story, “Carrying Sky,” about Jennifer and Aaron Allison and their daughter Sky, who was not expected to live after her birth because of a severe birth defect called heterotaxy. Sky turned 1 in May, and is medically very fragile. Her parents and siblings are holding on to every day with her.

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Jen breathes through a contraction while Barb, a CNM who she calls her “honorary mother,” continues to decorate the altar Jen has started for Sky. Barb, who runs the birth center where Jennifer works, flew down to Portland to be Jen’s birth support. “When I opened my clinic, Jen was the first person I hired,” Barb says./ASH ADAMS

I wrote an introduction for Ash’s project in the Alaska Dispatch News. This is how it begins:

Less than two years ago, Jennifer Allison, pregnant with her fourth child, slipped away from a busy day as an Anchorage maternal health nurse for a routine 20-week ultrasound. In the dark exam room, a tech slid the transducer over her belly. A black-and-white image of the baby’s chest cavity appeared.

Allison had seen hundreds of babies on hundreds of ultrasounds, but she had never seen a heart that looked like her daughter’s. There were three chambers: a smaller one on the top and one on either side. The shape made her think of a snow angel.

“When the heart beat, it looked like the wings were opening and closing,” she said.

The ultrasound tech got quiet and left the room. The lead radiologist came in. Cool panic rushed through her. Allison knew this story. She’d been with patients going through the same thing.

“I said, ‘Is it compatible with life?’ ” she said. “He said, ‘I don’t know.’ “

Read more here.  View the photos here.

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Jen holds Sky for the first time since the morning before her surgery, 8 days after she had handed her to the OR nurse. “I don’t want to get tears on her scar,” she says./ASH ADAMS