maternity photographer

A Story of Gratitude & Redemption - Alyssa's Birth Story

Killian's birth was an emotional one! More emotional than any birth I have had the pleasure of documenting! It all began when I met Bruce, Alyssa, and Vallory during our initial consultation and heard their back story. They were so excited for this baby and to have their story captured for a number of reasons. First, Bruce told me that due to some unfortunate circumstances, he wasn't at Vallory's birth and was so excited to be at this one and to be able to support Alyssa. Second, they were excited to have Vallory (age 6) at the birth to witness her sibling being brought into the world. Third, there was some postpartum trauma, which added another level to the emotion of the night!

You can read Alyssa's birth story in her own words below.

Killian's Birth Story
7 lbs, 15 oz
Saturday, April 20th 2019 @1:50am

Labor
Labor began on a rainy evening on Good Friday. I had gone in to have my membranes swept earlier that day. Afterwards, we went to Discovery Place in Charlotte, and were watching a movie in the IMAX Theatre when I began to have early labor signs and downloaded a contraction app to help me track them. We tried to figure out if we should stay in Charlotte or go home to Indian Trail- we called my midwife and she said to go home and rest. It felt ominous outside to me as we headed home while my contractions got more intense and real. My mind started going more inward to sustain the process and I knew it wouldn't be long because Vallory came fast! We were home for maybe 2 hours and I knew it was time to go to Baby + Co! Bruce started to get more excited/nervous and we were all nervously laughing because we knew it was going to be a LONG night. Little did we know how long it would be with my postpartum complications!

Delivery
Both of my births were unmedicated, but my first birth with Vallory was in a hospital setting, so I was excited to be in a beautiful birth center. The different setting really made a big difference in how our delivery felt. My midwife was so supportive and calm. I also loved that we chose to have Vallory there, as her presence was sweet and kept a light energy in the room that I needed. And seeing her expressions as her brother was being born was priceless. What I remember most when I think back to my birth is Bruce being my strength when I felt I had run out. I remember gripping him and feeling at the end of myself, but him being there for me gave me a feeling of joy and hope and excitement for this new chapter together. It really helped me push through (no pun intended)! Killian was born at 1:50am Saturday morning. All I could think about wow beautiful he was! He felt so warm and sweet. I was admittedly anxious and wanted to make sure he was okay, but he looked right at us when he emerged from the water like he was so happy to meet us. <3

Postpartum
After Killian was born, I had a bad hemorrhage due to placenta accreta and required a blood transfusion. That was definitely not in our plan. The trauma was difficult to work through, so I felt worn out all the time, breastfeeding was/is a challenge and painful...basically everything was harder this second time around. But this baby was our redemption child for our marriage. I think it almost makes sense as we have struggled so much to become a family again, that this process wouldn’t be easy either- but just as worth it. It almost took my life and surviving it has left me which such an extra layer of gratitude for my life and my family. I’m so, so happy to be here and experience life with the people I love, as well as be able to care for my new baby, because at one point my mind wondered who would take care of him if I was gone. But he's here, we are all healthy and happy, and my family is complete!

Thomas Fresh 48 & Lifestyle Newborn Session | Charlotte Birth Photographer

One of the perks of my job is that I get to watch my client’s families grow. I met Amy, Scott and Emma last fall when they hired me to do a family session. When I found out Amy was pregnant, I suggested we schedule the session as far out as we could so that we could do a combo family/maternity session. It would also give us time to let the foliage peak. I loved this session because I felt like I got to really capture the essence of this family — close knit, laid back, and fun!

I was pleasantly surprised (and honored!) when Amy reached out close to her due date to ask if I would do a Fresh 48 and Lifestyle Newborn session for them. That’s where I met brand new little miss Sadie and this new close knit family of FOUR! I can’t wait to work with this family in the future so I can see them grow some more!

Kira's Milk Bath Maternity Session | Charlotte Maternity Photographer

This gorgeous mama right here has become a great friend and peer since I moved down to Charlotte eighteen months ago. So I was honored when she asked me to capture her pregnancy with a beautiful milk bath session. I’ve done one milk bath session before, but it was with my girls and involved Froot Loops, so I was excited when Kira brought her vision to me. As luck would have it, our visions meshed perfectly—I loved the classic look she was going for and she was excited when I suggested we also spice things up a bit! Kira has since given birth to a beautiful little girl named Adelaide. I can’t wait to get her in a milk bath with her mama next! Congratulations Kira!!

