Fundraising OPEN!

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My “Support” Page has been updated and my fundraising campaign is ready to go! I am super nervous and excited to see how this goes. I truly hope my expectations are blown out of the water and I have plenty of funds left over to start a “Future Midwife Scholarship” (creative name ideas for the scholarship are welcome). This dream is not for me; it is for the families that deserve to have access to midwifery care.

Newborn Sneak Peek: Caden

What better way to spend a mother’s day than with a new mother helping her capture her son in photos that will last a life time. I was excited to see Mr. Caden again and see how big he’d gotten in just a week and a half. Here is just a little sneak peek of his photo shoot.

Joyful Baby Momma

You might be thinking the name of this post is a little  out of the ordinary compared to my usual birth sneak peek posts, and it is! For several reasons:

  1. I couldn’t use baby’s name in the title because this sweet girl is still being referred to as “new baby”.
  2. Her parent like unordinary names…hence why they’re being a little indecisive about her name 😉
  3. This was the birth of my friend and co-birth field worker/associate/referral/personal diaper supplier, Kristina who operates “JOYFUL BABY PLANNING

Title make more sense now? 🙂

I was so excited when she asked me to capture the moments right after the birth of her next “surprise baby”. The only scary part was her last labor for her 2nd child was very fast and we were all prepared for this one be even quicker. “I know I’m going to have this baby in the car,” she told me several times, and that prediction wasn’t far from true.

We arrived at the birth center at the same time (just 2 hours after she text me “I think I might be in labor”) and she hurried inside to be checked. 10cm! She had showed up complete and ready to push. It wasn’t too long of a wait before a screaming, pink baby made her debut. Her parents were so relieved to have her in their arms they didn’t even check for gender until about 3 minutes after birth!

It's a Girl

It’s a Girl

The great moments didn’t stop there! Since she arrived so quickly they had time to call their other two kiddos and tell them the good news….or bad news to big brother who was certain the new baby was going to be a boy.

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Listening for a reaction from big brother…something…anything

He was not happy with the result, but his reaction sure was amusing for all in birth room! After crying, "nooo" he hung up on his parents. I'm sure he'll come around.

He was not happy, but his reaction sure was amusing for all of us in birth room! After crying, “nooo” he hung up on his parents. I’m sure he’ll come around.

I am so blessed to have been able to witness the birth of this family’s newest addition, and look forward to learning what name this precious girl has been given.

Mockingbird – a reflection on loss

I try to keep a lot of my personal life separated from my business page, but in this line of work it is hard. I get so emotionally invested in the lives of my students and clients and it is hard to draw boundaries.

I was listening to the radio with my daughter last week when a song came on I hadn’t heard in a couple of years. “Mockingbird” by Rob Thomas is a song meant as a break up song I know, but with where my mindset was last week it struck me differently. Read the lyrics or listen to the song and look at it from the perspective of a family who has lost a young child.

Here we stand
Somewhere in between this moment and the end
Will we bend?
Or will we open up and take this whole thing in?
Everybody else is smiling and their smiles dont fade
And you dont even wonder why you just dont think that way
Maybe you and me got lost somewhere
we can’t move or we can’t stay here
Well maybe we’ve just had enough
well maybe we aint meant for this love
You and me tried everything
But still that mocking bird wont sing
Well man this life seems hard enough
Well maybe we aint meant for this love

Take my hand
And I will lead you through the broken promise land
Yes I can, ah yes I can
I can be there when you need it
I’ll give it all till you can’t feel it anymore
I don’t wanna love you now, if you’ll just leave someday
I don’t wanna turn around, if you’ll just walk away
Maybe you and me got lost somewhere
we can’t move or we can’t stay here
Well maybe we’ve just had enough
well maybe we aint meant for this love
You and me tried everything
But still that mocking bird wont sing
Well man this life seems hard enough
Well maybe we aint meant for this love

Maybe you and me got lost somewhere
We can’t move or we can’t stay here
Well maybe we’ve just had enough
well maybe we aint meant for this love
You and me tried everything
But still that mocking bird wont sing
Well man this life seems hard enough
Well maybe we aint meant for this love

Maybe we aint meant for this love
Maybe we aint meant for this love

Think about the lullaby line “hush little baby don’t say a word mommy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird”.  Not every part of the song makes sense from that point of view, but I feel the overall tone sums up how I would feel in that circumstance. I pray that not only do I never have to go through that kind of loss but that everyone reading this does not have to endure that unimaginable pain. For those who have, my heart breaks for you. There are no words, no amount of time that can heal a wound that deep.

