Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | Baby Jack's Long Awaited Birth Day

It was an honor to document and now share the birth of Chloe and Matthew's long awaited baby boy. It's hard to believe sometimes that clients trust me fully to join them in such important and intimate moments and document the way I witness it. The love that Chloe and Matthew share is palpable and watching their family grow was such an amazing experience. I'm forever grateful that I was able to be there for them to capture these memories. <3 

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No one expected our amazing son Jack.  I have a very rare genetic condition called a balanced translocation.  It basically means that I'm completely healthy, but any kids my husband and I conceive typically have mixed up chromosomes...Jack has four siblings waiting for us in heaven.  Even before we found out about the translocation we had always looked forward to adopting at some point, but we were crazy enough to try one more time...and thus baby Jack was conceived!  

A statistical near impossibility, little Jack kept us on our toes our entire pregnancy.  With almost weekly ultrasounds, numerous specialist visits, and very expensive blood tests, we were completely prepared to lose him...even after the tests came back "normal."  From 16 weeks onward I experienced quite a bit of bleeding completely unrelated to my translocation, some due to placenta previa and some due to a suspected placental abruption.  On Mother's Day, after a particularly surprising bleeding episode, I moved 2 1/2 hours away to a hotel in Oklahoma City to be closer to the hospital just in case.  We spent a week inpatient with the wonderful team at OU for monitoring.  No one could figure out why I kept bleeding and why Jack's little heart kept beating along, completely oblivious and happy as can be.  At 33 weeks I started contracting for hours and dilating 2cm, and went back to the hospital for another inpatient stay.  The doctors said it was a mystery but to prepare for a preterm birth.  I signed up for every NICU class I could find at OU.  We took our maternity pictures in the hospital in the observation unit, complete with fluorescent lighting and IVs in my arm.  We are actually grateful for that time...it reminds us continually of the amazing gift each day with baby Jack really was. 

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To our great surprise Jack made it full term and we induced at 39 weeks for obvious medical reasons.  The nurses were so accommodating to everything we wanted in our birth plan, and we felt so thankful to get to deliver our baby with such a great medical team.

When we got to the hospital I was 3cm dilated, and we spent the day hanging out on a Pitocin drip, reading Bible stories to our little guy, and ordering an endless supply of red Jello and orange juice from room service.  My husband was pretty much the best ever.  He has such a strong, calm presence that I honestly feel like I can do anything when he is around.  He continually rubbed my back, kept me laughing in between contractions, read me Scripture about peace, and coached me through every contraction and every irrational fear.  By 6:30 that night I was just 4cm dilated.  Around 10pm I was 4.5-5cm dilated, and around 11:25pm we reluctantly decided to break my water.  

Things started happening quickly.  Around 12:50am I told Matthew I was feeling a lot of pressure. Stephanie called the nurse, who checked me and said I was completely dilated.  She made a call and suddenly there were about 12 nurses and doctors in the room.  Matthew propped me up on a bunch of pillows and they brought me a squatting bar for leverage.  We were ready to push!  Around 1:05am I started pushing with the contractions, tuning in to the strong, steady sound of Matthew's voice counting to 10 each time.  After what seemed like a million contractions and lots and lots of pushing, Jack Matthew was finally born, happy and healthy.  The sound of his cries are still music to our ears, even weeks later at 2:30 in the morning.  He is here.  He is alive.  And we are in awe of the God who created him despite the odds.

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Oklahoma City Birth Photographer | Lakeside Women's Center | Birth of Evelyn

I've known Dalton since junior high, but after meeting his wonderful wife Allison and after learning a little about their journey to conceive (thanks facebook!) I was giddy at the idea of documenting their daughter's birth for them. THEN! After learning that Allison is a photographer, and a fantastic writer, we basically became BFFs. I knew Allison would share the story of her daughter's birth better than I ever could, so it's no surprise that I was in tears half way through reading it. Grab some tissues, because there will be tears.


     When my husband and I first decided we wanted a family, it didn’t even cross my mind that we might have trouble conceiving. It soon became clear that it wasn’t going to be as simple as we hoped. But after four years of heartbreak that threatened to cause us to lose all hope, our miracle baby made her presence known with a little pink line.
From that point on, every decision we made revolved around my growing belly. We knew we wanted a natural birth, so we began researching different birthing classes to see which would be the best fit for us. We eventually settled on The Bradley Method after hearing positive stories from friends.
     For those who don’t know, The Bradley Method teaches women and their partners to birth naturally by educating them with an in-depth look at birth and giving them tools to create a calm, peaceful experience. The classes were incredible and taught my husband and I so much more than we ever would have learned on our own. He learned how to support and guide me, which is one thing we loved the most about this method - it allows for a much more intimate, supportive experience than most other methods.
By the last month of my pregnancy, we knew we were as ready as we could possibly be. We anxiously awaited the day when labor would begin, and it did in my 39th week. This is our birth story.


