Last belly picture:
Just three weeks before her due date Christi decided to switch to a home birth. She had educated herself so much through this pregnancy that by the end she was in a different place of confidence in her body than she was at the beginning. Within a day of interviewing some homebirth midwives she and her husband had decided on a homebirth with Joy of Life Midwifery. It ended up being perfect for her--a very, very mother centered, all-night labor. She didn't receive a single internal exam other than the exploring she did herself to know baby's head was descending. It was incredible to watch mother-directed pushing with no outside coaching for that stage. As I often tell my clients, the moms who push while groaning (as opposed to "purple pushing" holding their breaths) tear far less on the whole, many times not at all. The midwives were great at letting her take the lead, yet standing by with every emergency measure just in case. Having had an epidural at her previous birth she was amazed to experience the power of her body this time laboring naturally. She did terrific at staying in control, relaxing her muscles, and using low, open vocalizations in response to my doula coaching. Though it was intense, I had many internal smiles at how well this labor progressed and how well Christi coped.
Last belly picture:
The cool running water from the sink was a comforting ritual during contractions:
The dad, Beau, got to catch his baby (I love the assistant midwife's expression in the corner of the frame):
Look at this beautiful pulsating cord just six minutes after birth!
One of the highlights for me of this birth was getting to watch big brother T. meet Gracie for the first time. At around 6 a.m. he got up to go to the bathroom. Seeing the midwives in the living room he told them “I’m not really awake.” Then he did a double take and said, “Wait!! Why are you here?!” He caught the clue that maybe his baby sister was on her way. Little did he know that she was born an hour before. The midwives thoughtfully came and told his dad that he was up so he could break the news to him personally. Then Tristan got to come right in and meet her. It was an unforgettable moment.
One of the noticeable benefits of natural birth is how incredibly alert the babies are. Gracie gazed right into her mom and dad's eyes, studying the faces that went with the voices she knew so well by now. And then she looked directly into my lens just for me:
Welcome to the world, baby girl! It was an honor to go on the journey (starting way back in March) toward your grand arrival, with numerous twists and turns on the way to a well worthwhile destination.
The triplets are crawling and sitting up, so we did their six-month photos to celebrate those milestones. This has always been my favorite age in babies, since it is when personality really starts to emerge. If you missed the triplets' newborn photos, you can look there first to see how much they've grown! Full disclosure--the babies were actually seven months old for this photoshoot (six months was based on their adjusted age since they were born a month early. As we did their newborn photos at one month, we have done their six month photos at seven months so they would be developmentally ready).
Can't believe how much the babies have grown since they were in this very same basket as newborns!
Now if you really want to see a behind the scenes pull-back, here's what we were working with half the time! Special thanks to all the lovely ladies who helped out. And thanks to the babies who forgave me for putting them in such absurd situations ;).
The babies passed their six month milestone a week after July 4th, so these Ragababies cloth diapers are in honor of that:
Now for their individual portraits.
Big sister Addie just had her third birthday:
Ryker turned on the charm:
Farmer in the making, anyone? As the biggest of the triplets, I have nicknamed Ryker "Chunk."
Darlin' Katie is positively perfect in every way.
There's a story behind this blue dress. Katie's great grandmother made it for Katie's grandmother. Her mother, aunt, and sister Addie all wore it too, so this is a very special dress, carefully preserved over the generations. I wonder if any of the preceding babies had such blue eyes that went with it though.
Oh Charlie, you dazzle my heart with your bright, intelligent eyes! You're going to be a book worm, I just know it.
I mean, look at those eyes!
Here are the boys in the same basket they nestled in as newborns (take a peak at that link):
These sisters have a special bond. Baby Katie tunes in any time Addie starts talking to her.
Kristi, I know you dislike platitudes, but you really have triumphed at this motherhood thing! Exclusively breastfeeding triplets for seven months and counting is an accomplishment that deserves sincere congratulations! Through all odds you have put your babies' wellbeing first by giving them the very best possible start to life anyone could have. I'm so proud of you as your doula, and inspired by you as your friend. God has blessed you with the armful of children that you dreamed of.
April showers bring May flowers. We had the April showers, but the new little flower of a baby girl threatened to not wait for her place in May during her mom's maternity photoshoot. Gratefully, we made it through without Harmony going into labor. Since I attended Harmony's first birth, it was a joy to be asked to photograph her this second time around. Thanks, Harmony, for braving the cold and Braxton Hicks and impending sky to get these images! I'm excited to see your two little girls blossom together.
Last days of being a family of three!
For this birth, I was hired to be a sibling doula for Alana's two-year-old sister Cailey. Anna went into labor in the evening and when I arrived at 11 p.m. Cailey was still up running around with excitement. Knowing it could be a while, I sang her a lullaby and put her to bed and then went to assist Anna and Josh in getting everything ready for the birth. Anna's first labor was four days long, but this one was already feeling more intense and that it would be quicker. Soon the midwives arrived and Anna felt pushy. Then she calmly remarked that she could touch the baby's head. That was my cue to get Cailey up so she could be present at the birth like Anna and Josh had wished. So I woke the precious sleeping little girl up, and took her to the kitchen for a drink of water to help her fully awake, preparing her by talking with her that her baby was about to be born! I calmly carried her into the bedroom, holding her in one arm, telling her what was happening each step of the way and taking pictures with the other hand. At 1 a.m. baby Alana came swimming into her parent's hands!
