(I wrote this post back in 2017, but every year at Mother’s Day I re-share it. You are important and you are enough, no matter where you are on the journey of your life. Exist in photographs to tell that story <3)
My son is two and a half, and today, he drove me nuts.
He stands three-foot-four, wearing a size ten and a half shoe, and spent the whole day telling me I was wrong. Literally. And what's worse, I was right. ("It's NOT A COFFEE CUP, Mama. It's NOT" - it was. Etc, Etc, Etc. ) I'm lucky because I get to spend three days a week with him. And oh my goodness do I love him. I'm thankful for the privilege. But it's just not always easy.
After his papa put him to bed tonight, I sat on the couch, exhausted, texting with a friend about how frustrating it is some days to parent little humans.
And then it struck me - the memory of how when he was just born I used to sit in that very spot in the living room. For HOURS. Nursing that tiny human who seemed like he would never get enough milk. I ate meals there, I ordered too much from Amazon, I cried there, I fell asleep there, I desperately texted friends about how frustrating it is some days to mother a newborn.
And then, I cried.
Because even though I remembered it, those oh-how-did-I-survive-it days I realized that the details had begun to fade.
He's two-and-a-half now.
At that moment, I wanted so badly to pull out the photos of when we were just starting this journey together. I wanted to see and touch pictures of the two of us, when he was so small. I wanted a book - you know, like the lovely 10x10 hardbound albums that most of my Newborn Sessions clients take home,
But I don't have one. Because I didn't have a photographer come to take those photos or create that artwork for me.
I didn't get it. I had no idea.
It wasn't until many months after Jack was born that I figured it out, when my close friend asked me to come and photograph her brand-new son. Of course I did it because, even though back then I wasn’t a “baby” photographer, I love my friend and thought we’d get some cute photos . We put together some adorable portraits of him, but what struck me was how much I wanted to photograph the two of them together. I felt something - some energy - and even though she wast wasn't planning on being in any photos and didn't prepare, she agreed, hesitantly. She was feeling overwhelmed, tired, unkempt. I saw none of that, only the incredible change she was going through and her strong love for her son. I couldn’t WAIT to show her the photos.
The experience completely changed my life.
I realized that day that I had to work with families, especially mothers. I needed to give them photographs of themselves and their families during the first days of parenthood. I needed to show them what I saw. I needed to capture these moments so they could see them in their healing and growing now, in their difficult moments tomorrow, in their joyful memories years from now.
Having a baby isn't just about the baby.
Having a baby is the beginning of a brand-new chapter of the story of you.
I would give anything to go back in time and bring a photographer to our home - our tiny apartment, which at the time felt disappointing and embarrassing. I would give anything to have photographs of me, on my couch, wrapped in a boppy pillow, positioned exactly how I had to be in the beginning to nurse. I would give anything to have hired someone to see me, to see what was happening to me - the shedding of the old skin, the brand new world ahead.
If I would have known then that the hours I spent crying while trying to get my baby to nurse, while exhausted and feeling broken, would bring me new friends, strengthen old friendships and help me find my calling in life through my breastfeeding and parenting support group, I would have wanted photographs of me in the middle of it.
If I had known that knowing nothing was par for the course; that waking up and feeding the baby and maybe eating was actually all that I could have or needed to expect from myself at the beginning I would have wanted to be photographed while I was figuring it out. Because ohmygoodness was it important. I wouldn't have cared so much that I felt like exhausted, unkept flopping skin who would do anything to get the baby to sleep. Because one day I'd have a two and a half year old already half of my height who actually sometimes sleeps at night.
I wish I had let go more of the unrealistic expectations for women postpartum; I wish I would have invited a photographer to document what me becoming a mother looked like. Because I know now that it is literally the most beautiful, complex and profound thing I have ever photographed.
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself how important and how incredible and how complex it was all going to be. How nothing was ever going to be the same.
Because then I'd have known how important it was that I documented it.
Every time I do a consultation with an expecting family who is considering me to photograph their lifestyle newborn session, I remember what it was like to be at the beginning of something I couldn't ever imagine.
And on the other side of it now, I beg you - please, please be photographed. Please.
Document your story. Print the photos.
It's important. It's important at the beginning and it's important when you've moved through and want to look back at the journey you've taken. You are important, now, and later, when your baby has grown up.
I wish I could go back in time and capture the most life-changing thing I have ever done so that on days like today, I could sit and look at those images and see how far we’ve come.
It’s never too late. Let’s document your story.