The story behind snuggle sessions....
I have 3 beautiful children (I know all moms think that their children are beautiful). I love them like crazy ... keyword "crazy." More like they sometimes drive me crazy. My journey to motherhood was not easy. After multiple miscarriages years ago we decided to take a break on ttc (trying to conceive). When we began again I couldn't get pregnant. I suffered from endometriosis and adhesions. My doctor once told me that endometriosis doesn't cause infertility, but many people who have fertility problems find they have endometriosis. So is it the chicken before the egg or the egg before the chicken?
Right when I gave up on having biological children, I found out I was pregnant. I was probably more nervous/scared than excited. I remember the day I finally had the courage to set up the crib. I cried like a big baby because of my fear of losing this new child in my womb. Every yucky symptom of pregnancy was actually a little blessing to reassure me that this baby was growing strong.
When Abigail was born I was determined to nurse.
Back story: I had a breast reduction when I was 13. Yes, you read that correctly, 13. Breast cancer runs very strong in my family. My mother had it twice. So having the surgery helped reduce my risk. However, many of my milk ducts were cut so I would struggle with my milk supply due to this.
Abigail was born and she struggled to latch. On top of that I got diagnosed with hypertension and had to actually be on bed rest after she was born. So add stress on to reduced milk ducts and you get the picture. I was married to the pump and non stop feedings trying to build my supply for 6 weeks. I tried the sns, but she would scream when I tried to use it. The neighbors probably heard me crying when I finally had to make the decision to stop.
My second was born and he was a sweet little boy named Emory. He latched on great and my supply was a little better, but they couldn't get my blood pressure under control. They had to put me on meds that weren't safe to nurse so I only got to nurse him for 3 weeks.
My third child born just 5 months ago was a sweet baby girl named Naomi. She did great nursing. Thanks to my awesome IBCLC Stacy with Bestfeeding Lactation Services, I was able to hand express colostrum from 36 weeks on (permitted by doctor). I had enough to bring with me to the hospital that I didn't have to do any supplementing while we were there. I produced so much more and was able to nurse her for 3 months. I still had to supplement, but I did produce more. However, once again my blood pressure went haywire and the stress of figuring it out dropped my supply so low that I lost my chance to continue nursing. Also, I was told I had high cholesterol and had to go on meds for that. Yay me!
So, long story short... not really, I feel a bit inadequate about my motherhood skills. I know that may sound ridiculous to some, but to those of you who have been there you probably understand (unfornately). The personal shame game began along with the jealousy of seeing other women nurse.
I am a very modest person and with the added emotional hurt I have from my own experience of nursing I've always struggled to photograph women nursing. However, I was recently able to photograph a woman who had made it over a year of nursing and was getting ready to leave her sweet baby girl for the first time for 4 months! We did a few shots of her nursing at the end of her engagement session and I simply fell in love with the emotion I saw and felt in those images.
At that moment I decided I needed to offer these sessions so mother's have something they can look back and cherish forever.
Snuggle sessions are meant for mom or dad. They are not specifically breast feeding images. I wanted to open it to others who couldn't breast feed. I remember, and still do, how it felt to see these wonderful bonding images and never feeling like I could participate. This would once again confirm the lie I believed about being less of a mother.
So schedule your session to capture a moment with your little one or even not so little one. These are meant to be beautiful images that capture the relationship you have with your child (whether young or old, mom or dad).
*Not family sessions. Limited to 1 child/1adult.
I was so excited to be able photograph this sweet 10 day old baby girl. She was absolutely precious and looked so much like her big sister. It was even more fun because her big sister got to come along and sneak into some of the pictures. Big sissy was so excited to have a little sister and right before she turned the BIG 3!
When booking their session I found out that her mama's aunt was the one who first taught me photography in high school. She played a very instrumental part in the photographer I am today. She was a fantastic teacher and always pushed me to go beyond my little box of thinking. It is a small world!
We started out across the street in a quiet backyard along the water. It was a beautiful morning and we found the perfect shade under a nice big tree.
We then moved into the studio once she had fallen asleep. After picking out headbands and wraps we snuggled her in and got to posing. She did a fantastic job on her first photo shoot.
Big sister had fun playing dress up while baby girl was taking a feeding break. It is nice sometimes to have siblings there while the new baby takes a break. It gives us a chance to really put them back in the spotlight during such a big transition where they no longer have it all to themselves.
Is this not the most adorable doting sister ever? I think they are going to be the best of friends.
Adorable Newborn bonnet and leggings made by Mountain Mommy's Crochet
Click here to schedule your newborn session. Newborn sessions are done within the first 6-10 days. It is best to book your session in your 2nd trimester.
Little boys have a special place in a momma's heart. I didn't know that until I had one of my own. I love both of my children deeply, but my little boy is "momma's boy" and I love it. Abigail is definitely "daddy's girl." Boys can be wild and crazy, but so sweet and loving too.
I got to spend the morning with these 2 rascals and they kept me on my toes as we ran around the park and playground. Who said you can't have fun while doing your job? I say why not!
He was a real pro on his scooter or as he would call it, "scoodin." Some of my favorite photos of children are the ones where they are NOT looking at the camera. It is like you capture their true emotion and personality.
His little brother is such a sweetheart and I can not get enough of those sweet little curls and chubby cheeks.
He's looks so proud of his big boy trike.
I can be competitive so it was a lot of fun to see if he could beat my camera shutter.
All the toys to play with yet a stick is so much better.
Sweet moments between brothers. These don't always last long and I loved that I was able to capture them.
A little funny to end it how a boy would because we can't be too serious. The world needs a little silliness.
A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn't act that way very often. ~Author Unknown
As a mom, you want to cherish every second of your child's life (except for the melt downs). However, it is not always easy to capture those sweet traits on camera. For some reason a signal goes off in the child's brain as soon as the camera comes out (act crazy or be stubborn).
