Friday, January 5, 2018

October-January




This is day 4 of potty training and she needed a Potty Doula. Sometimes we need a little extra support on the toilet. My hope is one day someone would hold me if I needed them to support me!




Theres something so special about seeing myself in pictures with her. It has nothing to do with vanity or self-love. It has everything to do with me wanting to leave something for her to look back on one day, something that she can actually visually see. It’s my hope that one day, she’ll look through family albums and see how much I absolutely love her. Anytime that she feels lonely, sad, or unworthy of love, I want her to have a clear image in her head of L.O.V.E. Although I could never capture or visually create the love I have for her, I want her to be able to see photographs of me and her so that she can understand that with me there will always be love and a place to call home. 








Ah two days postpartum in all it's messy glory.
My story:
Almost five and a half years ago our son was born spontaneously at home at only 27 weeks. What followed were months and months spent at the closest NICU, which was an hour away from home, then years of trauma to work through not just for myself but for my husband too. A lot of this trauma resurfaced when we decided to try for another child. It was a long road to conceive again. I was older, dubbed by medical professionals as "of advanced maternal age". We experienced two losses before conceiving our daughter.
This pregnancy was much different than our first. I had weekly appointments at my OB's office for ultrasounds and progesterone injections and monitoring. They were watching me like a hawk this time and I was suspicious of every ache and pain I experienced. But each week that passed was celebrated as it was one week closer to full term.
Thirty four weeks was celebrated on a Friday. It was the longest I'd ever made it in a pregnancy. I was feeling pretty good but of course getting more and more tired each day that went by. I guess that's typical for the third trimester and I welcomed each new pregnancy experience with open arms as I had missed out on so much of the process the first time around. 
By that Saturday though, I woke up feeling super crampy. They hadn't gone away by lunch time so I sent our son to his grandparents so I could get checked out at the nearby hospital just in case. Well, within an hour they had decided that yes, I was indeed in labor and baby was breech so they arranged for an ambulance to take me to the same hospital our son had been in five years ago but this time for an emergency c-section. My husband arrived just in time and thankfully with my camera.
He was able to photograph the delivery and I was able to snap this photo two days later as I was recovering in the hospital two floors up from the NICU where our daughter would thankfully only spend a week.
So here I am with one more scar to add to my collection. My abdomen tells quite the story now. First burns from an explosion 13 years ago, my appendectomy surgery 2 years ago and finally, a cesarean section that brought our baby girl into the world. I used to want to remove these scars. But with the last one, they're now symbolic of so much more. So much pain, yes. But so much triumph as well. I can't help but feel proud of them now. 





My jaw couldn't have dropped more. I was in utter disbelief. After three pregnancies, a horrible miscarriage, and months upon months of trying for both of our boys, here we were pregnant. Pregnant after thinking we might try a few times and then deciding we should wait; coming to the understanding that the timing wasn't good even though we wanted more children. Realizing that maybe we were good with our little family of four. That we were enough. I was finally at the point of feeling so great about it all.

I'm still in shock and numb. And in shock. Oh, the shock!  I just can't get over it; can't get over how much we planned for our first three babies, all of the heartache of loss and trying, and now this just HAPPENED.

When I took these moments of celebration of our third, I thought I was capturing them for our baby and our family.  As I sat and looked at these moments though, I realized it was me who needed to see all of our love the most. That it was me who needed to see us and be reminded just how amazing the adventure of life truly is.





I "threw up" my baby. Around 9cm dilated, I became nauseous and started vomiting. We  lost the baby's heart rate on the monitor and after adjusting the belt, the nurse still couldn't find it. She decided to check me, and pulled up the sheet and said "OH! WE HAVE A BABY!" My baby's head was completely out, his face on the bed!  Staff came rushing in, and the midwife finished delivering my baby with her bare hands... it was that fast! I never even had to push! I guess by #6 they just slide themselves out!




I was 17 years old, when I became pregnant with my first child. During my pregnancy I watched as my once smooth skin stretched past it's limits. After I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, my swollen belly deflated and I soon realized my skin would never be the same. My second pregnancy added more stripes to my collection, which I didn't think was possible. Now, I'm regretting not taking more photos in a bikini back in high school, because I don't remember what my belly button used to look like. It's more of a cave than a button at this point. I've struggled through the years to feel comfortable and confident in this new, scarred skin of mine but self portraits always help me see myself in a new light. My body is a work of art and it can do some pretty incredible things. I created two amazing human beings and my body will forever show evidence of their time spent cradled within. Every breath, kick, and heartbeat carved into my skin like a visual memoir. And that's beautiful.




Home is where your mom is. 




Ashley Harrison
I don't typically think of myself as having a "large family." It feels normal and unremarkable most of the time. But when I see a picture of all of us together, that's when I'm like "Woaaahhhh.... that's a lot of heads




Description of the photo: When you try randomly to take a nursing shot while looking through back of camera images you just took and get this... you can't help but laugh and laugh. This is how nursing an almost toddler goes; standing up, sitting down, dancing, and making faces in the hopes that milk will come faster.​ I call it the milky dance.




