welcome baby kai!

birth is a journey, a crazy, unpredictable, wild journey!  no one can tell you how long labor will be,  when it will begin, or what the path will look like.  my midwife, bj snell, has told me several times, “if i had a crystal ball and could tell when this baby will come, i would be a rich woman!”  it’s true!  many people would pay big bucks to know this kind of info!!!  for those of us who have had the privilege of carrying our babies to full term, it’s the end that is often the most difficult!  i remember feeling so uncomfortable, not being able to sleep, only have 1 shirt that i felt decent in, and just waiting and wondering and trying to figure out… would today be the day i would meet my baby?  early on when i heard of women who scheduled c-sections without any medical need i felt so righteous and smug for my choice to go natural, but near the end i envied those women who could look at their calendar and know that on monday the 28th, an hour or so after 10:15am, they would be holding their babies!  there is little else in our life that reminds us of how little control we truly do have, than birth!  we are painfully aware of our lack of control and it is not easy to tollerate, to just ride the waves and trust that our bodies will work, our baby will come… perhaps not as early and quickly and easily as we had hoped (or maybe so!), but in the end, there is always a baby… a tiny, slippery miracle that with it’s first breath cries out, “i’m here!”…tears flow and all are in awe and nothing is ever the same!

i met pete and krista when they were pregnant with their baby boy, and looking into hiring me : )  for me, the connection was instantaneous!  and i have just LOVED the opportunity to get to know this beautiful family, through their {before baby} session we did, 21 hours of me hanging out at their place while they birthed their baby boy (see pics below), and then a {with baby} session that i still need to blog : )  plus many texts back and forth about life and photos, surfing and breastfeeding!

they had a homebirth and as you will see, their home is AMAZING!!!!  there is beauty and inspiration in every crannie of their house, but i believe it’s the beauty in their relationship that really makes this place magical.  i hope you get a glimpse of the beautiful connection that pete and krista have cultivated!  for 21 hours i photographed and laughed, drank refreshing water from wide-mouth mason jars and glass bottles, listened to stories of when krista was a little girl, looked at baby pictures, ate yummy fish tacos, witnessed many tender moments (a mother’s tears when telling her daughter how proud she was, krista’s tears during an emotional part of labor, the intensity of seeing his son for the first time, a couple clinging to each other when things were getting difficult), and all the while i sought to capture the beauty and connection that was oozing everywhere i looked.  i have never taken so many pictures!

can i be honest?  sometimes it feels awkward to bring my camera up to snap a shot of someone crying, or another tender moment.  like, what is happening is so real, so intimate… the person is being so vulnerable and trusting, dare i risk marring it with the click of my lens?  yet i tell myself, this is why i am here, to document the truest parts of this journey!  i have been invited here to do this!  heck, i have been paid to do this!  i will not shy way, but will continue to be present and engaged.  and although it can feel strange, it also is why i LOVE my job so much!  i get to be a part of one of life’s most real and raw experiences!!!  when true character arises and pretending isn’t possible any more; where it’s normal and natural to need others, and for some reason help seems a little easier to accept than it usually does.  i feel so incredibly blessed to be able to do what i do!

thank you pete and krista, for the honor of spending kai’s birthday with you (and for allowing me to share his birth story)!  what an amazing team of people you brought around you to love you and support you and walk with you through this birth journey!  you both endured and persevered so well!  and your baby boy, kai edward, is so precious… such a gracious gift from above!

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born at home at 40 weeks & 6 days gestation, after 24.5 hours of labor, 9 pounds 11 ounces, 22 inches long

 

BIRTH TEAM

midwifes: bj snell & vickie alston with beach cities midwifery and women’s heathcare

doula: cathy weinstein

first assistant: michelle snyder

 

 

Posted in birth Tagged , , , , |

preview: baby kai

such connectedness, just 1 month after becoming a family of 3!  LOVE this family!  … more to come!

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Posted in family, newborn, Real Life Tagged , , |

welcome, sweet amryn grace!

isn’t that name stunning?!  so unique, yet familiar somehow!  one of my very best friends in the whole world, gave birth to her first baby 8 weeks ago today!  and i had the privilege of being there that night to support and pray and photograph : )

let me tell you some things about my friend cayla.  1) she loves jesus with her whole heart!  2) she is able to maintain a beautiful perspective on all the blessings in her life.  within the last year, cayla and mike got married, bought a house, got pregnant, fixed (or should i say, are still fixing : ) up the house, and had their first baby!  what this couple has done within their first year of marriage is both crazy and amazing!!!  i have been so inspired to see the ways that cayla and mike have loved each other so well in the midst of all the stress that these blessing have provided!

