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Family

The Easy Stuff

Remember Tara and Cory? Last month, in Tara’s 9th month of pregnancy, she braved fences and potential trespassing charges for her maternity session, handling it like it was all old hat. And guess what? We didn’t get arrested for trespassing! Yay! Well, that, and… her baby is here! Celeste is here at last and now Tara is an official card-carrying (diaper bag-carrying?) member of the Motherhood sisterhood. And what does being around a newborn do to me, you ask? It might have given me the tiniest(!) bit of baby fever, sure, but it also sends me into major self-reflection-slash-blogging-wheels-are-turning mode. I’m a thinker. Always have been, always will be. So after a shoot like this, reflecting on how you jump into motherhood and life will suddenly never be the same, it flowed for this one. A lot. The fact that I’m also a mom defines my identity in ways that still overwhelm and astound me.

My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy. For a long time, I dwelled on the journey that knocked me down and broke my spirit- what was wrong with me? But then, finally, my dream come true… a little brown-eyed dream that weighed 8 pounds and awarded me the fastest labor of anyone I’ve ever known. And then, a few years and a few more struggles later, my other dream came true… this time, that dream was a 10 pounder with curly black hair and the most squeezable cheeks in existence. It’s funny. The struggles and heart ache and tears that defined my life for what, back then, felt like it would be forever, actually had a purpose after all. They shaped me. They’re always sort of there, lingering in the back of my mind when I’ve had a hard day with my children. They’re there to remind me of how far I’ve come and how very lucky I am. And I am lucky. So very, very lucky.

If you think about it, it’s actually really easy to take care of a baby. Need a diaper change? Done. Hungry? Got it. In need of a walk around the house, at 4 am and only in a very specific position in your arms? That’s the easy stuff. The harder parts of motherhood come creeping in as your babies get a little older. The easy, most primitive needs of a person give way to the more complicated stuff. How do you take a helpless newborn baby and turn it into a smart, kind, productive adult in only eighteen or twenty years? There’s so much to teach them and so little time.

 

It’s so daunting, the idea that it’s only going to get harder. I worry sometimes (okay, I worry pretty much all the time) that I’m not going to be able to teach them everything I want them to be armed with. And seriously- how am I supposed to help them with their Calculus homework when the last formula flew out of my head years ago?

I wish I had the answer, but I don’t. So here I sit, a few days before my youngest daughter, my Little One, celebrates her first birthday. And I’m a wreck. How can I teach either of them all the stuff in the world when first steps and preschool graduations make me cry? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

But what I do know is that if I could go back in time, years back, and have a choice: the easy road or that road less traveled, full of bumps and setbacks and doctors appointments and ultrasounds and tears and pain and sadness, knowing that it would be a rough journey, guess what? I’d still do it. In. A. Heartbeat. Because I look at my girls, so beautiful and smart and funny, and I know that it was worth it. SO WORTH IT.

 

So I push along. Like me, Motherhood is a lot of things. Life-changing, rewarding, challenging, fun, exhausting, exciting, boring, busy, lonely, joyful… and more often than not, all of the above, all in the same day. It’s also a process. You become a mother and let’s face it. Most of us have no idea what we’re doing for a good long while. Or ever, really. (And guess what? Those who act like they know EVERYTHING about motherhood, all the while giving you the stink eye because your kid is a genius and wants to eat mud at the playground? They’re lying. They have no clue what they’re doing either.) It’s a learning process, and you figure things out as you go. And the best part of all is that you have the most perfect companion to figure all of this stuff out with over the next few decades: your baby. See what I said? SO WORTH IT.

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.

Wednesday by Leah: Baby Stuff

– Posted by Leah

If you’ve ever been in one of those baby-stuff megastores, you know there is a TON of baby crap out there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and to think that you need more than you actually need. I know lots of soon-to-be-mamas now, so I thought it might be helpful to do a post on the stuff you actually need… and the stuff I personally liked/used a lot in the first 3 months of BabyRoX’s life. This post is in no way sponsored by anyone or anything. Just one mama’s advice about what worked for us.

So – if you are pregnant and reading this, first go watch the movie Babies. Pay extra-close attention to the babies from Namibia and Mongolia. They are crawling in the dirt. Getting stepped on by animals. Getting poked by bigger kids. Not surrounded by a bunch of plastic or electric stuff. They don’t even have diapers! And THEY ARE FINE. They are healthy, happy, thriving babies. So when it’s time to start getting stuff for your new addition, just keep those babies in mind. You really don’t need much…especially in those first few months.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - LeahAndMark.com

Of course, there are some things that even if you don’t NEED them, they can make your life easier and/or your baby more comfortable. So here are the products I’ve found really useful in the first 3 months of parenthood! I’ve already done a post about breastfeeding essentials, so I won’t repeat that advice…and since the first 3 months mainly involved holding and feeding the baby, you’ll see that reflected in my product recommendations!

