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Perspective, Passion & Purpose

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These images showed up at the end of a roll I shot at a recent newborn session. It’s only fitting as they are the perfect representation of an important realization I came to during the shoot.

Allow me to explain. About half-way the session, it was obvious to me that this sweet new mama was getting anxious about how well her little darling was cooperating. I could completely relate. Over the past eight months I have become well-acquainted with having a specific vision for something that turns out differently than I’d planned.

I shared with her the honest truth that in every single opportunity I have had to be photographed with Mae, there have been various specific images in my mind that I wanted to capture together. Well wouldn’t you know that not one time have we ever been able to get the image. But what we did get is just as deeply precious to me as any of the pretty pins I had my heart set on.

So I told her that. I believe my exact words went something like, “I know you had your heart set on something specific and that things have not worked out that way, but try not to let that upset you because what we are getting is beautiful and I would not want you to miss that by focusing on what we weren’t able to.”

As soon as the words left my mouth I wanted to fall on my knees.

That is exactly the advice I needed to hear. I have spent too much of Mae’s life wrestling with the challenges we have faced and grieving the loss of my idealistic expectations of motherhood. Sure, we have had a rough start due to her feeding/digestive issues but there is beauty hiding amidst it all and I know that is where my focus should be.

Since I have been prayerfully pursuing this new perspective I have seen Mae transform.

Her passion for everything in life is astounding. Whether she’s thrilled by seeing a dog walk by or angry about not being able to climb any higher than my shoulders, she expresses everything with gusto. Her laughter is intoxicating and her smile could warm the coldest heart. She crawls all over the place and has the happiest feet anyone has ever seen. I am not kidding, if we hold her in the air she runs in place a hundred miles an hour. If we balance her arms she prancercises across the whole house. She can climb completely up the stairs by herself but she stops every few to look back at you with the proudest grin she’s got. Then giggles with glee when she reaches the top.

She absolutely loves to make sounds and music. She’s mastered “dadada” and often says “ha” although we don’t know if she’s meaning “hi” or if she just thinks we’re funny. She blows raspberries like its her job and can play her little piano with every part of her body. She still won’t cuddle but she will crawl into our laps and remain there as long as we are offering some sort of entertainment, of which we creatively deliver as long as we can just to keep her there.

She still knows how to charm anyone but there is no one that lights her up more than daddy. She has become a source of beauty in our lives and I know that we will grow more proud of her every day.

Sure some of these transformations come from age, (and we have seen vast improvements since working out her feeding issues) but I believe much of the joy that I am beginning to experience comes from letting go (daily) of what I thought motherhood should be and instead embracing what it is.

Joy is always a function of gratitude and gratitude is always, simply a function of perspective” -Ann Voskamp

Perspective has such power. These moments, these days, they are not a means to an end as I once believed. They are not to be wished away for a day when things will be easier. God’s plan for them is much sweeter. I will leave you with this passage from my favorite devotional, My Utmost For His Highest

“Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.”

Alisia - This is such a beautifully written post! I love the Ann Voskamp quote! I struggle so much with trying to “just get through” the difficult days of being at home with children. The reminder for me that it is about the process, not the finishline is always a welcome one. Thank you for sharing your heart 🙂September 13, 2014 – 5:46 pm

Tips For Flying With a Baby

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According to yesterday’s instagram commentary, it looks like there are some mamas out there in need of some tips for flying the friendly skies with a baby in tow.

I am getting kind-of hazy on exactly how many flights Mae has been on in her (nearly) eight months here but Dave counted nine and that sounds about right. Which is funny, considering my first flight was at 12 and only 45 minutes long. Oh how times have changed.

So although I will never claim to be an expert on anything mommy-wise, I have learned a few tricks to keeping the experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible. But before take-off, let me preface all of this by saying that if Mae has shown me anything, it is that what works for one baby may not work for another, so the best tip is to consider your little one’s temperament when making travel preparations.