It's not often that I bring out my big camera to photograph my children (shocking I know). Phones have become such a great tool in keeping memories, however, they are really not the best quality. The only really good thing about phone cameras is that kids are now becoming more comfortable in front of a camera.
I recently got in the studio with my two kiddos and just had fun playing around. I had no set agenda and even let Abigail pick out her first outfit. She is obsessed with fairies right now. I've done sessions before with them where I wanted specific pictures and ended up getting frustrated. I've learned that you just have to go with the flow with kids. Let them get into a position and then you slightly tweak it to your liking. So let me introduce you to my 2 little loves.
This is my sweet Abigail. She is such a little diva. She loves all things princess and fairy. She is also convinced that she wakes up the sun each morning.
Having a little boy is so different. Emory is all boy and I love him for that, even if it does drive me crazy. He is definitely a mama's boy. He gets into everything possible and does not understand the word "No." Right now he is obsessed with shoes and hats (especially his sister's).
Just shy of 19 months apart and they love each other like crazy. Sharing toys is another story. She loves "showing" him how to do things and he so adores her. I think I can't love them anymore, but I love them a litte more everyday.
You love your kids! That doesn't mean they don't drive you crazy, give you grey hairs or less hair, but you wouldn't trade it for anything - most days... just kidding. I used to think I wanted twins so that I could be done and over, but having 2 kids just short of 19 months apart makes me realize I probably would be totally bald if God had given me twins. He definitely knows what we can handle.
It makes you sad to think how fast they are growing and how much they are changing (by the days, weeks, months). So you set up an appointment to have their pictures taken so you can remember them as they are, but in reality we want the nice smiley pictures too. If the following scenario sounds like you, then you are not alone...
"Pictures are scheduled for the next day and you've forgotten to plan outfits so like a mad woman you are running around the house looking for coordinated outfits (let's face it, you are looking for non-wrinkly, non-stained, sort of matching outfits). If you do not succeed a light bulb goes off and you realize you could get yourself a non-kid shopping experience at target out of the predicament you're in. The husband is more than happy to get his frantic wife out of the house."
"The next morning you are preparing the kids for the session or bribing, black mailing, practicing your evil eye (whatever you want to call it). As the session time is getting closer everyone gets dressed and threats about messed up hair, spilling on clothes, bad attitudes are reiterated. Little Jonny refuses to wear the shoes you bought and Sally wants bows that don't even match her dress. You can feel the tension in the air. Have I forgotten to mention dad yet? Hmmm... Ever heard the saying, "If Momma aint happy, then nobody's happy." Well, the real truth is "If Daddy aint happy, then Momma's not happy, therefore nobody's happy." Ask any photographer and they will tell you."
"By the time you get to the session, the family that normally loves each other (or at least gets along most of the time) is now ready to pull each other's hair out. This sounds like a great time to take pictures of each other showing the tight bond they all share, right? Not!"
Here are some tips for preparing for a session with kids:
1. Kids can feel the tension in the air and most of the time it causes them to stress. They don't know how to handle stress well (does anyone?) so they tend to act out. Try to relax as much as you can which in turn will help the kids relax. Don't put so much pressure on them to perform, remember you are trying to capture who they are not a hallmark card. Also remember that children have short attention spans, so breaks to wiggle a little in the session are helpful and not always necessarily an act of defiance.
1a. Don't forget teens are a whole different ball game. They are struggling with self image, figuring out who they are (or want to be), and how to feel good about themselves. Give them a little freedom in choice of clothes (to an extent - we remember the pictures of ourselves where we thought we were cool too) and allow them to have some input on the session. Teens are less likely to fake what's not there, so spend quality time with them being silly and getting to know them (don't embarrass though).
2. An incredible children's photographer named Tamara Lackey had some great tips for helping kids and preparing parents. She warns her parents that the kids will probably misbehave and she is totally fine with that. She says they are testing their boundaries and seeing how much they can trust this stranger. She pushes parents to let loose for the session time and allow them a little wiggle room. The biggest thing she wants parents to know is that she has seen it before so no need to get embarrassed or go full-on drill sergeant on the kid. The harder you push the more they will push back. ** Did you know that most of the time if a parent is not in the room the child does better. (Doesn't always work with toddler/stranger danger stage)
3. Prepare daddy. Bribery may work for him, but really, make it about being fun. Get him involved. If he's not interested, ask him what is the least painful thing he wouldn't mind doing for a picture with his family. Remind him that these will be passed down for his grandchildren to see and does he really want the grandkids to ask, "Why does Grandpa look like he's constipated?"
4. Make it FUN! Gone are the days of the statue poses. Pick a fun location, create a theme, fly a kite, bring balloons, read a book, pretend to be the "Incredibles." Just remember that these are memories too and you want to look back and laugh or at least smile.
5. Now Momma go and reward yourself for a job well done or at least done!
** Stay tuned for upcoming classes on how to take better 'day to day' pictures of your children **
Warning... An explosion of cuteness all packaged up in one little boy about to be displayed. I had the chance to photograph sweet little Carter as he turned the BIG 3. I think we may have a future J Crew model in our midst.
He loves spiderman, but wasn't quite ready to show the world his awesome super powers and cool suit. He traded it in for a more sophisticated look with a little bit of casual cool.
I'm not sure who had more fun. We played hide and seek in the awesome "Fun Forest" playground at Chesapeake City Park. I couldn't ask for a better background as most of it is ornately carved wood.
He's a little character and a big sweetie. Did I mention he's about to be a big brother to a sweet baby girl? Pictures of her are soon to come. Be on the lookout!
Did you see what an awswome jumper this little guy is. My vertical height is pitiful, so he easily outshined me.