Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

posted in: Parenting | 2
Today I’m welcoming Emma from Adventures of Adam! The snapshot below has special meaning to Emma because of what she had to go through to have her son. In a moment, she’ll be sharing her story with you.

After a very difficult pregnancy, during which she suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), Emma vowed to make every day an adventure. Her blog is the outcome of completing a 100 day play challenge with her toddler as part of that promise. On her blog, you’ll find HG-friendly play activities that require no preparation, do not involve smells or food, and are easy to clean up. These activities to allow moms suffering from HG during pregnancy to still enjoy playing with their children.

— Betsy

Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

39 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy
35 weeks suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum
245 days of vomiting and suffering from nausea
Over 2,200 tablets taken
1 month in hospital
Countless medical tests
Pre-eclampsia

This is what it took to get this photo of my son, Adam.

Adventures of Adam - Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum - BPhotoArt.com

I had never heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) until I was 7 weeks pregnant and found myself unable to function. I was vomiting 20-40 times a day and unable to go about my day-to-day life. Nothing would stay down. I would eat an ice cube and seconds later bring it right back up again. Even the mention of food made me vomit.

HG completely took over my life and has changed my view on so many things. It is such a debilitating and all consuming condition; it robbed me of everything. I was unable to have any type of life, lost my independence due to needing full time care, and became dependent on my family and medication to keep me alive.

As if that wasn’t enough the isolation and misunderstanding of the condition made the vomiting harder to deal with.

My Breaking Point

Eleven weeks into the pregnancy, I was at my breaking point. It was weeks since I had eaten anything substantial and it was a constant battle to keep any fluid down.  After talking to a midwife, I was introduced to the world of “ketones” – a word that every HG sufferer dreads. Excessive ketones in the urine indicate that the body is not using carbohydrates from food as fuel and is subsequently trying to break down fat as fuel. Having ketones is a sign that the body is beginning to operate in starvation mode. I was severely dehydrated and admitted to hospital where I spent an entire week on an IV drip.

It took several lengthy hospitalizations to reduce my ketone levels and find a combination of medicines that reduced my vomiting. I was still sick frequently, but I was starting to retain some fluid.   Despite the improvement, Hyperemesis never leaves you; even when the sickness was controlled the condition still took over my life.

I felt dizzy all the time, was left confined to my couch with no energy and unable to prepare food myself. The nausea was unrelenting and felt worse than the sickness. My sense of smell was heightened so much that I could not stand the smell of my own husband and couldn’t go near him without vomiting. I couldn’t go into our kitchen due to the smell and I was unable to wash myself due to exhaustion. I couldn’t cope with noise, light, heat or movement. The only thing I could do was lay still and wait. This state continued on for me, week after week, month after month.

Adam’s Birth – And Relief from Hyperemesis Gravidarum

As soon as Adam was born the May 2nd, 2012, the vomiting stopped. I no longer felt nauseous and wasn’t reaching for the sick bowl. Still, recovery has been a long process. Because I was bed ridden for so long, my muscles didn’t  work well; oedema worsened the problem. The emotional impact of my condition resulted in my having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Support Networks

When Adam was 7 weeks old, I found out about the Pregnancy Sickness Support (a UK charity). It’s unfortunate I didn’t learn of it sooner.  The UK charity is the only one supporting women with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) and Hyperemesis Gravidarum; it provides a telephone helpline, a national peer support network and educates healthcare professionals treating the conditions.

I have volunteered for the charity for two years.  I now administrate their online forum for sufferers and survivors, and have recently become a trustee.

For International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day I created this video (mobile version):

For those in the United States, the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation is a worldwide network of HG survivors, and a great resource for information on HG. The Hyperemisis Education and Research Foundation is dedicated to helping hyperemesis sufferers (and surivors!) and to finding a cure for HG. and its complications.

— Emma

Other Articles on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

What About You?

The last article listed above, by the Syndey Morning Herald, mentioned 70% of pregnant women are affected by nausea and vomiting — and up to 3% of pregnant women experience HG. It also discusses how Charlotte Bronte suffered from HG and did die from the condition according to The Life of Charlotte Bronte (#afflink) by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Have you had acute morning sickness?  Do you know someone who survived HG?  I’ve love to hear your stories in the comments below.

