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The Journey of Rhett Anderson Portnoy

posted by Kelly

We all know how a baby is made and by now I imagine you know where babies come from (wink)….but the journey a husband and wife takes in choosing to bring life into their home…well that’s an intensely personal and intimate story. This is a rare post from the heart, from the raw places in life and in marriage; One of healing and great joy in watching “The Giver of Life” have his way in our home. This is the story of Rhett Anderson. Buckle up…it’s bound to be a long and winding written road peppered with tons of photos.

Ryan and I got married on August 7, 2005. It was hot that day…but we didn’t care. We were in love, we were surrounded by amazing family and friends. We walked down the aisle to The Turtles “So Happy Together”. It was a great day. I married my BEST friend and the father of our SOON to be children.

Just Married (080705)

I am a rare statistic. I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I am one of the few women that do not fit the profile of a woman with PCOS. The long and short of this diagnosis is that you ovulate at weird times, if at all and your ovaries tend to create little pockets that turn into scar tissue making it extremely hard for an egg to implant. I was 23 years old when I found out I had it and when I was told I may never have children. I was 29 when I got married and a little nervous about any future having children with Ryan.

God is bigger than any diagnosis.

We decided after 5 months of marriage we would pull the plug on birth control methods and see what would happen. Could I ovulate, could we have a baby, what will this almost 30 year old body do?

Make a baby of course!
Announcing #3- due Feb. 13, 2011

Yup…first month with our guard down the Lord saw it fit to bless our family with one of the most endearing, clever, smart, imaginative little girls we could have ever prayed for.

Chloe Grace…born November 4, 2006

and now…..a beauty beyond beauty.
Chloe's 4th b-day/Special day visiting horses

Now I had a plan…a very good plan. Have two more children about three years apart. That way I could spend time with each child for a few years without interruption. I thought this was a good plan but the Lord had a better plan. He thought it would be better for us to open our hearts up to a passionate, energetic, hilarious, athletic, and compassionate little boy. Yes…while Chloe was just 9 months old I found out I was pregnant again. We had just celebrated our 2nd anniversary and now we are preparing for a second miracle to enter our lives and hearts and change us forever.

Bennett Wade…born May 3, 2008
Bennett's grand arrival 5.3.08

and now…..pure stud. This boy has my heart on a string…yes he does.
Bennett 2 3/4 years of awesomeness

Now before I go any further in our reproduction journey…haha…that sounds funny. Let me just share some insight into our marriage and business.

There are countless times in our little six year marriage that I thank the Lord on high that Ryan and I were friends for many years way before we crossed into Loversville. When push comes to shove…and let me tell you…we’ve been SHOVED….we have never lost the ability to laugh with one another. I think that has been the glue…that and heartfelt prayer. Anyone who has one child can tell you that the baby becomes the center of your time and attention. As a mother especially you are on duty 24-7. What little time, energy and affection you have at the end of the day you hold precious and dear and selfishly hold on to. It’s hard to ration it out to your spouse.

We started Kellan in March of 2006…the same month we found out about Chloe. The same month the realization that we would no longer have my teaching income after the fall. It was born out of a hobby of photography and a financial need. We had no idea what was going to come of it and I assure you…we never dreamed as big as what has fallen into our laps.

With any small business it requires a LOT. Type-A, business-minded Kelly snapped into gear to get us legally set up and run our customer service front while Ryan established our public front. Together we created what has evolved into our “signature” Kellan style. It sounds so simple when you type it out in one sentence. What you can’t see are the years and years of strain on our marriage. Ryan working full time, me a full time mom of two little ones working a full time job out of our home office. The year Bennett was born we shot 25 weddings and 20 personal sessions. YUP…..that’s almost half a years weekends out the door while breastfeeding. How did we do it?

Well we survived…we did not thrive.

What took the biggest hit was our marriage. We thought we wanted full time photography. We thought this is what the Lord was leading us to…after all we were starting to blow up…wasn’t that a sign. NOPE. That was just good business sense…but it wasn’t a fit for our family. We were growing so far apart after just three years of marriage. My partner, my best friend, my husband. We co-existed under one roof….laughter and prayer barely holding us together.

Then the final straw.