I have shared on here before the story of how I became a mom because of another families loss, but I always feel need to share it again. Here are some links to my personal blog that explain the story

http://letters2olivia.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/47-days/

http://letters2olivia.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/your-gaurdian-angel/

Finally I leave you with a few quotes and verses that have been on my heart lately. Please give your babies, new or grown, an extra hug and kiss today. Remember how blessed you are to have them with you.

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” 
―    A.A. Milne

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 There is a time for everything,     and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,     a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3     a time to kill and a time to heal,     a time to tear down and a time to build, 4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,     a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,     a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6     a time to search and a time to give up,     a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7     a time to tear and a time to mend,     a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8     a time to love and a time to hate,     a time for war and a time for peace.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” 
―    A.A. Milne

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding

Beckham’s BIRTHday

Some families bring a smile to your face, others tears to your eyes, and a few make you laugh hysterically while smiling and crying! Lindsay and Adam are THAT couple. From Adam’s exclamations such as, “OH HE’S SO COOL!” and “DOESN”T HIS SWEETNESS MAKE YOU WANT TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY RIGHT NOW!” to Lindsay’s request for a Jimmy John’s Sandwich immediately after birth, they made a 3 day start and stop labor so much fun for those around without even realizing it.

I was so excited when these former students from my birth class asked me to assist them through their labor as a doula and photographer. Their sweet 8 pound (on the dot) baby boy Beckham made his arrival on February 23rd which just happened to be his actual due date (less than 3% of babies arrive on their EDD).  Most of the labor and birth images I captured cannot be shared on the web, but I did want to share some of the sweet family moments from Beckham’s first hours of life.  The joy in the room was contagious and everyone was smiling ear to ear. It was a perfect ending to such a long labor and a beautiful beginning in this family’s new chapter of life.

Cloth Confession #4

“Get me a REAL diaper”

cloth diapers

When we began this journey to cloth diapering my biggest skeptic was my husband. He could wrap his brain around the fact that it would save us money but that was about it. We started off with just 4 diapers so we could get through the majority of the day and then use a disposable at night or on days when I didn’t do laundry in time. I thought after months of discussion and convincing that Thomas was finally on board with using cloth as our main type of diaper, but apparently I was wrong.

 I work 3 half days a week and was getting quite frustrated when I’d come home to find that Thomas hadn’t put Olivia in a cloth diaper while I was gone. It was alway an excuse like “they weren’t stuffed” (we use pocket diapers) or “the pants I wanted her to wear didn’t fit over the cloth”. I never knew diapers could cause such an irritation between parents. What was funny to me was the fact that he never once complained if I was home and changing the diapers. So finally after a long stressful day I snapped (looking back it may have been a tad of an over reaction but it worked so….)

I’m pretty sure I yelled something along these lines, “IF YOU DON’T START USING THE CLOTH DIAPERS I’M JUST GOING TO GO SELL THEM BACK….NO WAIT I’LL JUST GIVE THEM AWAY SO IT’S A REAL WASTE OF MONEY”

Well that got my point across and Thomas suddenly stopped complaining about the cloth diapers. We ordered a few more to add to our supply and can now do laundry every other day. Things seemed to be going much better but I was still skeptical that Thomas was completely on board. I didn’t want to be forcing him to do something he really didn’t want to. Then this morning a wonderful sentence came out of his mouth.