Living Life To The Fullest: Silliness Is A Must

posted in: Parenting | 14
Today I’m welcoming Michelle from Divas With A Purpose. She’s here to share about living life to the fullest and how silliness is a must. You’ll also learn some simple ways for embracing your divatude (read on for more explanation).Michelle blogs regularly about inspiring and encouraging women in their personal and professional lives. You can connect with her on Facebook or sharing glimpses of her world on Instagram.

— Betsy

Living Life To The Fullest: Silliness Is A Must

This little bugger is my youngest son. I have this snapshot posted on my vision board as a reminder to smile and remember the fun, silly moments of life.

Living Life To The Fullest: Silliness A Must - Divas With a Purpose @ BPhotoArt.com

My pregnancy with him was rough – emotionally and physically. I was miserable and depressed the majority of my pregnancy. It hurts to say that now but there were many a nights that I cried myself to sleep. There was so much turmoil going on in my marriage, my career and my overall outlook of life. The moment I first laid eyes on him – I was overcome with emotion. I am sure I am not the only mother who wondered throughout their second pregnancy how her heart could possibly love a second child as much as their first. I quickly learned it was very much possible and came quite naturally.

While I was home on maternity leave with my son, my passion for writing returned. It had been years since I had truly been motivated and inspired to write anything. I had let life bog me down and extinguish the passion that I had for the written word.

“What is it that you stand for? When your name comes to mind, what do others think of? Is it something positive or negative? Is it what you’d want your legacy to be? Is it what you’d want your children to pass on to their children’s children? If not, what are you doing to change that?”

I believe in living life to the fullest. Life happens – the good, the bad, and the in between. Some of it we can control and some we just have to roll with the punches, regroup and continue to press forward. The silliness that you see in this photo – it brings a smile to my face many a day. It reminds me to not let life pass me by.

As a mother, I strive to embrace my divatude on a daily basis and encourage my children to do the same. Divatude? For many that may be a new concept. I believe that we all should strive to be driven, inspiring, victorious and called to action – our divatude! Sometimes when I share that it sounds quite grandiose and time-consuming, but it is really a simple concept to embrace:

Divatude - exactly what is it? - Divas With a Purpose @ BPhotoArt.com

Simple Ways To Embrace Your Divatude

  • Believe in yourself. Tell yourself regularly how awesome you are. It’s not cockiness – it’s self-confidence
  • Encourage others. Tell your children what they do well and support their endeavors.
  • Give back in your community – donate your time, talents and/or tangibles.
  • Support others with their endeavors, when possible. Your presence, alone, makes a difference.
  • Be positive and uplifting. It makes a difference.
  • Set goals for yourself personally and professionally. Strive to continue growing and learning.
  • Be the friend you want to have.
  • Share your story with someone that can be encouraged or motivated by it.
  • Practice gratitude regularly.

— Michelle

How Do You Live Life to the Fullest?

I love how Michelle challenges us to make sure we’re living life to the fullest.

So, what do you think? Are these ideas practical for you? What are you going to try first? Have you already found ways to remember the silly moments in life? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts.

Big Brother Kit (3 Busy Bag Activities)

posted in: Parenting | 4

Earlier this week I shared the fabric lovey for baby that we made as part of a virtual busy bag exchange — well, today, you’ll get to hear about the toddler-aged busy bag I created for my son. Since our new baby’s arrival is any moment, I thought a big brother kit would be the perfect topic for a busy bag!

Big Brother Kit - 3 Busy Bag Activities - BPhotoArt.com
Big Brother Kit – 3 busy bag activities for while mom and dad are at the hospital.

The Big Brother Kit (3 Busy Bag Activities)

Since big brother may need a few days’ worth of activities, I together three busy bag activities for him.  I’ll briefly tell you about each, and then this post will focus on the third one: the “Waiting for Baby” busy bag.

