Wisconsin Birth Photographer

Meet Rowan - Madison Home Birth Fresh 48 Session

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Baby Rowan made his grand entrance into the world like a firecracker and has given us all quite the story to tell for years! To give you a little background before I dive into the details of his birth, I met his mom, Amanda, when we were physical therapy students together at UW Madison. We hadn’t seen each other for a while after graduating, and we both started families of our own. When I announced that I was going to start photographing births, she asked me to photograph her planned home birth and I was so excited! Since then, we all reunited this summer and we had the pleasure of meeting her incredibly sweet little boy, Finn, who was so kind to Lacey as they hung out together :)

Fast forward to last night. I think the best way to paint the picture of how Rowan was born is to give a timeline of events and my text/call log with Amanda and her husband Jason:

11:58pm on 9/26 - Amanda group texts me to let me know that she has been having mild and inconsistent contractions (she didn’t even need to breathe through them or stop what she was doing) since 6pm, but she is not sure if she is really in labor yet.

12:13am on 9/27 - I text Amanda back encouraging her to get some sleep and call me if she progresses.

1:07am on 9/27 - Jason calls me to let me know that Amanda’s contractions have gotten stronger and that I should come now because her midwife is also on the way.

1:19am on 9/27 - Rowan is born!

1:27am on 9/27 - I’m about to leave my apartment when Jason calls again to tell me in the calmest voice, “Yea, so, the baby came already…”

I later learned that Rowan came so fast that their midwife didn’t even make it to deliver him and his dad had to catch him in their bathroom! Not only did Jason have to catch Rowan, but he had to catch Rowan on the fly because he had been clearing space in the other room when Amanda started to crown and urgently pleaded for him to help her! He literally had seconds and would have missed Rowan had he been a moment slower! Amanda even delivered her placenta before her midwife arrived, it all happened in a whirlwind!

I was so honored to see them a few hours later that day to listen to their incredible story and to meet their precious little cutie! Mom and Baby looked so bright, high-spirited, and healthy, I was amazed. He was so alert and adorable (which you will see in the photos). We talked about how it was a good thing that they had planned a home birth because that was what Rowan was planning all along apparently! I was so happy to see how this family is able to enjoy their first moments with their new addition in the comfort of their home.

Congratulations to this wonderful family!

Finn is adjusting to life as an older brother. With all eyes on little Rowan after I arrived, he made an entrance into the room with a paper towel roll voice amplifier! As the oldest in my own family, I know the feeling Finn! Otherwise I can already tell he is going to be such a sweet brother. Amanda told me he tried sharing a graham cracker and bottle of cows milk with Rowan, so cute!

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Meet Baby Gabe - Just Born/Fresh 48 Session

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Maria and I connected through a wonderful support group for moms that have had a c-section called ICAN. I got to talk to her about Fresh 48 photography when she was about 37 weeks along with baby Gabe in her belly. Having the next baby after a c-section can be scary for a lot of women, and let me tell you, Maria had a lot of courage. She told me she was going to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), which is no easy feat! There is a lot of negativity in society surrounding VBAC, but being a labor and delivery nurse herself, Maria knew the pros and cons very well.

As her estimated delivery date on 6/4/18 came and went, Maria gathered support and good vibes from her community. One day before her scheduled induction, I got a text in the morning saying she was in labor and at the hospital. Both her and I were relieved that little Gabe got to choose the day he would enter the world. About 9 hours later, they let me know that their son had arrived and she had her VBAC after all! I drove to the hospital shortly after that so that I could capture the moment that her adorable daughter got to meet her little brother. It was such an honor that their family welcomed me during this special time. I felt so inspired be in the presence of this strong woman and her amazingly supportive family. I am so happy for them all and I am so glad that Maria had the healing birth that she deserved.

Without further ado, here are the images from my time in the hospital with them:

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Maria's dad was so proud of her <3

His big sister sang him a very special song that she has been singing to him since he was in the womb. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed, she loves her brother so much already.