November 21, 2008….just six months after Bennett was born. I thought I was having the worst menstrual cycle of my life. For hours I writhed around on my bed in some of the worst pain of my life. I kept telling Ryan “I feel like I am in labor”. I won’t tell you the awfulness that came out of me. I can only thank the Lord for my utter ignorance of what was truly happening. I was miscarrying our third child. A child we didn’t even know existed. One that was conceived while we were shooting 25 weddings, raising and infant and toddler and barely holding on. A baby we will only ever know in the heavenlies. It was over before we even knew he existed. We named the baby Jory Lee “God will uplift and heal”.

It was at that point we knew what we needed to do. Trust the Lord with our finances and back off Kellan. Stop letting this business run us and start to run it! We cut back on our bookings, said no, changed our marketing strategy and got marriage counseling from our beloved pastor. I can only tell you that 2009 was a year of great healing for us. Ryan and I found one another again. God also blessed our SOCKS off by giving Ryan one of the coolest jobs on the planet. He became the full time commercial photographer for the prestigious leather company, Moore and Giles Inc. He gets to use his camera every day. He gets to create AND he gets a paycheck and insurance…SCORE for family!

We took a very conscious and cautious break from getting pregnant in order to continue healing and gaining back precious ground that was stolen in our family. It was a good season. In spring of 2010 we started discussing finishing off our family. We’ve always wanted three children and heck…might as well tackle it sooner than later. Well as God’s sense of humor would have it…..the month we started tossing around the idea… guessed it….little Rhett was firmly implanted in his little 9 month incubator. I can’t tell you the sheer joy and peace we felt at the timing of this little wonder. After such a season of stress and great grief…this was our season of celebration and joy. The Giver of Life had blessed us yet again. Let me take you on a little belly journey. At 5’2” you can only look not pregnant for so long.

12 week mini bump
12 weeks pregnant

13 weeks
13 weeks preggo

16 weeks
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey

18 weeks
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey- 18 weeks preggo

19 weeks (Photo by the wonderful Adam Barnes)
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey- 19 weeks pregnant

24 weeks
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey-24 weeks preggo

28 week (photoshoot by the incredible Sara Ernst )
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey

Rhett/Pregnancy Journey

Rhett/Pregnancy Journey

34 weeks
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey

38.5 weeks- good golly that’s a pale belly. These were with Ryan so we were messing around.
Rhett/Pregnancy Journey-38.5 weeks preggo

Rhett/Pregnancy Journey-38.5 weeks preggo

39.5 weeks-drink it in…it is glorious. The day before induction
Rhett 2.12.11

Rhett 2.12.11

So if you are still hanging in on this journey then we are getting to the part where I get Rhett OUT of me. This pregnancy was a doozy. I mean puking every day 1st trimester only to be revisited by it again 3rd trimester, a trip to the ER with a kidney stone, and just for kicks and giggles…the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy I had pre-term labor. For those ignorant of that little gem, that means you are contracting daily….so much so I had not one, but TWO false alarms to the hospital because the contractions were 2 mins. apart; an emotional and physical roller coaster. Because I was over 4 cm. dilated and 80% effaced by 39 weeks I was a great candidate to be induced a few days early and not have to sweat it out any longer. I’ve never been induced so I can only tell you my story….and I LOVED IT!

Rhett 2.12.11

I’ve always been a wait and see kinda girl about labor. I’m not looking to win a trophy by going natural but I also never hopped right on meds either. I was all about going as far as I wanted to naturally and then waving my white flag when I was done “laboring”. With both Chloe and Bennett I got to 7 cm and then threw in the towel. Two great experiences. Being induced I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is I was sick of LABORING for 5 weeks.

Rhett 2.12.11

I made my decision pretty quickly after I was checked and was already 5cm. when I entered the hospital. I was going to get my pitocin and my epidural at the same time. Everyone who sees my hospital pictures comments about how I am smiling and laughing the whole time. You’re darn skippy I was! I didn’t feel a darn thing. NOT. ONE. CONTRACTION. I had a blast with Ryan, my mom, my friend Amy Martin who came to photograph the birth, and our AWESOME L&D nurse, Amber. It was the party room for sure.

Rhett 2.12.11

After 4.5 hours I was 10 cm. dilated and ready to push. I could not believe how fast things progressed. We were just minutes away from meeting this precious boy. When I say minutes I mean minutes. I actually crowned on my FIRST push. They literally had to hold him in so the doctor could run down the hall and get in just in time to deliver me.

On my second push I was able to reach down and pull the most perfect baby out and up onto my chest. I am pretty sure I heard trumpets sound and angels applaud. It was the most PEACEFUL, easy labor and delivery. There staring me in the face with his GIGANTIC eyes (all of our babies have huge eyeballs!) was our little Rhett Anderson.

