Leah and Bobby had prayed for a baby for a long time. After disappointment, loss and heartache they didn't know that God was going to bless them in a miracoulous way.Read More
phoenix birth photographer
I realized that I no longer had the desire to photograph for profit.
Over the last year, after much prayer and faith; God laid it on my heart a couple years ago to create a ministry that provides complimentary portrait sessions to families in need.
This decision did not come easy to me. (I mean it took me 2 years to finally take the leap)
I worried about what would happen to my current clients.
I worried about how to be fair to my fellow photographers.
And I worried about how to distinguish families that are truly in need.
The reoccurring theme that can be noticed in the above statement is: worry.Read More
Phoenix Newborn Photographer
Lillian has to be one of the sweetest babies I have ever met. She’s always full of smiles! Almost a year later, I haven’t seen this little girl without a smile on her face. She is always so happy! I can definitely say that is something she got from both of her parents, especially her mom. Regina is never negative, the glass is always half full and she always as a joke or two up her sleeve. Her laughter like Lillian’s is contagious. I met Lillian’s mom when we worked together at a local furniture company designing living rooms! This was before I finally decided to take the plunge and go full time with my business. I remember her looking at me saying “When I finally have a baby you are going to take their pictures”, and it totally happened.
But life wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine’s for Regina, when she was 20 weeks pregnant with Lillian she had the scare of a lifetime. She suffered from a spontaneous epiderma hematoma in her spine from C4-C7. Surgery was her only option, and with this surgery came risks, not only to Regina but baby Lillian who was still growing inside. Before surgery she was already starting to have trouble with losing feeling and it was starting to spread throughout her body. Regina had a partial laminectomy where a small bone sliver was removed and the hematoma was sucked out. Without this life saving surgery, she would have been paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors think that it was a combination of her excessive morning sickness causing the blood vessels to weaken with an explosive burst in blood pressure, and then moving the wrong way that caused the blood vessel to pop. There are less than 20 cases of this condition during pregnancy since 1865.
Today Regina and Lillian are doing amazingly well, they just pulled off some of the best Halloween costumes I have ever seen. The surgery left Regina with a three inch scar from the base of her head to the top of her shoulders. In Lillian’s newborn session she asked if there would be some way to incorporate it into a photo, as a reminder to both of them how strong they were through this process. When we saw the final product both of us had tears! All I have to say is thank goodness for modern day medicine! It saved two lives that day. And I am so grateful to have both of these beautiful girls in my life.
Phoenix Newborn Photographer
Happy Birthday Tavish
To say that babies have their own agenda would be an understatement. To say that birth almost never goes as planned would also be completely true.
This mama was one of my last birth mama's before I took a break to go back and finish my nursing degree. And I was so blessed to be a part of her birth team. All women work incredibly hard to bring their babies into the world. But Bethany was one of the hardest working mamas that I have ever seen. It was an adventure but it certainly did not follow anything that she had hoped for. Bethany had dreamed of a beautiful home birth. But a series of unfortunate events changed her birth plans.
A couple days before Tavish was born, mom Bethany was driving to an ultrasound appointment when she was in a small fender bender. Small as in less than eight miles per hour and no vehicle damage. She called her midwife and followed all of her instructions. An ultrasound and non-stress test showed that Tavish and Mom were both fine and she was able to go about her day. Until that evening when mom started having terrible abdominal paid. She called the midwife who advised her to head on into the hospital for an evaluation. While in triage, Tavish's heart rate had a quiet few concerning drops. She almost had to have a c-section but Tavish decided to stay put. Labs, ultrasounds, and a few more tests determined something was wrong and it was time for an induction. The next two and half days were filled with persistence, frustration, encouragement, exhaustion and pain. Foley Bulbs and THREE IUPCs (A very painful intrauterine contraction monitor) as well as abdominal pain from the car accident that flared up with each contraction, pitocin, drug reactions, nausea, dry heaving, repositioning, slow dilation progression, oxygen. I'd like to say that was it, but there was so much more. But Bethany kept trekking on. She was persistent and refused to give up, she was going to have this baby damn it!