birth of sweet amryn put all of these wonderful attributes of cayla beautifully on display.  amryn was born on a friday, and that monday cayla and mike decided to go ahead with their plan to have new flooring put in their house.  it was risky as cayla was due that week, but since most first babies come late, and since cayla and mike needed that last piece of their house done to feel ready for baby to come, they gave the go ahead for a crew of guys to come and demo their floors and put new ones in.  a process that would take 5 FULL DAYS!!!  well, tuesday rolls around and cayla starts feeling contractions.  mike heads to work and cayla comes over to labor since there was a crew of dudes at her house.  contractions continue coming every 4-6 minutes, and at the end of the day she and mike decide to get a hotel that night, so they don’t have to sleep/labor in a construction zone.

i’ve seen (and i know!) that labor can be physically exhausting!!!  but it’s progress that keeps a laboring woman going!  we are reminded that the hard work we are doing is not in vain, that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and that soon we will be holding the tiny baby we’ve been dreaming about!  well, thankfully cayla also had some amazing encouragement and support in mike and beach cities midwifery, because progress was slow to come for my friend!  she was in early labor for 3 days, which for her meant having contractions every 4-6 minutes, without much cervical change.  even after castor oil, labor induction massages, walking around, etc, little progress was made.  we prayed and asked God to keep baby girl safe and bring strong, effective contractions!!!

finally, thursday evening, after laboring for THREE days in a hotel room, walking past staff when she came and went, feeling observed each time; cayla was far enough along to stay at the birth center!!!  i felt so relieved for her and mike, knowing that now they could fully relax and rest.  they were here and would stay until the baby came!

as you can see in these images, mike and cayla have something special!  technically they are still newlyweds, yet there already is such a depth to their love.  these two were tired, physically and emotionally!  yet watching mike be so attentive and engaged and seeing cayla find rest and comfort in mike was so, so beautiful!!!  my words and my images fail to do their beauty justice!

as the sun thought about waking, amyrn grace made her appearance!  my sweet friend reached out and brought her baby girl to her chest!  such an amazing moment!!!  so many hopes and dreams realized as she kissed her baby for that first time!

mike and cayla, you have created something quite beautiful – in your home, in your relationship, and now in your amyrn grace!!!  no doubt, God’s cutest blessing in your lives!!!

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Posted in birth Tagged , , , , |

eyes to truly see

 

several months ago i had the blessing of participating in a wonderful workshop called soul shooting, put on by 4 lovely & incredibly gifted women – sarah robertson, molly flanagan, rosina waszaj, and kellie hatcher.  i have been inspired by all of their work, so i was thrilled to be able to spend an afternoon with them and others like me, learning and sharing together!  through this community of photographers, i am honing my creative voice and learning to create images that stir and touch the heart!  we have monthly assignments that stretch and challenge me as i grow.

for the month of september, i wanted to do a mini session that highlighted the joys of mothering.  to be totally honest, the eyes of my heart haven’t been working so well lately, especially when it comes to mothering.  all iam able to see, in my own life, is how i fall short, how i disappoint, and all that i am not able to do!  it is terrible!!!  my heart is so heavy and i am really, really struggling!!!  i am asking God to help me see more clearly, more truly!  i want eyes that are better able to see the beauty and joy amidst my brokeness and mess!  i need jesus to help me actually believe that it’s because of what HE did, that i am enough, i am ok!  i want to know deep down, that i can rest because he has me!  but how i struggle to understand those truths in the heat of the moment, when all i can see is dirt & flab & pee puddles & an empty fridge & all the ways i am FAILING!!!!  ahhh… God save me!

ok, me… deep breath!

so, for this assignment, i wanted to put on rose colored glasses.  you know how it’s always easier to see beauty outside yourself?  like all pregnant women are radiant and sexy, but when i get pregnant, all i feel is huge and puffy!  well, i knew that i wanted to get out of my home and practice seeing beauty in another momma’s home; and when i thought of what mamma i might photograph, my new friend lisa immediately came to mind!  lisa and i both live in the same town, and we both live in homes with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.  i wanted to photograph her because i am so intrigued by the simple beauty she exudes as she goes about caring for and homeschooling her 4 (with one on the way) kiddos, in such a similar space as my own.

ok, so before you too begin to feel inferior (for that’s where i can go, all too quickly) let’s suspend judgement of ourselves and seek to see beauty in her home and family, for in doing so, i pray we might strengthen our own eyesight to see beauty that also exists in our homes.  i don’t want to glorify lisa as the perfect mother or make her into something she’s not.  i simply sought to capture a bit of the beauty that shines when one sacrifices self for another!

may you see these images in that light and too be inspired to see the beauty in your own home.

