A Blessingway

“A Blessingway is sacred pre-birth ceremony that has traditionally been performed by Navajo people, and celebrates a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood.”

What is a Blessingway?

“A Blessingway is sacred pre-birth ceremony that has traditionally been performed by Navajo people, and celebrates a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood.” (As defined by Birth Without Fear. Click here for more information on planning a Blessingway.)

On May 20th, myself, and a few like-minded mama’s, gathered around sweet Nikki to pamper and prepare her for her birthing time. Together we put together a beautiful necklace to help encourage Nikki as she labored and birthed her daughter in the near future. It contained a bead from each of us that reminded us of her.

Her best friend, and biggest advocate, Lauran cooked an amazing meal for us all to eat while we share stories of our birth experiences, offered words of advice, and encouraged Nikki that she was made to birth her baby.

After our meal, we proceeded to Lauran’s back porch, under the setting sun, to continue pampering Nikki. Adorned with her floral crown, Nikki soaked her feet and had henna done on her belly. A lotus flower.

Once her henna was finished, she was given gifts and tied a string on each of our wrists, to be cut, only after a favor is preformed for Nikki after the birth of her baby.

A Blessingway is such a beautiful way to honor a mother before her birthing time. Leaving her joyful and prepared to enter labor with her mind more at ease.

For more information on having your Blessingway photographed, please contact us here.

Clogs and ties and blebs, oh my!


Photo Credit: Jen Conway Photography

We see the beautiful side of it. The pictures of woman raw in mother hood nursing their sweet baby as the little one falls asleep so soundly at the breast.  It looks like it comes so naturally and gracefully. Let me tell you, breastfeeding is NOT unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes its not even the melted part on the top of a pint of ice cream (Why is this be allowed to be eaten?!). Don’t get me wrong, those moments exist even in the tiny spaces between all the hard and even though they are less often than the hard it overpowers in the craziest way.

We are now 11 months strong! “Started from the bottom, now we here”.

I was determined. SO determined to nurse my youngest son (Greyson). I wanted to nurse my first but I was unsucessful. But this time I had a team behind me and more resources. I got this. My baby is going to have the best and we are going to have the greatest bond because of it.

                                      Boy was I wrong!

Breastfeeding has been one of the hardest journeys for me in motherhood. I have to say it has made bonding with my son much harder than it was with my oldest. Don’t take that wrong. I love my kids so much that I never knew this level of love was achievable. However the issues have had a noticeable impact on our bond.


Let me tell you my story. My son was born at home in the water. Immediate skin to skin and he was latched on within the first hour of being born. Everything you need for a great start. It was really amazing but, that is a story for another time. So, the first couple days were great! Little man was getting good diaper output and he was nursing well, at least I thought. After a couple days it started getting painful. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle so I thought it was normal. Then it got worse. I was asking in groups if bleeding and scabs were typical and was hearing lots of yes. BLEEDING AND SCABBED NIPPLES IS NOT NORMAL LADIES! So it was time to call in the IBCLC. We had an in home visit and she noticed Greyson had a tongue and lip tie. *Also pre-warning, people will tell you to join the tongue and lip tie FB support group. It did nothing but scare me! I left the group a day later because I needed to have my own experience not be scared by others. So be aware.* With the tongue tie revised all our problems should be on the uphill right?

          Wrong again!

                       2 revisions, vasospams, yeast, clogged ducts, milk blisters, mastitis.

                                                         You name it, We’ve dealt with it.

So what is my purpose of writing this? I want others to know they are not alone. I could cuddle and love my baby but as soon as he wanted to nurse I would just cry. Sometimes I still feel that way. Dare I say it? I hate breastfeeding! There is an image I have seen a few times of a woman with no face who is nursing. That’s a perfect example to explain how I feel when nursing. It better explains it more than any words could explain it. I get touched out. I dont want touched by my kids, by my husband, by even a blanket. I feel angry and sad and annoyed. I want to run away.

But I love breastfeeding. Are you still following me?