Rhett 2.12.11

He cried for a few seconds and then he literally smiled at me and showed us who he was. A little messenger of peace. He has the most calm and sweet demeanor. Literally everyone in the room could not get over how alert and placid his disposition was.

Rhett 2.12.11

8lbs. and 4 oz. of perfect boy.

Rhett 2.12.11

Rhett 2.12.11

Rhett 2.12.11

To truly understand how amazing this experience was…you have to watch this 2-minute video. These photos were taken by our dear friend Amy Martin who came to document the completion of our family. She did an incredible job capturing the mood of the day. Video HERE. All births are miracles. Words fall short to explain the surreal and mind blowing process God carved out for a woman to sustain and deliver life into the world. I am very privileged to do this three times and I will never forget how blessed I am as I have so many friends that struggle greatly with fertility.

So here we are. A family of five figuring things out. We aren’t in any semblance of a rhythm. I am insanely sleep deprived. The older two are driving me nuts with their fighting and whining. But man…what a life we have. Ryan and I marvel at our journey to this point. Where our marriage has dipped and then set back on a high place. We are far from perfect…but we are so aware of all that God has redeemed over the last few years and we sit with grateful hearts in this little cottage we live in.

Rhett is holding steady at 7.5 weeks of barely crying and being the easiest baby in the world to read. I literally forget he is around most of the day because he is so non-demanding of me.

We are blessed. Enjoy a few more photos of his first 7 weeks on this earth starting with his 5 day old photoshoot by Sara Ernst.

Our son, Rhett Anderson-#3

Our son, Rhett Anderson-#3

Our son, Rhett Anderson-#3

Our son, Rhett Anderson-#3

one week old

Our son, Rhett Anderson-#3

Our son, Rhett Anderson-#3

two weeks old

Rhett/Pregnancy Journey-2 weeks old

three weeks old

Rhett/Pregnancy Journey- 3 weeks old

Rhett/Pregnancy Journey-3 weeks old

7 weeks old- all smiles and awesomeness

Rhett 7 weeks

Rhett 7 weeks

Rhett 7 weeks

Rhett 7 weeks

Thanks for reading, thanks for caring.

To God be the Glory.

51 Responses

Christen Lucas says:

April 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

to God be the glory is right… what an adorable baby boy.. makes me want one… {ALMOST};)

Amanda Brown says:

April 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Oh, Kelly. This gave me shivers. Thanks for sharing so openly and letting us peek inside the beautiful journey of your family. Love to you, sistah-friend.

Katie says:

April 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I don’t know what to say other than our God is good, so very good! Thank you for sharing these intimate moments and memories with us. You have a beautiful family and God’s love and light is shining through all five of you—all five! Enjoy a blessed evening with your little bundles of big-eyed baby models. Much love to you and your family,


Sizzle says:

April 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Thank you for sharing this. We all struggle but we often feel alone in it when really we are not. What a beautiful family. I remember when you had Chloe! Time flies. Best to make the most if it.

joym says:

April 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Love it Kel! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell the WHOLE story!l ove you so much!

Crystal says:

April 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Absolutely beautiful. Your story, your family, and Rhett. :) Been so looking forward to reading this and it was wonderful!

Amanda says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

This post? Made my night. You guys are beautiful people. Thank you for sharing the story of your family’s journey. Anything worth having is worth working and fighting for - and the Portnoys are full of WIN. (and not in a creepy Charlie Sheen way, either, LOL). To God be the glory, indeed.

Erin says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing your heart and the beautiful pictures of your awesome family!

Heather Del Valle says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Kelly, this post was so touching and so beautiful! You have such a gorgeous family… little Rhett is the icing on the cake! :)

~Shari says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Oh my! What a lovely story. I am so glad i have found your guys again. I have been a lurker (for the most part) for wow.. a long time.
You have a gorgeous little family. and Rhett.. he reminds me so much Chloe it is unreal!


Meagan Hinson says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I love your transparency, it is one of the most beautiful things about you. I cried while I watched the slideshow of your pictures. What an amazing story. Love you guys!

Krista says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Absolutely perfect and beautiful story. I love you and am so blessed by you sharing, Kelly.

Candice {The Beautiful Mess} says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:54 pm

what a powerful story! so thankful to know you …and i am thankful for your testimony. you are such an encourager!

