The True Beauty of Motherhood: Kalee Isenhour’s Motherhood Project


When I originally dreamt up the Motherhood Project, my original idea was to get the mamas infront of a camera. Because so often when we scroll through our phone’s photo gallery, we realize the only photos we have of ourselves are selfies. I crave giving my mamas a sense of empowerment through photography (because let’s be honest here) we’re normally the ones behind the camera!

As the Motherhood Project evolved, I quickly realized there was so much more opportunity to help my community of mamas. What my mothers were also craving was a sense of understanding. So often we feel alone on our motherhood journeys, and I want to be a driving force for that change. 

In a world where we often feel isolated in our experiences, The Motherhood Project aims to create a warm and supportive community for mothers to openly share their stories. No matter how you arrived on this journey, be it through adoption, a positive pregnancy test, hope after an unexpected diagnosis, or the arrival of a rainbow baby, you and your story are valued here.

Since launching the Motherhood Project, my community has been unbelievably supportive of these six mamas. And as a result, other mothers have felt comfort in sharing their own motherhood stories.

With my passion deeply rooted in empowering women through maternity and motherhood photography, the Motherhood Project has impacted people in ways I could have only imagined. Offering hope through shared stories, normalizing the diverse paths into motherhood, and celebrating the incredible women we lovingly call ‘mom’ has truly been a privilege of a lifetime. 

Today I’ll be sharing highlights from the stories of six amazing women who all came into motherhood differently, and how they’re using their stories to help future mamas with full blog posts on each coming soon! 

The Story of Our Mamas

As we each start our journey into motherhood, we don’t get to know what path our journey will look like until we’re on it. When these six mamas came together, they each had their own separate struggles that had led them to feel shame in some capacity. They felt shame in their feelings about something that’s simply not widely talked about, but still experienced by so many mothers. 

We can only build a sense of community and support for mothers by letting each other know we are not alone. You may be on your own unique motherhood journey, but it’s one we all still walk together.

You no longer need to feel shame from your feelings about an unexpected diagnosis because you are not alone. Brianna openly told her story of how precious life can be with an extra chromosome.

You no longer need to feel shame from being unable to carry a child because you are not alone. Melissa and Morgan bravely told the stories of their struggles with infertility.

You no longer need to feel shame from the mixed emotions of your rainbow after the storm because you are not alone. Lexi courageously told her story of infant loss.

You no longer need to feel shame from an unexpected pregnancy because you are not alone. Kacie and Sunday beautifully told their story of finding joy in the unexpected.

And these stories are just from six amazing, strong, and empowered mamas I had the privilege of photographing and learning from with the Motherhood Project. From these stories, each of these mothers shared advice from their unique motherhood journey that I cannot wait to share with you.


Our first mama is Brianna. When Brianna received the crushing diagnosis of down syndrome for her sweet baby girl Cambri, she was heartbroken. She had already dreamt of so many plans that changed in a single instance. When she was considering her options, she went in for an ultrasound and saw Jesus’s face outlined on her scan. It was then that she realized this baby was created for her, for a reason. 

After everything was said and done, Brianna received another round of heartbreaking news. Her doctors discovered a heart defect. When the time came for an emergency c-section 11 weeks early, the doctors were even more concerned about Cambri’s heart. But miraculously as Cambri has grown up, her heart defect hasn’t needed surgery. Cambri is now a vibrant, happy child who has overcome so many obstacles with a smile on her face.

If Brianna could share one thing she learned from her motherhood journey with future mamas, it would be this. “If you could see what I see now.. your vision would be so different. You may not be able to experience things exactly as you planned but your new dreams can be just as good. Things will take time. You will heal in time. This isn’t your sweet baby’s fault & it isn’t your fault. It isn’t God’s fault. It is a mysterious blessing that only very few of us get to experience.”


When Kacie was 16 years old, she had her first child Kaden. She mentioned that she used to dislike the saying, ‘a child raising a child’ however, as she looked back at the early years of raising Kaden, she realized that it was exactly true. Her and her son got to grow up at the same time. Being a teen mom meant she had to sacrifice a lot so she could spend time with her son. But even being a working teen mom, she was still able to find a way to fast-track graduation, while finding work situations that allowed her to be with her son. 