I love that when I am gone for a few hours that I can come home and being refreshed from a nice break away I can cuddle my baby and feed him and just enjoy the moment. I love the sense of pride I have knowing that from the day of conception till we decide to wean, even being outside of the womb, I am STILL growing my baby. He is my chunk, because of me. That look when he is nursing and looks up at me and smiles, it melts my heart. I know that my son gets the best from me and thats what we all want as parents. The best.  Surround yourself with a support team and capture the sweet moments. Pictures have also helped. They have allowed me to take a new perspective on my own breastfeeding journey.

Is it worth it?


Plus Size and Pregnant

Plus size and pregnant. *Gasp!*
Husband and toddler in toe, I go to meet with an OBGYN. They came highly recommended and had proven to be mother-baby friendly as per a local mom’s group.
Ultrasound is perfect.
“Congrats! You are for a fact pregnant.”
My oldest got to see and hear his baby brother for the first time. Not that he understands but it was such a sweet moment. Time to see the doctor so I go into the first area, almost like a triage for doctor’s offices. You know what I’m talking about.
Blood pressure, good.
Temperature, good.
Weight…..well you know where I’m going with this hence the first sentence.
The next step should be into a room, asked if I had questions, etc. I knew something was wrong when we were brought into an office.
“I’m sorry but your BMI is not what it needs to be and we have no NICU at this hospital so you will have to go elsewhere.” I specifically remember her telling me that she can’t even give birth with her own practice due to her BMI.
But why do I need a NICU? Was there something on the ultrasound? Were my numbers off? Does my first baby’s labor and delivery not prove I can have a great birth? I’ll save you the suspense. It doesn’t. I was simply a number on a scale definied by my weight.
I was embarrassed. How can my husband still love me when I’m too big to even carry a child properly? How can my son love to cuddle this fat? I was happy and confident until that moment. As a matter of fact it impacted my entire pregnancy. I didn’t want or get maternity pictures done and I may have only taken 1 or 2 pictures actually showing my belly.
Am I on my own? I can’t be. I’ll find someone. So I sucked up my pride and asked in the mom’s group again but including “…must accept an overweight woman”
The suggestions rolled in, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a place I would be heard, that my birth went my way. I NEEDED that place or person. I went to a birth and baby expo in search of options too afraid to talk about why to anyone.
Birth Centers! Wow, I could have my birth but be near a hospital (the hospital was what was most comforting for my husband at the time, we hadn’t done much thought into home birth yet) Center #1….”thanks for calling but we have a BMI limit” Birth Center #2….”well maybe we can” (followed by a few phone calls) “Actually we can’t, sorry, BMI”
Wasn’t I getting this enough from mainstream media? Why is everyone trying to take away a special memory and journey that I should be celebrating?!
I won’t cry.
I won’t cry.
Then I took to Google. Calling every midwife that popped up. Oh wait, there is one someone mentioned. Can I call? Is the no worth the pain and tears? I have no choice. What I didn’t know is that the voice on the other line would save me from feeling I was failing my unborn child even more. I explained the situation and when I heard “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I knew I found her. My midwife. This moment was so critical. On the verge of giving up, on the edge of depression, I was brought back to reality.
I cried. Full on ugly cry in the middle of the break room at work. (luckily no one was there).
I can do this.
I have done it before!
I love my body and I should never doubt my capabilities no matter who says otherwise.
Mommy is going to give you the best birth possible!
I wanted to feel connected to this perfect body even more now.
I may be plus size but damn anyone who tells me I can’t have a healthy pregnancy and birth. I did. TWICE.

