This birth of Iliana is a beautiful birth story from St. Rose San Martin Hospital here in Las Vegas.
This family has trusted me in one form or another with bringing each of their four children into this world.
It all began when Courtney inquired about maternity and newborn sessions for their oldest daughter. She has always valued images and their importance in preserving memories. With their first baby, I was able to document both their maternity and newborn sessions. Being a little uncomfortable in her post-pregnancy skin after their first, she was very hesitant about being in their newborn images. It took a little nudging on my part and she was so glad later that SHE was in them too!
By the time their third baby was on the way, she had come to see, hold, and cherish all these memories even the ones where she might not have been comfortable. I was so excited when she reached out to have me document their third birth. There is nothing more vulnerable than those moments surrounding the birth of your baby, and I loved that she was willing to embrace it all!
By the time they found out their fourth and last baby was on the way, she knew she wanted it all; maternity, birth, fresh 48, and newborn. There is something so special about those last babies. Of course, all babies are special but I remember with my last just wanting it all to move slower, to enjoy even the smallest of moments, and just wishing I could bottle it all up.
Courtney had gone super fast with her last delivery, and so we anticipated the same with this one. In fact, with baby number three we were in the hospital for less than an hour, and anesthesia didn’t even make it in time for her to get an epidural. Because I live a good distance away from St. Rose San Martin, I was on hyper-alert and just two days before she delivered we had a little false alarm. It is not uncommon at all, even with previous deliveries! I always tell my clients that I would rather have 10 false alarms than an “oh no! come now”! When it was finally time and they said they were on their way to the hospital, I booked it as quickly as I could to get there. As I was pulling into the parking lot, her husband updated me that she was 7 cms and moving fast. I had to get past the COVID protocols up front and rush up to the unit. When I arrived they were quickly admitting her and her doctor was notified. It was pretty intense at this point.
Courtney was working so hard with her contractions and staying so calm in the midst of the chaos going on around her. There was COVID testing to be done, IVs to start, labs to draw, and the room to set up. Aaron stayed right by her side fanning her and maintaining a sense of calm with his reassuring words.
Within 20 minutes of my arrival, it was already time! I think we were all sweating at this point just so happy to have everyone made it, including her doctor. She brought their sweet girl into this world so quickly and so powerfully!
Iliana’s birth happened so quickly it took a bit of time to take it all in! I love these sweet and tender moments in the hour or two following birth. It is so surreal to process that this tiny human that you carried for so many months is now in your arms. Aaron is such a great dad and so hands-on with his children, it is beautiful to witness.
Because COVID hospital restrictions were still in place siblings were unable to come to meet their new baby sister for their fresh 48 session. Instead, we decided I would capture them meeting her for the first time at home. It was the sweetest. All three of Iliana’s siblings were completely enamored with her.
It is always a little bittersweet to come to newborn sessions with these families that book ‘The Whole Story’ with me. By this point, I have become so invested, and have communicated often with them.
It is fun to see how everyone has settled and how much newborns have changed in those short days and weeks. There has been some rest and routines are starting to develop, but life still has that slower pace which is so nice.
This sweet little one is already so loved and I don’t think between mom, dad, and her three siblings, she is loved on and held often.
Their birth story wouldn’t be complete without their beautiful film. There is something special about seeing all these tender moments on film, even more so than a still image can capture.
Friday, February 3rd, 2023
I’m so excited to announce my 2019 favorites as well as a brief recap review of the year.
One of my favorite ways to reflect on 2019 in review is to select favorites from each session, bringing them all together in a collection at the end of the year. It is a beautiful way to wrap up and a reminder of how blessed each year has been.
By reviewing the year and looking at each session with fresh eyes, always leaves me in a place of gratitude. This year… I am still sitting back in awe and feeling incredibly blessed and grateful as I reflect on all that has unfolded. It has been an incredible year! I am usually much more on it and have this post up by New Year’s Day, but honestly am just now catching my breath, having gone non-stop since March. It is a fantastic problem, and as I reflect, I am overwhelmed with emotion at times.
Since the fall of 2018, I have carefully planned a big switch in Little Loo Photography, rebranding from posed newborns and families to birth. I had invested time and finances in hiring an experienced and talented birth mentor Angie Klaus Photography. Angie was so helpful in looking at my brand in general and preparing me for the work it would take to branch into this genre. Birth is unlike anything else. I knew it would be a risk, as I had worked so hard in my first seven years in business building a brand I was known for (posed newborn), and to change that was a bit scary. I had hoped and prayed that it would unfold just as I envisioned and that the clients would come. I worked hard on learning and fine-tuning my filmmaking skills and invested in workshops and online communities to soak up as much information and resources as possible.
