I’m excited to share The Birth of Ruby Ray, a beautiful cesarean birth at Southern Hills Hospital here in Las Vegas.
What makes this birth story extra special is that it is the second birth I’ve had the privilege of documenting for this family. This is another COVID birth story with so many unknowns. This mama advocated hard for me to be present for their birth and put in so many hours and hard work, making sure she contacted and talked to the people she needed to in order to make it happen. Even in the weeks preceding their birth, we weren’t 100% sure I would be able to attend, but she did not give up because it was important to them.
Sometimes it takes families a previous birth experience to realize how important having these moments captured is to them. Having faced infertility with their first, they knew they wanted their births captured. Dad is an incredibly talented photojournalist, and so, of course, they truly understood the value of documenting time and moments.
Their first delivery ended in a cesarean section, and luckily, I was allowed in the OR for that delivery. Facing postpartum depression and anxiety after that delivery, Sarah often shared that the images and video footage we had captured of their birth carried them through many hard days and nights and brought some healing into their journey. This time she was more prepared and able to be proactive in preparing for those emotions knowing she would likely experience it with their second. What I love about Sarah is her transparency and vulnerability in sharing her struggles and victories. She is passionate and advocates for what she believes in, and I admire that!
I’m grateful to Southern Hills nursing staff, nurse management, her OB, and anesthesia for allowing me into their birth space. Being allowed into the operating room isn’t always guaranteed and depends on multiple factors; I am grateful to be trusted in this space.
Be sure to read through to the end to see their beautiful birth story in film.
Having finally gotten the approval to be present in the operating room for her delivery just a week ahead, I was ready and excited for her surgery on their scheduled date. I woke up to a text from her telling me that she had started laboring in the early morning hours and was heading in a bit early. I quickly finished getting ready and rushed to meet them there.
By the time they arrived, her contractions had gotten intense, and she was pretty uncomfortable. A cervical exam revealed that she was significantly dilated, so they had tough decisions on whether to proceed with the scheduled cesarean or attempt a trial of labor. There were many factors they considered in this tough choice, and they decided, along with their OB, to move forward with the c-section. So, her prep for surgery was completed, and an epidural was administered to give her some pain relief before surgery.
Having her children close together, there was still so many vivid memories from their first delivery that added a layer of emotion and fear.
Their delivery was so beautiful and look at that head of hair!
Why they continued with repair after delivery, dad was able to accompany their sweet girl to the nursery. There were so many tender moments there.
After Ruby was finished with her newborn exam and vitals, dad headed back to the room with her, and mom arrived shortly after.
Thank you so much, Hagar family, for trusting me, not once, but twice, with life’s most precious and intimate moments!
Wednesday, November 9th, 2022
I am so excited to finally share this beautiful Las Vegas home birth story.
Once again, I am behind on my blog posts, but I am committed to getting each birth story up, not only because they are beautiful and full of emotion but also because each is unique and special.
What I love about this birth story is that there are so many beautiful elements and layers of support woven in from her husband who never left her side, to her sweet pups that were nearby at all times patiently waiting, and her midwives who held and supported her when she began to doubt she could.
Be sure to follow along to the end to see their beautiful and powerful birth story in film.
Deanna called me on a Saturday morning to let me know that she had been contracting since before sunrise and that they were staying consistent as well as increasing in intensity. The funny thing is that she had a feeling that this particular day would be her son’s delivery date, and she was right! She told me she would call me back when she was ready for me, and I got that call just a few hours later. So mid-morning, I joined them.
She was doing so well moving around to whatever position she felt most comfortable, and that changed from standing, to the birthing ball, to rocking on the bed. You could feel the anticipation in the room. She was able to talk through her contractions, and we had some sweet conversations about how they met and their history together; I love hearing families stories about how it all began.
Her midwife team arrived early afternoon and got right to making sure she was hydrated and had some healthy nutrition on board, as well as checking on baby and mom’s vital signs. It was such a beautiful early summer day, so they decided to try and get things moving and went for a walk.
Her contractions did increase in intensity with the physical activity, and she began to turn inward more, and we all gave her the space to labor. You can feel that shift when moms have a strong birth team; it is a very sacred feeling when the room begins to ground itself, and the chatter fades to quiet support.