Thomas started a diaper change for Olivia without realizing I hadn’t stuffed the diapers yet after last nights laundry. I figured I he’d just grab a disposable and we’d put her in cloth later, but mid-change he hollered, “Honey can you get me a REAL diaper I only have the cover”. Success! He then told me how he is glad they’re all clean today because the skirt he wanted to put Livy in would be too big if she were to wear a disposable.

I think today has proven that my husband is the true cloth convert of the this family not me. 🙂

Labor is a beautiful thing

Labor is defined in many ways

la·bor
(lbr)

n.

1. a. Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting; work. See Synonyms at work.

    b. Something produced by work.
2. A specific task.
3. A particular form of work or method of working: manual labor.
4. Work for wages.
5. a. Workers considered as a group.

    b. The trade union movement, especially its officials.
6. A political party representing workers’ interests, especially in Great Britain.
7. The process by which childbirth occurs, beginning with contractions of the uterus and ending with the expulsion of the infant and the placenta.
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 As a birth photographer and doula my job (labor) is to help a family through birth (labor). The two meanings go hand in hand for me. Unlike most people (especially women) I look forward to labor. I use words like exciting, perfect, and BEAUTIFUL to describe the hard work I see put forth by mothers. When you’re going through it, the task of bringing a baby into this world can seem daunting and impossible, but more and more moms are starting to see the beauty and once in a life time moments that occur through their labor. I love when clients allow me to photograph and preserve these memories.
The final push
No matter how a labor ends (natural, medicated, or cesarean) experiencing the power of your body and feeling you and your unborn child working together is an emotion that can never be duplicated. Whether for one contraction or one hundred, I would encourage every woman, who is able, to experience some degree of labor.
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For couples who tackle labor together, the process takes on a whole new dimension. Seeing not only a child but a family be born is a very intimate time a lot of people are not comfortable sharing with outsiders. However, couples now are starting to realize having photos taken of BOTH of them through the labor can be a testament to their grown child about how much love there was as he or she was welcomed into the world.
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Here are just a few more of my favorite moments I captured through 2012. Thank you to all the families who allowed me to be a part of your births and for those planning on having me attend their’s this year! I cannot wait to experience the miracle of life again and again for many years to come.
and of course you can’t have this many labor photos without a couple of baby photos 🙂

Cloth Confession #3

I keep waiting for the smell…

cloth-diapers-line

While trying to figure out if I should cloth diaper or not I read a lot of discussion boards aimed toward cloth mommas. A common concern I saw was that the diapers after a time would start to smell like ammonia or they couldn’t get the poopy smell out.

**Side note have you ever done something kind of strange and thought, “wow I’ve turned into a freak…well other moms must do it….ok this isn’t so weird”**

I now find myself constantly sniffing my daughters diapers while hanging them to dry, while stuffing the inserts, and while putting them up (now the side note makes sense right?). I guess I’m washing them correctly or I’m just lucky! 3 months in and still no smell…maybe it takes longer to develop? Honestly I’m stumped on this one but excited at the same time that I don’t have to deal with a stinky baby or unpleasant diapers 🙂

Speaking of cloth diapers! I am co-hosting another “Intro to Cloth Diapering” Class with Joyful Baby Planning!

Saturday January 9th @4:30 Allen Birthing Center 406 W. Main Allen, TX 75013

RSVP on Facebook today!

Welcome Maddie J

I am always honored when students from my birth class ask me to be a part of their labor and birth. No matter what the role, attending births is a passion of mine. For Karen and Adam my role was to document the birth of their first child, Madeline (aka Maddie J), through photos. What I ended up capturing was much different.

The following is shared with permission to give others a glimpse inside an amazing labor that has changed my life forever.

12/21/12 – Karen’s due date and surprisingly the day she actually went into labor. She texted me at about 8:30 that morning to let me know her contractions were getting more regular but still pretty far apart.

The day went on with no major updates. Finally I got the call at 9:30pm. They were headed to the hospital! The last thing Karen said before she hung up was, “I don’t think I can do this”. I was so excited to get to the hospital to watch her prove to herself that she could!

I arrived about 20 minutes after Karen and Adam. She was dilated to almost a 7 and contractions were less than 3 minutes apart. A text-book perfect labor!

