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
I have been dying to get this birth up on the blog! There is just so much story and love woven throughout it all. If you have been following me on my social media sites, you may have remembered me talking about this family when posting their maternity portraits. Chris was deployed for most of their pregnancy, and it was literally down to the wire on him making it home and not being sure whether he would be able to come home at all for their delivery. Luckily, he came home just over a week before Susan went into labor which worked out well in everyone getting settled again and working through all that goes into everybody readjusting.
Susan homeschools her three children, all while running a successful photography business, Purest Light Photography; she is extremely talented and works so hard to keep it all going. I can’t even imagine how hard it has been doing it with a spouse halfway across the world. I think we often focus on the sacrifice that our military personnel makes during their deployment, but it really is a sacrifice for the whole family.
She wanted her children present for as much as possible, and the plan was to have her sweet Aslinn help ‘catch’ the baby. Because having her children involved in the process was so important, we discussed capturing some early labor at home if it worked out. She lives so close to me and wanted to labor as much as she could at home before heading to the hospital.
I stay in close contact with my birth clients in the weeks leading up to their due date to stay in the loop with how they are feeling and how things are going. Susan and I often texted in the weeks leading up to her birth. It finally got the call at 2:30 am that contractions had woken her up and were staying consistent and strong, so I headed out the door and to her house to capture some footage while her children slept!
After laboring at home for a few hours, it became clear it was time to head to the hospital as they became stronger and stronger, and Susan was no longer able to walk or talk through them. So we woke up the kids, loaded up the car, and headed out.
Luckily the staff seeing how uncomfortable she was and being her fourth baby, settled her right into a labor room. The staff was so great in helping keep her comfortable and accommodating her requests for a low-intervention delivery.
Little Aslinn was so helpful at right by her mother’s side during the whole process. It was so tender to watch!
This poor mama just had so much back labor, he would just not rotate off of her lower back, and it was such a struggle for her to get comfortable at all during this stage.
With support from her husband, friend, and staff, she tried hard to get him to rotate down.
When this guy finally came down and delivered, the room was full of staff ready to assist as his fetal heart rate tracing was showing distress.
It turned out to be a true knot in his umbilical cord, a very rare and often dangerous situation.
Because of the distress and meconium-stained fluid, he was taken to the warmer initially for stabilization. He perked right up and let everyone know he was okay. I know it felt like an eternity to Susan and Chris.
This mama was so happy to have her baby in her arms finally!
I know it will take this mama a long time to process this birth and their experience. Although this little (okay, not so little guy) came hard and fast, it was such a hard and emotional birth for this mama. She put on a brave face through it all, and when it was over, you could see all that emotion right there. Birth is powerful and incredible, it is like nothing else in this world, and for each family, it is so different.
From child to child, so different.
Thank you so much, Hinds family, for letting me document this one for you.
Thursday, May 23rd, 2019
I am a local Spectrum-Inspired photographer, meaning I am a part of a group of photographers that offer sessions for families living on the spectrum to raise awareness and education about autism. Please go check them out and the incredible work they are doing worldwide!
But before I get into this beautiful story, I wanted to let you know that I’ve got a special surprise at the end of this post! I’m taking part in a blog circle with some photographer friends of mine. We’re linking to each other’s posts, so you can check out what they’re up to.
But, for now, let’s get into this beautiful family story!
I already knew this mama as she is an OB/GYN here in Las Vegas, and in my role as a labor and delivery nurse, I have had the pleasure of working alongside her. Tracy is an incredibly intelligent, kind, compassionate, and talented physician who is well-respected in our community.
A year ago, I had completed a family film for another client I work with, and as Tracy watched it she cried and said she wanted something just like it. She shared that she had never had family portraits officially taken as they just weren’t sure how that would look or unfold with Thomas, and was ready to take the step in having them done. I then shared with her about Spectrum Inspired and their amazing work; she was totally on board! Tracy is so active in the autism community and so passionate about spreading awareness, so the opportunity was perfect!
After submitting an application, we were paired at her request and got to work scheduling her session, where we also added the option of a family film! I am passionate about family films as they show more than a photograph alone can!
You can find their family film here, and be sure to read on to hear their story and see the still portraits we captured during their session.
I have been hanging on to this story for a bit as I wanted to post in April during Autism Awareness month. There are so many powerful, encouraging, and inspiring stories to share. I hope that out of them comes education and awareness as to what the many faces of autism look like and how it is lived out in each family!
Thomas is eight years old, and his diagnosis is- Autism Spectrum Disorder and apraxia.
Thomas was born prematurely due to complications, but his first year progressed well, with Thomas meeting milestones, including walking and interacting with others. By the one-year mark, Tracy began noticing that his words were rare and that he failed to respond to his name being called. As most parents would, she assumed he was just mildly delayed. As the months passed, she began realizing he never reached out to be picked up, and his 20-word vocabulary quickly disappeared. At 18 months, her concerns were addressed with her pediatrician, who agreed with the red flags she had observed and sent them to a developmental pediatrician, where his diagnosis was received. It was an emotionally shattering experience for this family, not because they were afraid of Thomas being “different” but because of the struggles, they knew he would face. It meant he could not share how he was feeling with his family or express his fears or excitement with them.