She spent some time in the water and tried to find the most comfortable position for her. After some time in the water, she decided to get out and spend some time on the birthing ball she had found comfort on earlier. By this point, it was getting a bit harder to rest between her contractions, but she continued to stay focused and grounded through each wave.
By now it was early evening and she was moving into the transition stage of labor. Her contractions were coming closer together, and she leaned into her support team. I have seen mothers begin to doubt themselves during this stage of labor; there is often so much going on physically between intense contractions, nausea, shaking, and pressure. She began to doubt herself and her husband, and midwives were there to physically and verbally support her with position changes and encouraging periods of rest. This stage lasted late into the night, and this mama was so exhausted.
By now, she was feeling pressure and the urge to push and spent some time in this stage of labor, and finding a comfortable position was increasingly difficult. There is a reason they call the toilet ‘the dilation station’; it is often where women instinctually go with that intense pelvic pressure, and sitting on the toilet helps to open the pelvis and allow the baby to come down. When her sweet babe decided to come, it happened so quickly that she only had time to get to the space directly outside her bathroom.
Because of the baby’s position and he was delivered, there was some perineal tearing and quite a bit of blood loss. Poor Deanna was not feeling well at this point and was trying hard to enjoy and savor every moment. Because of the difficulty keeping her vital signs stable, they decided to transfer to the hospital.
Luckily, I was able to come and document a sweet Fresh session for them when they were all home safe and sound.
Thursday, October 27th, 2022
I am so excited to share this beautiful Serenity Birth Center birth from May 2021 with you all!
I am about a year behind in my blog posts, but does any of the last two years count? I don’t know about you, but it feels like two years of crazy time warps and so many unknowns, which has kept me on my toes!
Yes! Las Vegas finally has its first free-standing birth center! It has been a long time coming, and so much hard work, blood, sweat, and tears for April Clyde and her amazing birth team. She fought for years for this facility and this gift to our community. Finally, Serenity Birth Center officially opened its doors in the spring of 2021.
I was so excited when asked to document this beautiful birth story. This first-time mama was away from her home country and her partner, which made documenting it all the more important in sharing her birth story with her family. It was another birth story altered by the pandemic. Through our communications, she could share her wishes and the most important moments. Her sister would be her main support, and she also wanted that special relationship documented.
Read through to the end to see their beautiful birth film!
I got the call that it was finally time on an early morning in late May, and I quickly jumped in the car and headed to the birth center where she had just been admitted. Would you believe that in the first image in this blog post, she was in active labor and six cms?
Her partner could join via Facetime and exchange some emotional support and encouragement.
The special bond between these two sisters was so beautiful to watch.
As is common with many first-time mamas, things were moving along quite well, and labor stalled a bit. Physical position changes were made, and the baby continued to be monitored. I believe this is when mamas need that emotional support because they can start to doubt themselves and their bodies. But April’s calm presence and professional care held her during this period.
Once her little guy made that final fetal rotation, things moved pretty quickly, and she was quickly moved from the toilet to the tub, where she quickly gave birth. All with daddy on Facetime!
Look at this healthy boy! Just under 9 lbs!
Wednesday, August 24th, 2022
I am so excited to finally share this beautiful Las Vegas home birth story!
This mama found me in her online search for a birth photographer. Keline had not documented her first birth, and as with so many moms realized after that experience how much meaning having those memories captured can hold. She also had a hospital birth with her first and planned a home birth this time around, so this would be a new experience on multiple levels. She also booked ‘The Whole Story’ package with me, including maternity, birth, and newborn sessions. These are by far my favorite because I get to witness so much more than the birth of your baby, I get a deeper peek into the dynamics, love, and unique characteristics of each family. There are so many beautiful layers to birth, and I love capturing more of each family’s stories through this package.
Keline had pretty quick labor with her first so we knew when active labor kicked in it had the potential to progress quickly. Four days after her due date and after an exam in the office things really started picking up with her contractions. She had been experiencing some labor signs in the days leading up to her labor, but nothing consistent. She was great at updating me on progress and what was happening with her body. We texted back and forth as she updated me and within minutes of telling me things weren’t progressing too much yet, I got another text asking me to come now. So, I grabbed my bags and headed out.