My life plan included me retiring as a labor and delivery nurse here in Las Vegas in January 2020, at my 20th anniversary. It was a career that held my identity and much of my heart and soul. Patient care and caring for families during life’s most intimate and life-changing moments were never lost on me. Even up until the end, I was in awe that this was my career, that I got to do this as a living. I had the perfect plan of how the two would unfold; me retiring from L&D as I launched my brand in birth stories. How perfect that I still get to be a part of the incredible miracle of birth, but in a new role?
I am very goal-oriented, and I have plans to follow for almost everything I do, from running marathons to traveling, you name it. But God always has a better plan, and I am always amazed at how much richer and deeper His always is. By March 2019, it was becoming clear that trying to grow my birth business would be difficult while working at the hospital. As changes occurred in the unit, I felt the whisper that it was a time (quite hard for this OCD person who likes to stick to the plan). Still, it just kept nudging and pulling at my heart, and after some deep conversations with my husband and reviewing finances, I made the leap and went out early. Walking off the unit I had walked into for 19 years after resigning was incredibly emotional. I worked alongside the best of the best and was blessed enough to work with incredible nurses, doctors, and staff. I met and cared for so many families over the years.
I spent time hoping and praying that the birth clients would come and I would be able to grow it. And, boy oh boy, grow it did! I honestly struggled to keep up. I got inquiry after inquiry and had the most incredible clients find me, clients willing to open and share their birth spaces with me, trusting me to tell such an intimate and personal part of their lives, their birth story. Trusting me in capturing moments that can’t be relived or redone, it has been the most incredible year in Little Loo’s history. Mind-blowing really!
But let’s get to the favorites part of it- my yearly favorites! I pick an image from each session that speaks the most to my heart. I usually put them together in a slideshow, but I am changing it up this year! (I do have clients that request that I not post their images on my blog or social media sites, and I always honor that, so they are not included in the numbers or favorites). Enjoy!
I had made a goal for 2019 to shoot ten births (double the births I documented in 2018), and I ended up documenting
Each birth was so different and so full of emotion and love!
Documenting a surrogate birth story has long been a dream of mine, so I was over the moon when this story found me. It was incredibly touching and even more beautiful than I could have imagined.
I have learned in being a birth photographer that it is unlike any other genre. Being on call for births for an average of 3 weeks at a time means that other types of work can’t be scheduled around it for the risk of rescheduling clients, which isn’t ideal.
In no other genre do you have no idea when it will happen; it could be 2 am, two weeks from today, or tomorrow, and having everything ready to go instantly is crucial. So, as hard as it was, that meant less work I had done in the past and fewer family, newborn, and maternity sessions. It was so hard to say ‘no’ to so many families.
To end 2019, I was allowed to be among the incredibly talented and diverse Birthbound Photographer instructors. I will be presenting a portion of their birth photographer certification course, bringing my experience as an L&D nurse to forge stronger relationships in the hospital setting and elevate the genre of birth photography as a whole. It has been an incredible opportunity and one I am so grateful for!
I documented 5 maternity sessions. Three of my maternity clients were also birth story clients.
I do offer an incentive of discounted maternity, Fresh 48, and newborn sessions for all of my birth clients, as I am so passionate about the story behind each birth, and adding maternity, Fresh 48, or newborn sessions does bring those full stories circle.
In the year ahead, my birth clients will have priority in scheduling these sessions, another decision that has been hard to make, but I want to be sure that I am fully present for each session that I book and available for when births do happen.
I documented 14 newborns in 2019!
Moving away from the posed studio into clients’ homes, I knew I would not be for everyone. I am so grateful for the past clients that stuck with me during this transition and for clients that booked me as a lifestyle in-home newborn!
Five of my newborns were also birth story clients. It was such a beautiful way to honestly tell their story, having followed them through the birth of their baby to a home where so many beautiful memories will be made. Moving forward for newborn sessions, my birth clients will have priority in filling my newborn spaces on the calendar, once again, to ensure that I have availability for them and provide my clients with the best experience possible!