After their diagnosis, they learned everything they could about autism and apraxia (meaning difficulty in speaking sounds, syllables, and words). Thomas’ biological father, who had been a part of Tracy’s life since high school, became uninvolved and was no longer willing to be in Thomas’ life. Thankfully, his grandparents and her family rallied around her and became a source of strength and support valuable in navigating their struggles as a single-parent family and an OB/GYN resident.
When Thomas was four years old, Tracy met her husband, Justin. Tracy says that the incredible bond between Justin and Thomas began the first time they met and that there was a connection between them right away. This does not come easily for Thomas, as he does not engage or interact with others until he feels comfortable and safe. Justin has become Thomas’ biggest fan and spends every day at therapy with him. Justin adopted Thomas as his son. He doesn’t see Thomas as autistic but as his son, whom he adores and supports. This was so very evident during their session.
When Thomas reached the 5-year mark, his family was told that being non-verbal at his age meant his likelihood of speaking was slim. But they didn’t give up and continued with PT, OT, and speech therapies.
They were completely blown away when Thomas finally spoke his first words a year and a half ago, “I want eggs.” His vocabulary has grown through lots of hard work and gradually over time. He is now able to express himself better with words and small phrases. It has opened up so much for Thomas and his family.
Thomas does not like loud noises and wears his headphones if overstimulated. He also does not enjoy large crowds unless it is people that he knows and trusts.
Photographing and filming their session in a documentary approach was perfect for this family. I was able to come in with no time constraints and focus on being in an environment where Thomas feels safe and secure and where their day-to-day life unfolds. Home is really where your memories are made, after all!
By watching and observing, my goal was to show not just their struggles but also their victories, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the love this family shares with each other.
Through lots of communication and their application with Spectrum Inspired, we could settle on what moments we wanted to capture in sharing their story.
Thomas loves dinosaurs, sharks, Disney movies and characters, and his iPad. It was so great to observe him just being himself! He constantly had his characters and his iPad with him, arranging his characters just so and interacting with his mom, dad, and sister. He is silly and engaged with things that he loves.
Thomas also loves water and the motions of jumping and spinning. Spinning in circles was one of the earliest signs that Tracy noticed with Thomas.
They have a small trampoline he often jumps on to relax and decompress. As soon as they moved to their beautiful home with a large space in the backyard, one of their first additions was a large trampoline for Thomas to jump on.
Little Natalie was also born prematurely, but over a year and a half, she shows no signs of delays or autism.
As we sat and talked during Natalie’s nap and while Thomas had lunch, we talked about difficult textures and sounds for Thomas. Many times children with autism have difficulties with textures in foods and clothing, which limits things they like and can tolerate.
Things like haircuts can be traumatic for children with autism, and she had expressed their challenges with navigating this with Thomas. His haircuts are done by his aunt, whom he trusts, and there is a whole process to it; as the conversation unfolded, we decided it would be perfect for documenting this aspect of his life as well, as he needed a haircut. So with a phone call to his aunt, we arranged it spontaneously, and I am so happy she could come over and was willing to document it! Keeping him still, occupied, and with just the right amount of distraction was a process you could tell had taken lots of time to fine-tune.
We wanted to end our day by capturing family portraits, so as the afternoon set in, we all headed to a beautiful park in their community and let the kids play a bit, and then gathered everyone together for portraits. By this point in our day, I was pretty blown away and so moved by them all.
Their love for each other was evident in everything they did and naturally. I am so grateful that they were willing to trust me in their home and tell their story. I am grateful I saw Thomas’ warm and gentle nature and can’t wait to see what lies in store for him and his family as they continue to navigate life on the Spectrum. I do not doubt that he will continue to grow and learn through the support and love he receives from his family.
As we head into April and autism awareness month, be on the lookout for stories like Thomas’, and into learning about and volunteering for organizations that help spread education and awareness on autism and the many facets and faces of those that live on the wide spectrum.
There are so many incredible stories to be told and so much to be done in educating our communities about autism and life on the spectrum.
Thank you so much to the Wurm-Donofrio family for being willing to share your story with us all!
If you are interested in documenting your story or applying to be a Spectrum Inspired photographer, check out the Spectrum Inspired community and apply!
Now be sure to follow our beautiful blog link to check out the incredible work of a group of 5 very different photographers and the varied stories we have to tell!
Monday, April 1st, 2019
I adore the Jensen family. If you have been following me long, you have seen this family in my blog posts, videos, and images. They have been so loyal and such wonderful clients over the years, and it all began with an answer to a model call!
There is so much to love about them, but what I love most is much they love each other! It truly is so apparent in how they interact with each other and the joy surrounding them when they are together.
I love that they value me and my business so much so that even with price increases, they have remained loyal and, for this past session, budgeted it out over a big chunk of the year to make it work; that truly means so much to me! I know that investing in my services is big, and I don’t take that lightly.
I love that they are just so fun, laid back, and trusting of me and my ideas. It makes their sessions so fun-loving and relaxed.
So, basically, I hope to document their lives forever!
Erin also has a small business where she sells the most beautiful little handmade bows! Be sure to check out her shop!
Here is their family film and some of my favorites from our session together.
Saturday, November 24th, 2018
It’s an honor that you let me capture yours.