This is a birth that was on the clock. Mom was almost 42 weeks and headed for an induction in just a few short hours. She tried every trick in the book and FINALLY started having regular contractions. She wasn’t just having regular contractions, she was in active labor!
Whenever you look through these birth photos, it seems easy. You view each picture thinking “oh look at that…labor”. But these photos were taken over about 12 hours! Twelve whole hours of contractions and hard work! You might want to go back and look at them one more time. Give them their worth.
This mama worked hard!
A beautiful birth and a strong mama!
This week is personal for me. It is personal because Midwifery care has made a clear difference in my life. As a mother, I had the privilege of having midwives hold my hand and support me through my pregnancies and births. As a doula and a lover of all things related to birth, midwives welcome me into the birthing rooms and call me partner, willing to work together to support our client.
in other words
I LOVE MIDWIFERY CARE
To celebrate and honor the work that midwives do, I wanted to share some photos from births that I have attended and tell you many of the reasons why I love these care providers.
Midwives provide exquisite, patient centered, prenatal care.
Whenever you sit down at an appointment with a midwife, they ask how YOU are doing. They want to know the emotional and physical side of pregnancy. They aren’t just focused on a heart rate, but they want to know how you are handling stress/anxiety/a backache and what they can do to get you to have peace and be pain free. Midwives build a relationship with patients and prove that they are worth trusting through birth.
Midwives are hands-on.
Midwives recognize that birth is not a calculated equation. There is no formula to get to the perfect birth. They are able to see the tides of labor and help moms ease the pains. They know that position matters and will use their arms & hands & muscles to support a birthing mother. A midwife will hold your hand and whisper in your ear “you’ve got this”. Whenever they look into your eyes, you know they are on your side.
Midwives support a variety of birthing positions.
On the bed. In the tub. On hands and knees. With an epidural. With a birthing stool. In the shower. Lying on the couch. On your back. Without any meds. Leaning over the bed. Side lying. A MIDWIFE WILL GIVE YOU OPTIONS. They will let you lead and direct you to another position when needed. But they key is that you have a choice!
Midwives EMPOWER Women!
Expectant mothers are intelligent. They do research and read books and study for birth. They have educated opinions and midwives respect that! Whenever a mother has an idea like “can I catch my own baby?” or “will you let me cut my chord”, a midwife will consider it. They know that when a mother is given freedom in birth, she feels confident and empowered. Midwives also say things like “you are strong” and “your body was built to do this”. They speak in accolades and affirmations, and we all know we live in a world where we need more of that.
Midwives care about families.
Midwives recognize that birth is not a medical task, but a communal experience. When children interact with midwives, they feel included and empowered themselves. Midwives don’t treat kids like walking “festering germs”. They talk to children with gentle words! They often have toys in their offices because they welcome kids as a part of the process!
Midwives RESPECT women.
A midwife asks permission BEFORE touching you. A midwife waits for consent. She talks to you about breaking your water before it happens. She will ask you if it is alright to do an episiotomy, but likely won’t do it at all and will let you tear on your own. A MIDWIFE RESPECTS A WOMAN’S BODY! Enough said.
Midwives are safe.
Midwives are found in and out of hospitals, at birthing centers and home births. There are different regulations in different states, but in NC, practicing midwives have completed medical training. This ain’t their first birth rodeo. They know what they can handle, and they know when to call for help. They know when medicine is appropriate and not. They are licensed medical professionals!
I must also mention that OBs also do many of the above things. There also might be some midwives that don’t do them. I am making generalized statements based on my personal and professional experience. The best tip that I can give for any mother searching for the above support is to KNOW AND TRUST HER PROVIDER, whether she births in a hospital, at home, in a birthing center, or in the middle of a creek. Women should find trustworthy care providers and know that is it a WOMAN’S RIGHT to find a person that is right for them.
