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take off

while another intern season winds down, and a new round of applications ramps up, there are changes upon changes happening at LeahAndMark. exciting, necessary ones. ones that you just may want to be a part of. new plans, new faces, and things moving in a million directions. always moving. and part of that change is me.

in my do SOMEthing post last month, I wrote: “get up off your ass. get going. do SOMEthing. I won’t promise that it won’t be mortifying or embarrassing or painful, whether physically or emotionally. you may fail. or cry. or throw up. or be rejected or laughed at. I’m not saying that any or all of those things won’t happen. I’m only saying it just might be worth every bit of it.” and wouldn’t you know it, those damn words have been pecking at me ever since.

and so, under the heading of Practicing What I Preach… I’m off to DO. to still shoot and blog and learn and grow and share, just over at where I can fully indulge all my narcissistic tendencies with abandon.


schuckenfill 2012-9513


but before I go, let me tell you about the wonder that is the internship. because now is the time to start writing your application answers. and because it’s important to know, because then maybe you’ll see just how hard it is to leave the safety net that is Leah. and Mark. and Baby RoX, and Joy and +Krisandra and +Luiza. each internship season is this beautiful coming together of people with disparate backgrounds, and varying levels of knowledge and experience and passion. all of them with the goal of learning more. doing more. becoming more.

I’m not going  to blow smoke up your ass. it’s difficult. it’s exhausting. filled with potentially clashing personalities, and seemingly impossible demands and schedules. (and then there’s mark’s tendency to give the largest, heaviest gear to the teeny tiniest intern.) if it was easy, everyone would get into the internship, and you wouldn’t be challenged, and it wouldn’t mean a damn thing. but the stuff that makes it worth it are the amazing friendships and incredible opportunities and settings and experiences, so very many incredible people as resources, and the testing of your limits and convictions to find out what you’re made of.


one classy bitch-7136


from the Season SeVeN internship, Krista and I became LeahAndMark Pluses. which is really just another name for Uber-Internship (or Internship 2.0). more learning, more work, more awesomeness. mentoring the new interns, building our portfolios, and being given ample room to figure out a lot of things for ourselves.

out of our season alone, at least 4 of us (Edwin, Eric, Krista and I) springboarded from the internship into pursuing photography as a profession. and that was just one season out of the ten so far. there were also alumni interns Jo and Raven and Gabriel and Debra and Whitney. and still others. just think of the exponential possibilities of artistic awesomeness they’re all putting out into the world.

get on the bus


and regardless of what the internship has yielded for all of us, personally and professionally, we’ve each of us taken something away from it. and then made it our own.  that’s an amazing gift to have been given. to have been helped along our individual paths toward becoming…well, whatever it is we are to become.

everyone leaves the nest. some take a flying leap, others need to be gently poked and prodded, and still others need to be tossed, flung and/or have their fingers pried from the edge to begin their flight. and yet, we all go.

so now it’s my turn. to unpry my fingers. and fly.

Wednesday by Leah: Being my own best friend

So last week, our awesome new website was inundated with boudoir photos. My mom wasn’t too pleased with this. My best gal pal was also concerned. (Love y’all both!) While some may view boudoir as risqué, I think our team did a great job taking beautiful, tasteful photos and also writing about the courage and sense of self-worth/love/appreciation a boudoir session both requires and help creates.

And it also got me thinking… how am I treating myself these days? I wrote a bit about making time for myself, and that’s important – and something I’m getting better at! But as I made time for myself, I also made time for being extra-critical of myself. My never-ending to-do list. My stress about paying bills. My feeling two steps behind. Always pulling my hair in a pony tail. Etc. Etc. Etc.


So I decided to give myself a mental boudoir session of sorts. Strip myself down, emotionally. What do I need? How do I feel? And what I need is to be my own best friend. To treat myself the way my friends treat me, and the way I (hopefully) treat them. Instead of letting that critical voice berate me, I need to talk myself the way I would talk to an anxious, stressed-out friend.

Breathe. You’re doing awesome. It’s gonna be ok. Let’s do some yoga and have a glass of wine.

Not only is it of the utmost importance for my own self-care and life balance to treat myself with kindness and respect, but it is also exactly what I want to model for my son. I don’t want him witnessing a frazzled woman being down on herself. I want him to see me for who I really am: a confident, joyful, present, enthusiastically peaceful woman.

I’m a good friend to others. And I’m starting to be a very good friend to myself. Which makes for a super awesome mama. And that makes everyone a little bit happier!

Wednesday by Leah: Did I do that?

A few days before BabyRoX was born, Mark and I went to pick up some baby items we needed. It was during this shopping trip that I discovered the NoseFrida. It’s basically a straw/tube thing that parents can use to suck snot out of their kid’s nose.

Image courtesy of

“Gross!!,” we jointly exclaimed. We would never suck snot out of our kid’s nose! Who does that?

Haha. Think again, naive almost-parents. Think again.

