Welcome to the World Baby K | Cesarean Birth Story | Richmond, Va

a good mother isn't defined by the process of labor...a good mother is defined by the sacrifices and love she gives her children.

-unknown-

As a professional birth photographer, I believe that every birth experience is amazing. Women's bodies are natural and strong, all of our journeys toward motherhood are unique and full of so much emotion, trials, and tribulations. I hope, as more births are documented throughout the world, we can come together and promote a "community over competition" mentality of how we bring lives into this world. 

This mama and her family are absolutely adorable. A true party of 4 now that Miss K has graced us with her presence. When I met the mom she was so nervous about her birth experience coming up, so I was honored to be invited to document her story. As the weeks and days passed us by we talked constantly about how she was doing and more importantly how she was feeling. As her due date came and went nerves started to really kick in. I appreciate this mama for her candid nature and perspective of life. Sometimes as mothers we can plan all day long and do everything in our power to have life go according to our plan, but when we add in another human being, even when they are mini humans, all bets are off. 

This was the case with baby K. She was determined to come on her own time and in a manner that made her mama have to truly surrender to the process. Through it all, many tears and augmentation methods, baby K arrived via c-section. Watch her story and how her handsome big brother welcomed her into the world.

With grit and grace,

First Moments of Fatherhood | Richmond, Va

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.

-pam brown-

I am obviously not a dad, but I do get to witness men turn into fathers with each birth I document. This post shows off some of the awesome dads I have met this past year.

Watching the transformation of a husband become a dad, no matter how many children they have already, is seriously magical! Every dad is different in how they react to seeing their partner in labor. They all set different limits on where they stand during the delivery of the child, but afterwards; there is always amazement and love. So where you stand at mom's head, watch your child crown or even catch your baby entering the world, you are all strong and incredible fathers!

my birth story

It has been two and a half years, and I'm finally getting to write a bit about my own birth story. In a lot of ways it was my catalyst to begin and truly enjoy the art of birth photography today! To start, I was speaking with a friend about a non-profit trying to gain more volunteers when I had the craziest dizzy spell. As in, I had to sit or I would have fallen. At that moment I knew something was up, but tried to put it out of mind. An easy task believe it or not, because not less than a week later a pipe burst in our home while we were working. A pipe on the second floor, in the bathroom. Water everywhere, it was raining in our living room just barely into our 7th month of home ownership. Seriously, I could not make this up. So we ended up in a hotel for about two weeks, where I still just didn't feel right. My husband and I are very open with each other, so of course we went to the store and bought one of each type of pregnancy test. I'm not kidding. We got back to our room and I took one. I know I should have waited until the morning, but whatever. We were there and anxious!

First test was a positive.

I didn't believe. I was pregnant. This state that you go through your adolescence being told is not great. Abstain, don't have babies. Naturally, I grabbed the test box and read the statistics about a possible false positive. Apparently that wasn't a thing, so I took all the rest of the pregnancy test over the course of 2 weeks. Finally, I reconciled the fact that I was growing a tiny parasite inside me and went to see the doctor to confirm and all that jazz. By jazz, I mean light blues. By this time we had moved into long term temporary housing, and I was sicker than a dog. I had to get IV fluids twice and was pretty much non-functioning!

For the expecting mamas reading this, always keep bags without holes and paper towels in the car. Also to be safe, travel in the right lane in case you need to pull over for what ever reason!!

Other than being super sick and quite tired I plugged along until one day, at 20 weeks, I walked into to work and had a crazy stitch in my side. I tried ignoring it, do you see a pattern (haha), until I couldn't breathe without concentrating. I was scared. Called the husband and said I'm coming home, we need to go to the doctor. Mind you, I worked an hour from our temporary home. I got in my car and called my mom. I could barely talk. I was in so much pain, she was trying to give me directions to the nearest hospital when I gave up and got on route 66 to just get home. Things went down hill and I had to pull over to call an ambulance. Scariest day of my life! I was passing a kidney stone, but at the time I could have sworn my baby and I were dying! Being a first time mom, it was the only conclusion!

After that eventful first and second trimester things were pretty smooth sailing. I picked up energy, felt much better, and we finally got to move back into our house at the beginning of my third trimester. I do not recommend moving at this time of your pregnancy, unless you have movers and un-packers! My husband was a saint!!

With all of that said, I was fairly type A throughout my pregnancy. Researched everything, watched, and read even more. I practiced how I would labor, hired a doula, and made sure I was with a practice that had a midwife. I wanted a natural labor. I did not want to find out the sex. We thought it was one of the last ways in life to truly surprise ourselves. Little did we know, now having a toddler! I also wanted a birth photographer. However given our crazy life circumstances at the time could not afford one. I was super grateful that my best friend, Anna Gibson, was willing to be on call and come document my journey to motherhood.