When I arrived, things were moving really quickly. She was already feeling intense pressure and the urge to push, and her tub was still being set up even as she was getting in. Luckily, the birth team was all present including her midwife Sarah, her husband, sister, and daughter, all there to support and hold her.
The plan was for dad to catch the baby, so he got right in the tub with her coaching her through contractions with encouraging words and supporting pressure.
I have seen so often that period when moms question whether they can really do it. In fact, it is quite common in the transition stage of labor and the baby makes its way down to doubt yourself. Keline stayed so strong and committed even through the intensity of it all.
When little Angelo finally came down, he did so quickly! Both Keline and Ashton delivered him up into Keline’s arms. Their birth is one of the most beautiful and emotional births I’ve documented. Their faces totally say it all. Big sister moved in and out of the area and didn’t stay for too long each time, but when sweet Angelo made his appearance, she was right there. It was the sweetest thing ever.
One of my favorite things about homebirths is the family-centered care and vibe. It has such a natural feel and provides so much space for families to hold, bond with, and get to know their babies. Those first hours are honored and supported, which is so beautiful to witness.
It is always so fun to come back for newborn sessions, especially for my birth clients. It is also a bit bittersweet. I get to see so much of the story come full circle and get to bear witness to so much strength and beauty, and then to see families thriving after it all and so smitten by their new babies. It is seriously the best!
Be sure to follow along to the end to see their beautiful birth film. You’ll need some tissues especially with the tender moments between this big sister and her new baby brother.
Thursday, May 26th, 2022
I am so excited to finally share the birth of Javier Cesar, a beautiful family-centered birth story.
I have been anxiously awaiting a break in work to catch up on my blog. Unfortunately, I am months and months behind; this birth took place last April (2021)!
I love blogging these stories because seeing them as a whole shows how much storytelling there is in birth. The beautiful story that is birth begins months before you even meet. It starts in the planning, dreaming, hoping, praying, and in all the anticipation before your baby’s arrival even begins. Birth is the beautiful climax of your baby’s story. I believe there is no more life-altering and life-changing moment in our lives. So to witness it and capture it for families is such a blessing, and a responsibility I don’t take lightly!
Michelle found me in her second trimester as she searched for a birth photographer in her area. She reached out, and we talked about her hopes and wishes in documenting her birth. She and her family lived in St. George, UT, a town located an hour and a half north of me. Their birth would be the furthest I had ever traveled for a birth story. As we talked through her plans and wishes, we immediately connected and decided to move forward with lots of communication to make sure I had as much window as possible to make the drive and arrive in time. This was also their fourth baby, which added another layer of worry as she had gone pretty quickly with her last delivery.
Michelle is a truly special woman! I immediately admired her passion and drive, and her beautiful heart. She is also a talented birth photographer located in North Port, FL, an Ayurveda herbal specialist, military veteran, has even become a doula since her last birth!
This was their first homebirth and first son, so it of course was going to be a little bit extra special. I love that Michelle researched and educated herself, building her dream birth team.
Be sure to follow through to the end to see their beautiful birth story film, oh, and grab a box of tissues!
Michelle called me in the early morning hours on April 27th, letting me know her contractions were becoming regular and she believed it was time. I quickly packed up my car and got on the road. It was a beautiful rainy morning which made the drive through our desert so gorgeous. I arrived at their home just as the sun was rising. Everyone was up and Michelle had her close friend and neighbor as well as her doula, Trish Baird there.
Soon her midwife, Janae Sherman arrived with the rest of her birth team. Michelle had created a beautiful space and atmosphere to labor in and was held and supported by her family and birth team.
By midday, her contractions were becoming more intense and Michelle began to pull inwards and focus through each wave. At this point, she decided she was ready to get in the water.
One of my favorite parts of witnessing home births is the family-centered care that comes so naturally in homes while allowing the space to move freely, not only for mama but also for children and support persons. It takes so much fear out of laboring. Their oldest daughter stuck by her mama’s side throughout the whole day, diligently timing each contraction, it was the sweetest.