Also, when in doubt, hire a doula. :)
There are a lot of Sacred experiences that happen in our lives. Some are everyday moments we don't expect and some are more monumental. Well, the thing I know about Jill and Ben is that their lives are filled with Sacred moments that shape them and form them. They are experiencing the world, traveling, working and becoming better humans. And on this particular day, they had a big moment, a big decision, which was the culmination of a lot of those small Sacred moments:
The wedding took place at Ben's childhood home. It is a beautiful historic home with so much character. I loved taking pictures here because there was beauty EVERYWHERE!
I am honored to have been able to walk through this day with them and capture these beautiful memories.
Molly and I have known each other for 11 years. Wow, when I type it, it definitely makes me feel old. We met in college, lived on the same floor, but it wasn't until about 4 years ago that we really became friends.
Molly is a blogger over at Molly's Musings. She is also a pretty impressive photographer, but more importantly, Molly is PREGNANT and expecting her first daughter in just a few weeks!
I don't think I have to make any comments to any of these photos.
They are stunning.
She is exquisite.
I hope your enjoy this beautiful mama and go check out all of her goodness on her blog.
If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.
It is quote from Mother Teresa.
It is the most fitting quote for a baby's room and motto for a family.
MT & Michael are doing it. Hopefully we will all go and do it. This is one beautiful family!
It was orchestrated by the Divine.
The chance to leave my family for 4 days, get on a plane (with one small backpack), and experience/document the Sacred moments of a new family. I am incredibly grateful that God gave me the chance to be with my friends. I am grateful that my husband and family took over my normal responsibilities.
Josh and Presley thanked me plenty. But honestly, the trip was more of a treat to me. They trusted me with their son and with their space. Also, as a classic Enneagram #2, feeling needed and appreciated and loved was a boost to self.
I didn't sleep much, but this trip was restful. I didn't sightsee, but the things I saw were beyond beautiful.
I hope you enjoy being able to take parts in these Sacred Spaces.
Introducing, Wendell Wesson McNiel
One of the best parts about being in the McNiel home for multiple days was the opportunity to photograph the candid moments. I loved being able to document these small, insignificant, yet wildly significant moments. Josh and Presley may not recall them, but they are totally worth taking a second to dwell over.
like this phenomenal warrior mom of chickens and babes.
and Wendell soaking in some Vitamin D by the window
Presley's mom, Lisa, coming over to help meal prep for the week
One of a million refills on Presley's water. One of the best ways a husband can serve his breastfeeding wife.
A moment to encourage. A moment to love. A moment to just be.
Full time student, full time Dad.
The nights are long. The nights are hard. But this baby is truly loved
Now I am going to show you all the pictures of Wendell and I. The little boy won't remember me, and likely won't know me, but for 3 and a half days, we were best buds.
When Bradley and I moved to Raleigh in 2014, I started working part time at Videri Chocolate Factory. It was there that I met Grace. I remember the first time we really had a chance to chat... it was a slow Saturday morning and we dove into food and faith and life. I think I just knew that we were kindred spirits. Fast forward about a year, and we are building a chicken coop in my back yard and buying chickens on craigslist.
Grace and Nick & Bradley and I had an (accidental) intentional relationship when we decided to become chicken neighbors. As many of us know, it is really difficult to get together with friends in the busy of life. Well, with our shared chicken schedule, Grace and Nick came over to our house 3 evenings a week. We didn't necessarily hang out all of those days, but we interacted and checked on one another. We didn't know that we were doing "a thing", but we created something beautiful.
Grace and Nick were the first friends to see a fresh baby Shelby. They came over the day she was born, fed the chickens, and brought us meals. They witnessed the royal mess that is PARENTING (and i hope we haven't scared them away from having kids!). They nursed chickens back to health and "took them to a farm" when they were too sick to stay. These friends are the kind of friends that everyone should want in their corner.