Here’s what has worked for us:

Mae’s Must-Haves

  • Stroller/Car-Seat combo: The basic reason for this is obvious but beyond that, this set up comes in handy because it serves as a handy-dandy cart for piling things on through the airport and also saves you from needing to rent a car seat at your destination. I have even heard of some airlines letting you use the car seat on the plane if there are seats available.
  • Baby Carrier: This little number has been a lifesaver. It lets me wear Mae anyway she wants while ensuring she is still in a safe carrying position. It’s really amazing in airports because I can pop her in there when we get out of the car, check-in, wear her right through security and all the way onto the plane. All while having my hands free for baggage etc…
  • Change of clothes (for baby and mama) because no one wants to wear bodily fluids any longer than they need to.
  • Small Toys – cram as many of those gems into the diaper bag as you can. These crinkle books roll up and fit great in ours. If your baby is teething, Small Sophie is always a hit.
  • Hand Sanitizer – because ew. you never even know.
  • Shoes that won’t fall off, we are currently digging these
  • We also bring this lovee on every flight, just for good luck.

If you formula feed: pack enough in your carry-on for your trip door-to-door and then double it in the event that you miss a flight and get stuck spending the night (and the next day) in an airport. It happens. We also bring our own water in a insulated bottle so we know that it’s clean and the right temperature. They always hand-check it at security but I’d rather that than the alternatives. This little guy is great for having the formula pre-measured out to save you counting scoops or spilling that pricey powder.

If you exclusively pump: You are my hero. I highly recommend getting a hand-pump and checking your electric pump in your suitcase. It breaks down and fits great into a ziploc in your diaper bag. If you are carrying milk on, I found it worked best to get it as cold as possible without being frozen because then you don’t have to worry about it thawing and you have a few days to use it rather than just 24 hours. Also, don’t worry about security, they are legally not allowed to prevent you from taking milk.

If you nurse: Lucky Ducky.

We did the math and figured that unless you are traveling somewhere very remote, it is cheaper to buy dipes, wipes and baby food upon reaching your destination than using up your precious carry-on or checked bag space for these items. BUT be sure use the formula rule above and make sure you have more than enough in the diaper bag to get you to where you are going.

Before you go:
-If you are anything like me, your memory disappeared in the delivery room and is still missing. This means you probably need to make a list of what to pack for baby (and yourself – let’s be honest). Up until our last trip I was using a notepad but writing out the same items every time was getting old so I searched and found a free app called TripList. It has lists already loaded that you can use or you can create your own. It saves them so you can reuse and modify them for each trip. It even categorizes them and has a few other bells and whistles I haven’t really played with yet. I am sure there are others that work well too or there’s always the notepad.

-Make a copy of the baby’s birth certificate. If you didn’t purchase a ticket for them, the airline may require you to prove that they are under two years of age to fly as a lap child.

-Nowadays, airlines are starting to charge to print your boarding pass at the airport so I would go ahead and check in and print that puppy ahead of time to save the hassle when your hands are full.

At the airport:
-At Check-in, ask the attendant if they can go ahead and give you the gate-check tags for your stroller and car seat (get one for each). If not, you can get them at the gate but it’s an extra step and aint nobody got time for that.

-At Security, you may get lucky and find yourself in an expedited line. Either way, here is what we have found works best:

  • If the baby is not already in the carrier, pop them in there and wear them through.
  • Pull the car seat off and put it upside down on the belt
  • Stroller goes over next to the scanner (by the glass gate) they roll it through and swab it
  • Milk/water gets hand-checked
  • Diaper bag/shoes/etc into bin

-At the gate, if you haven’t gotten your car seat and stroller tagged yet you will need to do that. Otherwise, just ask when they board families traveling with small children because it is usually very early in the boarding process.

-I always make sure to have a clean diaper on Mae before we board/take off because I know it will be at least 30-45 minutes before I get another opportunity to change her. That’s along time in dirty diaper land.

-On the plane, we have found that sitting in the last row works well for several reasons. One, its the loudest which helps soothe and/or drown out a crying baby. Two, it allows you more opportunities to get up and move around if you need to (when the fasten seat belt light is off of course) and three, you are the most likely to have an extra seat open to use for diaper changes, play space etc…

In the air:
– I always try to plan Mae’s feedings with take-off but even if it doesn’t work that way it’s not a bad idea to have something for your little one to suck on to help release pressure in their ears.