This labor was longer than her last and caused Michelle to have some doubts about her ability. This is so common, especially in the transition phase of labor. She has done some incredibly hardcore things in her life from being a Marine, running the Grand Canyon rim to rim, and competing in body-building competitions, she has definitely done some hard things. She leaned into her team and into her strength and although this period was intense, it quickly got her to the pushing phase of labor. She planned on delivering in her tub but settled on her most comfortable spot along the tub. I love that she didn’t force it and trusted her body and position.
As Michelle got cleaned up and led to the bedroom, dad held his sweet new son and sisters gathered around. This is definitely one of my favorite births for so many reasons, one of them being the intense way this family loves each other.
This was their biggest baby which explained his slower descent, at 8 lbs 7 ounces.
This family booked me for ‘The Whole Story’, my birth package that includes maternity, birth, Fresh, and newborn sessions. I love being able to come back in the weeks after and document their continued story. It is such a beautiful way to complete their birth story, and always a little bittersweet.
Thursday, March 17th, 2022
This beautiful birth story took place in this family’s home, born into the arms of those that love her the most.
When I began my photography business in Las Vegas in 2011 (I just celebrated ten years!), it felt impossible to build a solid clientele while creating a brand in which I could stand out in such a competitive field. I began my business working with newborns and their families, a specialty that evolved organically from working with families for many years as a labor and delivery nurse. What drew me into newborn photography was the same core desire that drove me into nursing and finally into birth photography during what I believe is life’s most intimate and life-changing time. I’ve worked with families bringing new life into this world for over 21 years now in one capacity or another. There are still so many times that I find myself in tears and so grateful that this is what I get to do. Its blessings are never lost on me.
What is better than all of that? When families come back to me year after year and baby after baby, and I see them grow as a family, that is seriously the best and reminds me that my years of hard work and dedication have paid off!
It is always a privilege to document birth stories and be trusted in my client’s birth space with once-in-a-lifetime moments, moments that cannot be redone. That privilege is a heavy weight to bear, one that I don’t take lightly. But, to be trusted with a family’s birth story more than once is heaven!
They had delivered their first two in the hospital. Although their hospital experiences were good, they wanted to be home surrounded by family with their daughter nearby, which wasn’t possible during the pandemic restrictions within hospitals. She sought dual-track care and committed to delivering at home only if things were going well, and she was a good candidate for a homebirth. After interviewing multiple midwives, they connected with Marvelys Lopez and Kim Trower of Sweet Beginnings Midwifery here in Las Vegas.
In early January, mom went into labor alone in the middle of the night. I got the call that the contractions that had been coming off and on for weeks without any regularity had finally changed and had become regular in pattern and were increasingly uncomfortable. So I gathered my things and quickly headed out the door.
This is the second birth I’ve attended with this birth team, and this special touch of braiding her patient’s hair while laboring touched my heart both times. It was a beautiful mix of physical touch and thoughtfulness that helped both moms feel more confident and ready to meet their babies.
Although this was their third baby, this one was not their fastest labor; getting this sweet baby to rotate required a lot of position changes and movement, and both mom and her midwives were so patient and dedicated.
When the baby finally decided to come, she came fast! This mama barely made it out of the bathroom and almost to the bed, and she was here!
The timing could not have been more perfect because by now, it was morning, and big sister was waking up. She was a bit unsure at first about this new baby in their home but quickly warmed up, and we captured the most adorable moments, be sure to watch their video!
And finally, their beautiful birth story is told so well in film.
Monday, September 6th, 2021
The birth of Rubie Karen is a birth story I am so excited to share. After struggling through years of infertility, this family welcomed their sweet baby into their arms at Summerlin Hospital here in Las Vegas.
This beautiful mama sought me out as soon as she reached her second trimester and was able to take a breath after months of infertility treatments. After so many months and years of hoping and praying for a baby, they finally could plan and dream of that day of holding their baby in their arms. After so much planning and anticipation, she knew she wanted it documented. I love when parents see the value in documenting their birth, particularly with their first. I often have parents decide on birth photography and birth story films after they regretted not doing it with their first. I really get those trepidations and fears in allowing someone into such a private time in your life; nothing is more vulnerable and intimate than birth!