Anna wanted to do a lotus birth this time around, which is where you let the placenta stay attached until the cord falls off on its own a couple days later. So we washed and dried the placenta to prepare it for that.
Newborn exam time!
Welcome to the world little girl! Anna, you were so strong, and Josh, you were amazing to watch running this way and that making sure Anna had everything she needed in labor. It was an honor to be present at your birth.
I simply couldn't bring myself to choose just a handful of photos when the whole story of these sweet boys' arrival was begging to be told, so below is a slideshow of this adoption story.
When I first met Kelsey and Justin two years ago, a picture of Beni and Zeke sat on their end table and I heard their story of hopes and dreams for bringing these boys home. Their adoption journey started before Kelsey become pregnant with Solomon. I was blessed to be Kelsey's doula and the birth photographer for his birth, so when she told me recently that after three years of waiting the "Red Sea" had parted and their boys were coming home, I was thrilled be asked to photograph their arrival (another kind of birth).
For three years Kelsey and Justin prayed for and longed for their boys, without ever having met them in person. Battling endless governmental red tape, they never gave up hope. Finally Justin flew over to do the final work in person. He was there a month before passports and everything for the boys was released to come home.
As I stood in the airport with Kelsey, my heart pounding in sympathetic anticipation for the big moment when her boys would come into her arms, we reminisced about the last moments of labor with Solomon. "I think waiting now is harder than pushing was then!" she said. And that's saying a lot, because she didn't have an easy labor.
With friends supporting Kelsey in the background, at last the airport security door opened and Justin walked through with Beni following behind and a tired Zeke sleeping in his arms after the long journey. Kelsey put her hand over her mouth in shock and joy and walked forward for a first family embrace with all five of them. I had to blink back the tears to see straight to photograph the moment.
Adoption is such a beautiful picture of how we all have been invited to become children of God. The book of Ephesians in the Bible says "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph. 1:4-10).
And thus the Lyons family is united at last, in answer to prayer! These three boys couldn't have asked for better parents to lavish love upon them!
Push play on the image of their airplane landing below to see the slideshow.
Welcome home, boys! Durango is going to be richer to have you here!
It was an honor to support these clients through labor and birth. Though labor threw her a curve ball, and didn't turn out like any of us expected, this mom weathered it with awe-inspiring strength. This is one tough mama! Here she is walking in to the hospital at 7 cm before things ramped up in intensity:
What precious, attentive support this man provided his wife!
Laboring vertically to work with gravity (using the squatting bar):
Welcome to the world, Maddie! You are cherished.
This is a great list to read over at www.thejoyofthis.com
These clients of mine are such a good looking couple together. Since they decided to go with my full package (maternity, birth, and newborn photos in addition to doula services), I'm excited to be a part of their team on this journey to meet their precious little one.
Meet Ryker, Charlie, and Katie--the Sage triplets--photographed in their Durango home at one month old (the week of their due date). I'm so proud of Kristi who carried them to nearly 36 weeks and has been exclusively breastfeeding/pumping! She is an amazing mom, just the tiger these babies needed to get them off to a great start.
When I first met them for postpartum doula services, I walked in and studied the babies for a few minutes in their crib and then I felt like I knew who was who (I had never seen a picture connected with a name of any of them, mind you, this was strictly a doula's intuition). I ventured a guess and tears sprang to my eyes when I was correct on all three. In the last several months, I have grown to love them each, anticipating their arrival, and now that they are here, they are all the more precious.
Left to right in the first image (above): Charlie, Katie, Ryker (They stay in the same color wraps throughout the photos. We thought about confusing you but decided against it ;)!)
Great Aunt Candy has been a huge help this month! I love this image of the babies in her arms, because of how gorgeously each of their wraps goes with her blouse:
Addie is such a good big sister at only two-and-a-half years old (she even showed me how to adjust the babies' oxygen tank knobs). Here are the sisters together:
The brothers--comrades in arms:
Welcome to the world little ones! I'm excited to watch you grow and interact with each other.
When Tara first contacted me to book a photoshoot for after the birth of her baby, I was amazed to hear of this baby's story of healing in answer to prayer. After a stillbirth, Tara and Justin were anxious when they got pregnant again to find out if the same brain condition was present in this baby. When they found out it was, their friends started praying like crazy. Here is their remarkable testimony (shared with permission). Long story short, God worked a miracle, and here is perfectly healthy little Garrett, pictured at less than 24 hours old.
We had some lovely window light on Tuesday in the hospital birth center.
Melanie Ellison, Durango CO
Childbirth fascinates me, and I always love learning more tidbits about it and sharing them with you. I also post photo galleries here from my photoshoots. Sign up for the RSS feed below so you don't miss a post!