1. Bookworm Busy Bag

The first busy bag I assembled, perhaps the easiest.  This is a selection of travel-sized picture books in a little carrying bag. Perfect for any reader, and the small size of the books makes it easy to bring a number of different stories along.  And, needed, given that my toddler chose to read 150 books this summer through the library read-to-me program.  That’s about 4 books a day, so manageable if we keep on top of it.

2. Big Brother Kit Memory Game Busy Bag

A simple busy bag, pairs of photos printed on cardstock.  For this busy bag, I went through our photo archives (see some of Toby’s first year memories), and selected images that grandma and grandpa (who Toby will be staying with his baby brother “comes out”) could use as a “big brother kit prep” activity.  You know, sleeping, nursing, first food, first steps… all the things babies do that my son will know soon enough.

3. Waiting for Baby Busy Bag

This busy bag activity kit was my tour de force.  I spent the most time on it, and there are two components: a spiral bound photo storybook, and some photo puzzles. Both feature our family maternity portraits.  Now, onto the details of how I made this busy bag!

Waiting for Baby Busy Bag Storybook

When brainstorming ideas, I remembered how much Toby liked looking through the baby photos of himself.   All kids love pictures.  Well, since we just did our maternity pictures, I decided to put together a little storybook featuring the maternity portraits.  The storyline is pretty simple, and focuses on waiting for baby, how my son will be a great big brother, how much mommy and daddy love him, and how our family will be changing as baby arrives.

I made sure to incorporate familiar phrases from our daily conversations to add familiarity for my son — as this will be his first extended stay away from both of us parents.  Reminds me of the Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma’s (#afflink).

I thought about making fancy printed text for each page, but since I was trying to get a lot of things done before baby’s arrival…I took the quicker route.

Here’s a sampling of the text I wrote to accompany the pictures, plus some images of the book’s pages.

When I check on my baby,
I know he is drinking and eating,
getting big and strong. He likes
to get kisses from me and Daddy.

I’ll always be Daddy’s little man,
but soon I’ll be a big brother too.

I don’t know who is more excited
to meet our baby, me… or Mommy and Daddy.

Click on an image to open in gallery view mode.

I was really excited with how this part of the busy bag turned out, and since my son is a bookworm, I know he’ll love it.  Kids always love seeing themselves in pictures, so the personalized aspect will be a bonus.

The benefits of this activity in the busy bag?  Well, first off, it gives my son something to do (as well as talk/think about) while he is with his grandparents and we are at the hospital.  I’m hoping that the familiar phrases from our daily routine will help lessen any anxiety or concerns he may have during the extended visit.  Honestly, he’s a pretty well-adjusted guy, so I don’t expect there to be many issues, but you never know.   So I wanted the storybook’s text to remind our son that we love him no matter what, and how excited we all are to be nearing the end of the “waiting for baby” phase.

I also love that this little photo book is just his size, so he can tote it around and “read” it whenever.

The perfect addition for a big brother kit, right?

Busy Bag Photo Puzzles

Onto part two of this busy bag… the photo puzzles.  Again, I decided upon using several of the pictures from our maternity family portrait session in case our son needed to see our faces while he is not with us.  I took 5″x5″ pictures, glued them with an  to a piece of cardboard, and then cut them out once dry.  I ended up going random sizes and shapes for the puzzle pieces, more of a free-form cutting activity for mom!  Depending on the kid, the number of pieces will vary; I think the most I made for a single puzzle was 5 or 6.

Each puzzle then got packaged in its own ziploc bag.  Let me give you a tip — if you make this busy bag and do multiple puzzles, be sure to label the back of each puzzle piece so you know which ones go together — without having to assemble the puzzles during cleanup (huge timesaver)!

One other thing — Since our faces are on the smaller side in the photos, and I wasn’t using the most precise scissors, I made sure not to cut through any faces.  This may not be practical if you use a photo of a large face, but for these images, it ended up working well.

Here is a list of the supplies used for the photo puzzle busy bag (#afflinks):

Click on an image to open in gallery view mode.