After 36+ hours of slow dilation progression, Bethany was finally at 10cm and allowed to push. She pushed for over three hours. After no progression a tough call was made, Bethany had started to get a fever and the risk of infection was too great. Tavish was showing she was done and the decision for a cesarean was made. Bethany had never been more disappointed, sad, angry, or ashamed in her life. But as Bethany said, "it was my pride or my baby, and my baby will always come first." It always amazes me what we as moms will do for our children.
Tavish Georgianne was born 1:10 am on 5/22/17, 7lbs 3oz, 20 3/4 long. She was sunny side up and turned the wrong way, as well as being wrapped in her cord twice. All was well. When she cried, we call cried. But Bethany's journey didn't end there. After Dad, Tavish and I went to the recovery room Bethany hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood. Thankfully she had a very talented surgical team who had the skills and worked extremely hard to prevent a hysterectomy.
Because of Bethany's complication she had a five day hospital stay. During that extra five day stay Tavish was re admitted into the hospital because she seemed to be having seizure activity. She was taken immediately to the NICU for tests and monitoring but is doing ok. A shout out to the wonderful staff who kept Mom & Dad informed and allowed them to continue breastfeeding and caring for Tavish as much as possible. Finally Tavish and her momma get to go home!
While Bethany had plans of having a natural home birth and she ended up with three different induction methods, three sets of internal monitors, an epidural, and finally a cesarean. She still got the greatest gift of all time. Bethany shared an amazing piece of advice that a wise woman told her, You can grieve the loss of what you had planned, but You will never regret or forget the hard work and reward of the path that followed. Isn't that amazing and wise?! Each time I attend a birth I come away with more knowledge than when I went in. And this birth wasn't any different. Congrats Mainville Family! Sweet little Tavish is so lucky to have you!
Phoenix Newborn Photographer - Mommy and Me Mini Sessions 2017 - What started out as a styled shoot with my idea of a mom and her sweet baby, quickly turned into meeting requests of women who wanted a magical session with their children in that field. Which then made me think, why not do mini sessions here?? And that's what happened....I plan to offer family sessions here in the fall! Keep your eyes open for session details and rates!Read More
This year, I wanted to focus more on sharing the stories of the amazing families I photograph. I asked Vanessa to share her beautiful birth story with us. Her story touched me deeply, to say that I am blessed to have her in my life not only as a client but now as a friend is a bit of an understatement. This woman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the way she loves and lives is truly inspiring. I hope you enjoy her precious story.Read More
“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear.”
The first time I met the G family it was in a crowded coffee shop. I usually meet with just mom, but this meeting was different. Dad and two big sisters were there along with mom. It was wonderful to meet the whole family! One of the first things Mom said to me was, “Just so you know, when my water breaks, my babies come extremely fast.” KEEP THIS IN MIND. Take note, this is also her third baby….
Early one night in mid-September I got a text from Jen saying that she was going to the hospital for strong contractions. I loaded up my gear and waited for the go. I was so worried I would miss the whole thing. I finally got the ok to come down.
When I got to the hospital she was 80% effaced and 5cm dilated with a bulging bag. In birth world talk, she was halfway to having a baby. We walked the halls, did stretches, breathed through contractions. When I say “we”, I really mean Jen with the help of her husband. After all of that, they decided to send Jen home because she was 37 weeks and 3 days and stalled at 5cm. You are probably thinking WHY? WHY? WHY? Mercy Gilbert was in near-completion of their Baby Friendly Certification. Basically what that means is birth professionals can not help patients progress with labor until they are at least 39 weeks. To say we were all frustrated would be a bit of an understatement.
Jen and I became fast friends over the course of her pregnancy and would quite often stay up until 2 am chatting with each other on Facebook.
Two nights later while on my way home I received a phone call at 8:30 pm from her.
Jen: “Are you asleep?”
Me: “Jen, it’s 8:30. You of all people should know I’m not asleep.”
Jen: “Good, because either I have lost all control of my bladder or my water just broke.”
I still to this day do not know how I shaved 15 minutes off of a normal 45-minute drive, but it happened.
Jen and I walked the halls for a while, and even took a selfie! After much walking, we all took a nap for a bit.
Then Jen got in the tub for a short minute. (Literally) When she got out of the tub you could tell the baby had made it’s way to the birth canal. At this point, Jen wanted an epidural. But she wouldn't be able to get one!
