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Senior Portraits

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: 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

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.

 

Senior Session by +Raven

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

-Posted by +Raven

I used to find staying positive really hard. I wanted to wallow, I wanted to feel bad for myself, I wanted to to see the glass as half-empty.
Then I changed.

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Whenever I get stressed out, my boyfriend says something that both calms and infuriates me {not necessarily in that order}: What is there to stress about? And then he lists all of the awesome things in my life. And I realize I’m being silly and overly-dramatic. And I choose to stop.

These days, it’s a lot easier to stay positive, especially when I keep myself in check and realize what exactly I’m doing when I start to feel stressed or get down about something.

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

It helps to surround yourself with positive people, too. No, really! You’re effected by those around you more than you realize. Choose those people carefully.

I recently rediscovered the beauty of the lyrics to Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free ( To Wear Sunscreen)” song. I’ve always been a huge fan of Baz Luhrmann as a director {Moulin Rouge, Romeo & Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, Australia}, and as a child of the 90’s, have always loved this song.

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Today, I leave you with my favorite lines of the song; the lines that have always stayed with me, the lines that hovered in the back of my mind for the longest time, waiting until I was ready to really hear them:

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Donít waste your time on jealousy; sometimes youíre ahead, sometimes youíre behind . . . the race is long, and in the end, itís only with yourself.

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

Atlanta Senior Portraits by +Raven | LeahAndMark.com

– Posted by +Raven