We talked off and on in the months and weeks leading up to their due date, and finally, in their last trimester, we set up our face-to-face meeting. I offer this at any point during your pregnancy, but often waiting until closer to your due date gives time for more questions to come up, and parents have a better idea of what their birth plans will look like. Ashlie had planned a homebirth with one of our beautiful local midwives Sherry Hopkins of Well Rounded Mama, so we planned to meet in her home to talk about the areas she planned on using, her birth plan and hopes and expectations. I loved meeting her in person; her home was beautifully decorated. You could feel her excitement above everything, and as we talked through scenarios, I discussed options if she were to be transferred to the hospital during her care as COVID precautions here in Las Vegas were still in place, with most places allowing only one support person and just a small number of hospitals allowing doula support outside the one support persons. At the time, I was actively working on my doula certificate, and having solid connections at Summerlin (I retired after 19 years as a labor nurse there in 2019) would be the only place that her backup doctor went that I would be allowed into. Of course, this scenario would not be ideal, but I like to discuss scenarios to help prepare clients in case things change.
Wouldn’t you know it, less than a week later, I got a call from her midwife and Ashlie informing me that her water had broken prematurely at 35 weeks, and she was headed to Summerlin Hospital because of her preterm gestation. She had chosen to go to Summerlin Hospital to give birth because documenting her birth was so important to her, and luckily my being present as her doulaTog (yes, that is a real thing) was approved. Because she was early, it would be a long process, and so we talked on the phone, and the decision was to call me when things started progressing, and I would head up.
Just after midnight, I heard that things were moving and changing and had begun to do so quickly. She had gotten an epidural and was ready for me to come. When I arrived, she was resting quietly with dimmed lights and her husband Greg at her side. They were exhausted from their long day of excitement, rapid changes, and discomfort before the epidural. Ashlie told me that she had almost wavered on calling me because she was so uncomfortable and wasn’t sure there would be much to capture now that she had the epidural. I have had more than one client share these feelings with me, and let me tell you, there is always SO much story to each birth, no matter how quick, long, medicated, unmedicated, surgical, or any of a million ways it can go. I promise you that!
Another pearl I’ve learned while working with birthing families is that reading the room is vital. Not every moment is meant to be documented, and often stepping back and allowing that space for rest and quiet is so important. Because of COVID, I couldn’t come in and out of the room as I tend to do to give that physical space, so I tucked myself in a corner and patiently waited until they were ready. After some rest, Ashlie’s body began to experience labor signs, even with the epidural. She began to feel nauseous and discomforted, so the nurse was called.
Things were moving pretty quickly by this point, with cervical change happening. The nurse called the on-call physical when Ashlie was complete, and pushing was initiated.
Ashlie pushed so well with the support of her husband but had some pushing to do before her doctor arrived, so she got to work trusting the process and her body.
Because her baby was early, she was quickly taken to the radiant warmer for assessment. Mama had worked so hard to bring her baby earthside finally, and there was so much emotion in the room waiting to hear everything was alright.
This is a period of time I try to capture as much as I can because moms often are busy with repairs and assessments and would otherwise have missed these precious moments between dads and their babies.
Finally, Ashlie could hold her baby in her arms, skin-to-skin. You could feel that release and love.
Because she was early, she needed to be transferred to the newborn nursery for further observation. It was an emotional goodbye for Mama and the baby.
Greg was able to stay with Rubie in her transfer to the nursery, and so after hanging back a bit with Mama, it was time for me to go since I wasn’t allowed in the nursery. We stayed in touch over the next few days and with their transfer to the NICU unit. Because our time was cut short with the nursery transfer (I typically stay 1-2 hours after birth to capture those first moments of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding), I told her that we would bump that time back to whenever we could, even if that were after they got home. Their time in the NICU ended much longer than anticipated, so I was happy I had offered this.
So, once they were home and settled, we planned a date for me to come to their home and capture more details of their sweet baby girl and them together as a family.
I love that each item they incorporated into their session held sentimental meaning, from homemade quilts to items from her namesake.