I was a competitive gymnast for over 10 years before becoming a mom. So when we went to my friends sons 5th birthday party at a gym, I might have had more fun than all the kids. It felt nice to flip around like old times again! Also, my goal is to be able to do a back flip on the trampoline until I'm at least 75 ;) 




Snow Day




My youngest usually hates getting a bath so I often shower with her. She finds comfort in me holding her and I love getting a few moments with just the two of us. I have wanted to document this since she was tiny but never felt confident, beautiful, the right size, fit...fill in any other word that we women use to judge our bodies. 

I had an exploratory/diagnostic surgery, two cesarean births, my gallbladder removed, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and had a hysterectomy in the last seven years. I have ten surgical scars, permanent tissue damage from injections, numerous pregnancy stretch marks, and sagging skin covering my stomach...it is not a perfect stomach. However, from that imperfect stomach I have the amazing gift of motherhood, a gift I was once told I would never be able to experience within my own body! This is a gift I don't take lightly as I fought for all of my children and know many women who fight daily to have the opportunity to carry a baby within her womb. 

I was initially terrified to share this photograph but if I don't accept my body as it is how do I teach my girls to love theirs? This is motherhood and I am proud of that stomach and all it has done!





My Husband and I after an extremely long day from work, rushing around different towns to get last minute gifts for family, grocery shopping, cranky kids, missing meeting up with friends for a Christmas adventure because of said cranky kids and then having an even longer night of wrapping presents together. The kids were in bed, we locked our doors, and we giggled and laughed from pure exhaustion. I had to capture it! This is what date night looks like around here, and I wouldn't have it any other way.




So here I am, 2 weeks postpartum in this image with my second child who was born on November 5th, 2017. As most of us women struggle with feeling normal after 9 months of our bodies changing, we tend to hate our postpartum selves. I know I have been guilty of it. I had such a hard time accepting the stretch marks, loose skin, and layers of fat from my pregnancy with my first born, my son. So during my second pregnancy I told myself that I wasn't going to allow myself to be that person again. I was surprised at how accepting I was this go around. Honestly, I feel like my breastfeeding bond with my daughter has helped me focus on nourishing her rather than focusing on loosing the "baby weight".

I had a hard time breastfeeding my son and ended up pumping breast milk for him for 14 months. With my daughter, the experience has been completely different since she has picked up nursing like a champ and the bond, although incredibly hard (it's a full time job), is truly amazing.

In this image I see myself accepting the new "me" and truly appreciating my body for all that it has done (Might I add that I gave birth to her breech, vaginally, and NO medication ). Mothers are powerful and our bodies are incredible! And there is just something so empowering about not only pregnancy and giving birth, but being able to nourishing your child. I didn't intend on capturing the milk flowing from my breast, it just began pouring intensely as I brought her to my chest. The power of skin to skin is captivating.This picture means the world to me. I will forever treasure it.





Reading our favorite book, The Gruffalo!





Some days towing the children along feels like such a burden, and often it proves to be just that. But other times they just fold themselves into whatever little nook will fit them -- whether it be physical or more symbolic. Just home from two weeks out of town, we ran six different errands this morning. I started off dreading the outing, but came home filled with appreciation for how flexible, easygoing, and rad these kids are.





My oldest is in elementary and my twins are now off to preschool. Right before school started I got the same questions from friends and family over and over. "Now that all the kids are off to school, what will you do with all your time? I kinda laughed and would reply "laundry." The truth is, I spend more time driving back and forth than anything. And when I do find a spare moment- I feel guilty for spending time on things that aren't an immediate demand. But, every once in awhile, I give myself permission to just be...and fill my cup. This morning, I went out into my herb garden that old man winter is anxiously waiting to wrap it's arms around and slowly but surely turn it's lush, beautifully smelling and nourishing treasures into seedy, dry and brown silhouettes of summer past and clipped some stems to create a small bouquet. In that time, I took in the scents, and my soul began to warm. It's funny how in the hustle of motherhood we can fool ourselves into thinking that self care isn't an immediate demand...truth is, it is just as important to fill up our own cups as it is to nourish the ones we love more than anything. So, in this moment, I gazed out the window at my herb garden and allowed myself to just be.





For this photo I was trying to capture my twin sleeping in the wrap with me but as soon as I got set up sitting in the chair the twin came running and wanted to snuggle. It was such a perfect twin mom moment!




Marisa Kraft
This year, I am challenging myself to get in the frame. I love the photos I took last year, but as I sift through, one person is usually missing from the story I am telling... and that is me. I truly feel that photos solidify memories in our minds; they are a visual reminder of a special time that makes it stick forever. I want my babies to always know how much I have loved them, through all of the stages, and this year I am going to use photography to illustrate that story. The little guy isn't going to remember his first bath in our kitchen sink, but when I show him this photo of us while I tell him about it, it will be like he does.




Motherhood is a beautiful and emotional time, especially during those postpartum weeks.  This is at three days postpartum, right as my milk came in.  I wanted to capture the rawness of this time.














Been together for 20 years, married for 17.   
We don't get away without the kids often enough, but it's so worth it when we do.





What a difference a year makes, especially in the booty. We are breastfeeding and you can clearly see he's sucking every last drop out of me, as he's 85% weight and I am thinner than before either got pregnant. Whatever shape or size, he's worth it!!