Thankfully all his grandparents were ready to record this special moment for them so he can watch it with his sister one day :)

I love the way that grandparents look at their grandchildren.

Welcome to the world baby Gabe, you are so loved by so many people.

Lacey's 4th month

I have found taking care of a 4 month old to be very challenging because she is so dependent but wants to explore so bad!  This is tough when she is pretty heavy to carry around.  But she is somehow getting even cuter everyday and her smile makes me forget about all the work that goes into being a mom. There have been a few firsts for her travel-wise.  Trips this month included the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Minneapolis, and Madison Wisconsin.  We also took her to her 2nd movie in the theatre this month and she only made one peep.  Lacey is getting more and more aware of her surroundings everyday and also more coordinated (although she looks pretty uncoordinated next to her 8-month-old cousin who is very purposeful with each movement).  She is still waking up about twice each night to nurse, but she did sleep a whole 8 hours one magical night, right before she got sick... She has added a couple more consonant sounds to her speech like "guh" and I think she has mastered "muh". Lacey seems to have more control over the volume of her voice and now we often hear her cooing in a way that isn't yelling or crying and it so adorable.  She also started laughing this month which is the sweetest sound my ears have ever heard :)

Things to remember:

  • We heard her laugh for the first time very briefly at Costco on 4/7 while she watched Brian strapping on the baby carrier to his chest.  We both heard the little giggle but neither of us saw it because I was carrying her outwards and Brian had his attention on buckling the straps.  The first time we really saw and heard her laugh was when she was being carried by her great-aunt Karen.  We heard her laugh from the other room and rushed to try to see it and saw a couple giggles before she stopped.  Ever since then, she laughs here and there but Brian and I have not figured out the trick to get her to laugh when we try to make her laugh.  Our family members seem to have better luck with it for some reason, I guess Mommy and Daddy aren't funny enough!
  • On April 16th, she said her first word (on accident probably, but still!). I had just finished a video call meeting and Brian was holding her her in the living room.  I walked into the room and when I made eye contact with her, she looked at me with a pouty lip and cried “ehhhh- Mama!”  Brian and I were completely surprised and shocked because she said it incredibly clearly. I will never forget Brian's face and the way he started to tear up, he was such a proud dad.  That moment just melted my heart in every way.
  • At the beginning of the month, she made her first trip out-of-state to Illinois to visit her grandma and grandpa while I photographed a styled shoot in the morning.  It was my first shoot since becoming a mom and in a lot of ways it felt good to get back into the swing of things, but I also missed her like crazy!  I'm glad she was able to spend time with Brian's side of our family, including meeting her great-grandparents.
  • A couple weeks later she made an even longer road trip to Minneapolis with Brian, my sister, and me to visit my brother and cousins.  We needed feeding breaks along the way because it was a 5 hour drive each direction.  It was a challenge to travel with a 3.5 month old, but Lacey really was such a trooper.  We felt bad that she had been in the carseat for so long, so we gave her a break from it for a few days after that.  It was so good to see my brother and my cousins with their almost 8-month-old baby girl :) She and Lacey didn't seem to notice each other very much, but when they did it was super cute! One of the funniest moments was when we were walking down frat row to pick up my brother on the U of Minnesota campus, Lacey was so out of place while Brian carried her in the carseat, a college girl walked by and asked, "Who's baby?" with a confused face.  It was hilarious!  I love Minneapolis so much and get emotional with nostalgia thinking about my days as an undergrad there.
  • Then just last weekend, she had her first trip to a city very special to my husband and I, good ole Madison WI :) Madison is home to our first place together, where we both went to school at the same time (undergrad for Brian and grad school for me), and where we got married almost 2 years ago! So we were very excited to introduce her to that wonderful place. We came because Brian raced in the Lake Monona 20k for the 2nd (and probably last according to him, it was a long race for him haha) time, but we decided to stay 2 nights to enjoy a weekend there.  We ate at our favorite places, but I think the food highlight of the weekend was the smoked turkey sandwich from Brasserie V on Monroe St.  We walked around a lot (Brian's poor post-20k feet!) including around the Capitol, State St, and Lake Wingra.  We also made sure to make a stop on the Monona Terrace rooftop where we had taken our favorite wedding photos.
  • She had her first cold this past month :( You wouldn't have been able to tell from her attitude because she was still a happy baby through most of it.  I just noticed when she had so much congestion in her nose and she had to breathe through her mouth at times.
  • She started sucking and chewing on her thumb this month. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but for now I'm not going to try to stop it.  We'll just have to make sure her hands are clean at all times!
  • She has been super grabby this past month. She can reach out and grab toys and objects with ease now.
  • Unfortunately she has also been very grabby/scratchy with faces as well.  I often have to block one of her swipes with my thumb which she gladly grabs and brings to her mouth to chew on.  Her own face has also been a victim, she has had at least 1 scratch on her face the entire past month.  I try my best to keep up with clipping her finger nails every few days, but they grow so fast! I'm glad her little scratches heal up pretty quick.
  • Whenever we pull out the phone to catch her doing something cute on video, she stops as soon as she sees it.
  • She will look at us and coo “hooo” to get our attention. It was the cutest thing the other day, I was playing with her in the living room while Brian was doing dishes. When I brought her into sitting, she looked over the couch at her dad and did her “hooo” coo from across the room until he looked at her.
  • She is getting a lot better at sitting and is able to hold her balance while holding my hands pretty well.  She hasn't been able to sit unsupported for more than a split second or two yet, but I'm sure she'll be doing it for longer soon.
  • We started trying to give her a bottle regularly every or every other day. She took it a lot easier when she was 2 months, but we are all starting to figure it out again with practice.

