Family & Parenting

Maternity Photos Honor Woman’s Late Husband In Breathtaking Way

"I kept thinking about what it would be like if he were there taking the pictures as well."

Stephanie Maynetto-Jackson did not expect her life to forever change on a Thursday night late last year — but that’s exactly what happened.

On December 14, 2017, she received a call and had to drop everything to be by her husband’s side. Stuart Jackson, to whom she’d been married for four years, had been in a motorcycle crash. By the time she got to the hospital, Stephanie was informed that he had not survived.

She was already the mother to their 2-year-old son, Dominic, and the stepmom to 6-year-old Maliq. She was also pregnant with their second child together.

KM Ivelisse Photography

Stuart’s untimely death came just before it was time for the couple to find out the sex of their second baby. Later, Stephanie found out another little boy was on the way, and she was determined to make sure all three of her sons knew about their father.

“I know as they grow I will have to explain what has happened time and time again, but I also know they are strong,” she wrote in a post for Love What Matters. “I will raise them as Stuart and I had planned to. I have promised Stuart that all three boys will know who their daddy was, how much he wanted them, how much he loves them, and how they are his legacy.”

The expectant mom came up with the sweetest way to honor her late husband and sought photographer Phoenix Sipin of KM Ivelisse Photography in Hawaii to make her dream of including Stuart in her maternity photo shoot a reality.

KM Ivelisse Photography

Together, Stephanie and the photographer created beautiful photos that went beyond what you might expect from photo shoots that honor a late family member.

“[Stephanie] asked if incorporating her husband was something I was able to do for her maternity session,” Sipin told Aplus. “We have all seen images of loved ones who have passed away in photos. They are usually just a shadow figure with no features, but I wanted to go the extra mile for her and do it a little differently.”

Stuart had posed with Stephanie for maternity photos during her first pregnancy, so that gave them a basis for how they’d include him into the new photos. The end results are truly breathtaking:

KM Ivelisse Photography

Of course, capturing these images wasn’t easy. The photo shoot was taxing on both the photographer and the mom-to-be.

Imagining what her husband would have been feeling in that moment helped get Stephanie through it.

“He was so overjoyed when he found out we were pregnant for a second time,” she told PopSugar. “I kept thinking about what it would be like if he were there taking the pictures as well.”

KM Ivelisse Photography

Sipin noted that even in the most difficult moments, her client showed strength.

“The hardest moments were when I had to pose her for the images I would be incorporating him in. The image of Stuart kneeling and kissing her belly was hard. She had to visualize him there to get the image I needed,” the photographer told Aplus. “She showed tremendous strength throughout the entire photoshoot, and I am so proud of her and know that her boys are in amazing care.”

KM Ivelisse Photography

In the end, the expectant mother taught the photographer something special.

“Adding her late husband, Stuart, into the images was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life so far. I cried through all of them. The emotions that came over me were along the lines of, ‘What if this was my husband?,’ Sipin wrote in a blog post titled “How My Client’s Story Changed My Marriage.”

She continued, “Because of my client, I learned to cherish my husband.”

Clearly, Stephanie and Stuart have already begun to change people’s lives for the better, and by teaching her sons about their father, she knows their story will do the same for the three little ones.

KM Ivelisse Photography

“He inspired me to be a better person, a great mother, and an amazing wife,” Stephanie wrote for Love What Matters. “I am selfish because I need him, our children need him and nothing will ever make this seem fair, but we cannot dwell on that. We need to focus on celebrating his life because we know this will not get any easier. Each milestone will only continue to make this harder, but we are strong and together as a family we will get through each one.”

In May, Stephanie gave birth to Stuart Jackson II, and the special moment was caught on film:

Stephanie is now raising her sons — but she believes she’s not alone in doing that.

“I truly believe he is my twin flame and we will meet again, but until then, he will continue to watch over us,” she wrote.