So far as the benefits of this busy bag activity, puzzles are great for brain development.  Our son loves puzzles, and having portable ones that would travel easily seemed like a great idea to me.  I know these will be a big hit because they feature our family, so he gets to see mom and dad as he’s putting the photos together.

Since the backsides are labeled with different letters of the alphabet (one designated letter for each puzzle) — this could be used as a more involved matching game too — find all the letter ‘A’ pieces, then assemble each puzzle once they’re organized by letter.

Now to Wait…

The hardest part of making this big brother kit busy bag activity?

Waiting.

Usually I get to share projects like this with my toddler as soon as they’re completed.  But, since this is going to be a special big brother kit — to be opened with the grandparents, I’ll miss out on my son’s reaction as well as his first experience playing with each item.

But, that aside, I’m hoping he’ll thrilled and that these busy bags will be a good diversion for grandma and grandpa (if they need one).  I’ll be interested to hear how these puzzles are received by our son, and what he ends up doing with them.

Big Brother Kit Ideas

Busy Bag Ideas for Toddlers


Virtual Busy Bag Exchange SeriesVirtual Busy Bag Exchange Series

This post is part of a virtual busy bag exchange.

Check it out for busy bag ideas that are portable for traveling, and more or less mess free. You’ll find busy bags for the following age ranges: babies, 1 year olds, 2 year olds, 3/4 year olds, 5/6 year olds, and school aged children.

Maternity Pictures With the Family

posted in: Photography | 8

These days, we’re in countdown mode, awaiting the arrival of baby. I’m slightly amused at how relaxed things have been this pregnancy, preparation-wise (thoughts on my second pregnancy). With our first, we made sure we had our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. This time, it’s more go with the flow, we get done what we get done — and really, we have most things already from the first time around.

bphotoart-family-maternity-pictures-20310-131

I’m excited to share some maternity pictures with you! These were taken just shy of 39 weeks (compare to 18 weeks pregnant), and I have to admit, I had been getting a little worried about whether this little one would cooperate so that we had time to do the portraits.

In case you’re looking to plan ahead and do any maternity pictures, the seventh or eighth month is usually ideal — just don’t wait too long because sometimes babies do make their debut early (that whole “due date” thing is really just an estimate).

As a comparison, here are my maternity pictures from the first pregnancy, and Toby’s first pictures as a newborn. It will be exciting to see how these babies look similar/different compared to one another… I can’t wait!

Maternity Pictures

Click on any image to enter gallery view mode

Big Brother-to-be

And then here are some of Toby with each of us. I love doing family pictures like these… they make great gifts for mom or dad’s office ;). These sets of images were a sort of “reward” for good behavior during the portrait session. Click on any image to enter gallery view mode

Pregnancy + Birth Resources

I’ve been busy pinning pregnancy and birth resources to Pinterest lately, as there are so many good ideas out there that I just want to be able to find if needed. If you’re currently pregnant, maybe some of these resources could be helpful for you too!

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Pregnancy + Birth on Pinterest.

What About You

At this point, our child’s arrival is still up in the air. Feel free to take any guesses you’d like so far as arrival date and stats. I’ll be honest, I’m just hoping that this one is ready to come out *before* two weeks “late” :).

I’m always happy to receive advice, even though we’ve been through the birth experience before. I have to say, it’s interesting to see how our perspective on pregnancy and birth changes once we’ve “been there, done that.” Any tips or thoughts you’d like to share?

Thoughts on My Second Pregnancy

posted in: Parenting | 8

My second pregnancy has been a bit more laid back than the first. Instead of consulting checklists and making sure we are prepared and so forth, I’ve been enjoying the daily moments and continuing to parent our toddler. But I’ve been aware of the differences between my second pregnancy and my first. It has been interesting to see how we’ve prepared differently for our second child. We’ve let go of a lot of preconceptions, been able to avoid a lot of the pre-baby planning stress that new parents undergo.

As parents, we already have a lot of this stuff down. We have the clothing already, we have the equipment, we have our prior experience to help us.

Since this is my second pregnancy, I kind of know what to expect, and it’s actually relaxing to be able to let go of all the hype surrounding pregnancy and focus on what matters.