-This is where each baby’s temperament really comes into play. Some of you have babies that will nurse, snuggle and sleep. Mae would much rather make friends with every flight attendant and passenger in a two row radius. So I let her interact with as many of them as she wants. I would let her do just about anything to keep the peace on a plane. If she gets bored/fussy we whip out a toy at a time and pass her back and forth amongst ourselves. We have managed to get her to nap a couple of times in-flight but it takes a near act of God and a sleeper hold.

On the ground:
– We pop her right back into the carrier and replay the whole thing in reverse!

I hope some of this helps and I would love to hear what has worked well for you!!

Just for fun, here’s a little clip from a recent flight.

Mae’s Birth Story

Sorry if this is considered “over-sharing” but so many friends have asked about Mae’s birth so I thought it may be worth a post. Here it goes, for those who are interested…

She was only two days late but I remember feeling like she was never going to come. I realize the impossibility of that statement and I realized it then but still.

I went into labor around 4:30am on Friday January 17th. I downloaded an app to track my contractions and they were getting progressively stronger so I knew Mae was on her way. I let Dave sleep as long as he could before telling him what was happening since I knew he was in for a long day!

I was already scheduled for my weekly exam that morning so I called, told them I was having contractions so they said to come on in. We grabbed our hospital bag (just in case) and the yoga ball and away we went.

When they checked me at 9am, I was about 3.5cm dilated and my contractions were about five minutes apart. The doc said I could choose to go home or go to the hospital. Home was about twenty minutes away and the hospital was about two so I picked the hospital. Our original plan was to labor at home as long as possible but twenty minutes home to labor more then need to drive twenty back didn’t sound like a good plan.

Within the 15 minutes it took us to get to the hospital, get hooked up to a monitor and get checked I went from 3.5 to 5cm and the contractions were beginning to pick up steam. At the time, I was glad because I’d heard stories of people being sent home if they weren’t in active labor. Again, home and back was not something I wanted to do. I was also relieved that they had a room open as it was a full moon the night before and their 12 rooms have been known to fill up fast!

Since leaving the dr’s office I’d been keeping my doula, Bonnie, posted on how things were going. Thankfully she arrived just as the contractions became more painful.

Around noon, I was admitted to Room 5. Bonnie, Dave and I got to work. Since I had chosen not to receive any interventions (pitocin, pain meds, epidural etc…) it was actually very quiet and peaceful in our room. I did have a short visit from my mom and dad but I was quick to kick them out because I needed to stay focused and visitors made that difficult.

I spent the next couple of hours on the yoga ball with Bonnie and Dave massaging, coaching and just providing the encouragement I needed. As things progressed, I moved into the hospital bed where I just rocked back and forth for what seemed like an eternity. I do not know how I would have ever made it through that day without Dave’s support and Bonnie’s gentle affirmations. I remember watching the sky outside change colors as the contractions became more intense. I could tell by the light that it must have been around 5:30.

At about 6pm and 7cm, things were getting very uncomfortable so when the doctor stopped in I asked him how much longer he thought we had left. His guess was five hours. After laboring 13 hours, I knew I did not have 5 left in me. Thankfully he was wrong and  I was right. I started feeling very nauseous (in addition to the labor pains) and truly felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I told Bonnie and Dave that if I wasn’t ready to push soon I wanted the epidural. I think they probably laughed. I was 8.5cm dilated by that point. So the epidural was out of the question.

It wasn’t long after that when the nurses changed shifts and things started moving pretty fast. I had an incredible nurse named Jade who I will never forget. She got there around 7pm and I told her I had to start pushing or else (not sure what my alternate plan was). She informed me I was at 9.5cm, did a little magic, called it 10 and we started pushing.

The rest is unfortunately really fuzzy but I do remember the dr showing up about half way through, the nurses telling me to reach down and feel Mae’s head, holding my breath, pushing with everything I had in me and feeling her wiggle out.

It was 8:11pm and Mae arrived weighing 7 pounds and eleven ounces and measuring 19 inches long.

I must’ve gone into some sort of shock after that because the next thing I can remember is seeing her dressed, somewhat cleaned up and glossy eyed from the ointment they used. Thankfully, Dave was by my side the entire time so he was able to cut the cord, get some video and have full recollection of those first few moments.

My initial plan was to hold off on family visiting until after Mae’s first feeding but we didn’t manage to do that right away so we let them come on in. My dear friend Kat was there to document those first moments. In hindsight, I wish I’d had her there sooner for Mae’s birth since I don’t have any memory of my first 15 minutes with her. I’ll probably regret that forever.