Moby Wrap – BabyRoX loves being snuggled up in this. He’s starting to get heavy now, but until just recently, I could carry him around in this for very lengthy periods of time. Yes, there’s a learning curve with the Moby – for a similar-but-easier wrap, check out the K’Tan. I also own a ring sling, which is easy to take on and off, but hurts my shoulder after a while. Friends I know love the Ergo – we have one, but no infant insert, so we’ll be using that when our lil guy is a bit older.

Boppy Newborn Lounger - we actually had this BEFORE BabyRoX was born because it’s awesome for newborn photo shoots – just drape some fabric over it, position the baby, and start shooting! It’s a pillow with a little indent that is perfect for keeping little babies supported without being flat on their backs.

MamaRoo Swing - This is totally a luxury item and not at all a necessity – we call it the Jetsons Chair because it’s super space age looking! It has 5 different motions, 5 different sounds, and a mobile. Whew! The Car Ride motion is the current favorite, along with the womb sound. I put it in the bathroom and shower while keeping an eye on the RoXman.

Shatterproof Mirror - BabyRoX LOVES watching himself in the mirror! He has a cute snail mirror toy that lights up and makes sounds, and he also has an acrylic mirror on the wall in his room. He can watch himself for quite some time and really enjoys it.

Cooshee Changer - This is our changing pad, and it’s awesome. Instead of having a fabric cover that you have to wash all the time, it’s a soft, waterproof, antibacterial pad that I can just wipe down when it gets soiled. Which happens pretty much every day.

Leg Warmers - These are a.) super cute and b.) super convenient for diaper changes! No pants to unsnap/pull on or off.

Snuggin Go Infant Insert - This was super helpful for the first 2 months. It’s a soft, memory-foam insert that you can use in the car seat or stroller….or really any infant seat. We used it primarily in the car seat. Most inserts make the baby’s head fall forward, but this one kept BabyRoX comfortable and kept his head comfortably back.

Bubbles!Not just any bubbles, mind you, but the Gymboree ones! A friend of mine used to manage a Gymboree center in Boston and she sent us these nearly-indestructible bubbles. I’ll find them stuck on the carpet, still intact, over 24 hours after I’ve blown them! BabyRoX loves to watch the bubbles and try to touch them. And the wand makes blowing tons of bubbles super easy and not messy.

Shampoo Rinser - My baby was born with a full head of hair! And since I like to touch it all the time, it gets oily and needs to be washed. This awesome, soft pitcher-thingy lets me easily rinse the shampoo out his hair without getting water all over his face or in his eyes.

Hmmm… I think that’s it for now. I’m sure there are items I’ve forgotten, but these are some of the things we used a lot during the first 3 months. Hope it’s helpful for the rest of you!

Wednesday by Leah | Thank You Everyone

BabyRoX | LeahAndMark | Wednesday by Leah | 3 Months

– Posted by Leah

BabyRoX | LeahAndMark | Wednesday by Leah | 3 MonthsBabyRoX will be 3 months old next week! I can’t believe it. Now that I’m getting back into “work mode” I’m ever-so-thankful that I am self-employed. There is NO way I could leave my lil man and go to an office 40+ hours a week. Or even 20 hours a week. I would’ve quit my job. These days are too precious and this time is too fleeting for me to miss so many wonderful moments. Yet at the same time, I need to be working – for financial reasons, of course, but also because as much as I love being a mom and spending nearly all of my time with my sweet boy, I’m also more than a mom and I need to spend time on those other parts of myself, too. I love our business. I love the people we’re lucky to work with – clients and other photographers alike!

BabyRoX | LeahAndMark | Wednesday by Leah | 3 Months

So this week’s post is less informative, less reflective, and more just a big, huge, gushing THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone we work with, to everyone who hires us, for making this awesome life of ours possible. Mark and I say EVERY day – usually multiple times a day – how grateful we are to get to spend so much time with BabyRoX. To see his precious smiles and respond to his adorable gurgles. To show him the world, to watch him take it all in. He comes to meetings with us and he’s even been on several shoots already. Mark and I take turns playing and/or napping with him so the other one can focus on writing blog posts, responding to emails, answering phone calls. It’s busy and sometimes crazy, but that’s how we roll.