Thoughts On My Second Pregnancy - Maternity Silhouette - BPhotoArt.com

What Matters During a Second Pregnancy?

I have to tell you, a lot more priority is placed on someone who was the center of attention for the first pregnancy. Preparing a child to be an older sibling can take time. We’ve been fortunate in that our son is excited to be a big brother. I’ve heard (and seen) other moms have a tough time during their second pregnancy because their first child was either in denial about things, or outright angry about having a little sibling. But not our son.

In fact, he was so excited that a couple month ago, Toby told me he was going to help pull the baby out “now.”

We had a talk.

About how baby needed to grow and get big and strong, and how baby would come out in good time.

Now, when people ask if he’s excited to be a big brother, he replies: “No. Baby has to grow bigger and can’t come out yet.”

Ok, so back to the differences have I noticed between my two pregnancies:

First Pregnancy

  • Tracked every pregnancy milestone, knew what happened in which week
  • Shopped for maternity clothes
  • Read lots of books (including “What to Expect”)
  • Took Lamaze class
  • Signed up for hospital tour
  • Took new mom class at the hospital
  • Met with pediatrician(s) and decided on one (months ahead of time)
  • Took a carseat safety class
  • Attended a cloth diapering workshop
  • Signed up for cloth diaper service
  • Took prenatal yoga
  • Researched a lot
  • Registered for everything we could think of for baby
  • Made sure we had everything on the baby item list
  • Attended multiple baby showers held in our honor
  • Painted and decorated the nursery
  • Packed and repacked my hospital bag
  • Attended a few La Leche meetings
  • Took naps liberally
  • Confident throughout the pregnancy
  • Took lots of maternity and belly photos
  • Planned out how to reveal baby’s gender to the future grandparents
  • Took a couple weeks to peruse and decide on baby names

Second Pregnancy…

  • Had to be reminded by others what week of pregnancy it was
  • Pulled out the maternity clothes I kept from kid #1 (gave away what didn’t fit)
  • Read a couple books (Birthing from Within, Beautiful Babies)
  • Filled out pediatrician paperwork (a couple weeks ahead of time)
  • Took pilates (much better for me than yoga!)
  • Donated everything (well, a lot of things) we never used for kid #1
  • Moved kid #1 to his big boy room (white walls), switched up the name letters on the nursery wall
  • Threw together some stuff for a hospital bag
  • Put together a “big brother kit”
  • Lucky to get a nap once in a while
  • Fears arose during the pregnancy (related to prior cesarean)
  • Researched VBAC, natural birthing resources, etc.
  • Thought about how few maternity and belly photos were taken this time around (comparatively)
  • Toddler announced baby’s gender to grandparents immediately after ultrasound
  • Decided on baby’s name in one evening

Postpartum Differences

I’ll do a postpartum comparison of my second pregnancy to the first when we get to that stage.  But as of now, I know there are some things we’ll be doing differently.  

We had a LOT of baby stuff that we didn’t use or need.  I have to tell you, we donated probably 100+ baby items in the past year — while still keeping plenty of things for kid #2.  We donated a swing that was used no more than two times, a bunch of baby toys that weren’t practical went elsewhere, and a ton of baby clothes left for more needy homes than ours.

Final Thoughts on My Second Pregnancy

I think being a parent already makes the second pregnancy easier.  Not necessarily in a “been there, done that” kind of way… although for some moms I guess that could be true.  My experience through both pregnancies has been wildly different.

The first half of this latest pregnancy was harder for me (morning sickness, etc), but the second half has felt easier and my body hasn’t been as stressed by the weight and balance shifts. It might be from the pilates, which focuses on strengthening the core. or it could be the diet and lifestyle changes that I’ve implemented since then. Or maybe, it’s just the fact that I’ve been kept busy and active with my toddler’s antics…

Emotionally, I’ve felt like more of a wreck this second pregnancy — but that might be because I’ve been processing the birth experience and worrying about a repeat. I’ve had to be intentional about letting go of my fears and assumptions (something that I didn’t have to deal with at all the first time around).