Jodi says:

April 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Such a beautiful story! It’s so amazing to see God’s continuous blessings through this journey…love your beautiful family!

Misty says:

April 5, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Thank you for sharing this! I loved reading your story, and as a fellow 5’2”er I know what you mean about it’s hard to hide the belly for long :)

Adam Barnes says:

April 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

we love the portnoy’s. and we love your children. grace, blessings, and peace upon you all…….

sunshine says:

April 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I love this! Thank you for sharing your heart..and throwing in a little humor in along the always. x-

Julie Nickerson says:

April 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

This was beautiful!

He is perfect!

So happy for you all!

Jo says:

April 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm

oh goodness, love love love this family. Jo(e)s

jlee says:

April 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm

What an awesome testimony of God’s mercy and healing~ thank-you for having the courage to be so REAL.

Lissa Anglin says:

April 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I LOVE this story. I’m so glad you shared it! It makes me so excited for the story that God’s writing in my own family. It sure seems messy sometimes, but wow, it’s beautiful. :)

Meridyth says:

April 5, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Loved reading this, Kel. As I sit at the beginning of my journey with #3 feeling overwhelmed and unprepared, it’s so good for my heart and mind to be reminded and refreshed with the fact that an amazing thing is happening in me for the third time after being told time and time again that it probably wouldn’t happen. We are loved by an amazing God and I am constantly humbled. Love you…xoxo

Lauren Barnes says:

April 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I’m weeping. But you knew that.
I have no doubt that this is only the beginning of spectacular things in the lives of the Portnoys.
Welcome Rhett Anderson, may you bring peace to all you meet.

Meagan says:

April 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Beautiful! Congratulations and thanks for sharing this special peak into the joy that shines through all your words and photos :).

Our Dear Girl Birth says:

April 6, 2011 at 12:16 am

[…] The journey of Rhett Anderson Portnoy « Kellan Studios Yup…first month with our guard down the Lord saw it fit to bless our family with one of the most endearing, clever, smart, imaginative little girls we could have ever prayed for. These photos were taken by our dear friend Amy Martin who came to document the completion of our family. She did an incredible job capturing the mood of the day. Video HERE. All births are miracles. Words fall short to explain the surreal and mind blowing process God carved out for a woman . […]

Amanda says:

April 6, 2011 at 4:25 am

Dear Kelly and Ryan, I am an avid fan of your photography and blog – I anticipate the updated posts almost as Christmas morning. Thank you, Thank YOU, THANK YOU for sharing this post. I was also diagnosed with PCOS in November 2007, but am now 20 weeks pregnant with my first child with my husband of two years. I love your wording, “God is bigger than any diagnosis.” He absolutely is and has a plan for our family just as He did for yours. We tried for a full year, and after six months of Metformin, three rounds of Clomid, and two rounds of Femara and Provera, our next option was an IUI and then IVF. However, the Lord took us for a turn and I was already seven weeks pregnant before we knew it. My faith was weak and I doubted and questioned God, but He is bigger and greater and we are truly blessed for this little miracle growing inside of me! Thanks again for sharing you and Ryan’s life journey.

Kristin Salvia says:

April 6, 2011 at 6:13 am

Beautiful! I loved reading all of the pieces of your story in one post! Gave me goosebumps and teary eyes hearing Rhett’s story again! All of your children are so stinkin adorable and perfect!!! So glad for your friendship. Thanks for sharing! <3

Cara says:

April 6, 2011 at 6:17 am

To God be the Glory! Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your life. You have a beautiful family and a beautiful heart!

Amy Cole says:

April 6, 2011 at 7:26 am

Everything about this is absolutely beautiful. You have an amazing family and an equally amazing story. Thanks for sharing. :) And goodness, one look at little Rhett and you can just tell he’s going to be such a fun kiddo. Many congrats to you!

Krystal says:

April 6, 2011 at 8:22 am

Kelly: what a beautiful story of how God has blessed your family. i’m sitting at work with tears in my eyes as i read it! Thank you for sharing … and congratulations!

Lyndzee Ellsworth says:

April 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

Oh my goodness how blessed are you?? I love that you opened your heart to everyone and shared your story. I feel ya!!! Love you guys and love your sweet baby. Our kids will meet and be best friends one day.

Dan says:

April 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

Yay for Love!

Huong says:

April 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thank you for sharing your story Kelly :) You, your family, your story…all beautiful and encouraging. Truly.