As I sit here and type this out, my eyes are filling up. This amazing 4 year journey is coming to a close. Sure, we will still be friends, but it won't be quite the same. I am joyous to celebrate the seasons of life that we experience. I am thankful for this season of friendship and that they are beginning a new season of their own in GA.
So here are boocoos of amazing and beautiful photos of my friends.
From right off Athens Drive to down in Athens Georgia... until next time, friends.
I photographed this beautiful baby a couple of weeks ago and I specifically remember that it was raining. Honestly, I think its been raining ever since! We have been experiencing some really dreary days, with some very inconsistent weather, so hopefully this beautiful baby will brighten your days!
Azalea and her beautiful family reside in Durham and I am thrilled to have captured these beautiful moments of their newborn girl in their home.
As you will see below, the older brother was not really in the mood for posing, but we made it work. Real life, right?!!
You know, whenever I take newborn photos, I can usually handle the cuteness.
BUT THIS TIME THERE ARE TWO!
Double the cuteness and the tiny details and perfection.
Also, they are each individuals and they each have little unique things about them!
Soak in the cuteness!
(yea, I know what you are thinking... she is superwoman!)
Maternity photos are so fun! Especially when the couple is laid back...just like these two! They were open to being creative, and actually laughed a lot during our time at the Arboretum. I had a blast and look forward to meeting their sweet miracle baby!
Its not difficult when your are photographing such beautiful people!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!
It is true, I am THIRTY. Many shudder at the sound of their 30th, but I have been rejoicing. To me, being 30 means you can do whatever you want. See, while you are in your 20s, you are really concerned with how others perceive you, but once you hit 30, you realize "ain't nobody got time for that". So you do what you want. and what did I want to do?
a 30th "cake smash" session.
My AMAZING friend/blogger/photographer, Molly Perdue, took these photos for me and truly made my dreams come true. You can find out more about Molly here.
So here it is. A bunch of pictures of myself.
I am partial to moms. It is true. If you are a mom, I already respect you because you are sustaining little lives everyday. I am sure that if I were a surgeon, I would also be partial to surgeons, but in my book moms are the winners.
Ashley is a mom to 6 month old Neil. She and her husband, Robbie hired me to do a lifestyle/milestone photoshoot. Let me tell you something about Neil... HE IS A HAPPY BABY!
Something really loving that Ashley kept saying while we walked around the park was "this is about Neil...these pictures are for him". There is another reason I love moms...they are constantly living a life of selflessness.
Yes, the pictures are about Neil, but they are also about this beautiful family of THREE!
Milestone photos for the win! Happy 6 months little Neil!
Ahhh, it is finally starting to feel like spring!
Last week I had the chance to go spend a few nights away (YES WITHOUT MY KIDS) with my friend Meghan. She recently had surgery and could use the extra hand with her daughter, AND I haven't been away by myself since Shelby was born. Yes, that is 2 years folks.
My 3 day vaca was packed with toddler activities, doctors visits and movie nights, but I also wanted to grab a few shots of their family while I was there. As you can tell by the photos, you would NEVER know that Meghan just had surgery. She is quite resilient.
This is Dorothy. She is probably the happiest 19 month old I've ever met. I don't think she wined one time during our trip. She is a doll!
Kaitlin hired me at 37 weeks. This isn't the most common occurrence, but it happens from time to time. Whenever it does, I am OVERJOYED! Doulas want clients to do whatever they need to have support in their labor. If that means deciding last minute that you want support, then do it!
In Kaitlin's case, labor was on and off for a couple days. Yes, the books often have a model for what labor looks like, but our bodies tend to not abide by anything in a book! The drive to the birthing center was about an hour, so once they checked in with the midwives, they made the decision to head next door to the "hotel motel holiday inn". Things progressed very quickly after that...
Very shortly after we got there, we decided to head on back.
and as you can see
homegirl COULD NOT get off of the floor
Thankfully, the (very curious) hotel staff provided us with a rolling chair...