Letting Go is a Process

To the Mom Who Didn't Want a Cesarean Birth - Second Pregnancy - BPhotoArt.comYou can read more about my process of letting go at Wildflower Ramblings, where I’m guest  posting about my unexpected cesarean birth – To the Mom Who Didn’t Want a Cesarean Birth.

Here are some other posts about being pregnant for the second time (links will open in a new window for your convenience). You may want to also check out my Pregnancy + Birth board on Pinterest.

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Pregnancy + Birth on Pinterest.

What About You?

Have you noticed differences in subsequent pregnancies? What was most noticeably different for you in your second pregnancy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Baby’s First Year Photo Album

posted in: Photography | 14

I love designing baby’s first year photo albums! It’s always so neat to see the developmental stages and age progression of a child through their first year of life. When I design albums, I like to keep things simple so that the portraits can be the main focus of the album (see album page designs later on in this post!).

Baby's First Year Album - BPhotoArt.com

What Kind of Album For Baby’s First Year?

This is a really personal question. Most parents I know end up with a couple different first year photo albums. For instance, we have one album containing the professional portraits, plus another “boxed” set of books that holds snapshots — one book for each of the first three years for our son.

When designing albums for my clients, I’ve found many prefer to have a series of albums, one for each of the baby’s first year sessions (i.e. newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year). It’s really neat to have a set of coffeetable albums that you can display in the nursery (see also my post on Displaying Baby Photos in Your Home). Sometimes we’ll do an album for the newborn session, then another for the next three sessions, and a final one for the one year session. It really depends on what the parents want.

Baby's First Year Albums - BPhotoArt.com

Baby’s First Year Photo Album

Here are some examples of portraits that have gone on to become fabulous album keepsakes for the new parents. First, an actual newborn photo album, created from the family’s newborn portrait session. This particular family chose to have their album designed with images from just the newborn portrait session, rather than a “true” baby’s first year concept. See the actual album design by watching the video below:

Another family whose baby I photographed did something similar, but wanted to include another milestone — mom’s maternity portraits! This video slideshow features the photos that went into their newborn photo album, but not the design itself:

You’ll notice with newborns, the setting is usually indoors (as in both examples above, the families came to my studio). It’s generally just easier to see baby when you don’t have to have her all bundled up in outdoor clothing! When a little older, though, I find that outdoors portraits work really well for families wanting to commemorate baby’s first year. Here’s a winter family portrait session that was planned specifically to welcome a not-quite-so-new addition to the family. Here are two favorite portraits, from the sessions I did to welcome each girl into the family. For the older sister we planned an outdoor summer session, so for the younger sister, we did the opposite – an outdoor winter session. Make sure to check out the images from each, as they are really adorable (and look great as albums!)

Winter Snow Portrait - BPhotoArt.com

Summer Newborn Portrait With Family - BPhotoArt.com

And finally, here’s another family who chose to do a series of albums, one for each of the sessions their child had throughout the first year of life.  Her toddler portraits, taken at one year of age, show just how much little ones grow …and how quickly they grow up! These images below are a sampling from her sessions, which spanned from birth through the first year, plus an additional session at two years of age. I love how her albums turned out — what a great keepsake!

Include The Whole Family

My final thoughts on creating an album for baby’s first year? Make sure to include the whole family. Some of my favorite photos, both personally and for my clients, are the ones that include not just baby, but siblings and parents. It is another way to document your family from generation to generation (see what I mean by looking at the family’s separate newborn session: baby Ridge’s newborn portraits).

Here are some family portraits that did a great job of documenting a new addition to the family. Albums don’t have to exclude family members to be a “true” baby’s first year album. In fact, I prefer albums that include the whole family… and if you ask my toddler, I’m sure he will tell you that he likes looking at all the photos with his family in them too.

Celebrating Baby’s First Year

Here are some posts about celebrating baby’s first year. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

Baby's First Year Albums - BPhotoArt.com

The Ultimate Guide to Baby's First YearThis post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year — I’m one of 30+ blogs participating. Over the course of a week’s time, there will be posts on these topics:

  • taking care of new parents
  • feeding baby
  • taking care of baby
  • baby’s milestones
  • baby play
  • baby spaces
  • celebrating baby

Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year for a list of all the posts on each topic.