And of course, their beautiful birth story film. The most beautiful way to tell birth stories well.
Thank you so much, Cowper family, for trusting me with such a life-changing moment from your family and for sharing your beautiful birth story with me.
Saturday, August 7th, 2021
I am so excited to finally share the Denton family’s day in the life session and film.
I have fallen horribly off the rails in blogging my client sessions, which is sad because I love seeing your stories laid out beautifully in albums, and blog posts.
This past year has thrown many of us for a loop, myself included. After months and months of tweaking birth story options, rescheduling sessions, and finally accepting that I have control over only so much, I have been able to take a breath and dive into some self-care. So, I am a bit refreshed and ready to play some major catching up on my blog posts.
This fun family day in the life session was shot last fall (yes, I am that behind on getting these beautiful sessions up on my blog)! This family found me through a mutual friend, and after two years of trying to mesh their busy family schedule with mine during my short family season, we finally had a date! Lindsay’s main goal was to capture her family just as they are now, each of her children’s unique personalities while documenting them together doing the things they love to do the most.
I believe that video captures so much more than still images can, and having the opportunity to capture families in both is my favorite. Having those sweet little voices, mannerisms, and personalities forever on film is priceless, so be sure to follow along to see how beautiful their family film turned out!
By October of last year, we had been locked down for months, and after patiently waiting for the right time to document their session and multiple times rescheduling, we finally just planned a date and were determined to do it! The kids were so happy to have a visitor and welcomed me into their home with open arms (well, socially distanced ones, anyway), and they were so fun to capture!
What stood out to me the most was how much this family loves being together. Each of the children’s personalities was so different and fun in their own ways!
After a day full of fun at home, we all jumped in the car for formal family pictures at one of my favorite locations.
Aren’t they just the sweetest? I had so much fun with them and am so grateful we could finally make it happen!
Thank you, Denton family for trusting me in your home and with your family!
Thursday, August 5th, 2021
This beautiful pandemic birth story took place at Summerlin Hospital.
One of my 2020 highlights while in the COVID-19 pandemic was documenting this beautiful family’s second birth story.
To say that the restrictions accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic have affected my ability to document life’s most important moments for families is a major understatement.
Having documented this family’s first birth, the idea of missing the opportunity with their second was stressful for all of us, and we waited on pins and needles in the weeks and months leading up to their due date, completely unsure of how things would look and whether it would even be an option. Luckily, by the time their due date came along, our cases and hospital capacity here in Nevada were looking much better and because I was certifying as a doula, I had the privilege of being able to attend while doula privileges were allowed. I will forever be grateful for that opportunity.
Be sure to read end to end to see their beautiful birth story in video!
Hannah and Christian are one of my favorite couples. They have a unique bond and a relationship that draws you in and makes you want to be in their presence. They naturally love each other and wear their emotions beautifully on the outside. They are also reserved and very private in many senses; being in their birth space both times felt almost reverent. Hannah was strong enough to set healthy boundaries and expectations around both birth experiences and voice her wishes; in both of their births, I worked my hardest to honor that space.
So many elements of Hannah’s labor were so similar to her first, from the time of day she labored to the way her labor progressed. She was fortunate enough to have the same room as her first delivery and her dear friend and fellow nurse as her labor nurse.
With both labors, they used many of the methods they had learned from the Spinning Babies techniques, and Christian was right in tune with knowing which one to help her with as she labored.
Their sweet girl did not want to rotate and come down, which prolonged her labor, even with all her dedication to position changes. Finally, she came down, and it was time!
Just like their previous birth, once she decided to come, it unraveled quickly, and they weren’t sure her doctor would make it in time, but also, just like last time, she did! And just like that- their sweet baby girl was here!
After cutting the cord and skin-to-skin, their sweet baby girl went to the radiant warmer for assessment and her newborn exam.
Quickly she was right back in her mama’s arms for more skin-to-skin and initial breastfeeding. Because their last delivery was preterm and their son transferred to the NICU, this period was both special and incredibly emotional for them.
And finally, their beautiful birth story film!
Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
It’s an honor that you let me capture yours.