Kaitlin's husband Randy just could not stop laughing.
This is about the time that Randy said
"I am so glad you hired a photographer"
Thankfully, we made it back to the birthing center...still on the floor though.
There is a peace that comes over mom once she arrives at the place she will birth her baby. She knows she is safe. She gains just a little more control of the contractions because she is ready for baby to come.
This is one proud husband (and dad!)
Birth can be exhausting! Especially when you are up throughout the night with contractions and cramps.
Sometimes mom just needs a power nap!
It is a good thing Randy has this dad thing down!
Kaitlin, you are STUNNING!
Thats right ladies and gentlemen!
This force of nature of a woman birthed a ten pound baby in a birthing center
This birth was really fun! Randy and Kaitlin's attitudes were just so light and comical.
Like Randy's shirt!
It says "no mistakes, just happy accidents"
Randy felt very passionate about wearing it for the birth of his daughter. Because let's face it, sometimes we have babies when they aren't the "plan", but look at that beautiful happy accident in his arms!
Want to know what makes this photo so special?
The rug that Sarah Camille is resting on is the same rug used with her mom's newborn photos. I love family heirloom pieces and I love that this newborn photo shoot is FULL of them!
And then there are these.
I just can't.
This photo has so many special connections and brings up so many amazing memories.
And this family. A family I now consider my good friends.
It is a perk of the job to be able to serve some really amazing folks.
I just love this one. The face that mama is making is the most beautiful! It is what mamas do! They make big faces to talk to their babies! It may seem silly, but it is so natural so exaggerate our words so the babies can see us!
It is an honor to document these memories and to serve as a doula for this beautiful family!
As a newborn photographer, I really enjoy getting the perfectly posed shot, BUT as a parent AND photographer, I have learned that every shot is perfect, because mamas just want to remember all the details.
like the furry arms
and the wrinkley toes
The bold beady eyes
and the perfectly shaped ears...
the teeny tiny fingers
The smirky gassy smiles,
oh and the most perfectly puckered lips!
I know for a fact that this mama LOVES Margaret's lips because she mentioned them about 15 times during her session.
This session was delightful for me because mama is also a midwife, so we had a LOT to chat about. She was also INCREDIBLY comfortable as a first time mom, likely because she was super comfortable with babies (seeing as she catches them as her job).
You can catch other people's babies all day long, but NOTHING compares to holding your own!
Amber found me through a referral from another client. I am so thankful for human connection and for knowing friends of friends of friends.
Baby Effie. The most unique name with a story behind it. She was so snuggly and sleepy during the photos. I even caught a baby smile! Scroll below to see all the sweetness!
Now this is a beautiful photo of real mom life.
Every mom should be taken care of postpartum. This mom needed a little more monitoring...just to be safe.
We should ALWAYS do everything we can do to make sure mamas are safe!
Amber wanted to do photos where it felt natural... hanging out on the couch. This is real! This is their everyday life.
I love being able to capture every day life!
This family session was completely precious. Big brother was a big helper and big sister was full of personality! Both of them helped me set up the flowers for the newborn backdrop and at the end of the session, each of them were thrilled to keep a flower for themselves! Yes, I love the babies a lot, but having conversations with 4 and 2 year olds is quite entertaining!
I just need to stop and say
THIS IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY!!!
They give everything...and get back a fraction of it. This mama is stunningly beautiful. Seriously radiant. How does one look this lively with 2 kids and a newborn? I'll tell you.
It's a superpower called being a mom.
She's got it!
I am always amazed at moms of more than two. I am a mom of two and I have no clue how a mom holds three hands while walking through a parking lot. Does she grow another? Put a kid on a leash? Leave them on the car and go get the cart first? I don't know how they do it!! So, to the moms of 3+ out there, I commend you and lift you up for you super power.
Henry is the third in this beautiful family.
I am amazed at how Sarah handles it. But Just look at her! Completely beautiful!