Except I never purchased a NoseFrida… I got one of those blue bulb syringes, and it seemed to do the trick on tiny BabyRoX. But then he started crawling. And since his nose was usually pretty close to the ground, he got dirt and stuff in it, which mixed with mucous and made these super sticky and SUPER stubborn boogers. Nothing would get these boogers out! His nostrils are very tiny, so even my pinky finger can’t fit in there. Wet wipes didn’t work either. Nor did saline drops. And no way was I going to put a Qtip near my wiggly, grabby lil guy’s face. It would probably end up lodged in an ear or eye or nasal cavity. So… I sucked. Yup. Gross, I know. But I put my mouth over that little nostril with the stubborn boogers and sucked them right out.

And that is only one of a number of yucky things I have done since becoming a mother. I’ve thrown a sheet over pee in the bed and slept
on it. For more than one night. I regularly eat soggy, sucked-on pieces of food that BabyRoX discards. And don’t get me started on the poop. Ohhh, the poop.

What? I poop, ok?

Anyhow… I might be investing in a NoseFrida. My birthday is on Saturday, if anyone needs gift ideas…. =)

Wednesday by Leah: Cloth Diapering

I’m often asked questions about cloth diapering. There is TONS of information online about the various cloth diapering options, and it can definitely be overwhelming. What works for our family might not be the best option for yours, but I’m going to do a post on what I’ve learned and the kinds of diapers we prefer. We also practice Elimination Communication (EC) which I’ve also posted about, so I don’t go through as many diapers in a day as someone who isn’t doing EC, but we still do our fair share of diaper laundry. We’ve tried almost every type of cloth diaper out there. For a good overview of all the different cloth diaper options, watch this awesome video series on YouTube.

 The cheapest option out there is the prefold with cover. We have a bunch of those. We used those a lot at first. They work great and are relatively easy to use… you usually don’t have to wash the covers as often, either, which means less laundry. But my fave diapers are FuzziBunz One Size Elite, which is a pocket diaper – meaning you place the insert (microfiber or minky or bamboo material) inside the cover in a large pocket. The outside of the pocket that touches baby’s skin is fleece, which wicks away moisture, and the insert absorbs it. So it’s soft and fuzzy…and they come in a range of bright colors, so they also look super cute! You can add extra inserts for added absorbency, too. The new Elites are less bulky than the originals, which means they fit better under clothing, too. And I like the one-size because you can adjust the leg and waist elastic, and snap it differently, so that it fits a wide range of sizes and grows with the child. I have 12 Elites that I purchased for around $200, and 2 FuzziBunz originals, and that is plenty for at least 3 days usually. If your kiddo doesn’t ever go on the potty, you’ll probably want to have closer to 20 diapers, though. I wash the diapers at LEAST every two days if not every day, because I don’t want bacteria to grow or the diapers to get all funky smelling. Then I go ahead and stuff the inserts in once everything is dry, and it’s just like a regular disposable diaper – easy to put on and take off, no fiddling with prefolds trying to get a diaper and cover assembled while baby is squirming around.
Some people think cloth diapering means tons more laundry, but really, if you have a little baby in the house, you are going to be doing laundry way more often than you are used to anyways – from sheets to burp cloths to clothing (yours and baby’s!) – spit-up and milk and pee and poop… and later, solid foods – just get everywhere, so it’s not hard to throw some diapers in with the mix, or run an extra load at the end of the day. Since we have a washer and dryer in-home, it’s really not a problem for us to do the extra laundry.
I use Charlie’s Soap for our laundry. It’s natural, biodegradable, and doesn’t cause much build-up, if any, on the diapers and we’ve been happy with it. A little goes a long way! I’m still on our first container of it, actually, and I bought it when BabyRoX was born. That was 7 months ago! And I do laundry pretty much every day. For poop stains, I run a couple extra rinse cycles or an extra wash cycle, and that usually takes care of it. If the stain is still there, however, I just hang the diaper or clothing in the sun (still wet! don’t put stained clothes in the dryer!) and let the sun bleach them. It totally works. Try it.
I usually throw both my FuzziBunz covers and the inserts in the dryer on low heat, but once in a while I’ll hang the covers and just dry the inserts. Low/no heat is supposed to help the waterproof PUL liner last longer. If I’m washing the diapers with other clothes and there are just some wet diapers in there, I don’t always run hot cycle. But I do a good, thorough cleaning with a hot cycle followed by a cold cycle once a month to deep-clean the diapers and keep them absorbent and bacteria-free.
Finally, I don’t use any diaper ointment! Luckily, BabyRoX hasn’t had a diaper rash in forever – he also doesn’t have super sensitive skin AND we don’t leave him in wet/dirty diapers for very long. He either goes on the potty or we change him soon after he goes in his diaper, and he’s good about letting us know he needs a change! But if you DO need diaper ointment, keep in mind that most ointments are NOT OK for cloth diapers. They will ruin the diaper. We love using Indigo Bath and Body’s Bazic Skin Stick, which is all-natural with shea butter and olive oil, and keeps BabyRoX’s heiny fresh and soft, plus it’s super convenient and I don’t have to get my fingers all greasy. You can also just put some olive oil on a q-tip and rub that around the diaper area, too. But don’t use the Desitin or Boudreaux’s Butt Paste or any of those other products on cloth diapers. If you do by accident, you’ll have to scrub it out with Dawn dish soap and strip the diapers. Again, there’s tons of info online about cloth diapering, so I won’t go into all of that here – just Google diaper stripping!
Oh, and we also have cloth wipes, so those get thrown in the wash, too. I’d estimate that we save at the very, very least $20/month on diapers and wipes. It would be even more if BabyRoX wasn’t also using the potty 50-75% of the time. So. That’s how we cloth diaper, after trying almost every type on the market. FuzziBunz wins. I’ll still use the others, especially the prefolds and covers, from time to time, but we mainly use FuzziBunz now. Let me know if you have any questions that I didn’t answer here!