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Posted in before baby, family, Real Life

gavin scott, welcome!

this mamma & her amazing man have been two of my very best friends for the past 17 years!!!  suz and aron and i met in high school, 17 years ago and we have all come a long way!  from pimples and soccer games to kids and ministry!  we have seen each other through spiritual crisises, witnessed each other’s marriage vows, been pregnant together, cooked for each other, prayed together, shared recipes and fears and maternity clothes, and have watched and learned from each other about this crazy & wonderful thing called parenting.  but the most incredible thing that suz and aron have done for me is help me believe in love!

i remember in high school when suz would feel insecure about herself, and would wonder if she looked good enough, or was smart enough, aron would ask her to say out loud, “i am a diamond!”  so she’d whisper it.  then he’d ask her to say it louder, “i am a diamond!!!!!”  and she would say it louder!  then he woud have her yell it, as if to tell the deepest part of her soul that it was true, “I AM A DIAMOND!!!!!” and she would!!!  and it still makes me cry!

before these two, i had heard that love like this exists, and i had hoped that it did, but i had never seen it!  god gave me the gift of sitting in the front row and seeing aron love suzanne so sacrificially and unconditionally, and watching her accept and receive his love and then love in return… and i am forever changed!  not only that, but these two have supported, encouraged, pursued, initiated, given, sacrificed, cared… basically, loved me so well throughout the years, that i am able to more deeply believe that i really am loved and cared for!  what a gift from God this family is!

well, with all that to say, i was more than overjoyed to be able to photograph suz & aron’s fourth baby coming into the world!  (how blessed this little one is to be born into such a family?!)  what an amazing night that was!  the hospital room was filled with anticipation, love, and awe! see for yourself…

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Posted in birth Tagged , , , |

pete & krista (with baby boy)

this is the mini-story of pete & krista – they have been married for 4 years & have known each other for many more; they love the beach & each other; & they are on the brink, about to jump into birth & parenthood.  there is so much more to their story, so much more coming too, but i was blessed to capture a little bit of this beautiful duo, as they explored their neighborhood.

 

i just can hardly wait for the call that this baby boy has decided to make today his birthday!  i will race over, giddy that i get to document the beauty of birth, firsts, & new life for this amazing family!

 

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Posted in before baby, Real Life

preview: pete & krista (with baby boy)

i can feel the beauty of this evening, this moment, this season.

Posted in before baby, family, Real Life Tagged , , , |

cutie cutie ruby!

and she really IS a cutie!  and you know what else is so cute???  the way that this new daddy looks at his wife, who just birthed their first child.  i can just feel his love and admiration for her!  can’t you?!

i wish i could tell you more about the birth, but alas, i MISSED it!!!  yes, it’s true… another missed birth!  i arrived within 30 minutes of being called, but this little girlie wanted to be in her mamma’s arms pronto, so i got there minutes after she came.  the induction went faster than anyone could have possibly imagined!  even the doctor missed it!

when i did arrive, it was a joyous scene… hands held, hugs given, kisses received, with smiles and laughter filling the room!

thanks david fam, for allowing me to share these images, and for inviting me in to document and be a part of the night you became a family of 3!  i LOVED every moment of it!  congrats to you all!

 

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hospital birth, induced at 39 weeks & 2 days, labored 7 hrs from start of pitocin, 5 lbs 13 oz, 1st child

Posted in birth Tagged , , , , |

the davids

these two make me smile!!!  first of all, even though they had just moved a couple weeks before, they were open to doing a real life {before baby} session in their not-quite-unpacked, still-in-progress house!  and i am so glad that they did!  their place is AMAZING!!!  built when homes still had tons on character, their counter tile and kitchen sink make me happy!  we spent the morning together while they had brunch and prepared more space in their home and heart for their baby.  beautiful people, beautiful home, beautiful family!!!  thanks david family for giving us a sneak peek into your life, 5 days before your little girl arrived!

 

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Posted in before baby, family, Real Life

cary lewis is born!

some babies come quick.  and some come slow.  let’s just say, this little boy was in a hurry to be in his momma’s arms!

i got a call right as i was getting ready for bed, that now was the time!  so i changed, grabbed my things, and put the pedal to the metal, racing down the road!  when i arrived at the polston’s home, i got out of my car and heard a woman gasp.  i figure that’s when cary made his grand entrance!

i could hear kelly pushing, because she was outside… in the jacuzzi in fact!  this little man was born in the jacuzzi!  yes!  you read that right!!!  (fitting though, if you saw this family’s real life {before baby} images : )

thankfully, the midwife, sue gill, lives closer and made it in time!  so… i do not have any laboring pics from this birth, but you can still see that this baby is FRESH!  and oh so cute!!!  i think he looks a lot like his (not so) big brother, when he was first born.  especially their crying face : )

being there at this birth (or at least a couple minutes after : ), reminds me how seamless birth can be!  and by “seamless” i mean, it can fit right into life; birth can happen without gaps or disconnections from your real life.  it is possible to put your kids to bed, go into the jacuzzi, push your baby out, walk back to your bed, breastfeed and cuddle, have a snack, invite grandma and grandpa over to meet the little bundle, then all fall asleep in your own beds!  now, don’t get me wrong, birthing a baby is the one of the hardest jobs imaginable!  kelly, and all other mammas, will vouch for that!   i am not saying it’s easy, i am just saying that it can be done in the context of your real life.  it can be… seamless!  and it is beautiful when it is!

polston fam, so thankful for you!  it was such an honor and pleasure to be there that night cary was born!  i feel so blessed to call you clients as well as friends!   and you make the cutest baby boys!  congrats on #4!!!

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Posted in birth