Did you know April is c-section awareness month? I didn't until recently but now we both know! And now if you don't mind I'd like to take a little bit of time to talk about my own experience with c-section.
Out of my three children's births (all of which were very different from each other) my last child's birth was a c-section. We lived in a small community at the time and my daughter decided she wanted to be a footling breech baby with loose nuchal cord. We tried everything to flip her (including a painful failed ECV) but she wouldn't budge (she's still very stubborn by the way!). And unfortunately we couldn't find a doctor that would attempt a trial of labor with a breech baby in our small town so we had a scheduled C-section. I was devastated but I've very fortunately been able to work through my grief of losing the type of birth I wanted and had expected. I now use my experience to offer support to other moms who might be expecting or recently have had a c-section since I know first hand what it is like. I really believe in the power of community. It was my community that helped me get through my c-section. I had lots of friends help me both emotionally and physically. I even had a friend call me from out of state out of the blue because she wanted to share her experience to help comfort me and I want to pay that forward.
I was actually able to speak about my experience to a group of women at my church about a year after the birth of my daughter via c-section and I have this excerpt to share:
"I have reflected a lot on this experience (of giving birth in a way I didn't want) over the past year. I had a lot of hard emotions to deal with. It's easy to say 'it wasn't that bad, just get over it, at least it's over now, there are a lot harder things you could experience in life, at least your baby is here and healthy, it could be worse, it's not a big deal, women have c-sections all of the time now, etc. etc.'
But that's not really fair to me as an individual. I feel what I feel and saying things like that hurts more than it helps. Especially if it's me saying it to myself in a conflicting inner dialogue of emotions and runaway thoughts. I had to work through my own physical and emotional pain. It was still major surgery! And while I still don't 100% understand why my third child had to be delivered via c-section (as in why did God let that happen to me?), and it still causes me pain on occasion, I have found healing. A lot of the healing has come from my faith and trust in God. Knowing that He is always watching out for me brings me great comfort even if the circumstances are not what I think are ideal.
I hope by sharing all of this I can help someone to be inspired to find healing from their own pain, either from what I learned or even just from knowing that it is possible to heal."
If you would like to talk to me about your experience with c-section (or any birth really, I love hearing birth stories!) I am here for you. Please share!
April is a month full of awareness topics. One issue that I find especially important to me as I work with babies and small children is preventing abuse. This month is National Child Abuse Prevention month.
About a year ago I shared a post about "Purple Crying". In that post I talked about what to do when your baby is crying and won't stop. It was about managing your own emotions because sometimes babies just cry and it can be very hard to deal with.
This month I would like to talk about bonding with your baby which is one of the tips from childwelfare.gov's National Child Abuse Prevention month for Strong and Thriving Families:
"Here are some ways to promote bonding:
• Respond when your baby cries. Try to understand what he or she is saying to you. You can’t “spoil” babies with too much attention—they need and benefit from a parent’s loving care even when they seem inconsolable.
• Hold and touch your baby as much as possible. You can keep him or her close with baby slings, pouches, or backpacks (for older babies).
• Use feeding, bathing, and diapering times to look into your baby’s eyes, smile, and talk to your baby.
• Read, sing, and play peek-a-boo. Babies love to hear human voices and will try to imitate your voice and the sounds you make.
• As your baby gets a little older, try simple games and toys. Once your baby can sit up, plan on spending lots of time on the floor with toys, puzzles, and books.
• If you feel you are having trouble bonding with your infant, don’t wait to get help. Talk to your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician as soon as you can."
It's Hanukkah this week and the Christmas season is already in full swing! We've already visited our annual Nativity exhibitions this week both at the Creche of Palo Alto and at A Night In Bethlehem in Santa Clara. We are also planning on visiting the Holiday Train at Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos. We might even brave the crowds to see Christmas in the Park at Downtown San Jose this year (we'll see if the introverts in my family can handle it!).
We are still new to the Bay Area so we're still learning about all of the most fun holiday events so feel free to tell me your favorite activity that your family does every year in the comments (especially celebrating Hanukkah, I have know idea where those events might be held, but I'd love to visit!!)!
Anyways. On to today's topic. With all of these holiday happenings I think it's important to take photos when you can to capture the magic on your child's face so you can remember it in the years to come. Here's my top tips for taking a better photo!
1. Watch your light! The biggest photo mistake (especially with babies) I see on my Instagram and Facebook feeds happen when the child has been lit from the bottom of their face. It's called up-lighting or ghoul lighting (yikes!) and it's a big no no. The best light should come from top of the face ideally from about a 45 degree angle and either from the front or either side (the light from behind is called back-lighting and can be tricky but doable with practice). (see my... quirky... stick figure guide for what I mean)
2. Don’t ask them to smile. There's nothing more cheesy than a child that's told to say "cheese!" (pun intended!). Just let them be kids and have fun. Let them enjoy the moment. If you do want them to look at the camera (and at you!) ask them questions, sing a song or do something silly! Make it fun! Start a tickle fight. If they have siblings have them do bear hugs. And if all else fails... bribe! No punishments though, those will just inspire resentment for future photos. :(
3. Focus and expose (balance the light on the subject) on the face (eyes or mouth area). If you're using a phone camera this can sometimes be tricky but click on the screen for where you want to focus (and expose at the same time). If you're using a DSLR try shooting in Program mode and use selective focus. (I wish I had time to share more DSLR tips, but that would take a lot more time than I have now in one post!)