BabyRoX 7 Months from on Vimeo.

retro | intro -spective | by +Elaine

I’ve have lots of names. lainie, e, shorty, laine brain, nain. and now I’m +elaine. and I like it.

getting an updated portfolio together had me sifting through all my intern shoots. and reviewing what I had in my portfolio before. hard to believe there was even a time in my photography life before my leahandmark internship. it’s amazing to see where I was with my skills and knowledge and experience then. and where I am now.

before, I was hired for the occasional gig, but mostly I just showed up everywhere with my camera. parties, the pool, backyard concerts, school events, playdates, parks. but now my work is filled with babies and children and couples and drag queens. product shoots of granola and books and headbands and dresses and shoes and bread and houses. people new to the country, or on stage speaking or rocking out, or getting married, or breaking boards. models crouched in trunks and strutting on runways and posing in rotted out buses and old trains. so much cooler.

I look back on my “before the internship” work and my “during” work, and now that I’m in the “after” phase, I can’t wait to see what what my portfolio will be filled with next.

with a new role as a + at comes a new blog location. no longer in the intern section, mark told +krista, +mishaun and me to (re)introduce ourselves. coming up with 200 pictures to whittle down to 20 for our portfolios, posting a blog and showcasing our work… all of this reminds me of the incredulity I felt the first night as an intern when mark told us we had to have 20 images and a blog up by that monday morning. 20 IMAGES! it seemed a ridiculous amount and there was no way I had that many images that were good enough. and just like then, once I got a grip and settled down to work, I find I have more than enough pictures I’m happy to use to fill my portfolio and to post on the blog as I introduce myself. again.

so hi, I’m + elaine, and I’m happy you’re here. now let’s get shooting.

Wednesday by Leah: It’s Like Pooping

So I know I already wrote about my homebirth experience, and talked a little about what labor and birth were like… but now that I’m out of that initial post-birth haze, I thought I’d share a bit more about what giving birth actually FELT like. And really, it felt like pooping. So much so that I was convinced my child was coming out of the wrong opening! I never had that ring of fire that so many women describe…maybe cuz I was giving birth in water, I don’t know… for me, giving birth was like having a 20 lb (ok, really a 7 lb) bowling ball come out of my butt. Except BabyRoX didn’t come out of my butt. To this day, I would swear that he did, though!  That’s how much it felt like pooping!

Y’all…I wasn’t going to write this post. Mark said I should, though. I’m not trying to be gross. But I do wish someone had sat me down before I gave birth and told me this. I was told that I should push like I was having a bowel movement. I was also told that many women get hung up on their fear of actually pooping during birth. (And I didn’t think I would be one of those women!) But I was NOT told that giving birth feels like taking the biggest dump of your life, and I think if I had been told that, I would’ve pooped out my sweet baby a lot faster! But I kept waiting to feel him coming out of my vagina. And instead all I felt was intense pressure in my rectum. I was convinced that I couldn’t give birth until I pooped. I mean, I thought I really needed to poop first and then I could have my baby. So I kept sitting on the toilet trying to poop…only I was really trying to give birth, and I didn’t know it! Finally my wonderful doula and midwife convinced me that I really just needed to push the baby out and YES that intense pressure on my rectum was normal and YES the baby really is about to come and NO I don’t need to worry about pooping anymore.

Cutest poop in the world!

I didn’t think I was going to be worried about pooping. But I also didn’t realize just how much giving birth would feel like having a bowel movement! I also thought that by the time I was ready to push out my baby, I wouldn’t care if I pooped or not… I thought I would be so out of it, or in so much pain that nothing mattered, or in such a deeply relaxed state that the baby would just slide out and I wouldn’t have a care in the world. I had an amazingly relaxed labor, but when it came time to push, I wasn’t in that trance-like state. I also wasn’t in such pain that I stopped caring about anything else. I was very much aware of the feeling of needing to poop, and very averse to doing that with everyone around me, and completely unaware that the poop-feeling was my baby coming out. So I’m giving the rest of y’all a heads up – when you are nearing the end of your labor and you feel like you need to poop, YOUR BABY IS COMING! Got it? Good. Happy baby pooping!