BabyRoX | LeahAndMark | Wednesday by Leah | 3 Months

Even when we are super busy, we make it work (thanks to our +photographers and interns for taking on extra work, and to our free babysitters – aka grandparents). And even though things get hectic, we still get to spend WAY more time together as a family than if we had office jobs. Being self-employed can be stressful and scary at times, but I am now convinced it is worth the risk, worth facing down the fear of failure, worth the blood/sweat/tears/late nights/early mornings. It’s worth it ALL to get to call the shots, be our own bosses, and make as much time as possible for our child.

And we couldn’t have a business if we didn’t have clients. So thank you thank you thank you a million times over! We love you. You make this possible for us. You. Are. AWESOME.

BabyRoX | LeahAndMark | Wednesday by Leah | 3 Months

Wednesday by Leah: Awkward

– Posted by Leah

There was a wonderfully beautiful post on Offbeat Mama the other day – one that resonated with me on several levels – as an adoptee, as a parent, and as a person who loves to ponder the intricacies of identity, of transitions, and of family.

One quote in particular has been bouncing around in my brain: “Sometimes holding yourself back, playing your cards close to the chest, is the only defense we have. Our silence makes us secure.”

I’m a very open person, for the most part. But there are things I’d rather keep quiet. I don’t necessarily want everyone to know all of my weaknesses. I don’t want people witnessing all of my mistakes, my awkward moments.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - LeahAndMark.com

Before I became a mom, I viewed the transition to parenthood as similar to other transitions in life: the transition to “adulthood” (which, for me, was defined by finishing college, moving across the country, and getting my first full-time job – and a bunch of bills!), the transition to domestic partnership, the transition to married life, and the transition to self-employment. These are all big steps and with them comes a shift in identity, a new role, a change in how others perceive and/or define me. And with any new role, there is a learning curve, a period of adjustment, while I figure out what this transition means to me, how I define this new role and the expectations that come with it, both from me and from others. Do I accept these expectations? Or do I need to adjust the definition of what being a “wife” or being “an adult” means to something more in line with who I am?

With any new role there is the opportunity for awkward moments. New experiences are rife with awkwardness. But in the past I could hide much of that awkwardness. Feigning confidence, self-assuredness… fumbling my way through my first apartment search, my first time filing taxes, my first year of paying bills… I could make mistakes quietly. No one had to know – or at  the very least, only a few people had to know.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - LeahAndMark.com

Becoming a parent is similar to any other major life transition… but unlike so many of those other transitions, I’m finding this one much more public. As I figure out this new role of “Mom,” as I integrate it into the other aspects of my identity – my life story – there are many awkward moments. Trying to nurse in public – quickly before Jonah starts screaming for the milk. Trying to get Jonah in and out of the Moby wrap the first few times. Trying to get the car seat adjusted properly. Trying to change a diaper without getting peed on. And because I refuse to stay shut up in my house, these things are all happening in public. With onlookers. Everyone out there is witnessing my transition to motherhood – my awkwardness and my fumbling. I can’t hide this part of me. I’m a new mom. And my baby is so darn cute, people can’t help but stare (haha, that’s what I tell myself!).

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - LeahAndMark.com

Luckily for me, I’m not too easily embarrassed. Like any other transition, the newness will wear off. I will find my groove – in many ways, I already have. I’m so much more comfortable taking Jonah out and about. There will always be awkward moments – children aren’t the most predictable creatures on the planet, after all. But I’m not going to let a fear of looking/feeling uncomfortable stop me from exploring the world with my son. I’m embracing this awkwardness. It feels uncomfortable now, but it already feels less so. My 22-year-old baby adult self would have been horrified to be seen making a mistake or not knowing exactly what to do…my 30-year-old mom self is just going to shrug it off and kiss Jonah’s big squishy cheeks. I have WAY more important things to concern myself with these days. So bring on the awkwardness!

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - LeahAndMark.com

 

Wednesday by Leah: My New Heart

– Posted by Leah

I love a lot of people. I love deeply, fiercely, easily. But I also love safely. I’ve never truly had a broken heart before. I love people I know will love me back. I surround myself with happy thoughts, happy dreams, happy places, happy faces, and then I let the love flow. It is a controlled love, as controlled as love can be. Which is perhaps why I resisted when I first met Mark – this was a love that threatened my sense of control. So I fought it, and then rationalized it, and finally surrendered to it. He loved me back. And my world continued to be a safe, happy place. And I continued to love.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | Newborns | Maternity | LeahAndMark.com

I never questioned whether I would love my child. I loved him before he was even growing inside of me – when he was still just an idea, a tentative thought… a possibility. I loved him more when he was 4 cells. And even more when he was thousands of cells…a fledgling brain and spinal cord. And more still when he had a little tail and arm buds.