On this year’s blessings side of this year- I had worked hard to keep my nursing and photography careers separate over the years and never talked about my business with patients. I never wanted there to be a conflict of interest or make my patients or staff I worked alongside uncomfortable. Most of the OB/GYNs I worked with had no idea I was a photographer. Right before I retired from the hospital, I was offered the opportunity to bid alongside other talented photographers in hanging my art on the halls that lined the remodel of the new Birth Place hallways. I won the bid and could hang 70 pieces of large prints of my work along the hallways I had worked on for 19 years. It indeed was a dream come true.
The most incredible part of this story is that the last patient I delivered found me this way. Not knowing she was finding me, we were both blown away when we put it together! I documented a part of their NICU journey, and they’re bringing her home! I told you this year was incredible!
I documented 11 Fresh 48 sessions! As a new offering for Little Loo Photography, I am pretty excited about that and hope to add more of these in 2020. They have my heart, everything is still so fresh and new, and it is a beautiful option for families who aren’t able to invest in a birth story.
I was blessed enough to document 19 families this year!
As I said, it was harder to schedule these alongside my birth clients, and as much as I love them, I will have to continue to limit these in 2020, as there is not enough space on the calendar. Be sure to book yours well in advance for this year!
I launched my first ‘The Story ‘ giveaway in 2018 and had the opportunity to document the story of Dan Brite and his road to recovery in 2019. It is a beautiful story of family strength and determination. My life will be forever changed by having the opportunity to tell this story.
To continue sharing my year of incredible blessings, I was offered the opportunity by Focus on the Family to document a beautiful family sharing their story on the redemption and restoration of their marriage in the upcoming Spring issue of their magazine. This ministry has deeply impacted my life, and the opportunity to work on a project with them that is so impactful and intimate was a dream come true!
And lastly, I had a few sessions out of my usual work, but for friends and family that had booked me in advance!
If you made it all the way through, thank you so much! Thank you for following me, trusting me with your stories, and believing in me! I told you it was an incredibly blessed year; it will certainly be hard to follow!
In 2020 I will focus even more on birth and growing in this genre and on giving back to my community, which has given me so much. I am excited about what lies ahead!
Monday, January 20th, 2020
What an honor it has been to document the birth of Silas James. It was the first Henderson Hospital birth I was able to document.
I know I have said it before, but by the time I document these beautiful birth stories I have become so invested in the story that is so unique to each birth. After being a labor and delivery nurse here for the past 19 years (I retired this past March).
I have firsthand knowledge of the fact that each is so different and unique, even within the same families. Right up until the end of my career there were so many births that moved me deeply, and often brought tears to my eyes. As a birth photographer, I feel this even more intently. I think it is because of the totally different role in seeing birth through the eyes of a storyteller. I do my best to see the story in each birth, even in the smallest of moments, because that is often where they live. Although I do miss patient care, I feel deep in my soul that documenting them is exactly where I am supposed to be in this season of my life. It is a privilege I don’t take lightly!
I literally cried every single time I worked on their birth film because I had some first-hand knowledge of how hard they worked to hold this little man in their arms, and the emotions that led up to this moment.
This beautiful family found me while searching for a birth photographer in Las Vegas. Sarah requested a phone consultation early on, and through our conversation about their vision and wishes, I knew that it would be an incredible story. She is a nurse, so right away, we had that connection, and she shared with me early on that Ben is a photojournalist. Of course, I looked him up right away and was blown away by his work, and terrified at the same time! (I always feel more pressure when another photographer or filmmaker hires me). It is a big deal for another artist will turn over their moments to someone else, trusting that they don’t have to worry about what I am doing, and can truly live in the moment. Ben did it so graciously and truly did live in their space.
We talked in the weeks leading up to their birth, as I do with all my birth clients. I check in often to see how things are going and how they are feeling, especially once I start the ‘call’ period for births at 37-38 weeks. Sarah and Ben had a birth plan and a vision for what they wanted in their care and birth; a low intervention and unmedicated birth was their preference, but they were also flexible in knowing that things don’t always unfold as planned.
As her due date came and went, those fears that it wasn’t going to unfold as they had planned began to creep in, but she continued to advocate for the birth she wanted and followed her OB and high-risk to be sure everything was looking perfect. Once she was over a week past their due date, talk of induction began, and as her fluid levels dropped and her baby experienced a period of decreased fetal movement, the moment had come to go in and begin the induction period. We agreed to have me capture some of the early moments and return when active labor began.