I cried today…

I cried today.
I cried while *trying* to cuddle my two year old, while her baby brother cried in the living room with his daddy trying everything to calm him.
My anxiety is killing me.
I cried today, because I still can’t figure out this being a mom of two thing, and feel like I’m failing everyday.
I. Am. Overwhelmed.
If one’s not crying, the other is. The dishes are overflowing, the laundry piling up, counters sticky, and toys are EVERYWHERE.
I cried today because I am incredibly blessed, but have a hard time feeling that way sometimes.
When all I want is to not be touched. To have some peace and quiet. To clean the house without having a toddler attached to my ankle and a screaming baby in his swing. I forget that I am lucky.
I cried today because my two year old is going through things I just don’t understand and don’t know how to handle.
I know she is a toddler and they are learning who they are, but she is going through something that is making her aggressive, more than she has ever been. I can only guess being a big sister, realizing her baby brother is here to stay and that she isn’t getting adequate cuddles and alone time, she is acting out big time. And I don’t know how to make it all better.
I cried today because I can’t handle everything and wonder why God thought I could handle two babies under three.
Why He thought I would make a good and patient mom.
I cried today because I’m neglecting my husband.
He works hard to provide for us. Allows me to be home with our two blessings. Cooks us dinner every night, and even serves me my food while I’m stuck on the couch breastfeeding our son. He helps as much as he can. Yet I can’t give him the attention and love he deserves.
I cried today because all I want to do is be perfect.
The perfect mom. The perfect housewife. The perfect woman.
But I just can’t.
I don’t want to admit it, as most moms don’t, but postpartum depression is real. No matter how much I try to hide it, try to pretend I’m ok, deep down I am crying everyday. Deep down I wonder why I feel so sad and overwhelmed, despite being so extremely lucky to have what I have. My husband asks me all the time if I am ok, and I nod my head and say yes.
Luckily he realizes that sometimes, that is a lie. That sometimes I need the extra help.
I have a lot to work on as a mom, but first, I need to work on me for myself. I need to remember that without self care, I cannot be the mother and wife my family deserves. And that it is ok to say I have reached my limit and need help.
It’s so hard to talk about and easier to write about, but…
I just show it in different ways. I don’t need a doctor to diagnose me. I don’t need (or want) medication. I just need reminders that I am doing the best I can. That what I am going through is normal.
That God chose me to be a mom, because he knew I could handle it.
If you are going through postpartum depression, I ask that you message me. Know that I am more than happy to talk with you, listen to you and to help you realize that what you are going through is normal.
You are amazing, and a wonderful mother. No matter how much you feel like you are failing.

The Fourth Trimester

Why can’t I put him down? Why is he only happy in my arms and on my chest? I can’t even get a quick shower without him crying!

These are some of the few things I have said to myself over the past 6 weeks. I feel like the moments I have without my 6 week old in my arms are so rare, that I don’t remember what it feels like to not be holding him. I feel horrible about complaining, but sometimes I just need to not be touched for a moment. I just didn’t understand why he was so attached! You’ll hear from others to just let them cry, that they want to be held because you are spoiling them and giving in.


That is just not true at all. Babies don’t spoil.

That still leaves the question, why do they want to be held so much?

Have you heard of the fourth trimester? I hadn’t. I mean, I had heard about it a little with my daughter, but quickly forgot about it as she got older and needed to be held less. So when my son came, and it was the same thing all over again, it was not the first thing that came to mind. I immediately wondered, what am I doing wrong? Am I not producing enough milk? Am I starving him? WHY! WHY! WHY!

Breastfeeding9 2

It took me talking to another mom, well, more like ranting to another mom, to be reminded of the fourth trimester. (I highly recommend mommy groups by the way. Being a part of them and finding mommy friends has been a life saver for me, with my daughter and now even more with my son.)

So, the fourth trimester, what is it?

Well, your sweet little bundle of joy has spent the last 9 months cozied up in your belly. It was nice and warm. It was dark. They could hear the swooshing of the fluids that protected them, and most importantly, they could hear your heartbeat. So, when they are born, are we suppose to expect them to just be ok with being shoved into a bassinet by themselves in a cold, bright, silent room? How would you feel about your environment being suddenly changed? I’m sure it would take you a bit to acclimate if you were suddenly uprooted from your warm, beach chair in Florida and shoved into the snow in Antartica, right? We can’t expect them to do that either.


The fourth trimester is time for your little one to adjust to the outside world, while still feeling safe. The world is a loud, bright, cold place and being held on your warm chest where they can hear the heartbeat that has been music to their ears for the past 3 trimesters is where they feel that. I know it can be frustrating, believe me. I have to remind myself daily as to why they feel they need to be held all the time. Just remember that they are only this small for a very tiny amount of time. It may seem like the days are long because all you have done is feed, hold, and change your baby, but before you know it they will be one and won’t want your snuggles as much.