     On May 27th, I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for the gym, and decided to take a nap. I wasn’t even tired but something in me said, “Hey, you know what? You should really sleep for a while.” I woke up about an hour later to use the restroom and as I was sitting there, I felt what I can only describe as an elastic snap in my belly - it even caused it to ripple on the outside! At first I thought my little girl had simply nailed me with a kick, which she was known to do, but then the trickling began. I said, “Oh my God,” about ten times before getting myself together enough to grab a towel so I could get to my phone. I called my husband twice while standing in the bathtub, and thankfully he called back shortly after. “You should come home. My water broke,” I told him, surprisingly calmly. His excitement was obvious and he said he would be home in ten minutes.
Because I had tested positive for Group B Strep at my last prenatal appointment, I knew we would have to leave immediately for the hospital so I could be given IV antibiotics. I slipped on a pair of Depends (laugh all you want) and busied myself with grabbing last minute things for the hospital that couldn’t be packed ahead of time. I was shaking like a leaf as reality sank in with each passing minute. We were having a baby! Like, soon. When he got home, we hugged, cried and laughed, and loaded up the car.


     My contractions started on the way to the hospital, and they were anything but the mild contractions we were expecting in early labor. They were immediately impossible to talk through, coming every three minutes. By the time we were checked in and I was being examined, they were two minutes apart and I was about five centimeters dilated. The nurse offered to get me a peanut-shaped birthing ball to sit on, which I gratefully accepted.


     This whole part of my labor is a blur because it was happening so fast that all I could do was focus on making it through the next contraction. I straddled the birthing ball and rocked back and forth, vocalizing in pain as I did my best to remain relaxed and calm. “Remember what you learned in class,” I told myself. My husband was amazing. He timed each contraction, telling me when I hit the thirty-second mark so I would know they wouldn’t continue to grow in intensity. It gave me something to hold on to. You can do anything for thirty seconds, right? Even though they lasted much longer than that, the intensity dwindled enough for me to relax before the next wave would hit.


     About an hour after being admitted, I began to feel “pushy” and asked that my cervix be checked. I was seven to eight centimeters dilated, and by this point it was impossible for me to leave the bed. The contractions were causing a horribly painful gripping sensation in my back, which may have been caused by the pressure of her head as she made her way lower. I started to panic, feeling like I wanted to escape my own body. My doctor arrived and I was in the middle of a contraction that caused me to push involuntarily, so she checked me again to find I was almost fully dilated. Transition was almost complete, but I was wrought with fear and completely overwhelmed by the pain.


     It was at that moment I knew that if I couldn’t find a way to cope, I wouldn’t be present mentally for the birth of my baby. I uttered the words I promised myself I never would, and within less than a minute, the anesthesiologist showed up at my bedside, telling me he didn’t know if there would be time, but he would do his best. He told me he would give me a mild version of an epidural so I would still be able to move my legs and feel my contractions, but that I would be more comfortable.
The epidural was placed very quickly and smoothly, and all the while my nurse was pushing down on my shoulders to keep my back curved while I screamed through a contraction. She helped me lie down when it was over and several more waves hit before the medication began to take effect. Somehow the pain still gripped my left side with the same intensity, but at that point my doctor was telling me it was time to push. Thankfully, when I began pushing the medication dispersed properly and the pain was manageable.


     “She has so much hair!” my doctor exclaimed, asking me if I wanted a mirror so I could watch the birth. I’m so glad I said yes. I watched my baby crown while breathing through “the ring of fire,” blowing small breaths so I wouldn’t tear. She was on her side rather than anterior, which might account for the pain I felt in my back. Her head came out and then her shoulders, and I watched my little girl make her entrance into the world after a four hour labor and forty-five minutes of pushing.
When she was placed on my chest I was hit with a tidal wave of love and awe. She grabbed her daddy’s finger and wouldn’t let go, her tiny cries piercing the air with her first breath. I looked into the face of our daughter and wept with relief and joy. She was finally here, and suddenly, in that moment, nothing else in the world existed but our little family.
Birth is something that changes you. I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was a week ago, but I mean that in the best way. I feared that if I couldn’t stick to my plan, I would somehow feel less empowered by my birth experience. I’m happy to say I feel completely empowered, and while it didn’t go according to plan, I suppose that’s just my first lesson in motherhood - to adapt, compromise, and grow.

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Thank you so much, Stephanie, for capturing this day for us. We are eternally grateful to have these images to reflect on in the years to come. -Allison

You're not Daft Punk, but somehow you're still up all night.

If you have a newborn, you've likely already been here. If you're still expecting, you'll be here soon.

Yes this is my toddler. No he does not sleep.

Yes this is my toddler. No he does not sleep.

It's easy to walk your way through the check list that causes newborn strife during the day, but at 3 am, it's all about survival. You know this sweet being is fed and dry, but for some reason she just won't.stop.crying. The reasons you THINK she's crying, and the most common reason's why she is actually crying are quite different. I'm going to help you navigate through those murky midnight waters.

