ELK CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – They met in 2018.

“He’s the first boyfriend I ever had,” smiles Kirsten Vaughn

She and Brock got the rocky part of their relationship out of the way early.

“We dated for a week,” she laughs, “and then I broke up with him. Big mistake, and then we got back together.”

So they’re married now and Kirsten is expecting a September baby. The crib is put together. The nursery north of Elk City is getting close to how she likes it.

“I might do some more fussing,” she admits while looking around the baby’s room.

First time moms are often particular about details. Kirsten already has some invitro photos of her little girl, who they decided to name McKenzie.

“He was hard to convince at first, but I think he’s pretty excited.” smiles Kirsten.

The only hitch in this journey to new life involved distance, not just across the horizon, but across continents.

Photo captures connection between military family. Image courtesy Kirsten Vaughn.
Photo captures connection between military family. Image courtesy Kirsten Vaughn.

Brock Vaughn, a National Guard mortarman with the 179th Infantry started a deployment to the Horn of Africa in April as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“That’s kind of a hard pill to swallow,” she sighs, “but he’s not going to miss much and he’ll be back soon.”

They did manage an explosive gender reveal party complete with a makeshift mortar explosion, but Kirsten really wanted a maternity photo with both of them in the picture.

The only problem was distance. 8 time zones, one ocean, two continents.

Kirsten insisted, “I wanted him to be part of as much as he could even though he was gone.”

With the help of a local photographer, Carrie Sanders of Shots By Sanders, they both managed to find one with two photos merged together digitally.

Brock and a very good friend in his unit did their part with Brock kneeling in uniform.

His friend stood in as Kirsten holding an exercise medicine ball.

Kirsten says, “It’s hilarious how Brock convinced his friend to stand out there and pretend to be a pregnant lady.”

The alpacas on the Vaughn Ranch will never know or care about how digital magic made a first family photo possible, but young McKenzie will hear about it when she’s older.


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She chuckles, “I can’t wait for when she’s old enough and I can tell her how popular her parents were back in the day.”

Dad in Africa, Mom on the Oklahoma Prairie, but connected to each other no matter what the distance.

To learn more about Shots by Sanders, click here.