One Decade and 400 Newborns Later...
10 years, 400 newborns later
I can’t believe it.
I mean, I can. But I can’t! Ten years ago, I took a few pictures of my first baby niece, Gracyn.
I had been playing around with my little point and shoot camera for years and photographing the kids I babysat to give as gifts for the parents. I had NO idea what I was doing, but I knew it made me happy.
This was 2009, y’all. Baby photography was NOT a thing. You went to JCPenny. Portrait Innovations was brand new. Hospital photography had just evolved into Bella Baby. There was no Instagram. And there were no on-location, natural light newborn photographers around - as far as I knew! Can you even remember that time??
I somehow came across a few out-of-state photographers’ websites and perusing Flickr. I locked onto a photographer named Carrie Sandoval in California. I LOVED her photos. And I reached out to a woman named Lisa Warninger - a photographer in Seattle who had some super cute, natural-looking newborn photos. She gave me some advice and the rest is history.
That first “newborn session” with Gracy was… well… a disaster.
She fell off the couch.
It still haunts me to this day.
Needless to say, safety became very important to me. I hired my then-14-year-old twin step nieces, Shelby and Taylor, to be my newborn assistants. To this day, I will comfortably nix any pose idea if I don’t feel it is 100% safe or Baby’s body doesn’t like it. No matter what.
Over the years, I have had a dozen or more assistants - from family and friends, to mom clients and high schoolers - to tag along with me to sessions. While Shelby and Taylor are the OGs and I will still take them when I can get them (even though they are in careers and 24!), and Amy Walker is ma gurl, I think my dad is the funniest to bring around. He is obsessed with the babies and sings his quiet lullaby version of Barney’s “I love you, you love me” with a little whistle. #everyonesgrandpa.
While the industry has evolved and grown exponentially, I have always strived for consistency. You likely wouldn’t know if I showed you a photo from 2010 or 2019 which was taken earlier. I’d like to keep it that way.
I want to just take one second, too, to thank all of my clients for hiring me to capture this special time. This is one of my greatest joys in life.
For the past 10 years, I have seen and heard everything. That’s not an exaggeration, as you can imagine. When you are one of the first people to sit for hours in a home with a very tired, sore-everywhere, newly postpartum mom - and you’re not her mother-in-law (no offense to MILs, there are just some topics that are TMI) - and her precious but mysterious little creature, you hear it all. Guess what? TMI should be my middle name so I am WAY into it. Tell me everything.
So along the way, I’ve picked up a few tips for new parents. You can trust me on this stuff. It is my bread and butter. Don’t give me the whole you-aren’t-a-mom thing. I’ve spent the equivalent of over 7 weeks, 24 hours a day with a week-old baby.
Here we go…
Pacis are a gift from God. Save your boobies and pop in a paci. Studies appear to fail to link difficulty at the breast with pacifier usage. Just don’t keep it in forever unless you like “paci mouth” teeth in 3 year photos.
If no one has told you yet, let me be the first. Breastfeeding is NO JOKE. Some mamas have an easy time. For some mamas it is absolutely brutal. Give yourself grace. Listen to your body. Fed.is.best.
You are in control of your body in the hospital. You don’t have to wear that hospital gown. You can tap out when you know your body can’t push anymore. A nurse can take your baby down to the nurse’s station when you just need 2 hours of sleep after you just had major surgery or labored for days. You can choose to not breastfeed. They do have pacifiers available.
Postpartum is as real as the sunrise. No need to be ashamed. Once you open up to others, you will find just how many are and have been in the same boat as you. Medication helps. Therapy helps. Sleep helps. Do what you gotta do and speak up with the close people around you so that everyone can support you. You do not have to do it alone.
Third babies change EVERYTHING but tend to be the chillest out of pure necessity. They go with the flow. Four or more tend to start to take care of each other, I hear.
Safe sleep habits and proper car seat usage are SO important.
Rainbow babies can soften your broken heart, but will never fade your memories.
Trust your gut. Your body and mind were made for this. You are the mom, you call the shots.
Infertility is everywhere. If you struggled, try being open about it. Your story can make all the difference for someone in the thick of it.
If your new baby is extremely hard to settle and the 5 Ss don’t work it’s likely one of 3 things. 1. They aren’t getting enough to eat. Supplementing may be just the ticket. 2. Their tummy hurts. Get their poop checked for blood. They may have a temporary dairy sensitivity and changing up your diet (if nursing) or theirs (if formula-feeding) could do the trick. Or 3. They have reflux. Either from extra acid in their bellies or a pyloric sphincter that is not totally developed yet. They usually grow out of it, but your doctor will have tips and baby Zantac if necessary.
You WILL love your new baby just as much as your first (or second, or third…). But you might like your dog less with each child.
OK NOW IF YOU’RE AS NERDY AS ME, YOU’LL DIG THIS STUFF….
• FUN FACTS •
Most popular girl names: Olivia (6), Addison (5), and Sophia (4)
Most popular boy names: William (7), and Henry, Jack, and Benjamin each with 5
13 sets of twins - one born on two different days. 5 sets of boys, 5 sets of girls, and 3 B-G twins.
My highest birth month: June with 50. Followed by Sept (39), Dec (38), May (38).
Most common birthdays: June 14th (3 boys and 2 girls) and Sept 10th (3 girls and 2 boys)
There are only 7 days in September without a newborn born
Quietest birth month: February (20) and only ONE born on my birthday, April 17th - William (Liam) B.
Average age at the newborn session is 12 days old
Youngest newborn session at 3 days old - twice! Both for the same family! Vivian and Eloise :)
Approximate time spent with a newborn roughly 12 days old: 1200 hours. Or 50 straight 24-hour days - over 7 weeks!
Girls and Boys by Month
Addison - 5 (many go by variations of Addy)
Amelia - 3
Aubrey - 2
Ava - 3
Brooklyn - 2
Catherine - 2 (Kate)
Charlotte - 3 (At least one Charley)
Claire - 3
Colette - 2 (One Coco)
Eleanor - 2
Elyse - 2
Emerson - 3 (At least one Emmy)
Emily - 3
Giana - 2
Hailey - 2
Hannah - 2
Harper - 2
Isabelle - 2
Isla - 2
Julia - 2
Lia - 2
Lilyana - 2
Margot - 2
Mia - 2
Mila - 3
Natalie - 2
Nora - 2
Olivia - 6
Paige - 3
Rayne - 2
Riley - 3
Sophia - 4
Vivian - 2
Alex - 2
Anthony - 3
Benjamin - 5
Brody - 2
Cameron - 2
Charles - 2
Connor - 4
Elliot - 2
Emmett - 2
Evan - 2
Giovanni - 2
Grayson - 2
Hudson - 3
Hunter - 2
Ian - 2
Jack - 5
Jackson - 2
James - 3
Joshua - 2
Leo - 2
Liam - 3
Lucas - 3
Luke - 2
Maddox - 2
Mason - 2
Noah - 2
Nolan - 2
Owen - 3
Ryan - 2
Samuel - 3
Theodore - 4 (Most go by Teddy)
Thomas - 2 (One goes by Ben)
William - 7
Zachary - 2