When Kaden turned nine, she had her second child Bailee Marie. Bailee was a surprise pregnancy. Even after multiple negative pregnancy tests, Kacie wasn’t aware she was pregnant until she was already five months along. Kacie expressed how worried she was during this time, but when she heard Bailee’s first cry, she felt a wave of relief knowing her daughter was alright. 

If Kacie could say one thing to young mothers, it would be this. “If you are reading this as a teen mom, it gets better! Trust me. Put in the work and embrace every moment you can. I hope my story will change just a little bit of the way you look at life. There will be sacrifices that have to be made, there will be many nights you put the baby to sleep and you have to stay awake to study, and there will be lots of tears shed. But hang in there. Your hard work will pay off! There is no book on being the perfect parent. Every single day will be a new adventure. Motherhood is a lifetime adventure, so buckle up! Being a teen mom and now a mom in my late 20’s, I can confidently say this is the best and hardest non-paying 24-hour job I will ever do.”


Meeting Lexi as the amazing mama she is, I would never guess the heartbreak she had endured to get to where she is now. When Lexi was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, she was told this would lessen her chances of getting pregnant. So when she got married, she was surprised when she became pregnant shortly after! But before she could begin to process the pregnancy, she had a miscarriage. Shortly after the bleeding stopped, her doctor told her it was safe to try for another baby. And just like before, she discovered she was pregnant again almost immediately. 

While still grieving the loss of her first pregnancy, one evening Lexi was having back pain. When she sneezed, her water broke. They immediately went to the hospital and tried to delay the birth of their child. Unfortunately, 48 hours later, her baby boy was delivered too early and too little. They spent two hours with Mac before he passed. Lexi learned later that she had a weakened cervix, which caused her early labor. Lexi said, “I struggled on how to even wrap my head around this for months. No one told me this was a possibility. To have a miscarriage and then also have your rainbow baby die in front of you. I thought rainbows were supposed to come home!”

Medically she had to wait a few months for her body to recover. Once she was medically cleared, Lexi and her husband decided to keep trying for a child. Not to replace the ones she lost, but to give them a sense of purpose again. After a few months, she found herself pregnant again, but this time with a lot less immediate joy. From the time she learned she was pregnant to the time she gave birth to her beautiful baby boy, Lexi was in a constant state of anxiety. Would this child make it? Would she have to grieve the loss of a third? 

And at the stroke of midnight on May 1, 2022, her brave and sweet double rainbow Reece Wilder was born alive and healthy. Lexi told me how she wasn’t sure how to react, since she had only known what it was like to have the baby die, not live. She was in shock for at least a month that Reece actually lived.

Lexi wants others to know that you’re not alone in this journey. Love after loss is incredibly difficult, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. 


All Melissa ever wanted was to be a mom. When people would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, instead of saying teacher or doctor, she said a mother. What Melissa didn’t know at the time was how different her motherhood journey would be than how she imaged it. 

Melissa tried for over two and a half years before being diagnosed with unexplained infertility. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. I wasn’t supposed to struggle. The word “infertility” was not supposed to be a part of my story. But it was, and I hated it. I was ashamed I couldn’t get pregnant.”

Melissa confided, saying she suffered in silence for a long time. People meant well, but anytime she mentioned her fertility struggles, she was met with unwanted advice from well-meaning people who had no idea how painful infertility was for her. 

When she started her IUI journey, she got pregnant on her first round. Being pregnant was everything she ever wanted and fought so hard for. Even with every wave of nausea and restless nights, she loved being pregnant. When her daughter was ten months old she started trying for her second child. After trying naturally, she did conceive but unfortunately suffered an early miscarriage. She then decided to try IUI again, which after a couple of rounds, did result in a viable pregnancy. She now has two amazing children that bring her incredible joy.