On the topic of regret, another huge one I have is having so many visitors the next day. I think 16 people came and some stayed most of the day. This is in addition to the doctors, nurses, the hearing test lady, social security rep, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital photographer and lab tech. It was very overwhelming and I don’t think I got to spend any time with Mae in my arms until almost 3pm. I still get pretty emotional every time I think about it. If I had it to do all over again, I would only allow two visitors at a time in short blocks. It was just too much.

The next morning we made sure it was just the three of us. It was sweet but short as they discharged us fairly early. I remember holding her and crying heavy tears as we left Room 5. I was forever changed in that room. I have never been more grateful and humbled by anything in my life and I’ve continued to feel the weight of that every day since.

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sarah - you are my hero!March 6, 2014 – 2:11 am

Kathy Cornett - I enjoyed the share!March 6, 2014 – 2:12 am

melissa - Gorgeous post! Hubby and I are trying to get pregnant. ..so looking forward to my own experience! 🙂March 6, 2014 – 4:53 am

Erika - I just had my baby girl on feb 24…..this post made me weep for sure. I totally relate to and understand your regret with visitors. As sweet and wonderful as people are…it was just too much. And, I also just balled my eyes out in that we were discharged early too.

This was beautifully written…and I relate to it so so much. So glad both you and baby Mae are doing well.March 6, 2014 – 7:27 am

Alisia Thompson - SO SO SO beautiful! Thanks for sharing your birthstory, I am in total awe of your natural birth! I love how peaceful you look in these pictures 🙂March 6, 2014 – 2:59 pm

courtney - beautiful! Motherhood is amazing. Welcome to the club! Proud to have you! xxooMarch 6, 2014 – 9:27 pm

Britney - So beautiful. There will always moments you will wish you had on film but just know that being truly present is the most important of all 🙂 This coming from someone who who give her right arm to have photographs of Nora being born in car!March 17, 2014 – 9:22 pm

Anna - Sweet story! Proud of you for makin it through drug free. P.s. I also had Jade, twice…not for the delivery but right before and then after…she was awesome!!! You never forget the nurses there! 🙂March 18, 2014 – 2:26 pm

LittleBabyC’s Shower

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This day was undoubtedly one of the best I’ve ever had.

I am still in awe of the kindness and generosity that was shown to me and #littlebabyc by some of my closest girlfriends.

Everything was truly perfect.

I should have expected nothing less from the collaboration of my darling hostesses Sarah Tucker, Halle Frey & Mary Beasley (see last pic). Mary’s famous hospitality combined with Halle’s impeccable taste for florals and design perfectly accented each of Sarah’s brilliantly thoughtful touches.

How did I get so lucky?

Every detail was so beautifully planned out, I could hardly believe my eyes.

We were greeted at the door by hand-made floral wristlets and hair clips, escorted to the sparkling fruit juice and prosecco bar where custom gold-foil napkins and wooden drink stirrers accented the yummy concoction table. Outside, there was a perfume bar that Sarah dreamed up with several of my favorite fragrances. One of my favorite elements was a table stocked with pens and wooden blocks for guests to write a note, prayer or scripture for my sweet baby girl to read someday. Then, in the backyard, one long table was set for everyone to enjoy Mary’s fabulous cooking among more of Halle’s incredible arrangements. It was every girl’s dream.

The very best part was that I got to spend a few hours celebrating #littlebabyc with some of the people I love the most. Friends and family traveled from all over to be there and it was all nearly more than I could bear. I felt like the luckiest momma-to-be there ever was.

I just wish it could have lasted forever.

But thanks to some talented friends, I have these priceless photographs that I will treasure and someday share with my daughter as I tell her all about it.

Special thanks to:
Event Design & Coordination – Sarah Tucker Events
Florals – Halle Frey
Host & Chef – Mary Beasley
Hair – Kelsey Kocavik
Shower photos – Kat Braman
Make-up & Maternity Photos – Shannon Griffin
Paper goods – Heather Davis // Paper Please
Photobooth – Sideshow Booth

To see more photos from the shower, check out hashtag #littlebabyc on instagram.