Wednesday by Leah: Delayed Cord Clamping

It’s standard practice at most hospitals to clamp and cut the umbilical cord very soon after the baby is born. This practice was likely started because you can’t move the baby very far from the mother when the cord is still attached – especially if the placenta has not yet been delivered, which can take up to 30ish minutes after the baby comes out. So no putting the baby under the warmer, cleaning the baby off, weighing/swaddling/etc. We elected to delay cord clamping and cutting. Instead, we waited for the cord to finish transferring blood from the placenta to BabyRoX.

What happens when the cord is cut within 30 seconds of birth? The iron-rich blood in the placenta, which takes a few minutes to transfer to the baby, now has no way of getting to where it is needed. Delaying cord clamping increases the baby’s blood volume by up to one-third (1/3), which helps prevent anemia. Higher iron stores have been found even 3 months after birth in infants whose cord clamping was delayed.

Routine hospital practices are slow to change, but it IS starting to happen as evidence of the benefits of delayed cord clamping mounts.Says one OB/GYN: If the burden of proof is on us to prove that immediate clamping is good, that burden is clearly not met.  And furthermore, there is strong evidence that delaying clamping as little as 30 seconds has measurable benefits for the infant, especially in premature babies and babies born to iron deficient mothers.”

Also, here’s a great video that shows why delayed cord clamping is helpful:

Obviously, each parent must make decisions based on what they feel is best/healthiest for their child. Will a child be seriously harmed by immediate cord clamping? Most likely the answer is no. But why routinely do something that denies a child certain health benefits from the get-go? Furthermore, unless you actively research birth, routine practice, and BEST practice, you wouldn’t even know to ASK for delayed cord clamping at the birth of your child.

What special requests did you/will you make for the birth of your child? What surprised you about your prenatal, labor, and delivery experience?


Wednesday by Leah: Nursing In Public

– Posted by Leah

This popped up in my Facebook feed yesterday:

So, for those of you not up-to-date on your breastfeeding literature, this is a take on the common “Tips for Nursing in Public” that is found all over the place for new moms. It really got me thinking. I’m not super-modest overall, but when it comes to nursing in public, I’ve been inclined to keep myself well-covered. I’m painfully aware that nursing in public might (*gasp!*) make some people uncomfortable. In fact, I even used to be ever-so-slightly uncomfortable around breastfeeding women. I would quickly avert my eyes, even if the mother was using a nursing cover. Oh no! Don’t look! She has her breast out!

Well, now I’ve had my own breast out in more places than I can count. The BabyRoX is a hungry, growing little person. And Mark and I are active, going-out-in-public type people. So this leads to lots of nursing in lots of public places. And now that I’m the mom to an increasingly curious 4-month-old, the nursing cover that I so very much love isn’t quite as loved by my kidlet. And really, can you fault him for that? You try eating with something draped over your head and tell me how much you enjoy your meal. So lately, sometimes, I don’t even bother with the cover. And honestly, it’s often even more discreet than using a cover – Jonah is good about latching on quickly and then it just looks like he’s sleeping nuzzled up against me. But I spend the whole time worrying what other people might be thinking, and what if he unlatches and a tiny bit of my breast is exposed? Oh, the shock and horror! Just sign me up for Girls Gone Wild already! (In reality, I’m showing less skin than any billboard around me.)


Source: MotherWise

So I’ve been thinking about this whole nursing in public embarrassment. And I’ve decided it needs to stop. At least for me. I have every right to be out and about in my community. I’m not taking my child anywhere that is inappropriate for him to be. If I were feeding him with a bottle, no one would take any issue with it.  And while I haven’t encountered any outright discouragement or harassment while nursing in public, I’ve received a lot of discouraging commentary in general around the topic of nursing in public…

“You’re going to nurse on the airplane? What about the other passengers?”

“Breastfeeding totally skeeves me out. I don’t understand why women do that in public.”

“Oh, he needs to eat? Do you need to find a restroom?”

And I’ve been letting this commentary make ME feel ashamed. Embarrassed. In the wrong… for feeding my child. For having the audacity to go to a public place with my family and keep my baby nourished and comforted. I haven’t let it STOP me from doing this… I’m stubborn enough to power on through these uncomfortable feelings. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that those feelings are a burden I shouldn’t have to carry. So I’m not going to anymore. I know that breastfeeding just needs to become more normalized in our culture… so I’m gonna help y’all out by normalizing it some more. And if you seriously have an issue with that, maybe YOU should stay home. Or go to the restroom. Or put a blanket on your head.

This isn’t just about people feeling uncomfortable, though. I was starting to write a much longer post on this topic, when I found another blog post over on Skeptical Mothering that even more articulately expresses my line of thinking…so I’m going to send y’all over there to read it! But here’s a quick snippet for the lazy/in-a-hurry types (I’m both much of the time, so I get it…):

Nursing in public is a big debate currently, but I don’t think many in the “anti” faction appreciate how big a feminist issue this is.  Acceptance of nursing in public is about female empowerment on two levels.  First, it diminishes the objectification of women.  For so long, breasts have been all about sexuality and the male gaze.  To acknowledge that they aren’t just about arousing the prurient interest of men is to elevate women beyond being mere sex objects.  Second, nursing in public is vital to allowing mothers full access to social life.  As more women are nursing, trying to do the best thing for their babies, more women will be out and about and need to nurse.  Only someone who hasn’t nursed an infant would ever say, “Just time your excursions for when the baby doesn’t need to nurse,” or “Just pump some milk and use a bottle,” or “Just sit on a public toilet for 20 minutes and nurse.”  These are not practical solutions.  What is practical is to get over our societal perversion about breasts and allow mothers full access to life outside their homes by supporting, or at least ignoring, public nursing.