What she likes and dislikes:

  • She loves toys! Her favorites include: a stuffed giraffe with easy to grip legs, arms, and neck; Oball rattles; burp cloths and dress skirts (lol); and other easy to grip chewable toys from her nana and papa.
  • She hated getting her boogers sucked out by the Nose Frida when she was really stuffy and sick :(
  • She is fascinated with her toes and it is hard to resist her ab crunch forward in supported sitting when she is determined to touch them.  She is reaching and grabbing for them more and more during diaper changes.
  • She is very entertained by outside. She is much calmer if I position her so that she can look out the window during tummy time.
  • She really doesn't mind bath time anymore.  She is starting to get excited when we pour a stream of water from a bucket on her chest.
  • She still is content in her carseat as long as she's not hungry.
  • She likes to be able to see her surroundings, so she prefers to be held upright and outwards.
  • She is enjoying longer and longer periods of tummy time.
  • She smiles so big when we say hi to her in the morning.  Morning is my favorite time of the day with her because she is so happy.  She also has a big smile when her daddy gets home from work :)
  • She hates waking up in a room without people around her, so every time I put her down to nap in the other room, she wakes up screaming.  However, if she wakes up and we look at her and talk to her when she opens her eyes, she looks reassured and either goes back to sleep or smiles as she wakes.

I think she has mostly grown in length this past month.  Here is a side-by-side comparison of her at 3 months old vs 4 months old:

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And now, a bunch of photos from this month!

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I told you she loves her giraffe...

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Lacey and Daddy :)

We had a great weekend in Madison and I think she liked cheering on her dad.

Other times it wasn't very enjoyable for her...

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When we were on the rooftop of the Monona Terrace, I couldn't help myself and I tried to take photos in the same spot as our wedding photos by the lovely Katie Ricard.  A lot has changed in 2 years!

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She loved meeting her great-aunt and great-uncle when they came to visit (our uncle ran away from my camera).