I loved him to the point of tears when I saw his heart beating, when I saw the tiny bones in his fingers and toes. I loved him to the point of breathlessness when I felt his first kicks. My love for him exceeded any previous-felt sensations when he was wet and squirming in my hands. Speechless, senseless, intense. My baby. It was almost too much.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | Newborns | Maternity | LeahAndMark.com

And as I stared at him day after day, hour after hour… as I heard his sounds and learned his gestures and stroked every square inch of his head, his torso, his legs… I realized that I could not bear the love I felt. At least not in my current state. For this was a dangerous love, a completely consuming, impossible-to-control love. I was changing. I had to change. I had to grow a new heart because my former one broke when Jonah was born. It cracked wide open, raw and bleeding from the intensity of this new love. And in the weeks since, my new heart has been growing over the jagged edges, mending the torn tissues, allowing me to accept the infinite abyss that is my love for my son.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | Newborns | Maternity | LeahAndMark.com

I didn’t expect this. I thought that since I am so used to giving and receiving love, this whole motherhood thing would just mean I was adding people to my circle of loved ones. My child would be on the inner ring, orbiting a bit closer to my heart than others, easily incorporated into my existing circles of love. When people would tell my pregnant self about how there is no love like a parent’s love, I would smile and nod and think, “Well, of course I’m going to love my child an insane amount.”

I didn’t realize just how insane, just how fierce, just how mightily I would love this child. I didn’t know it was a type of love that would rip through me like a tornado, leaving me shaking and sobbing in its wake, unable to put the pieces of my shattered, sheltered heart back together.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | Newborns | Maternity | LeahAndMark.com

Every day I melt. Every day I surrender. Every day I fall a bit deeper into this abyss of love. Goodbye control. Goodbye safety. My new heart is one without boundaries, without defenses, without rules or rationality. It just beats and bleeds and loves.

And now I know what all those people were trying to tell me… but there really is no preparation for parenthood. You just have to get bowled over, to let yourself drown. I’m here to tell you that you’ll resurface. Not in the same shape or form, but in a more raw and vulnerable state than ever before. Stripped down. Beating and bleeding and loving.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | Newborns | Maternity | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | Newborns | Maternity | LeahAndMark.com

Going Home | +Jo

::Photo and text by +Jo::

I’ve mentioned before I only go home once a year. It also says on my bio page that my parents are two of my closest friends. So why do I travel to Arkansas one time out of the 365 days of a year?

 

 

 

 

The habit started while I was at SCAD. The first year I attended I traveled every break but I wore myself out and never had any down time between the quarters. Plus, it cost a lot for me to go back and forth as much as I would have liked. I became complacent to the idea I would go home only for the holidays. There have been a couple exceptions to this concept. One was the death of my Uncle James. The other was to help my family patch up old problems.

Yeah, I just put that out there.

Family is always a complicated subject – for anyone – and mine is no exception. We have our problems and we’ve fought through a lot together. All of us and some of us. Some days I want to give up on my family. Some days I cry because I feel I ran away from them all when I was needed the most. Some days I want to call up members to check up on them. Some days I want to rip them a new one. But all the days in the year are saved up for the one trip home.

And durning the travel time I remember why I love my family so much. And why I go home once a year. I need the space to understand them. I need the time to cherish the slim moments I have with them. I ran away to art school following a dream and willing myself not to live the same life as so many do back home.

There are many things my family doesn’t understand about me. I didn’t leave to join the military {like the others}. I left for art. Opposite agendas. I do not want children. I don’t particularly want to get married unless it is an equal opportunity event. I love to “play pretend” on stage and screen. I love to paint. I love to photograph. I love to create. So why don’t I do that back home where I would be closer to everyone? Why can’t I create there? Because I would be too close and too distracted. I would be more involved in mending broken ties. I would be in the middle of family drama that will always be there. I would become caught up in a different life style than what I want to lead.

This probably sounds terribly harsh… and it is not intended that way.