The nurse comes in to check and there is Maddy’s head. The nurse runs to the hall and screams for a doctor. A random doctor comes in, barely able to get gloves on. They didn’t have time to get the bed apart or the “stage” lights on. That is how FAST she came.
In less than 15 minutes, Maddy was here! From the time Jen got in the tub to the time she delivered was just under 15 minutes. Jen didn’t even push!
Ten minutes after Maddy was born, Jen’s OB/GYN, Dr. Guzman, arrived. I can’t say enough nice things about this man. He truly cares about his patients and it shows! He stayed and visited with the newest arrival, crying tears of joy with them. He hugged them. He laughed with them. He cared and it showed.
Next, the new big sisters came to meet their little sister. To say they were in love would be an understatement. Middle sister wouldn’t stop gently stroking Maddy’s head and kissing it. Adorable, right?
People often ask me why I love birth photography. THIS story is a prime example as to why I do what I do. I am the fly on the wall. I am the artist who captures those moments that are often forgotten, the parts of the story that we overlook in the heat of the moment, the tender moments of encouragement showed by husband while his wife is in labor, the sweet gentle kisses of a new big sister, the embrace of a proud doctor. THAT is the reason why I do birth photography.
Congratulations Gunty Family! I love you!!
phoenix newborn photographer
10 things you should never say to a NICU Parent
Today I asked my sweet friend Keri (Avery and Ivan's Mom) to share a little insight on being a NICU parent. Although people often mean well and to encourage parents who are going through this kind of situation. Here are some things you shouldn't say.
10 Things You Should NEVER say to a NICU Parent
By: Keri Chavarria
I mostly did a smile and nod, but these are some of the answers I wish I would have given.
1. "What did you do?"
Moms who have their babies early are under a mountain of guilt. Many feel like failures because they did not carry the babies to term. Life happens. That question makes everything worse.
2. "Are they going to make it?"
I try to think positively, but you never know! Thank you for reminding me.
3. "You don't even look like you had a baby!"
Yes, not only am I walking around without my newborn twins, I don't even look like I just delivered them. Thank you again for the reminder.
4. "At least you can sleep while the boys are in the hospital!"
No, definitely not. I spend most of my time camped out in NICU and/or chained to a breast pump eight hours a day.
5. "Your boys will come home and it will be like nothing ever happened."
No. Just no.
6. "At least you didn't get to the third trimester and have to be uncomfortable."
I promise you I would have stayed 41 weeks huge for two years if it meant my boys did not have to stay in the NICU.
7. "At least you had an easy labor."
Oh, that's right. The terror I felt from one water breaking before 26 weeks combined with being in full labor for 40 hours before being allowed to push was super easy.
8. "It's like you have a free babysitter!"
9. "Oh! Your babies look like normal babies!"
Really? Did you expect to see a disfigured reptile?
10. "I wouldn't be able to leave MY baby at the hospital overnight alone."
Thank you, Keri, for guest blogging and sharing your photos! Check out the boys' newborn session to see how big they have grown!
phoenix newborn photographer
phoenix newborn photographer
phoenix newborn photographer
I remember sitting in my car and having a feeling that I needed to text the mom I was on call for and see how she was doing. I had been on call for her birth now for two weeks. Her due date was approaching. I literally could not get her out of my mind. I sent her a text only to find out that, mom was in labor! Talk about a God thing, right?
I was excited for this photoshoot because I knew it would be more than taking pictures of a beautiful newborn: I would be documenting mom and dad’s journey to becoming parents. Not only would I be documenting their journey into parenthood. But I would also be documenting the moment that they found out the gender of their baby! I love photographing newborns. But birth stories tug at my heart strings. To be able to capture this memory for parents, is always an honor.
Mom and Dad booked me before mom was even out of her first trimester! She had found me on Instagram and had been following me since. I was over the moon excited for them. I truly felt that not only had I gained another set of amazing clients but I had also gained new friends. It was such an honor to capture these intimate photos and videos. They will forever be reminders of the day their precious baby had blessed the world with their presence.
I met the parents-to-be at Babymoon Inn, a birth center in Phoenix. At this birth center mom could have a natural water birth. She was tended to by the Babymoon Inn Midwives, who did a fabulous job keeping her calm and focused on the end goal of baby.