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Lacey got to hangout with her uncle, auntie, and my cousins in Minneapolis!  She even got to try out some toys :) It was so good to hang out and talk with family who are also new parents, I really needed it. 

They are 4 months apart, but nearly the same size lol.

Thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoyed this little update on our lives!

Lacey's 3rd month

As if time wasn't blowing by fast enough for us as parents, Lacey is growing surprisingly fast!  She is 3 months old and now fitting pretty perfectly in Gerber 6-9 month onesies.  I have gone to a couple meetings with other parents and their babies and Lacey was as big or bigger than some 6 month olds.  Brian's bicep is getting bigger just from holding her haha!  She is such a good girl.  She is very calm in her carseat (although she has almost outgrown it).  We really haven't been limited in going places because she has such a good temperament, we are so lucky.  She has been quiet and content at church, the grocery store, and even the movie theatre!

Things to remember about this month:

  • She is doing so good at tummy time now.  Last month she was able to lift her head about 45 degrees, now she can consistently hold it up 90 degrees for a couple minutes in a row!  She made a lot of progress with this after she realized she should use her arms to prop herself up instead of hovering her arms mid-air (doing a superman).  
  • Her hand-eye coordination was the biggest change this month for me.  She is really good at gripping fabric (and my hair) now.  It looks so cute when she looks like she is fluffing up her tutu when she wears one. 
  • A couple times, I have noticed her staring at her hand for a long time. It looks like she has discovered her limbs :)
  • If we give her an easy-to grip toy, she will start chewing on it.  I'm pretty sure she is teething...
  • Her balance has also really improved and now she has good head control if we sit her up and support her at her lower ribs.
  • We took her to the movie theatre for the first time this month.  Brian and I really wanted to see Black Panther because we had heard good things, so I suggested we just go and take Lacey.  She is such a good girl, I thought she could do it!  We happened to get a back row pair of seats right next to the exit luckily, but we didn't end up needing it. We put on her noise reducing earmuffs and she slept almost through the whole movie, she never made a peep!  She got a little squirmy a couple times while I was holding her, but I was able to nurse her discreetly in the dark theatre and she fell back asleep.
  • We took her to church for the first time on Good Friday.  Brian carried her in the forward-facing carrier so that she could look around.  The only noise she made was a happy coo like she wanted to sing along with the worship music :)
  • Her hair is long enough to brush to the side and stay put now.  She has more options than just a faux hawk now haha.
  • Her nails grow so fast!  I clip them twice a week now I think.  I can only take care of them when she is sleeping because she moves too much when she's awake.  I love using my Nail Frida clipper, makes it a lot less scary of a task.
  • She doesn't smell like a newborn anymore :(  I already forgot that smell, something like milk I think?
  • We took her on a couple walks outside, but it still hasn't been warmer than 45 degrees when we go.  She saw Lake Michigan for the first time this month.
  • We started a 6-step bedtime routine, and that has made all the difference with getting her to sleep. We change her diaper, wipe her face and hands with a warm washcloth, use the Nose Frida, change into pajamas, nurse, then read. We found that the exact time we put her to bed doesn't matter as much as doing the same steps in the same order and put her down in a very dark (nearly pitch-black) room.  She still eats a couple times at night after going to bed, but now she falls asleep pretty quickly when she is done eating which she wasn't doing last month.

Her likes and dislikes:

  • She likes music, especially if it involves singing or dancing.  Sometimes I start doing my dance workouts in front of her when she is crying and she stops pretty quickly and sometimes falls asleep.
  • She loves eye contact.  Most of the time, I can get her to smile if I look at her, wave, and say hi. If I'm not giving her the attention that she wants while nursing, usually because I'm trying to catch up with messages, she'll make a little hoot to get me to look her way and then she has the cutest little smile when I make eye contact with her :)
  • She doesn't like getting her hair washed in the sink right before we put her in the bath, she is usually crying during this first step. She likes being submerged in the water for bath time, she is always very calm after just having been crying and she seems to enjoy kicking her feet in the water with some splashes sometimes.  She hates when we take her out and dry her, she is usually screaming during this stage.
  • She still loves to look at the ceiling corners, lights, and outside.
  • She calms down whenever we rock her in her rock n' play, but she won't be able to use it much longer because of her size.
  • She gets really scared and starts crying when Brian makes this roar noise that sounds like a tiger.  He's only done it once or twice because she gets so upset!
  • She loves to play with her dad.  One time, when Brian got home from work and I was holding her, he came up close to her and said hi and she turned her head away to the other side and smiled.  Then Brian went to the other side of me to go face-to-face with her again and she smiled and turned away again.  It looked like she was playing a game with him! It was so cute.

Lacey's 1st Month

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It still hasn't hit me that I have a 1-month-old baby!  She really is growing faster than I could have imagined, time seems to fly by so fast when it sees like nearly every day she is reaching a new milestone.  I'm trying to live in the present and ingrain each moment in my memory when I hold her and look at her face.  On one hand, I feel like I have way too many photos and videos of her on my phone/computer/camera, but on the other hand I am afraid to miss any new thing she does.  That is a big reason I'm really going to put an effort into taking photos on my actual camera, print them, and also put together these monthly blog posts with highlights of what is going on each month.  Even if no one looked at these, I will love looking back on them as she grows up.  

Memories from her first month:

  • Hearing pure joy in Brian's tearful voice saying "that's our baby" when he first heard her cry as they pulled her out in the operating room.
  • Seeing her suddenly calm down and open her eyes when they laid her on my chest to meet each other face-to-face.
  • Lying skin-to-skin with her that first night in our postpartum room and watching her clumsily figuring out how to suck in order to nurse.
  • Seeing the emotion on our parents' and siblings' happy faces when they first met Lacey.
  • Finally leaving the hospital on the 5th day and seeing her look so snuggly and content in her carseat.
  • Watching her becoming more alert every day. The first few days, I would get excited when she would open her eyes.  Now she is looking around and even follows my face from side to side!  It's really cute because her eyes are still uncoordinated and jumpy, so there is a bit of a delay when she tracks someone moving.
  • Her getting startled in her sleep.  It happened a lot more frequently during the first couple of weeks. I didn't know it was a thing that just automatically happened as a reflex, but it is my favorite! So adorable!
  • Her smiles.  Right now they still seem a bit unintentional, but I love when she smiles while she sleeps right after nursing.  Sometimes if I'm lucky, she'll smile with her eyes open if I kiss her cheek or upper lip :)
  • The noises she makes!  She makes the funniest moans and groans when people move her around or while sleeping.  I had heard that newborns are noisier than you would think, but I think it is hilarious. She snores sometimes and is just starting to make cooing sounds, melts my heart!
  • She smells so good.  I remember smelling newborns before her and thinking it was just how a freshly bathed baby smells, but she seems to smell better each day after a bath so I really think I just enjoy the essence of her smell.  My mom said it smells like innocence and I really do agree.
  • Her pouty lower lip when she cries. Her crying can be unsettling, but sometimes I think it is so cute, especially because it isn't super loud right now.
  • Seeing her look so calm and happy even when she is naked in just her diaper at the pediatrician's office. A naked baby is so fun to watch because those jerky, uncoordinated arms and legs are the cutest in just a diaper!  
  • Watching her grow.  Since I'm breastfeeding, it does make me a little nervous not knowing how much milk she is actually getting, but every appointment she has is so reassuring.  At a 1-week lactation consultant appointment, they weighed her before and after a feeding and figured out that she was already getting 3 ounces!  It was also great to see her surpass her 9 lb 9 oz birth weight by weighing in at 10 lb 14.5 oz at a 3 week pediatrician appointment.
  • Seeing her lift her head during tummy time.  My big girl impresses me everyday with her strength! haha
  • Her umbilical cord stump fell off at 3 weeks.  Her belly button was sort of raw looking when it came off, but some ointment from the pediatrician helped it heal nicely.
  • Having my mom stay over to help us during my recovery.  She has been the biggest help this past month and it is great to see her bond with Lacey.  It has been a blessing to be able to hand Lacey to her early in the morning after nursing every 2-3 hours at night and take good 2-3 hour naps during the day.  Her delicious Filipino cooking is a huge bonus!
  • Learning how to nurse Lacey and watching her learn too.  Getting a good latch has been a big challenge for us and was harder than I thought it would be, but I have been trying different strategies, techniques, and positions with her and I think we are starting to get the  hang of it at 4 weeks.  Also, I had no idea how much of a challenge it would be on the 5th day when my milk arrived!  I am so thankful for having a local community of breastfeeding women and women like my mother-in-law to answer my questions and brainstorm solutions.