First of all, let’s talk about how beautiful Sarah is. She is truly a stunning woman; I was excited about photographing her. They both are. I mean, how could they not make an adorable baby?
Because we knew the induction would be long, I captured some of those first moments they would want to remember as they checked in and got settled. Sarah was able to wear her own comfortable clothing, which was great, and the wireless monitoring available at Henderson Hospital really gave her the freedom to move about and stay somewhat comfortable.
Right after I had packed up and was ready to head out for a few hours of sleep and to give Sarah and Ben some space and rest before active labor began, little Silas had his first episode of distress. Her nurses were so great and were right on top of caring for her and her baby and worked hard to keep everyone comfortable while performing interventions.
They also knew they wanted both of their parents present for their birth. Ben’s mom was able to spend time with them in the week before delivery, waiting for Silas to arrive, and Sarah’s mom hopped on a plane as soon as she knew that the time had come. Their presence and love in their birth space really were so beautiful to observe. You could feel the anticipation and excitement throughout.
Within a few hours of starting the induction process, Sarah’s contractions had come on both intensely and frequently, with little break between. I got the call in the early morning hours that she had progressed quickly to 7 cms, so I jumped in the car and headed back while Sarah waited for her epidural.
Sarah received an epidural and never got comfortable enough to settle into some rest. Her husband and the mothers both took turns being at her side and comforting her, and I stepped out of the room for a couple of hours with the grandmas to really give them time alone to rest. The lack of sleep and pain was beginning to wear on both.
In the morning, Sarah’s doctor came in to evaluate their progress and discuss their care plan. Sarah had made no cervical change in hours and still had not rested or become comfortable. Her baby continued to have periods of distress but was quickly resolving at this point. They talked about options and he then stepped away to give Sarah and Ben time alone to make some decisions.
After talking and making some tough decisions, they both decided it was time to allow for a cesarean section. They were both exhausted, Sarah was still in pain, and Silas had periods of distress. Again, I stepped away to give them the space to work through all those emotions.
Photographers are not always allowed in the operating room for cesarean sections, with permission granted by anesthesia and the primary surgeon and guided by hospital policies. I do my best to be allowed into the operating room for births but I am always understanding and ready for permission not to be granted. Luckily, Sarah’s nurse and OB had advocated for me, and I was granted permission by anesthesia.
What I love is focusing on capturing the details that mom might not be seeing during labor and delivery so that she can see those moments she might not otherwise. Those moments between Ben and Silas at the warmer were just so moving.
Of course, back in the room family was waiting and anxious to meet little Silas.
Everyone then stepped out to give Sarah and Ben time alone with their baby and each other. These are always the most tender moments to observe.
I returned the next day to document a Fresh 48 session and little Sila’s first bath by mom and dad. There still had been zero sleep going on days now, but Sarah still looked so great and had already been up out of bed, was moving around well, and was anxious to get home.
Thursday, October 31st, 2019
What I really love about documenting birth is that each and every birth story is so unique and different. Even within the same family, you never know how things will go. There is so much story to tell and so many details to each birth story that make it unique and special. Sometimes when we are in the midst of birth, we are so focused on being in that moment that we don’t see just how strong we are, nor do we have the privilege of seeing all that is going on around us, and that is part of what I strive to document. I want you to remember the moments from your birth that will transport you back to that flood of love, those first moments with your baby, and to see the strength and love present around you!
Crystal came to me through a referral from another local photographer I adore- Essie Rose Photography. Essie photographs their family regularly and is an incredibly talented artist but does not specialize in birth. I am so grateful that she sent them my way! I have admired Crystal from afar through her images and her community involvement as the local small business; Love Bug Baby, a local children’s boutique. Be sure to check out her two locations here in Henderson and Summerlin!
We met ahead of time, just as I do with all my birth clients, to talk about what was most important to them in documenting their birth. Crystal had a long and exhausting labor with her firstborn and wanted something different this time around, so had chose to give birth at home with a midwife. She had really hoped that this labor would be a better experience for them all. They wanted to include their son in their birth story and had hoped it would happen when he was awake and able to be present.