Kricket says:

April 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Love this, Kel! I have always admired how gifted you are at sharing stories of your life. This was creative and beautiful-God is good and faithful! Rhett is the perfect completion to your sweet family.Love you!

Heather says:

April 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm


I finally got to read this entry this morning, and it seems an appropriate time to tell you what your willingness to share your stories have meant in my life. I started reading your blog back before you were expecting Chloe, not too long after my sudden and unexpected divorce. Watching your love with Ryan blossom and grow has always warmed my heart, and I can’t tell you how many times, in those dark moments (especially after I turned 30!), I thought of you when I’d begin to think there couldn’t possibly still be a man out there who was meant to be my husband. Your love story gave me endless hope. “No,” I’d think. “That can’t be right. Look at Kelly and how quickly things turned around in her life. Your late twenties/early thirties aren’t a curse. They don’t mean that every good man has been snatched up.”

Last night, my boyfriend got down on one knee, offered me a ring, and asked me to be his wife.

It meant so much to me to read this entry today.YOU have meant so much to me. I haven’t cried yet over our engagement, but I am crying now, thinking about how your life and your writing has touched mine.

And congratulations again on your new addition. You two make the cutest children!

Dikola says:

April 7, 2011 at 6:02 am

You are precious to me.

Heather Cav says:

April 7, 2011 at 8:30 am

your family is beautiful. i was at a wedding ya’ll shot 2 weeks after we got married last summer and then looked at the photos afterwards and have been following ever since. your love story made me cry. mostly because i have a huge fear of not being able to get preggers (i’ve had lots of reproductive troubles) but you reminded me of God’s touch and His timing. thank you. love to you!

Zann says:

April 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Crying like a baby here! What a testament Rhett is to your lil’ family! I have always loved reading your blog and admiring your photos. Your honesty and humility is just beautiful…I mean it. Thank you!

Melany says:

April 9, 2011 at 6:19 am

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

chrissy romine says:

April 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm

i love this SO much. i love your honesty and the ability you have to so effortlessly recall your life journey so that we can all be filled with emotion, as well. you’re amazing, kel. i adore you and i MUST squeeze this little boy. OH and ps: if i ever have a little boy, i accept all of his clothes as a love offering. ok? ok. love you! xo

chrissy romine says:

April 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm

ps: i happen to be on the same schedule as you and really pray i make it thru this month, jane’s 9 month of life, NOT pregnant. hahaha….
some things are best not shared.

Amy Martin says:

April 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Kel- beautiful post. Even though I know all this, I love reading your perspective and story again. Such an inspiring and redeeming story. God is good! love you all!

Aubin says:

April 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

Oh Kelly, this was so beautiful to read. I just appreciate your honest & raw writing, giving us a peek into your world. your family is beautiful, I’m so thankful for you & Ryan’s marriage and I know God is going to do so much through you both as well as those beautiful kiddos God’s given you.

Funnelcloud Rachel says:

April 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

Beautiful! And so glad to read an update on your family! I’ve been reading you since Chloe was born and I miss your old blog and the stories/photos of your beautiful children. Congrats on the addition of Rhett to your family!

Emily says:

April 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

What a beautiful story! That slideshow made me cry. What a little (and cute) miracle. Thank you so much for sharing. God has definitely given you two a beautiful family.

Caroline Ghetes says:

April 28, 2011 at 5:18 am

Okay seriously the best post I have read all year. After reading this I feel we are so alike!

Clair McStacy says:

August 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Dear Portnoys We are so happy for you all. Your little one is absolutely beautiful. We just celebrated the birth of our second miracle boy.

paula hemeon says:

February 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. What a beautiful story of God’s goodness and faithfulness! We love you guys, all five of you :) What a blessing that we are family!

Meagan Hudak says:

February 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Love this! I sat and watched the slideshow and had some little tears make friends with my cheeks. What a great story with a beautiful family and ridonkulous photos! XO

Sara Ernst says:

February 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

This little boy melts our hearts…we are so blessed to have such a wonderful, loving, caring, hilarious and attractive family in our lives! Todd and I love you all LOTS!

alex says:

November 5, 2012 at 6:38 am

So, I used to read your blogs years ago (around Bennett being born?)…and had this overwhelming urge to see what Kellan studios was up to. What a great story! Thank you for sharing it. Esp. about the work you both have done with the marriage/work/family balance. It is very inspirational, and I appreciate it more than I can say. God bless!

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