Dad was extremely supportive throughout the birthing process. He doted on momma and was so attentive to her needs. Grandma and Grandpa drove all the way from New Mexico to witness the birth. I love how supportive grandma was to Mom! It was amazing to witness this family come together to bring this sweet babe into the world.
Mom was so inspiring. She breathed through each contraction like a pro. Even though I was there to observe, she was so focused that at times I felt like I was simply a fly on the wall. The moments of pain and then relaxation came and went and I managed to snap pictures of it all.
When it was finally time to push, I realized I had forgotten my tripod. But our amazing nurse offered to shoot a video to help document the baby's surprise gender reveal. I would not have been able to capture that on video without her help! They say ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’, I felt that capturing the miracle of life at the moment it’s happening definitely warranted video. Especially when Mom and Dad were going to be the one's announcing what gender their precious baby was. What an amazing moment to capture!
In what felt like a flash, the baby had emerged from the water. Mom and Dad were elated. Actually all of us in the room were pretty overcome with emotion. A moment after soaking in their fresh new baby they decided to find out baby's gender.
It's a girl!! Savannah Grace was born in the wee hours of the morning.
It was such a special day for the Carlin family and I feel honored to have been able to observe it all.
Congratulations once again Carlin Family! Welcome to Parenthood!
Phoenix Surrogate Birth Photographer
Two Men and a Little Baby
Have you ever wondered what a surrogate birth is like? Trista, a local wife and momma decided to give a couple the best gift anyone could ask for. A baby. I asked her to be a guest blogger today to tell the story of the last birth and newborn session that I had in 2015. All I can say is there is not a better way to end the year than with a birth, better yet, a surrogate birth. The time I spent with these people was truly amazing. And I am beyond blessed to have met them all. Thank you Trista for being a guest blogger! I’m so happy that you are open to sharing this story with others.
Trista- “Not everyone is so blessed to have children. And I feel like I should help those who are not blessed to be able to carry a baby. I feel like every person that desires becoming a parent should feel the joys of having children.
I first learned about surrogacy like many people, celebrities. When I told my husband he thought I was crazy. Although he had his reservations, I knew he’d support me in this journey. So I went online, and I googled surrogacy agencies. The first one I came across had a questionnaire to see if you can be pre qualified for surrogacy. Out of curiosity I filled it out and got pre-approved. Little did I know that was the first step that would lead me on a 2 year journey!
The agency reached out to me and said that they were interested in me becoming a surrogate.
However, I needed to do to get a final approval to be a surrogate: I needed to turn in my medical records, needed psychological clearance, I needed clearance from my OBGYN, needed approval from the fertility doctor in Los Angeles, and finally I needed to be matched with potential parents.
It seemed like so much. But it was worth it.
Carrying a baby for someone else is an emotional endeavor! And it is important to make sure you are mentally prepared for such a task. I passed my psychological evaluation. I submitted all my clearances, had a medical screening in LA, and I was ready to be matched.
When I first got the intended parents (IPs for short) profile I was nervous because how was I to know if the IPs were my potential match? What things do I look for? What do I ask them? I got their profiles and every piece of identifying detailed is blacked out. Without details I was nervous that I would see just a fake profile to make them look appealing, but I didn’t get that at all. I got the most heartfelt story of their lives, their work, their families, why they want to be parents, and my favorite part: a letter to their surrogate. After reading the letter I knew they were my match.
We planned a video chat to talk. They were a gay couple from Europe. I got ready for the video chat like I was getting ready for my first date. I changed my clothes a million times. I curled my hair. Did my make-up. To tell you the truth- I was a nervous wreck! Needless to say the video chat went great. The guys (as I’ve come to know them) were amazing. Everything that we talked about, it’s all a blur now. I do remember them saying that they wanted me to carry their baby. How exciting is that? Wouldn’t it be great if dating was that easy?
After we established a contract we were able to move to the next step in the process. They found an egg donor and they were going to use one of their sperm. Now we get to start the cycling process. First the IVF Dr. (in vitro fertilization doctor) needed to synch my period cycle with the egg donor’s. This is standard in fresh embryo transfers.