4. Avoid flash if you can. A camera flash can be useful for freezing moments but most flashes that are attached to the camera are too close to the lens so the flash's light is quite harsh and flat on your subject. If you need more light in your photo get creative. Use a lamp or even a flashlight pointed towards the face (light needs to be above as in the diagram indicates). Use window light (open those blinds and curtains!). Turn on all the lights!
5. Know when to put your camera down. This might sound crazy but sometimes your kids just need you to have fun with them without something between you. It's okay to let go of capturing the perfect moment. Sometimes the moment even becomes more memorable. Trust your instincts and your children's instincts to let you know when to join them instead of photographing them.
And the most important bonus tip this holiday season: absolutely do NOT wrap your child (or anyone!) in Christmas lights. While cute and "pinterest worthy" it is dangerous. Wires can fray. Bulbs can break.
Glass + electricity = very dangerous. Add in possible baby drool and it's a recipe for disaster.
Please don't do it. Just say no.
Hey it's November! Wow, already? This year is just flying by! So November is National Adoption Month and this is a topic that I love to talk about.
I love adoption! I think it's an amazing gift. My two younger brothers were adopted as babies. My mom had me and my sister biologically but she knew our family wasn't complete. Since she had many health complications that meant she couldn't be pregnant again so our family adopted one baby boy at 5 weeks old then about two years later another baby boy at 2 days old. They were both closed adoptions. As another experience with adoption on the opposite side, my best friend in high school had a baby that she wasn't ready for and gave up to a wonderful family in Washington. This one was an open adoption and my best friend still has occasional visits with her daughter even more than a decade later. I've met many families that have adopted and I've found that the majority of the time you can't even tell that child was adopted because they fit so well into their loving adoptive family. Adoption is all about love. It is about a mother making the hardest decision ever so that her baby can be cared for in a way she isn't ready to give. It's about giving the adoptive family the option to raise a child that they so desperately want but for whatever reason aren't able to do without adoption.
I was lucky enough to document a newborn that was adopted at the beginning of this year for the first time and I hope I'll be lucky to do photograph another adoption baby soon!!
So why is there a National Adoption Awareness month anyway? According to childwelfare.gov "National Adoption Month is an initiative of the Children's Bureau with a goal to increase national awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system. Each year, we focus our outreach and awareness-raising efforts around a new adoption-related theme to help support professionals working each day to find permanency for children and youth in foster care in their community."
I know a lot more people are familiar with adoption as that can be an emotionally easier process to deal with, but Fostering to Adoption can be an option that can help children in difficult situations. I've had a few friends that took care of foster babies and children that eventually led to their adoption. From them I've learned about how burdened the foster system is. Of course we would want children in the foster system to reunite the children with their biological families, the ultimate goal is to provide a safe and stable environment for the children to thrive in. And sometimes that leads to the adoption of the child. If you or someone you know is thinking about fostering (and you live in California where I am based!) please visit Adoptuskids.org for more information. You have to be licensed to foster children in California but it's not a scary process! To become an approved family first you meet with a licensing worker in your home to ensure the space is safe and large enough by law. You will then work with social services to decide what type of child you are best suited to foster, for example girls vs. boys, babies vs. young children vs. middle school or high school children, or to consider any health issues the child might have (for example a woman I know adopted foster children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which was much more difficult than a typical child but she was able to take care of these children well because of how resilient she is). Whether you end up adopting the foster child or not you will at very least be providing them with a little bit of stability for them while their world has been turned upside down. You will be able to show them the love that they need and deserve. I'd encourage you to learn more if you think you are in a time in your life where you can share your love with those in need.
Wow guys! It's only been a week and I've already filled all the sessions I was able to donate to the Rainbow Baby Model Call. I actually received so many applications that I was able to donate 1-3 Rainbow Mini Newborn Portrait Sessions per month from now through January 2019!! I wish I could have donated sessions to everyone that applied, but unfortunately there's only so much of my time to go around, especially since I'm a mama to three precious children myself. It's been a hard week reading all of the heartache that you mamas have been going through. I am so overwhelmed by all of your pain! I am a very sensitive person so I have been crying a lot as I read story after story this week. This is a warning to you now--those that received complimentary sessions, I may cry during your session too!! Be on the lookout in the coming months as most of the recipients agreed to share their story on my blog.
I hope you will feel my love and support for you as well. I am here for you and I'm so grateful that I can donate my time to at least some of you that have had such a hard experience in a very meaningful way.
As it is still Infant and Pregnancy Awareness month I also want to take a moment to express my sympathy for those mamas that are still hoping for their rainbow baby. I will pray for you that you may find comfort and healing after the loss that you have experienced. And I hope that you may be blessed with a rainbow baby soon! You have my love!
We thought of You Today
We thought of you today,
But that is nothing new
We thought of you yesterday
And will tomorrow too
We think of you in silence
And make no outward show
For what it meant to lose you
Only those who love you know
Remembering you is easy
We do it every day
It's the heartache of losing you
That will never go away
I hope that we can continue this session donation to mamas in need so please if you know of someone that will be welcoming their rainbow baby after January 2019, please send them this post or have them fill out an application here.
This blog will feature new parent advice, what to expect when working with my business, as well as an ongoing series about safety when interacting with newborns
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