I’d love to hear what Rush Limbaugh has to say on this topic. (Not.) But I will say that if any of you local mamas-to-be reading this plan on breastfeeding and feel at all uncomfortable about it, nothing helped me more than hanging out with OTHER breastfeeding mamas. I was enjoying a lovely afternoon in a park in Arizona with my friend Lindsey and we were talking about how even having just one other nursing mama around makes it so much less awkward-feeling to nurse in public. Until we feel empowered enough in our own skin to nurse our children whenever and wherever, we can borrow some of that strength from the power of numbers. So call me! I’ll come hang out with you and nurse away. And slowly it won’t be such a weird or uncomfortable thing to do.

Breast Feeding | Atlanta Photographers | Information | About | Tips |

Wednesday by Leah: Before and After

Before I became a mom, I promised myself I would make self-care a priority.  I can’t be a good mom if I’m exhausted/unhealthy/unhappy, right? Makes perfect sense. I did a great job of taking care of myself throughout my pregnancy. I rested when I felt tired. I ate nutritious foods. I said no to anything I didn’t feel like doing. I protected my “me” time ferociously. I meditated. I showered myself with love and kindness and dark chocolate.

I thought about what my life would be like once BabyRoX was here. In my head, it was this perfect balance of mom-time, me-time, friend-time, work-time, and Mark-time. I’m self-employed, so I can set my own schedule. I’m good at the work-life balance. I love spending time with friends, with my husband, and all by my sweet little self. I’m passionate about my work. Soooo… dividing my time between all these should be easy, right? I pictured date nights with Mark while loving family members watched our kidlet, fun nights out with friends while Mark and Jonah had some father-son bonding time, solo hikes in the woods to restore and rejuvenate my mind and body, blocks of time each day devoted to work projects – both creative and administrative. Having a child wasn’t going to strip me of all these other things I wanted to do!

And then I had a baby.

Wednesday by Leah | Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer

And it’s not that I *can’t* segment my time the way I want. It’s not that being a mom is so much more demanding than I anticipated that I just don’t have the time or energy to do anything else. It’s that… as much as I want to do all these other things, as nice as all of that sounds… I’d really rather just hang out with my child.

In fact, the longest I’ve been away from BabyRoX is just over 2 hours. People tell me that this is normal, that of course I want to be with my baby, that of course leaving him is difficult. And that’s good to hear (not that I’ve ever been too concerned with being normal…I mean, I did give birth at home and eat my placenta and teach my baby to pee on the potty and all that jazz)… but I’m wondering if I should just let this progress naturally, and only leave Jonah for longer periods when I feel ready, or if it will just always be difficult until one day its not and I should just power through, and leave him from 3 hours, then 4 hours, then 6, then 8, then a day.

Wednesday by Leah | Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer

I’m supposed to shoot a wedding out of state in May… and I’m already feeling anxious about it. Do I take BabyRoX with me and bring along a trusted friend or relative to watch him? Do I leave him in Atlanta and go away for nearly 3 days without him? And if I do go away for the weekend and leave my child here, I suppose I should start building up to that separation… which means leaving him in someone else’s care for longer than 2 hours before May gets here. And it’s already March. Gah!

I’m really not sure what to do. So I’m asking the internet… what did YOU do? How did you handle this? Help!

In the meantime I’ll just be here, hanging out with my baby. Contentedly addicted.

Advanced Breastfeeding: Traveling Without Your Baby

Posted by +Debra

I recently traveled without my baby for the first time ever.  It was a tough decision, and in alot of ways it was a tough time being away.    As a breastfeeding mom the idea of being away from my baby for longer than a few hours was a bit difficult to wrap my head around, never mind the ache in my heart.  As I prepared for my journey to my birth country of South Africa I scoured the internet and was unable to find any real advice on how to be away from my son, how to prepare him for my absence, and most of all how to maintain the breast feeding relationship even though I was away. I am writing this blog simply so that any mom’s out there who want or have to travel away from their baby can know that it is possible to do so for extended periods, and came home and resume the breast feeding relationship as before.

Basically I was out of country for 12 days, and our son Shannon was 7 1/2 months old.  He is a bed sharing breast fed happy go lucky baby.  It was the first time we had been apart for longer than 12 hours.  He was cared for in his normal home by my fiance and his parents, so Shannon’s daddy and grandparents, Sadie and Coach.

Here’s what I did to prepare before the trip:

The hardest part was struggling to emotionally bolster for being away from my son for almost 2 weeks.  I knew I was going to miss his face immensely! I cried alot at just thinking about leaving him! But when I got over it, I realized how immensely healthy the time apart was for both of us, and was oh so happy to see his little face again.