In Utero Baby Pictures (~20 Week Ultrasound)

posted in: Notes | 0

This week we went in for our 20 week ultrasound; we’ve returned with some in utero baby pictures to share! Well, I’m actually past 20 weeks at this point (over halfway through!), but for some reason we didn’t get on the schedule soon enough so we had to do it a little later.

The three of us all were able to be present for the “picture session” (as I explained it to our toddler), and Toby was excited to see the special “camera” that would look inside mama’s belly and take pictures of his baby brother. Since then, he’s been talking about the “goop” that was on mama’s belly during the baby pictures and how the tech put it on for the doctor to do a final well-being check (all looks great!).

20 Week Ultrasound - in utero baby pictures Read More

Maternity Portrait

posted in: Photography | 0

As promised, here is one of the maternity portraits that my little assistant helped me create in the studio.  I’ve not been one to keep track of which week or trimester I’m in this time around; that must be due to the busy life of mothering a toddler in addition to running my studio.  Anyways, the “calendar” I consulted puts me at around 18 weeks (mid-second trimester).  Toby is excited to be a big brother and keeps checking on baby: “baby is drinking and eating.”  Yup, likely the case.  Sort of.

Read More

Angel’s Maternity Portrait

posted in: Photography | 0

Here are some favorites from the Angel’s portrait session.  I think the one with everyone’s hands is absolutely adorable; but then again, I’m a sucker for getting soon-to-be big siblings involved in these types of portrait sessions.

It’s always exciting when I get to photograph families through the various stages of life… it is fun to see new little ones being added to the family.

Thoughts for Moms-To-Be and New Mothers

posted in: Parenting | 0

Congratulations! Becoming a mother marks the start of an amazing journey, one which I’ve also begun recently. While I know they grow quickly, it’s hard to believe my little baby is already zooming towards the one year mark (and beyond).

Though I considered myself to be pretty well prepared for mothering a child, I made a point to never assume I knew everything. And, let me tell you… there is a lot I have learned already! I really could fill a book with stories and ideas, but for now, I’d like to keep it simple. And sweet!

Learn to take advice with a grain of salt. Everyone will have suggestions for you, or anecdotes to share. And usually, these people are genuinely trying to be helpful …even though the advice they give may not always be useful to you. I’ve found the best thing to do is smile, graciously say “thank you,” and make a mental note of it if you do find something you can apply to your life. If not, don’t sweat it!

There is a ton of baby stuff on the market. Relax, you don’t need it all. There are a few essentials, but the rest is just fluff. Some products will make your life easier, but others are just out there to profit. The trick is finding out which ones you need! I recommend asking other moms what they found useful, and what they could’ve lived without. For us, my essential baby items were as follows:

  • Baby carrier / wrap
  • Carseat
  • Swing (AC or batteries)
  • Cloth diapers, (via diaper service), diaper covers, and snappis
  • Layette (mostly onesies)
  • Cosleeper

We have loved babywearing, it has been a lifesaver for those fussy times when your little one needs to be held close. My little boy loves napping while I work or do chores. And when looking at swings, consider if you really want to be changing batteries all the time; we love that ours simply plugs into the wall (and can swing the infant car seat too). I bet you’re curious which baby products we found to be superfluous and unneccessary, right? For example, while a wipes warmer sounds like a neat idea, consider where you would plug it in… and more importantly, why it’s needed. You can quickly warm a wipe between your palms prior to use! We also didn’t use bibs (aside from at the table for food)…they just ended up being one more item of clothing to wash, fold, and put away. Use your judgment, and ask yourself how long a product might be useful (days, weeks, months?) before investing.

Using a cloth diaper service has been wonderful. Not only are we keeping diapers out of the landfill, but my baby doesn’t get icky chemicals against his skin for hours on end… and no diaper rash! What sold my husband on the diaper service was the ease of use. We don’t have to rinse or scrape the diapers, simply toss them in a hamper, and put the bag out once a week. Plus, it’s a fixed cost… and I never have to worry about running out of diapers.