We also talked about the fact that we are on completely opposite sides of town, and I had decided I would just err on the safe side and come as soon as things started moving along. We communicated in the weeks and days leading up to their due date, and she updated often and after each appointment, which was awesome. After her last appointment, we texted back and forth a bit, and nothing too exciting was going on. But things changed quickly, really quickly. I got a call from Anthony telling me to come now, that it was time. So I packed the car and headed out. When I arrived, her doula Cherish opened the door for me and informed me that she had already delivered. Crystal labored so quickly that her doula and her husband were the only ones attending when she delivered! Luckily, her husband is a firefighter, so he was capable of handling the situation and staying calm, and everyone was okay.
I am so sad that I didn’t get to document her entire birth, but was so happy for them at the same time that they didn’t have the experience they did last time! Her whole labor was less than an hour and a half!
So, I just grabbed my camera and just started shooting it all, and I believe we still captured so much story, so much love, and so many beautiful details. Birth sure is anything but predictable!
Big brother was so interested in his new baby sister, he couldn’t have been more adorable with her! He was genuinely curious and wanted to be by her side at all times.
Crystal’s midwife, April Clyde of Serenity Birth Center, and Sarah Slobody got right to work as soon as they arrived checking Crystal’s bleeding, and vital signs, and completing Arden’s newborn assessment while they assisted her in showering and getting settled in bed. Big brother was finally able to get up close to his new baby sister and love on her a bit.
Her birth team stayed about 2 hours after delivery to make sure mama was stable, and the baby was latched well..
I returned a few days after delivery once everyone was rested and settled and followed up with a Fresh 48 (okay, past the 48 hours but we follow baby’s lead on this).
I wanted to do something special with Crystal since we missed so much of her birth, so we decided a herbal/milk bath would be perfect. It turned out even more beautiful than I imagined!
Wednesday, August 7th, 2019
The birth story of Rex Robert is beautiful after a loss and is full of emotion, so be prepared.
Throughout my life, I have been so blessed to have met so many incredible human beings, people willing to open their hearts and their stories to me, people that I believe undoubtedly were placed in my life for a reason. This is one of those families.
I documented this family’s maternity session and was so surprised when Brandon was the first to approach me about documenting their birth. I usually have to convince dads that it will be beautiful and they will be so glad they documented this time in their lives.
Our original plan was for maternity and in-home newborn sessions once Rex arrived. After we worked together for their maternity session, they began considering a Fresh 48, and after I had posted a couple of birth images, Brandon messaged me and inquired about birth. I was so over the top excited.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about documenting births is that each is unique and different. It truly is like no other time in our lives. It is intimate, life-changing, and full of story, connection, and many firsts. After 19 years as a labor nurse, I can truly attest to that.
Because of the complications from their previous pregnancy and the subsequent loss of a child, this pregnancy was high risk from the beginning. Their journey to become pregnant with Rex was a long, challenging, and emotional; so, their induction was scheduled in advance. To say there was intense fear and anticipation in the waiting is an understatement.
Their induction was a long one, spanning two days. I was sure to come in and capture some of those first moments and then made my way in and out of their room over the next two days to give them their space and still capture some of the mood and story as it unfolded.
This is the second birth I have documented at Southern Hills Hospital, and they have the most beautiful windows allowing so much beautiful natural and exciting light to flood the rooms. Light makes my heart sing every time, so I was in heaven.
What I love and hope dads love about investing in a birth photographer is that they get to be fully present in their birth space—no worries about running and grabbing the camera to capture a moment or forgetting to capture a moment.
I try and be as unobtrusive and as much of a quiet observer as possible in your birth space; I want to document how it feels in that moment, and to do that well, I have to be able to really blend in and quietly observe.
Dr. Paul Wilkes is truly an incredible soul and a fantastic human being. He is as genuine as they come, and I have had the pleasure of working for him, alongside him, and now documenting him in action.
They had developed such a special relationship, and having him present speaking words of encouragement, hope, and faith in them both was beautiful to watch.
Brandon was so awesome to watch as he bent over and whispered words to his son.
Rex was so alert and interested in everything going on around him. This guy is going to be a deep thinker for sure!
I offered a complimentary Fresh 48 session for my April through August families. Fresh 48 sessions are a great way to introduce siblings and return after everyone is a little rested and settled.
I couldn’t wait to come back and document Poppy meeting her baby brother.
While we waited for dad, big sister, and grandma to arrive, we captured some really beautiful and tender moments of mama and her new baby.
Watch their birth story film to capture just how sweet and tender Poppy meeting her baby brother was. I cried every time I worked on their film.
Wednesday, June 5th, 2019
It’s an honor that you let me capture yours.