I researched his age and what types of solids he should eat and shared that information with his caregivers (his grandparents and dad).  The biggest thing was for him to not eat too many solids, and to eat specific solids appropriate for his age.  We haven’t ever really given Shannon purees, from the get go he has been given finger foods, and occasionally soft foods like mashed potatoes.  He feeds himself small quantities with his own hands.  it was important to make sure he didn’t get too many solids, and that he maintained a normal amount of liquids, from either formula or saved breast milk.

I didn’t pump enough in advance to give him frozen milk for my entire trip.  I calculated what he would need for the 12 days and it was well over 300 ounces.  That’s alot of pumping on top of feeding the baby his regular meals.  Let’s say I could express an extra 12 ounces a day, then I could reserve 300 ounces in 25 days.  But the thing is, to get that 12 ounces I was a slave to the pump after every feeding, 3-4 times a day.  I quickly started to feel a bit like a commercial milk cow, and cut down the pumping sessions to preserve my sanity.  I ended up reserving about 150 ounces give or take.  In reality that reserve provided 1-2 bottles a day, the rest of the time he was given formula.

For formula I ordered 2 jars of Natures One Organic Baby formula.  I am told he blew through those 2 jars in a couple of days, and then moved onto commercial Enfamil.  He had no problems with the increased iron from the formula as I had feared.  It did however take a week or so for his bowel movements to move from iron rich black and return to the yellow of a breastfed baby.  We still supplement with Enfamil when formula is needed if I am away on a long shoot or we are in the car.

Breastfeeding | Travelling Without Your Baby | How To | by Debra Edgar

A few key pieces of equipment helped as well:

Bottles: I purchased additional Breast Flow bottles and playtex liner system with medium flow nipples designed for the breast fed babies.  I vouch for the breast flow bottles, they are well designed and awesome.

Pump: a good pump is worth every penny! For the occassional to heavy user looking for an efficient and quiet pump I recommend the Medela Swing Pump. It was so quiet, I used it on planes, in cars, and everywhere in between.  Alas,  I burned out the motor on  2 cheaper single Medela Electric pumps, one in 3 months, the other in 4 days.  They are noisy also.  I am not a big fan, but they are fast and efficient if you can handle the noise…just make sure a sleeping baby is nowhere around.  It sounds like a jumbo jet taking off, in contrast the Symphony sounds like a car blinker.  *Pump Bottles: I took along 2 bottles with lids.

Pumping Bra: I I got a Simple Wishes Pumping Bra.  It’s well designed and actually pretty awesome for when I used both pumps simultaneously.  However, I used it a grand total of 3-4 times.  I found I was alot faster using the pump and manual compression.  The bra is designed with alot of attention to detail and thoughtfulness, I personally didn’t use it all that much, mostly because I pumped in alot of semi public places, or small forms of transportation.  I haven’t used it since, but I work from home and feed baby on demand.  I can see it being a highly useful item for a momma working in the office.

Nursing Cover:  I received a nursing cover from Udder Covers when I was pregnant.  I tend to just use a baby blanket when I go out with the baby, and now he is older we seldom nurse when we are out and about.  The Udder Covers material is thin, and given I am tall, I really wished it had more fabric to it, but I only used it for 2 weeks, so it served it’s purpose well.  Leah has an uber cute cover she uses all over town with Jonah, and I know there are alot of varieties and styles to select from on Etsy.

Pacifier Wipes and Microwave Sterilization Bags: Seeing as I was pumping and dumping it wasn’t crucial to sterilize constantly, but it certainly helped keep things nicer having easy ways to keep the bottles fresh and clean.

Me and baby during the trip:

Shannon was just fine, he didn’t melt down, or cry all night, or really seem fazed that I was gone and that he was getting all his meals by bottle.  He was surrounded by people who love him, following his normal routine sans mom, and got to bond with everybody who played with him and fed him and rocked him to sleep.  When he saw me after 12 days away he was very excited and went back to nursing within 30 minutes.  I was elated and relieved.

Uhm, I was not fine.  It took me about 6 days to relax and really get into the awesomeness of the trip.  I cried on the plane to South Africa, big crocodile tears, and then about every 48 hours after that I hit a tough spot and would go take a small break.  I had plenty of printed photos, and my phone was stuffed full of the beautiful pictures that my family sent to me while I was abroad.  The daily pictures helped immensely! I couldn’t have done it without the photos and updates.  They were crucial to my mental and emotional well being, and I am very grateful my understanding family kept sending them to me.

Breastfeeding | Travelling Without Your Baby | How To | by Debra Edgar

A Note about domperidone:

Domperidone is a prescription medicine in the USA, but an OTC anti nausea medicine in other countries.  I first heard of domperidone from Dr Jack Newman, at the Bellies to Babies Event last year.  Dr  Newman is an awesome expert on everything breastfeeding. No really, he knows ALOT and then some.  He’s wicked nice also.  :) Domperidone was initially designed to be an anti nausea medicine, it works by suppressing dopamine, and as a result allows an increase of another hormone called prolactin, which is present in nursing mothers.  I was able to purchase 100 tablets for the equivalent of $50.  I wasn’t having issues with my supply, it was up and down a little, but mostly I was wanting to relax and not have to pump every four hours.  Having the domperidone helped me relax and ease off the rigid pumping schedule.  It really helped with enjoying myself more becasue I knew I would be able to use the domperidone to maintain my prolactin levels. The pills work really well, I was responsive in under 48 hours.  I have a bunch of pills left over, and who knows, they may come in handy down the road.

