Emily Mueller is celebrating the upcoming birth of her baby by adding a twist to the ever-popular, but typically traditional, maternity photo shoot.
Over the course of two days, Mueller, 34, posed with two unusual types of animals - a swarm of bees, and a giant yellow python - in celebration of the newest addition to her family. She made headlines last year when she posed, pregnant, with 20,000 bees on her tummy - and this year, she's back for more.
Mueller and her husband Ryan, 38, run Mueller Honey Bee Rescue in Akron, Ohio, and are extremely comfortable around the buzzing creatures, which was evident from their previous maternity shoot. This year, however, the expectant mom-of-three decided to paint herself gold in a Cleopatra-themed shoot, and wear an un-bee-lievable 16,000 bees like a headdress around her face. And despite being stung four times - including on her eye - she persevered.
She didn't stop there, either.
As if wearing a full head of bees weren't enough, the very next day she enlisted Outback Ray, a local exotic animal trainer and breeder to come to her home and bring an exotic animal that she could also include in part two of her shoot.
“He had a yellow python," she said. "It was not dangerous — this guy travels to elementary schools and has kids hold them and hold the snakes. It was really neat.”
Mueller has raised her children surrounded by wildlife and considers her family very animal-oriented. She stresses the importance of teaching her children about all kinds of animals, including bugs, reptiles and insects, and says the family regularly takes walks and learns about nature from the outdoors.
Mueller is due next month and is already mom to 11-year-old Cadyn, four-year-old Madelynn, and two-year-old Westyn. Now more than ever, she finds incredible comfort in surrounding herself with insects and animals, because she sees it as a way to celebrate life, past and future. Tragically, she suffered a stillbirth last year with her son Emmersyn, so this year's shoot was a way to honor his memory.
“It was in memory of him, in honor of him and a way to honor my pregnancy," she said. "Really, the message is that you can’t take life for granted and if you have something you want to do, you have to do it now.”
Critics of Mueller's maternity photos claim that she is putting her unborn baby's life in danger, which she ardently denies. In fact, she has a message for them.
"People accused me of being unsafe with the previous shoot and it's not," she said. "Do what makes you happy."