Transfer day: We head to the fertility clinic in LA. My stomach is in knots. The doctor brings me back and I get on the bed and it feels like I’m going for my yearly exam. My mom is with me. Like most girls, it’s nice to have your mom with you for nerve wracking appointments. The doctor comes in, puts my legs in stirrups and opens me up with that horrific clamp. He flushes my vaginal canal with saline solution. (Just a slight disclaimer, this is not for the faint of heart. There are gross things to be said about the surrogacy journey.) then the nurse brings in a very long tube. It’s a very thin, long catheter. The embryo is inside it. The doctor pushes the catheter through a small opening in my cervix and suddenly I’m pregnant. How easy was that? Now it’s the hard part. The dreaded 2 week wait.
How will I possibly hold out 2 weeks before knowing if I’m pregnant? Well I couldn’t and after 5 days I took a pregnancy test at home! It was positive!!! How amazing is that! I had to tell the dads so they could relax. We schedule a video chat and on it “I’m pregnant!” they were so excited and had instant tears!
Now we wait 5 more days for my blood test to check my hcg levels. I got almost cocky about the whole thing. I’ve never miscarried. Why would I now? That arrogance made this next part that much harder. I miscarried. I feel like I let them down. My hcg levels came back at 90. The doctor wants them at 100. We saw the heartbeat in an ultrasound and things didn’t look good. It was weak. After that I was really discouraged. It turns out the embryo quality was very poor and the doctor knew it, but had no choice because out of the 10 embryos that bad one was the best quality.
Once we were ready to cycle again I got a call 5 days before the transfer. The transfer canceled and it wouldn’t be rescheduled until the dads found a new egg donor. The guys found an egg donor rather quickly. By January we were ready to go. Only problem was my body was not happy with the sudden changes of being on and off the hormones. I had to take other hormones to stimulate my cycle and then they made me wait another month for a regular period before they would allow me to cycle again. While most women are praying their period doesn’t come I was praying for mine to come. It took another 2 months before we could cycle again and we got our new transfer date: April 7th. The new egg donor is experienced and this is her third time donating. The 2 other times resulted in successful pregnancies. I had every reason to be sure this one would stick, but I was hesitant. The transfer came and went, embryo quality was flawless. I should be excited right? Well I wasn’t! What if I miscarry again? Will they think it’s my fault?
By day 7 everyone was begging for me to take a pregnancy test. At day 10 I got results. Please let them be at least 100! Please don’t be any lower than that! 263?! They’re more than double what they needed to be!!!! I shared the news with the dads and at that point we all felt more at ease. I went for my first ultrasound at 6 weeks and we saw a heartbeat. Everything was amazing. But of course, nothing can go smoothly and we hit a major bump when I started bleeding the next day. Why is this happening? Everything was just fine yesterday! I call my OB and they get me in right away for an ultrasound. I lay down on the bed expecting the worse and they put the wand on my belly and there is the baby her heart is fluttering like a butterfly. I didn’t miscarry. In IVF it’s very common to bleed at 6 weeks for some unknown reason. After 24 hours my bleeding stopped and I was back to normal.
I continue the pregnancy like normal. At 10 weeks we got a blood test done to determine if the baby had any genetic deformities and at that moment we found out the sex of the baby. I got news on the sex of the baby before the dads did so I asked my OB to keep it a secret and I would reveal to them during our video chat. That week we planned on talking and I would meet 1 of their moms. Perfect time to announce the sex of the baby. We started talking and they announced the pregnancy to his mom. She had no idea they were this far along in the process. She was so excited and she cried. It was beautiful.
Now I get to share my news. I made a shirt and across my belly I wrote GIRL with a pink bow underneath. I told them the baby had no deformities and the blood results were perfect. Then they asked what it was. I stood up and showed off my expanding belly with GIRL written across. They were so happy they cried tears of joy. At 22 weeks the guys visited. They were so funny and fit in so well with our family. I know I made the right decision to be matched with them.
The rest of the pregnancy went along normally, no issues and before we knew it she was coming. At 36 weeks I got my first exam done and my Dr. tells me “you are 3cm, 75% effaced. Are the dads in town yet? (No!) When do they get here? (Not for 2 more weeks) They need to get here because you most likely won’t make it till then!” I text the dads and let them know and they changed their flight to come here sooner. They came at separate times. Dad #1 got here at 37 weeks, dad #2 got here at 37.5 weeks (he had to finish out the week at work). Once they got here I felt more at ease. We went and walked at the zoo. I took them shopping for baby stuff. My next appointment at 37 weeks I had no change in my dilation. At 38 weeks there was no change either. What the heck? Looks like I’ll make it to my induction after all!