So on we went. Approached our due date, with family in town, and passed our due date. Our child decided to wait until she was good and ready to make her appearance! After nine days of waiting through prodromal labor, Miss Bit decided it was time, but still took her time. I woke up Monday morning with strong contractions. I had to call my early to work husband back home, and started walking to keep the contractions going. I was nervous, not sure about timing, my husband wasn't home, but I knew in my heart that baby would't come until the world was right. August 19th was such an amazing day. We walked a lot! We went to a nearby park and walked even more, found a four leaf clover and was congratulated by people passing us as I grimaced through yet another contraction. By late that night I had called my doula and photographer to come, I felt I was getting close. After the party arrived at my house we made our way to the hospital. The REAL party!

I feel like life has been a blur since this part. Yes, still 2.5 years later, it is still a blur. I greatly appreciated my midwife explaining every step of the process and answering all of my questions. I received the tiniest bit of pitocin which was enough to kick my laboring body into high gear. I labored in the bath tub until I felt like pushing then I got out and started pushing. I'm sure much more happened during this time, but like I said it was a blur of anticipation, contractions, and the drive to meet this stubborn human!

Looking back through my images I still get emotional! I love that my husband was with me 100% of the time. He held my hand and supported me through the entire process! I very surprisingly didn't curse throughout the entire event. Oh and I was a blubbering mess when Miss Bit joined us earth side. My husband told me her sex and we just wept. She was finally with us, in our arms!

with grit and grace,

Nicole

Home Birth in Leesburg, VA | Welcome to the World Miss C

"successful mothers are not the ones

that have never struggled. They are the ones

that never give up, despite the struggles."

-Sharon Jaynes

I was called into this home birth in Leesburg, VA last minute due to health issues with various parties involved and am so grateful I was able to be present for this mother. Mom is a birth doula herself and very active in the birthing community. She has an amazing, strong, and brave voice to speak up for what is right, normal, and natural. While she may not know it, she has taught me a lot of strength as a woman since I met her a year ago. She and her family are the culmination of what creating your own tribe is all about. She embodies the idea of community over competition in everyday mom life.

The beautiful Bataille family shows great strength and this little girl that has joined them has started her life by giving an amazing gift to her brother. Banking cord blood is a personal decision for each family, but with a recent diagnosis for her oldest brother they opted to partake in this gracious procedure. I definitely teared up when mom was thanking her new tiny human for her donation. Seriously all of the feels! If you would like to hear more and support the family please visit their Facebook Page!

Without further words to clutter this post about their home birth in Leesburg, VA, scroll through the images of this little one's sweet and peaceful home birth arrival.

be inspired. live boldly.

Nicole

P.S. I want to leave a note with this birth story. Capturing this new life coming into the world, even though this was not my first birth, is one of the first that truly made me feel like a professional. I was asked to cut the cord (politely declined insisting dad do the honors), and was able to really move freely and just be me and create art for this family. I am so in love with what I do! Enamored by the process, adore the healing nature of images, and seriously in awe of the "crazy sexy beautiful" strength of women in motherhood.

Welcome to the World Mr. R | Birth Photography

I think she is caught between who she is

and who she wants to be.

This is how I see birth.

While we know baby will come no matter what is going on in our lives; I truly believe the safer you feel the easier it is both emotionally and physically to welcome your baby into the world. This doesn't mean pile your partner up with the honey-do list. Tempting I know.Rather I challenge you to sit and appreciate all of those aches and pains, the trouble breathing, the heartburn, and the loss of sleep. You are not fat, you are not a whale. You are beautiful and strong. You have created and grown a human being!

That last trimester is when you settle and nest to prepare your home and heart for all of the changes to come. Then, the actual laboring is the mental and physical fitness test to get you to that finish line. This process is the most obvious to me with first time parents. There is a level of letting go that has to happen, because you really have no idea what motherhood is going to present you. It is exciting, terrifying, wondrous, painful, and so very worth it. The beautiful surrender to primal need is incredible. I feel so honored to be asked into such a sacred place: the creation of family.

This is everything I am thinking as I observe and process a birth. It is emotional for me every time, but never as emotional as for the parents. The relief of meeting this precious tiny human, scouring every inch, counting fingers and toes over and over again, and waking to every noise they make in those first few hours and weeks. It is all magic!

This family embodied the awe and pure appreciation for the surrender. Mama was a powerhouse through her natural labor. Mom and dad worked together, cried together, and celebrated together. Here is a snippet of their birth story.

McDowell family, party of 3.

be inspired. live boldly.

Nicole