Why you think your baby is crying at 3am

  • She hates you.
  • This isn't your child, the hospital clearly switched her with a quiet baby who sleeps from 7pm-7am.
  • She's spoiled.
  • Everything is awful.
  • The house is one degree too cold. Or maybe one degree too hot. Who touched the thermostat again?!

Real reasons why your baby might be crying

  • She's over stimulated.
  • Her diaper is wet/dirty (yes, even though you haven't even finished changing the last dirty diaper - this does happen)
  • She's over tired.
  • She's hungry
  • She's going through a growth spurt.

What you can do about it

  • Cut down the stimulation. This helps ANY time of day at most ages. Are there lights on? Noises from outside? Are you stressed? Create a calm relaxing environment. If you're stressed, your baby can and will feed off of that energy. Try to relax, talk in a soothing voice, hum, sing, be silent. Whatever works for YOU. And if you can't relax, hand her over to a relaxed partner, or lay her in a safe place and walk away while you regroup for a few minutes.

  • The 5 S's. Harvey Karp is a genius when it comes to calming babies, and it works *almost* every time. 1- Swaddle 2- hold baby on her Side- tummy to tummy with you, on her Stomach, or over your shoulder; baby wearing is wonderful for this, as well as skin to skin. 3-Shush; your baby spent 10 months inside a sack of water, mimicking the sound can have a calming effect. If this works for your baby, a white noise machine will be worth its weight in gold. 4- Swing; again, mimicking the womb is comforting. Rock your baby, sway your baby, or even gently bounce your baby! 5- Sucking on a pacifier, or suckling at the breast are incredibly soothing for babies (and even toddlers)

  • Stick to a schedule. It may seem counter intuitive, but sleep begets sleep. If your little one is missing a nap time, and then staying up late it's possible she is OVER tired, and it's keeping her from settling down to sleep at night. Look at your schedule and see if something different happened today. Maybe her two hour nap was only 30 minutes. Or maybe she skipped a nap all together. Sticking to a schedule can help tremendously.

  • Feed her, again. Your baby was eating normally all week, and suddenly wants to eat non stop in the evenings! There's no WAY she's still hungry. Offer, she may surprise you. Baby's stomachs are incredibly small and growth spurts demand extra nutrition.

  • Recognize growth spurts. You can't change them, but having an idea about what's happening and can help you keep your sanity. I can not recommend The Wonder Weeks enough. It gives you a good map over your babies first year of growth and "mental leaps" when she's learning new things. SO MUCH changes within the first year, and it takes a lot out of her. Even if she's not showing a physical change at the moment (learning to roll over/crawl/etc) she could be going through a mental development such as recognizing patterns or the connection between words and actions. Growth spurts are very physically and mentally demanding. This can cause sleep interruptions, increased appetite, and just over all fussiness. The silver lining is, she's learning something new and will be moving on before you know it.

  • Ride it out. Sometimes babies just don't sleep. You can read every book out there and it's possible that your baby is like mine and just isn't interested in any of your shenanigans.


The days are long, but the years are short.

I guarantee, there will come a day where you'll barely remember the details of these long nights. It's hard to appreciate them while you're in the thick of it, and that's OKAY! Tomorrow is a new day, do what you need to keep yourself and your baby happy and healthy <3


Considerations When Hiring a Birth Photographer

I'm mad. I'm disappointed. And really, I'm hurt. 

I love my job. I love what I do. And I love that birth photography is becoming mainstream and more photographers are opening themselves up to the difficult schedule that comes along with it. But among those photographers, there are some who don't take it seriously. They're booking with clients with zero forethought to what being on call and photographing a birth really entails. I cannot tell you how many stories I've heard from mothers who hired a birth photographer that never showed up. The tales range from photographers who go MIA to ones who just "can't make it" for whatever reason. I've gotten numerous inquiries that sound something like this:

"We hired a birth photographer but she's unavailable now. My due date is next week, we've already spent $xxx so our budget is small, are you available?" 

I've compiled a list of questions to ask when considering a photographer, it isn't anything crazy, and any photographer you're considering should be able to answer all of the questions without hesitation. I understand all families have different preferences and different budgets and that's okay! If a new photographer is what you want, hire away. The most important thing is that you hire someone who will meet or exceed the expectations that they give you. 


Questions for your birth photographer:

How long will you be on call?
What if I go into labor before you're on call period starts?
Birth is unpredictable, are you available 24/7?
Is there a time limit on how long you will stay with me if my labor is slow?
If you have children, how reliable is your child care?
How far are you from where I'm delivering?
How long will you stay after my baby is born?
Do you carry backup equipment? Including multiple camera bodies, multiple lenses, memory cards, batteries, and flashes.
Do you work with backup photographers? Who are they? Will I need to pay them if you're unavailable?
Do you have a contract?
What happens if you miss the birth?
How long do you take to deliver images?
Can I see full galleries of births similar to what mine will be? (I.e. Hospital/home/csection/etc) 


New moms are going through a lot during pregnancy. It is my belief that the service and care providers you hire should be reliable and trustworthy. If someone you meet with seems fishy, or makes you feel "off" in anyway, keep looking until you find someone you love.