I love watching first time dads try to figure out labor. Adam was so enthusiastic and so nervous at the same time, it was heartwarming to see. Everyone in the room could tell he was ready to be a dad. Once they were in a rhythm, I couldn’t help but smile. As their birthing instructor I would love to take credit for their amazing labor skills but there are some things that can’t be taught.  Like how whenever Karen’s breathing would start to speed up and she’d start to get tense, with one phrase, “breath from within”, Adam could relax her completely. It was truly beautiful.

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Time went on and Karen moved to the tub (side note: hospitals that offer birth tubs are amazing and I think all others should follow suit). Signs starting pointing towards transition, I got excited and starting reminding them about what they could expect…”the hardest shortest part, the hardest shortest part”. Everyone was braced and ready for contractions to pick up but instead they began to taper off.

I learned, even before my own labor, that you never put a time stamp on when you think things will happen, so the hardest question to answer from a laboring woman is, “How much longer?”. Being reassuring without making promises is tricky when it comes to birth. All you can do is tell mom that her baby will come when ready. Another thing I’ve learned this past year in this field is that there is a connection between mothers. I had been in her shoes, the feeling that labor is never going to end, the exhaustion hurting more than the contractions. Honestly one of the most surreal moments of my life so far was when Karen said, “I can’t do this much longer”…. I looked her straight in the eyes and for a moment the room was silent, “You already have done it. You’ve got this and your daughter will be here soon.”  Karen smiled, nodded her head, and had a new resurgence of energy. I have said things like this to other laboring moms but this was different. I was not the medical professional in the room, but I believed it with all my heart. Maddie was on her way and I knew her mom was going to have the perfect birth!

Karen moved to the bed to try to get some rest but contractions were picking back up. They were closer together and last longer. Finally the moment we’d all been waiting for, the urge to push! Without even being prompted to or being checked to see if dilation was complete Karen started pushing and Adam starting tearing up. He later described his emotions to me as incredible, that he couldn’t believe her body just knew to do that. He could not stop talking about how amazed he was by his wife strength both emotionally and physically.

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The room got excited and cheered Karen on. Then before we knew it nearly 2 hours had passed. Baby’s heart rate was dropping every time she engaged in the pelvis. Progress had stopped. The midwife checked Maddie’s position and found she was too high for a forceps delivery and thought an epidural would be a good option so they could try to reposition her and avoid a cesarean. Hospital protocol required everyone but dad to leave the room so it was out to the lobby for the waiting game.

Another hour went by and finally Adam came out.  They could not successfully reposition Maddie and had to take Karen back for an emergency cesarean.  Adam sat down looking so remorseful. This is not how you’re supposed to feel at your child’s birth. He hadn’t even gotten to see his daughter yet because of minor complications. They had told him everyone was fine and he could come to recovery in a few minutes. “This is the worst thing that could have happened,” he said. My heart was filled with guilt. I knew once he got to hold his sweet girl and see Karen again he would bounce back, but until then I felt like I had to do something. We talked things through and by the time the nurse came to take him back I think he had begun to process the fact that they tried EVERYTHING possible and their cesarean was 100% necessary.

After some bonding time Adam brought my camera out to me and told me their midwife had taken it into the operating room and was able to get a few shots of Maddie just minutes old and photos of the first time he got to meet his daughter!

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I left the hospital at 8:00 Saturday morning still not sure how to feel about everything. I didn’t want Karen to be angry at me. I didn’t want her to feel like I led her on when I told her she could do it. Then I got this text…

“Hey…Thanks again for all of your help. Karen’s spirits are high and we are perfectly fine with how everything turned out. We got to experience the miracle of a natural labor and it was AMAZING!! We would love to talk in front of your next Bradley class or even multiple classes and provide some useful information.”

Things don’t always go according to plan, but focusing on the positive aspects even in negative situations will take you a long way. I cannot thank Karen and Adam enough for letting me be a part of such an important day in their lives. Congratulations you two and welcome to the world Miss Maddie!

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Maddie’s First Christmas
A photo from her first day home!