Some other activities/groups that I highly recommend:

La Leche League – there are many local chapters that meet on a monthly basis, and there’s also an online forum. I have found my La Leche group to be a wonderful source of support. If you can find the time to attend while you are still pregnant… do it! You will be able to get any birth or early nursing questions answered before you are in an urgent need-to-know situation.

Prenatal/postnatal yoga – I can’t say enough about how my yoga class helped me survive through rough times. It was a weekly escape where I could focus on restoring my inner peace and allowing my body to let go of tension. The best part about taking a class geared towards new and expecting moms is that the poses are adapted for your body’s needs and abilities. Instead of focusing on general well-being, I was able to help my body cope with the changes of pregnancy; and later, to help my body recover and heal.

Babywearing International Groups – I discovered my local babywearing chapter by chance. It has been one of the best assets, providing me with an opportunity to get out on a weekly basis, while enabling me to keep my baby close at hand. Chapters usually have extensive libraries, and you can borrow all sorts of different baby carriers to figure out which works best for you. It’s amazing when I consider that only a year ago, I thought that my only options for wearing my baby were the Baby Bjorn carrier and the Mobywrap. Far from it. In fact, I discovered how poorly the Baby Bjorn fits both mom and baby. My favorite carrier is varies depending on the day and my mood, but I like my Boba soft structured carrier, my BabyHawk mei Tai, and my new favorite is a Didymos woven wrap. There is no comparison to the comfort and support I feel when wearing my little boy in these baby carriers!

Baby Portraits – I am a bit biased, but as a visual person, I loved documenting my pregnancy and my child’s first moments. Let me tell you, there is no comparison between the snapshots we took and the professional portraits we had done. It is wonderful to feel pampered and to be photographed beautifully. We had newborn portraits done within the first week, and while I was physically in poor condition….none of that hits me when I look at my son’s portraits. He is beautiful; I feel beautiful and motherly in the portraits that include me. So, is it worthwhile to splurge on a newborn portrait session? I say yes!

Well, I think that’s a good start; as I said before, I really could go on for hours about this topic. Your best resource is other moms who have been there, done that. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, you deserve to be well informed and know all your options!

Your birth experience will likely be different than mine, but the important thing is for you to take ownership. You can plan all you want, certainly! Take Lamaze, read books, but keep in mind that birth is a chapter in the book of motherhood. I wish I’d read fewer pregnancy books and more parenting book while pregnant, if you know what I mean. Birth is the beginning, and your journey will be what you choose to make of it.

Here’s to motherhood! Enjoy the journey!

Betsy :: Maternity Portrait

posted in: Photography | 0

Baby Finn is getting closer than ever to arriving! Before his arrival though, we decided to ask our good friend, Liz Vance (she’s a great baby photographer in the DC area), to document the pregnancy and create some lovely maternity portraits for us. Needless to say, Liz did a wonderful job! Here is a video slideshow of the highlights from our maternity portrait session with Liz.

Thank you Liz for creating these wonderful memories to enjoy and look back on once we’re past the whole “being pregnant” phase! And no, I can’t pick out just one favorite portrait… I love them all.

Award-Winning Portraits :: Detroit Competition

posted in: News | 1

Yesterday evening, I was in Detroit for a local print competition, held by the Detroit Professional Photographers’ Association (DPPA). As usual, I helped behind the scenes (tallying and recording scores this time around), and got to have a unique perspective as events unfolded. I entered five portraits and one landscape. The landscape received a red ribbon (award of merit), and all five portraits received blue ribbons (awards of excellence)!

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Baby Progress…

posted in: Notes | 0

Today we got to find out we are expecting a baby boy! Sadly for my niece, she remains the only girl among her Finn cousins. Such is life!

While they captured a number of detail images for “doctor” purposes, we got to take home this selection of four pictures. Baby was pretty fidgety during the ultrasounds, but the technician was able to check everything she needed to. So yay for a healthy baby :).

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