Pumping in Different Places: wow, I pumped all over the world.  Literally.  I am pretty hardcore about breastfeeding, and feel it is the most important gift after a healthy pregnancy to give my child a head start to a healthy and abundant life.  Breast feeding is to me a social and emotional relationship which nourishes the soul and the body.  I understand that not every woman is able or wants to breast feed, and I am totally ok with their choice, we all have choices on how to raise our kids and I certainly don’t snub one persons choice over the other. However  It is my lifestyle to breastfeed, and  it is very important to me.

This philosophy led me to pump in the plane, the car (even with my brother and dad in the front seat!), on safari, in the desert, on the side of the road, random corners of random restaurants or friends houses, hotels, and once even a bathroom, I sat on a windowsill, but still it was kinda icky.  Like eating pancakes on the toilet. 🙂 Either way I was disciplined and maintained a semi-regular schedule to keep up my milk, and was still able to have fun and see lots of cool stuff on the trip.  Each time I pumped I thought lovingly of my son, and treated it is as a gift instead of a burden.  It would have been easy to get burned out, so I made sure to keep a loving mental attitude to prevent any resentment.

Also, pumping on the plane was not a problem, and thank you to Delta Airlines for putting me in the back of the plane with the seat next to me blocked off. I had the last row to myself and plenty of privacy.  I called well in advance to see if they could accomodate me and they kindly obliged. It didn’t bother me when people walked by for the bathroom, and the flight attendants were fabulous.  Delta is my favorite American Airline, hands down.

Returning Home:

It was one looooong plane ride home, but it was easier than the flight out.  I was excited to see baby Shannon and did my best to stay distracted.  After 12 days of being away, I had been able to tuck the longing away in a safer emotional space, so it wasn’t all consuming as it had been on the flight out.  I am a very doting and loving mom, so being away was a challenge, but also a healthy time apart to realize I am also Deb and not just mom.

Shannon was happy to see me when I first walked in the door, he showed me his toys and his new found ability to cruise on the furniture.  I refrained from crying because I didn’t want to confuse him.  I was overjoyed to see his smiling face!  We played and everybody hung out and talked.  After about 30 minutes, Shannon indicated he wanted to nurse, and we picked up the relationship right were we had left off.  It was almost like I had never left.  The only issues we had were latch and nipple sensitivity.

Shannon is old enough to hold his own bottles, and is pretty insistent on doing that.  While he was getting a bottle for all of his meals he had retrained his latch, no amount of thoughtful nipple design could work with him sucking only the tip of the bottles nipple.  It took us about 2 weeks to retrain his latch, and I had to be very patient and thoughtful when doing it.  There were some days of extreme discomfort because my nipples had also become more sensitive away from baby.  Most new mom’s experience a few days or weeks of nipple discomfort while their skin adjusts to the constant friction of nursing.  All in all we were comfortably nursing again within 2 weeks.

I hope this information helps! Please feel free to leave questions in the comments.  Thanks! 😀


Wednesday by Leah: Sleep!

– Posted by Leah

If you are a sleep-deprived parent, please don’t read this blog post!

Everyone else – I am happy to report that I’m getting a decent amount of sleep! Which is probably the biggest surprise of this parenting adventure for me. I didn’t expect to be getting as much sleep as I do, but Jonah is a super easy baby – he wakes up generally once or twice to nurse for 5 minutes and then falls back to sleep. He’s been doing that for the past 3 weeks. Before then, he was still nursing every two hours, and peeing and pooping about as often. But as he’s grown, he’s started going longer between feedings in the evening and he also doesn’t pee or poop quite so often. Which means more sleep for both of us!

Before Jonah came, I thought we’d use the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper from the get-go. It’s set up right next to our bed, so Jonah can be close by. But then Jonah arrived and he was so tiny and precious, and nursing so often, that he ended up just sleeping on my chest. Even the co-sleeper was too far away – when I would put him in it, I couldn’t sleep. I would just watch him and make sure he was breathing. On my chest, I knew he was breathing because I could feel him. I would prop myself up with pillows, and could nurse him easily throughout the night. And that’s how we slept at first. No, it is NOT the recommended way to sleep. But even the slightest movement from him would wake me up, so I wasn’t worried about his safety – if anything, I felt like he was more safe with me than lying in a bassinet, because I could keep him warm and make sure he was breathing.