 

 

Diana Lupu - it truly was the perfect day! The pics came out amazing and baby C totally stole the show. LOVE you both so very much!!!! xoxJanuary 8, 2014 – 4:05 am

The Summer Isles - Mediterranean Wedding Inspiration in Olive, Patina, and Jade - Hey Wedding Lady - […] Wed | Olive Wreath – Photography by Kat Braman, Coordinated by Sarah Tucker Events via Little Baby Sea | Wine Cellar Ceremony – Photography by  Austin Gros, Ceremony Venue Sand Rock Farm Bed and […]February 28, 2014 – 12:02 pm

Little Baby Mae’s Mid-Century Modern Organic Neutral Nursery » Little Baby Sea - […] The letters and mirror are Anthropologie. I’m probably not capable of decorating a whole room without something originating there. The dried crown is a Flower & Fringe piece worn at my baby shower. […]March 23, 2014 – 1:18 pm

Traveling Italy: Pregnant

Positano via Jessica Lorren01
Positano

As far back as I can remember, I have loved traveling. Maybe not the backseat-of-the-van Dramamine-fogged family road trip kind but definitely the kind involving amazing food, scenery and new adventures. It always seems as if the memories created during traveling have a way of outlasting the ones I make in my every day life. Not sure why that is, but it’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s also another reason why Dave and I chose to wait seven years to start a family.

I am often amazed that my career has given us the opportunity to see so many incredible places. This past summer, I was invited to photograph my third wedding in Italy which happened to fall on my 30th birthday. With that in mind, and knowing that #littlebabyc would soon make traveling a whole different ballgame, Dave and I decided to tack sometime onto the front and back of the trip to venture around our favorite country. I will be posting some of my favorite photographs from each part of our trip on my photography blog, starting today with Sorrento.

I feel the need to preface the rest of this post by saying that I am truly head-over-heels, under a spell, in love with Italy. However, going in the middle of summer, during their busy season, pregnant was not ideal. I had no idea what I was in for. So my purpose for writing this is to give other mammas-to-be a heads-up on what to expect if they find themselves making a trip such as this one while pregnant.

1. The heat. I have never been so hot in my life. This is coming from someone who has lived all her life in South Florida. I am not sure if it was actually any hotter there but combining pregnancy with crowds, inadequate air conditioning and different cultural beliefs on personal hygiene; and it was nearly unbearable. Dave and I found ourselves spending the hottest parts of the days in our hotel room cooling off or taking turns watching our stuff/swimming just to beat the heat. So mamma’s, make sure you pack accordingly and stay hydrated!

2. The Food. The importance of eating in Italy cannot be understated. However, some of Italy’s finest fare ranks pretty high on the do-not-eat list for preggos. Finding a sandwich without  fresh mozzarella or prosciutto was a daily challenge. You’ll also want to be prepared to avoid the temptations of Italy’s favorite beverages espresso and wine. On a positive note, no doctor of mine said anything about gelato…

3. The Walking. Plan to do a lot of it. Pack comfortable shoes, even if they’re ugly. Public transportation is not pleasant and renting your own transportation could get you killed. So you’ll walk, in the heat. Again, hydration is key.

4. The Public Restrooms. Hard to find, hard to use. Plan to wait in line and while and keep hand sanitizer with you at all times.

5. The Flight. My broken tailbone may be more to blame for this than my pregnancy but those international flights were not fun. The seats felt like torture chambers and the airline food was terrible, it is very likely worth the first-class upgrade if you can swing it.

6. The Flu. The unthinkable, truly unbearable pregnant flu. Even if you are a good girl and take your prenatals every day, it can strike anytime and evidently anywhere. Be sure to pack doctor-approved medications or remedies just in case the flu finds you on your trip. Tracking down these items in another country, especially in remote parts can be quite a challenge.

Most importantly, listen to your bodies cues, take it slow, rest when you need to and have fun!!

Don’t forget to stay tuned on the photography blog for images from Venice, Positano and Capri! Fine Art prints are also available for purchase here.

Little Baby Mae’s Mid-Century Modern Organic Neutral Nursery » Little Baby Sea - […] it home it took me five days to even read it. The prints hanging above are snaps from our trip to Italy while I was pregnant with […]March 23, 2014 – 1:17 pm