motherhood 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!

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!