At 39 weeks I’m scheduled to be induced. Everyone’s bags are packed. We’re all ready to go. I need to be to the hospital at 3am for my induction. But again, nothing goes according to plan. I get a call the night before saying “Our beds are full of women coming in with spontaneous labor. Call us at 5 am and see if we have openings.” So I set my alarm, babysitter is scheduled to be at our house by 5. I call the hospital and asked if they had beds open for my induction. They laughed and apologized and told me unless I go into spontaneous labor don’t plan on coming in that day. This sucked. I tell my husband. I said “Let’s walk this baby out! We can walk the girls to school!” So I get up, use the restroom and I come out with my underwear around my knees. I tell my husband my water broke. “Okay babe.” He doesn’t budge from the bed. “No seriously my water broke.”
I change, call my mom, text the dads, and we are out the door! I get to the hospital, we get a room, get hooked up to machines and get my IV started. I tell everyone to come to the hospital around 7. This way I have a chance to get everything going. Everyone arrives and a second later the anesthesiologist comes in to administer my epidural. He gets it in and my legs and hips go numb. I still feel every contraction. So I continue to press the button to administer more numbing and my feet are so numb I can’t feel a single thing, yet it’s not touching the pains in my stomach. We call the anesthesiologist back in and he does something and I finally get relief, only problem is my legs are so numb I have zero control over them.
The nurse comes in my room to check on us and I ask her to check me. I wasn’t having any pressure, I just wonder where I’m at. The baby’s head is coming down and I’m ready to push. I’m so numb I couldn’t tell you what was going on down there. Suddenly the doctor is there. The nurses are all there. The dads are anxiously waiting for their daughter to be born. No one expected it to be so sudden. The doctor tells me to push. Did I push? The baby is out! It took 2 pushes. Seriously, I have pictures to prove it. The dads come over to my bed and together they cut the cord.
Everything after that was so quick. We had a lot of papers to fill out. And in the days that followed the dads needed to get her birth certificate, passport and needed to relinquish my rights as birth mother. After all that, the baby was ready to go home to Europe.
During the pregnancy I never became attached to the baby. To be honest my youngest is going through so many medical problems right now, I couldn’t Imagine having a newborn to care for. In the last 2 years things were hard, stressful, emotional, but everything we went through was worth it. If it weren’t for the failed transfer, canceled cycle, baby Louise wouldn’t be here. Sometimes to get the rainbow you have to brave the storm.”
Congratulations guys! Baby Louise is Beautiful!! Each and every one of these people in this story have touched my heart. I am so blessed to have photographed this special day for them!
Get your tissues ready! I’ve been saving Zachary’s birth story because it is a real tear jerker.
When I first met Baby Zachary’s parents I told them that I had a strong feeling that Zachary was going to make a fashionably late appearance into this world. however, I didn’t actually think I would be right.
Baby Zachary came into the world five days past his due date. After 15 hours of labor and 1 hour of pushing, this bright-eyed little Irish boy was born on the perfect day. St. Patty’s Day has never been so perfect for this family!
When he came earth-side he didn’t cry. He merely opened his eyes and looked around. He was instantly placed upon his momma’s chest where he stayed nuzzling her cheek and with his hand over her lips. This little boy wanted to be with his momma from the start.
If that doesn’t overwhelm you with joy, Zachary’s grandmother was there. This woman made my heart so incredibly happy. The pride and the excitement that she showed was amazing. After ten…yes, you read that right TEN grandchildren. She still cries when one is born. In her words, “Each one is a special miracle”. Truer words have never been spoken. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Yes, I cry when babies are born!
If you are on the fence about birth photography, make an amazing decision that you won’t regret. Hire a birth photographer to capture these moments. Capture the moments that you won’t remember but will want to remember. Hire a birth photographer so your partner can focus on you and your baby. Hire a birth photographer to capture the firsts. I promise you will not regret it.
Thank you so much M. Family for giving me the privilege of capturing this special moment in your lives. See you for your newborn session soon!