I don't like the photos from my birth | Charlotte Birth Photographer

I wish…I had known about birth photography four years ago when my last child was born.

I wish…someone had warned me that between all the nerves, excitement, pain, exhaustion, and exuberant joy, that the entire experience would become a blur.

I wish…someone had told me that I probably wouldn't remember my daughter's first cry or the first time I held her.

I wish…someone had mentioned that I definitely wouldn't remember the expression on my husband's face when he saw her for the first time.


Oh my sweet hubs. He tried! But I mean, c’mon! I have one image of her while she was in that other room, and this is it.

I can kind of still remember the pain...I'm not even gonna lie! But I don't know how I looked as I powered through each contraction. I don't remember what I did to prepare myself for the next one. Was I standing or laying down? Did I grab onto something or squeeze my husband's hand? Did I internalize the pain or make that primal moan that birthing mothers sometimes make?

I don't remember any of the conversation or funny moments I had with my husband that day. I don't remember the look on his face while I was pushing or when she came out. I have NO idea what I looked like when that 9lb 6oz baby came out after 18 hours of labor (but who's counting) and an hour of pushing. Did we laugh? Did we both cry? No clue. Was I exhausted or elated? Probably both?

This is the one image my husband took of me holding my baby girl. I wish there were more. :(

I don't remember my daughter's first cry. I don't really remember the first time I held her. And afterwards, while I was getting cleaned up, my husband followed the nurses into another room where my daughter was weighed, measured, had foot prints taken, etc. I missed all of it and he wasn't thinking to take pictures.

I don't remember my midwife's name or any of the nurses...or nursing students for that matter (it was a full house in our room that day, that much I remember!).

I don't know who visited us first, what their expressions were like when they walked in and saw her or when they held her for the first time. And...I don't remember the look on my older daughter's face when she saw her baby sister for the first time. This one breaks my heart the most.

I don't have photos that captured any of those moments, and those memories aren't coming back. Every once in a while, I'll tell my daughters what I do remember of their birth stories, and doing that keeps those memories somewhat fresh. But I desperately wish I knew what a birth photographer was back then and had hired her to capture those moments. I would have wanted her there to tell the story of the day my life changed forever. The day I became a mom.

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How do you want to remember your birth story? With blurry, grainy, low resolution images that your spouse took on their phone when he remembered to amid all the chaos of the day? Or with professional, stunning, hand-edited images that you can print in album to have and hold forever? Don’t make the same mistake I did. Hire a birth photographer and invest in your family’s memories.

A few spots remain in my birth story model call. Click the button below and apply today!

Oktavec Maternity & Graduation Sessions | Charlotte Photographer

I met Jessica and Erica when I was 6 years old. My dad was in the Coast Guard, and we had just moved from FL to VA. We moved to a neighborhood of townhouses and they lived next to some mutual friends. Jessica and I were close in age (we share the same birthday and are exactly a year apart), and Erica was close in age to my two younger sisters. We were all close for the 3 years we were in VA, but then we had to move again (such is life for a military family!). Oddly enough, my youngest sister--who was probably 5 when we left--and Erica remained the closest over the years. And their closeness allowed the rest of us to remain close as well. What I love about our friendship is that we're all just there for each other, especially for the big life events. We can go months without talking, but when something important comes up, we're there. We're family.

I was over-the-moon excited when Jessica told me she was pregnant. There is no one more deserving and I know that she will be an amazing mother. I wanted to make sure that she had pictures to remember this special time, so I scheduled a maternity session while I was in town to attend her baby shower. We went to Mason Neck park, which is a beautiful park right along the shores of the Potomac river. It was the perfect location with beautiful sunset!

Around that same time, I learned that Erica was graduating from college -- another big life event! Her mom asked if I'd take some pictures of Erica in her cap and gown, but I wanted to do something special. Because Erica is special! And I knew that the only way to capture Erica's fun and colorful spirit was to find an equally fun and colorful backdrop. So I did some research and found these amazing wall murals in Crystal City. I knew I had made the right decision when Erica showed me the dress she had in mind. Gorgeous!