Facebook:
Jo
– I think I finally caught up on rest. Family can really wear you out. 😀 #life
Lee Ann -  Imagine living near us!!!!
Jo - Believe me – I understand. I have to build up for an entire year. Lol!
Lee Ann - A lump dose of family. Like ripping off a bandaid. I totally get it. 😉

My family is something very precious and dear to me. Though they fight, bicker, hold grudges and don’t speak – I love them all for these characteristics. For their eccentricities. For their merits and faults, equally. I would not be -me- if I did not have each and every one of my family members in my life. I would not have the life I do if it wasn’t for every conscious, unconscious, spiteful, and loving actions to me and one another. I wish everyone got along better. I wish I could help them all patch things up. But life isn’t as easy as that. Everyone has their reasons for behaving the way to do. There are things I do not know nor understand that has lead each individual to be the person they have become. I stay away because at the end of any day I want to keep the naive notions I had when I was twelve that everyone loved everyone for exactly who they are. That blood is thicker than water. Family always comes first.

We have a new member in our family. I did not mention in my last post – but LeeAnn is my cousin. So baby Joelle is my little cousin and will grow within a loving home with so many people that care for her. There are no doubts about that. I spent so much time with LeeAnn and Nick while I was in Arkansas with the three photoshoots I did with them. Yet, I still made my rounds and saw 90% of the people I wanted to see. Even a couple that might not want to see me – I still saw and gave loving hugs.

I had a lovely dinners with family, friends, Eric and my parents. I shared early holiday presents. I did plenty of shopping with my mom and fired guns with my father. We decorated for Christmas time and shared a lot of hot coco. I showed Eric off to the family who had never met him and took a nap almost every day. {The people who are close to me understand ‘nap’ is a rare thing to hear our of me.}  Eric taught my father how to cook traditional Tai Cuisine and my father made us his infamous spagetti when we first arrived in town at 1:00am. My two cats {who traveled with us} didn’t want to leave by the end of our stay. I took photos, but not nearly enough. I was busy seeing the people I only see once a year.

Art stops for my family.

{ <3 <3 }

 

~*~

Joelle’s Birth by +Jo

LeahAndMark.com | 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.

LeahAndMark.com | 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.

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | 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.

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | 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.”

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | 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.

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | 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.

LeahAndMark.com | 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.

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes
LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo ArellanesI photographed life.

Damn. I want to do that again.

~*~

Wednesday by Leah: Motherhood

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | LeahAndMark.com | Newborn

– Posted by Leah

Wow, so I’m really and truly somebody’s mother now. A month ago I was in labor. Has it really been a month? Jonah will be 4 weeks tomorrow! Mark and I are so very lucky to have such a healthy, amazing son. Jonah is the sweetest little guy ever. It’s been so much fun watching his personality start to unfold, getting to know him – getting to know myself as a mother and Mark as a father.

Right now my life consists of a lot of nursing, a lot of singing, a lot of kisses, a lot of diaper changes, and not a lot of sleep. The sleep thing is not Jonah’s fault, though – he sleeps a lot! I just lost my ability to nap once I stopped being pregnant, unfortunately. He is still nursing every 2 hours, but we usually get one stretch of 3 – 3.5 hours in the middle of the night, which is great for both of us.

Honestly, I started feeling like a mom when I found out I was pregnant. It was a rather passive type of mothering, though. This first month of mothering a child outside of my body is definitely more “real” and active than being a mom to a fetus. Has it been different than I expected? Yes and no. I expected to be completely consumed with my new role, and totally in love in with my sweet boy. I did not expect it to be quite so easy. I expected to feel more exhausted, perhaps a bit harried, overwhelmed, unsure of myself. But it feels very natural, this motherhood thing. Mark and I are a great team, and he’s able to be home with us a lot, so I have plenty of support. Jonah is an angel – a laid-back, easy-to-soothe, hardly-ever-fusses baby.

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer | LeahAndMark.com | Newborn

The intensity of the love I feel for Jonah – and the love Mark feels for him, too – is impossible to put into words.  We just look at Jonah, and look at each other, and say again and again, “I love him so much!!!” But “so much” pales in comparison to just how much we love our son. I’ve never ever ever felt a love like this before. I miss Jonah if someone else has been holding him for an hour or so. I sleep better when he’s asleep on my chest. My body still feels very connected to him. He cries and my boobs leak. He smiles and I can’t look away. He snuggles up against me and I am instantly relaxed and at peace.

I’m happy to say that I’m completely loving being a mom. I was scared to take this huge leap, to take on this new identity, but so far it has been the absolute best adventure of my life. I was meant to do this. Jonah was meant to be in our lives. Everything feels so right.

And isn’t he cute???!  =) I’m one proud mama.