Lacey's favorite things:

  • Her dad's voice.  Brian has been able to calm her down even since the first days in the hospital.  At times she has been crying hard, but Brian has brought her to silence by just humming "ooooohmmmmmmm" at a low pitch.  It's pretty funny to see, hopefully I will get it on video one day.  She also seems to like when my mom speaks or sings Tagalog to her.
  • She loves her newborn rocker and it has been so so helpful to be able to safely put her down in it in the living room while we do chores and other things while being able to keep an eye on her.  Thank you to my cousin Tracy for recommending we put it on our registry and to Sage for getting it for us!  I'll be a little sad when she outgrows it.
  • She loves to stare at our push-pin world map that Brian gave to me as an anniversary present that is hanging on the wall above our couch. Maybe she'll love traveling like her parents!
  • Bath time.  As long as she isn't surprised by not-so-warm water on the colder side, she loves the water.  She always is zonked out afterwards.
  • Her carseat. We are so grateful that she falls asleep right away in her carseat!  It has allowed us to be able to get out of the house a few times already now.
  • Wrapped and carried on my chest, most of the time...  Once I made the mistake of trying to put her in the wrap while she was crying to calm her down, and that made her VERY upset.  As long as she is calm when I wrap her on my chest, she falls asleep or doesn't mind it.  This is and will continue to be very helpful to free up my hands and help me avoid hurting myself from carrying her just with my hands and arms.
  • Sleeping on her stomach on people's chests.  I've been surprised with how she really doesn't mind being on her stomach.
  • Peeing and pooing with her diaper off...  We call it her poop/pee surprise, so we have to be ready every diaper change.  We are thankful she is a girl when it comes to diaper changes so we don't have to deal with a fountain aimed at our faces!
  • Music.  I like to play worship music when I hang out with her alone, but she also has liked (or been calmed by) other music that my family plays for her like the rock-a-bye baby lullaby on our sound machine, my mom and I's singing, Brian playing guitar, Gabbi playing Lauryn Hill and my dad playing Kenny G.  In general she gets upset in a quiet room, so we play beach sounds at night on our sound machine while she sleeps in the pack n' play next to our bed (the beach sounds are also nice for us to listen to at night, more so than the heart beat or white noise modes which she also likes).

Those are the highlights from her first month that I can think of, but here are photos I took on my camera this past month!

After a being separated about half of the time from Lacey while she was getting an IV in the nursery, we were happy to be home.  She was only 4 days old and already rocking tummy time!

She loved visits from her grandparents during her first week :)

Brian and I dressed her up in some props to attempt some newborn photos when she was 11 days old.

She is growing fast, so I'm going to take photos with her next to a letter board (for size reference) every month.  Here she is 5 days on the left and 1 month on the right :)

She isn't very happy with me when I pose her sometimes though...

She has so many people that love her <3

Especially her mommy and daddy!

I told you she likes to stare at our world map, haha!

I love my little cutie!!

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