If Melissa could give any advice, she would say, “Motherhood can so easily be marked by shame but you don’t have to live that way either. You are the perfect mama for the babies you’ve been given. Motherhood is hard enough and we don’t need to carry the weight of shame any longer. Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. It’s made me stronger and more resilient. It showed me that I am capable of so much more than I imagined. It’s also made me softer and grew my heart in ways I never knew possible. Motherhood is everything I thought it would be and nothing like I thought it would be and I am so thankful I get to be a mama. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”


Morgan’s journey to motherhood came with its own heartbreaking struggles that led her to having the most amazing three children. After trying for a year and a half, she had her first child Maverick. He is smart, caring, and the best big brother. When Morgan and her husband decided to try for another baby, her fertility problems with her first pregnancy were only amplified. Morgan then decided to try adoption. She explored many avenues but ultimately landed on private adoptions. With the possibility of adoption on the horizon, Morgan decided she would continue her fertility journey. As Morgan so clearly stated, “I was going to have more babies one way or another.”

Four years into trying to get pregnant, Morgan got pregnant on her fourth round of IVF. 10 weeks into the pregnancy, she learned it was not viable and she would miscarry. Morgan told me the heartache was completely unbearable. But as life would have it, she received a call from her lawyer. There was a baby at the hospital looking for a forever home, and Vera came home that night! Morgan said, “She has been the greatest joy and is such a blessing from God. His providence in our life is what has sustained us through it all. His grace was magnified that day.”

If Morgan could give other mamas some words of encouragement, it would be this, “Motherhood comes in all different shapes and sizes. There are many ways and methods to motherhood as I have experienced firsthand. Each one is special and unique and none of them is lesser than the other.  Motherhood is a miracle and a gift from God. I try to remember what a gift it is to be their safe space and to foster that for them every day.”


When Sunday was diagnosed with PCOS, she was told she’d need to come off birth control medication to perform fertility tests. At the time, Sunday opted to continue her birth control and test in the future if she decided to have children. Fast forward 2.5 years, Sunday and her now husband were dating and really enjoying life. They were going to concerts, traveling, and Sunday was even getting her PhD in Forensic Toxicology.

On a Wednesday morning in June, she had been feeling sick to her stomach. On a whim she decided to take a pregnancy test, assuming it would be negative. Sunday was so sure it would be negative that she took it in an OnCue bathroom and shoved the test in her bag. She thought to herself, “Well that was a waste of $15” because she took her pills at the same time every day, and had never missed a pill. A few minutes later she looked at the test, and it said she was pregnant. 

Sunday was completely in shock, and had a wave of emotions come over her. She told me that she called her mom and bawled her eyes out. It was an unexpected and hard thing for her to process. When she told her now husband, although shocked as well, he was incredibly supportive.

If Sunday could give other expectant mothers advice about unplanned pregnancies, it would be this, “When it comes to “unplanned pregnancies,” there always seems to be a little bit of judgment from others. Honestly, I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t judged people in that situation before. It seems like everyone always preaches that there is an order that life must happen and if it doesn’t happen in that specific way, then it is wrong. One thing my coworker said to me when I told him I was pregnant was “In two years, you will never be able to imagine your life without this baby.” He was so right. Even though this baby may be unplanned, it doesn’t mean it won’t lead to an abundant amount of unplanned joy.”

Sunday is now enjoying life more than she ever imagined with her own McKenna Joy, and could not be happier to be her mama. 


While we all come into motherhood differently, we all share one thing in common; the love for our children. Through the Motherhood Project, I feel so honored to share the stories of how these six amazing women became mothers, and I know their stories will help others going through similar experiences. 

If you are looking to celebrate your motherhood journey while documenting your incredible bond with your babe, I would love to encourage you to schedule a motherhood session. This session is a cherished opportunity to capture the essence of love, togetherness, and the bonds that define your family. At the heart of this experience lies the profound connection between a mother and her child. This relationship, celebrated in every smile, hug, and shared moment, is a testament to the enduring power of maternal love and it deserves to be documented whether in motherhood or part of a family session. It would be an honor to help you with that.

Thank you to the Motherhood Project sponsors:
The Black Pearl Collective
Dream Cakes by Jen Havenar
Drybar Shops Oklahoma City
Elisabeth Clyma – Nuskin and Trainer
FarmTown Apparel
Flirt & Flutter Lash Salon
Hippie Hooray
HotWorx Oklahoma City
Mini + Mine
TBD Creatives
The Clothes Line LLC

The Second Annual Motherhood Project application opens Tuesday, April 2!

Submit your application if you would like the opportunity to tell your motherhood story.

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