Now that he’s sleeping for longer stretches, he sleeps beside me. Still not in the co-sleeper, but I think sometime between 3 and 6 months we’ll transition him over there, and then between 6 and 12 months we’ll transition him to his room. What’s worked great for me and Mark is for me to sleep on my own for a few hours in the earlier part of the evening, while Mark hangs out with Jonah. Then I wake up for a snack (breastfeeding makes me more hungry than pregnancy did!!!), and I take Jonah while Mark’s goes to sleep. Jonah nurses and then we both fall asleep…then he wakes up 4 hours later and nurses again, and falls right back to sleep, and Mark usually gets a full stretch of sleep – 6 to 8 hours.

And that’s what works for us. Which is really the point of this post, other than me being really excited that Mark and I are both getting sleep, period! This is not how I pictured the whole sleep thing working out, but it most definitely is working out for us. This is not what the parenting books say to do, this is not what our pediatrician recommends, but it’s what works for us. And while I understand the concerns about co-sleeping, intuitively this feels right for us, for our family. And practically, it’s allowing us all to get a good night’s sleep. So that’s what we’re doing.

Joelle’s Birth by +Jo | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

– Posted by +Jo

A few months back I was contacted by LeeAnn about doing a maternity shoot in Arkansas. Eventually, through many texts and emails, it was decided there would be maternity, birth and new born sessions. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

Man was this crazy to plan. And timing had to be just right.

I go home to Arkansas once a year and this year’s window was even slimmer because my boyfriend traveled with me. We were really lucky he received a week off from work and only had a short amount of time we would be in the state. I read up on the birth of the first child to understand what I was getting myself into. It also help me know what to expect out of LeeAnn and her husband. As her final weeks drew near she would update me more and more on her OB appointments and progression. The week before I left for Arkansas she started to have prodromal contractions. Right on cue – the same thing happened with her first child. Everyday I would check in – LeeAnn would give me numbers or let me know if things were good. Finally, I made it into town. We were all on edge and I did the maternity session within 24 hours of arriving in the state.

       They have such a cute little family. And they were about to gain one more. Did I mention – she wanted a henna tatto on her belly? Yup. So, I gave here a design we put together. It wasn’t as dark as either of us hoped, but she was happy to have it for the photos.

Once that was checked off the list, the waiting continued. I was worried after a couple days had gone by and nothing much had changed. Her contractions were a little more intese but would let up by the evening. But luck was on our side.

Tuesday night my boyfriend came down with a bug and I was up late making sure he was okay. I don’t know when I fell asleep but at 5:52 am I received a call from LeeAnn’s husband, Nick. She was in full labor and they were heading to Birth Works. Last time she labored for a few hours at the clinic before she was taken to the hospital for the final part of labor. I thought about the time it takes into Little Rock and early morning traffic. I also thought about how comfy bed was at that particular moment. Finally the thought of missing the birth drove me out of bed and into the bathroom. I was brushing my teeth when I received a text from Nick at 6:07 am: “Headed to the hospital in just a few minutes.” They live in the town next to my parents and I knew it would be a 20-30 minute drive into Little Rock. ‘Hospital’ meant LeeAnn was progressing faster in her labor than everyone was expecting. I spat out the toothpaste and went into high gear. I fought with my clothes and almost ran out the door without shoes. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

At 6:49am I was parking my car at the hospital. I made it up to the delivery floor with another text saying “Room 5 in L&D.” What was not mentioned was the locked door that could only be opened by calling the nurses on a specific phone on the wall. I was not awake enough and it felt like I spent 10 minutes trying to get through the one door. It wasn’t really… it was the adrenaline screwing with my head. I made it through and waltzed into the labor room. LeeAnn was on all fours, moaning loudly (not screaming), and the baby was crowning. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

I stared. Uncontrollably.

Then a part of my brain punched the crap out of the other part and I thew down my coat, scarf and yanked out my camera from my bag. The night before I had done long exposure night photography. I switched the settings with out thinking about what I was doing. I turned around and started snapping pictures. No warm up. No cordial hellos. No prepping the mom, dad and hospital staff. Just GO. I shot everything on my 35mm prime and the lens it quite loud. The nurses gave me some nasty looks with the first couple pictures. I simply said “I’m here for them… I’ll hide in a corner.” | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

The doctor barely got his gloves and apron (thingy) on before Joelle broke into the world. I have no clue how I feel about what I saw. It’s not the first birth I’ve seen. It was the first human birth. I don’t know how I looked… I’m sure I was making all sorts of faces. It was surreal… the camera was my eyes. What I saw is what I captured. I didn’t want to have my opinion, presumptions, life choices or history effect the photos. I wanted to capture exactly what I saw. The simple truth of Joelle’s birth. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

She came into the world with a head full of dark hair. She came into the world quiet and loud. She came into the world with two of the most loving parents. She came into the world via a mother who insisted on it being completely natural – no IVs, no epidural – just her and mother nature. She came into the world to a proud father and a kind brother. She came into this world loved completely.

At 6:57am on December 14th, 2011, Joelle Rose was born.

It was raw beauty. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

I was so honored so be apart of this moment. When I finally sat down, I realized I was the first person to take Joelle’s picture. That simple concept took my breath away. How silly – of all things? Out of the millions of photos she will appear in across her lifetime… I took the very first one. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo ArellanesI photographed life.

Damn. I want to do that again.