So hold your baby close. Sit on the couch with a bottle of water, snacks and a good book or TV show and soak in those cuddles. Smell the sweet newborn scent. Let those tiny fingers wrap themselves around yours. Let their cheek rest against your chest so they can listen to your heart. Try not to let the household chores stress you out. (If you are like me, and can’t let the house be put on hold, try babywearing. Let them be held close to you, while you do your daily tasks. Don’t compromise their needs for your wants. The house really can wait.)

They need you. He needs me.


I will miss these days, just like I miss them with my now two year old. It feels like just yesterday she was attached to me as I complained to my friends that I couldn’t get anything done. I miss it. So for now, I will soak baby boys cuddles up. Let them take me over. I don’t want to miss it. Don’t miss these moments with yours.

The Birth of Lillian

Upstate Birth Network is to thank for me meeting Ally.
I was tagged in a post looking for a doula to help a local military mama, whose husband was deployed and would not be able to attend the birth of his daughter. I immediately knew I wanted to offer my services to help capture the day, so that dad could experience her birth through photos.
I set up a meeting with Ally a few days later. I knew from the moment I met her that documenting Lillian’s birth was going to be so much fun.
On December 16th I received a message that things seemed to be progressing, but I had time. So I got my daughter ready and took her to her grandparents. Once I got back to Greenville I started to text with her doula to see where things were.
She seemed to be progressing fairly quick and I worried I wouldn’t make it in time.
Luckily, I got there in plenty of time to meet and get to know her wonderful mother-in-law and her energetic aunt. Her doula had been at the last birth I photographed, so I was excited to work by her side again.
We all spent the day laughing and getting to know everyone as Ally rested, waiting patiently for Lillian to make her appearance. Sometime later that night, the midwife came in and made the call that it was time to try to push.
Ally pushed for a few hours, taking a couple breaks in between, Lillian did not want to come.
Luckily Ally had an open mind and was prepared to have a c-section if it was needed. And in the end that is what was needed.
Thankfully they allowed me to come into the OR and photograph Lillian’s entrance into the world.
I felt so honored to be a part of her birth-day and to be able to help document the day, so dad could see how his daughter came into the world. And of course both Dad and Grandma were ecstatic to meet Lillian!

The Home Birth of Janie

Katelyn contacted me when she was only a few weeks pregnant and was sure she wanted someone to capture her daughter’s entrance into the world. I was more than excited that she chose me.
On December 9th, I received the call at 2am. Labor had started. I rushed my daughter to her grandparents and headed her way.
When I arrived Katelyn and her husband were in their bedroom working through contractions. So not to bother them, I only snuck in when the midwife went to check on her to snap a couple photos.
The midwives, doula, and her friends sat patiently at her kitchen table and waited. I enjoyed getting to know the lovely ladies she had chosen to be a part of her birth space.
Katelyn eventually made her way out of the bedroom to give everyone a Christmas present, shirts that said “Home is Where the Birth is”.
Afterwards she retreated to the birth tub to ease contractions. We all decided to let her rest and go grab breakfast at Denny’s.
Once we finished eating and made our way back to her house, she was in her bedroom, bouncing on the birth ball. Her midwife decided to help her baby’s position and used the rebozo. Shortly after, we all went back to the living room and rest ourselves.
We all napped a couple hours when the midwife made the decision that we should all go home for the day and let Katelyn visit her chiropractor.
I waited patiently all day by the phone hoping to get the call.
I decided to get some rest and went to bed at 9pm.
Around 9:30, Thomas, Katelyn’s husband sent me a text telling me things were picking back up, but to wait. The midwives joked that she had a “shy uterus” so having so many people around slowed her labor. So I went back to sleep, waking up every hour or so to check my phone. Again, at 2am on December 10th, I received a call. Her water had finally broke. I jumped in my car and headed back her way.
To my surprise, the door was answered with a “she’s here”.
I was so bummed I missed her entrance into the world, but once her water broke, Janie came barreling into their arms 15 minutes later. Luckily I was still able to get some beautiful photos of mom & dad loving on their new bundle of joy and of the very intimate cord burning ceremony. I also was able to capture Janie doing the “breast crawl”.
Even though I missed the actual birth, I loved being a part of Katelyn’s birth team. There was so much love in the air and I think this birth was the one that brought me further into our wonderful birth community.
Janie Lark made her mama work for it, but she, of course, was more than worth it!