baltimore birth photographer

My Own Birth Story | Baltimore, MD

My last baby is a whole 4 months old today. No longer a newborn. No longer willing to (easily) take naps on my chest. No longer interested in just laying around gazing lovingly into my eyes. He wants to move and grab and roll. We’re moving into another fun stage, this I know, as it is my third go round. But I already miss it.

The fog after having a baby is in part due to the lack of sleep, but also the confounding and overwhelming changes a baby brings. And all that love, so much love that the word ‘love’ doesn’t feel like an adequate way to describe it. Which is why I am (and will eternally be) so happy that I hired a birth photographer to capture the day I met my third baby.

This birth story has to begin in 2013 — when we decided we were ready to start our family. See, I’m one of those women who wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl. In my mind, life was just a countdown until it was finally the right time to have a baby. I dreamed of my future family often. I had no clue what I was in for, but I knew I wanted it desperately. The day came and I read the positive pregnancy test with absolute astonishment. A feeling I will never forget. I took pregnancy by storm. I was so happy to be so sick, happy to have back pain, and not the least bit upset I couldn’t drink or eat certain things. I read a few natural child birth and breastfeeding books. I was set. Then my sweet, strong willed baby girl was breech, and she wasn’t turning despite all the tricks. I was sad and disappointed, but ultimately, she was healthy and arrived via a planned cesarean at 39 weeks. Fast forward 14 months, baby #2 on the way. I scoured the internet and my local resources about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and decided that that would be my birth plan. Fast forward again and our (surprise!) baby girl was born via cesarean at 38 weeks due to complications.

Life moved on as it always does; we moved into my dream home and settled in nicely to being a family of four. We knew we would try for a third all along, but this time we wanted some time to breathe. One February day, I took the girls to Port Discovery and felt ridiculously tired, more than the normal mom tired. I knew it. I came home and immediately took a test…

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Maybe because I’m one of those, “I love being pregnant people” but it was just as surprising and exciting as the first two. I cried and jumped up and down with my girls, even though they had no idea why I was so ecstatic. I decided I was going treat this pregnancy like it was my last, because that will likely be the case. I thoughtfully documented every stage; I kept a journal to remember all the feelings, emotions and every little kick.

Making a birth plan was more difficult this time around. If finding a supportive VBAC doctor was tough, finding a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans) was almost impossible. One thing I knew for sure though, even if I couldn’t get my VBA2C — I would definitely have my birth photographed. I knew a provider who would allow that and so I went there first. To my surprise, they were all about giving me the chance (or a “trial of labor after cesarean”) as long as I went in to labor on my own by 41 weeks. So that was my plan.

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Over the course of the next few months I did everything to better my chances. I ate well, exercised, went to a chiropractor every two weeks, did prenatal yoga, took a comfort measures class, and I visualized the birth I wanted. At 35 weeks I started seeing the chiropractor weekly, I added acupuncture, prenatal massage, acupressure, red raspberry leaf tea three times a day and ate TONS of pineapple. I ate five dates (or as I liked to call them, cockroaches) Every. Single. Day. For six weeks. I walked and walked and walked, and swayed my hips on a birth ball all day long. Thanks to a nicely timed fortune cookie, I adopted the motto, “over prepare and then go with the flow.” Which turned out to be really helpful in the end, because none of that shit worked.

At 40 weeks and 6 days I gave in to the fact that a vaginal birth just wasn’t in the cards for me. I ugly cried for an hour with my mom and sisters and then I was ready. Ready to meet my baby, and ready to see if we would be adding another girl to our brood or getting a little boy. Our incredible photographer, Kate Anderson, supported me in so many ways throughout my pregnancy. She helped make this journey of mine a healing experience, even though I would never get my VBAC.

October 29, 2018. 41 weeks. Kate came to our home bright and early to document the whole day for us. We played, got our girls dressed for pre-school and said our goodbyes — for when we’d see them again, life would be very different. Our baby Margot would no longer be our baby anymore, and Eloise, well she may as well be an adult.

We even made time for a milk bath, so that we could get a few more photos of my swollen belly, but mostly to take a few minutes for myself. It was a moment of surrender. I relinquished the ideas of my original birth plan, and fell peacefully into what was meant to be.

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In my experience, each cesarean was a little harder than the last. The anxiety is greater; all the senses familiar, but no less scary. We arrived at the hospital and had to wait for what felt like FOREVER. With each passing minute the anticipation and nerves grew heavier. My husband, Bryan, tried and succeeded several times of breaking the tension with laughs, but it’s just so much. The lights, the sounds, the wires, monitors and tubes, the smells (especially the smells), and the feelings — fear, excitement, sadness, lack of control, happiness.

But then they get started, and my amazing doctor, started to explain what she’s doing and reminds me how close I am to meeting my baby. I start to panic a bit and get upset. Bryan grabs my hand, wipes away my tears, and reassures me that I’m safe and our baby is almost here.

They honor my request for a clear drape, so I’m able to watch my baby being born in to this world (which everyone should advocate for if you’re a cesarean momma and not squeamish). After lots of tugging, pulling and pressure — I get a glimpse of my baby’s sweet face as it emerges.

At 1:34 p.m. my baby is born. In unison my husband and I literally shout that it’s a boy. Both equally surprised and elated that it was actually a baby boy. This moment is one that I could never put in to words. As Bryan would tell you, the emotion seemed to jump out of my body. I never said the words aloud, as I didn’t want to seem ungrateful if I’d had a third girl, but oh how I deeply, deeply wished for a son. And he was here.

I could never thank Kate enough for going along on that journey with us and capturing that special day so perfectly. These images of my family growing and the first moments with my son are some that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! I encourage anyone whose had a baby to write their birth stories down. For you to read with your baby in ten years and then also for them to read when you’re no longer here to share it with them. Also, for you. I’m sure you’ll revisit it often later down the road when they’re all grown. This particular story was only four months ago, and already the details are blurring. Now that I’ve written it out and enjoyed it all over again, it will go live in Everett’s baby book with all of these beautiful photographs <3

A Baltimore Birth Story | Baby Robert

"Birth produces two people.

The first; a flailing soul

struggling to take in a new world, 

a new way of being

as it draws breath against the unknown.

The second; a baby."

-B. Laditan

I've used this quote before, but I love it so much I could use it a million times more and not be tired of it.  One may think as a birth photographer, that photographing the baby and the baby's arrival is the highlight. It's certainly a moving experience and one I hope everyone is able to witness, because it is truly a miracle and watching it unfold is transformative. Every. Single. Time. But it isn't my favorite part. I love to capture the connection between partners the most. The teamwork, the love, the compassion, and the mutual joy for what they've created together. 

Our friends Laura and Rob announced they were pregnant at our college homecoming last fall. The first thing I did was offer my congratulations, of course, but immediately I was hoping and praying they'd ask me to photograph the birth of their baby. Don't get me wrong, I want ALL the births, but I just knew that theirs would be an extra special one. For those that don't know them, they're extra special people. 

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Case in point. They're uniquely themselves and aren't afraid to show it, and I love their unabashed love for one another. So when Laura contact me a few months later to talk about birth photography, I was thrilled. 

As with many first babies, Laura went past her estimated due date and we were one day shy of 41 weeks waiting (sort of) patiently. She went to her routine check-in and learned she was actually in the beginning stages of labor and was to head straight over to St. Joe's to be admitted. 

 

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Things were progressing well and she reached a point where she needed some relief. After the epidural was administered, there were laughs and fun, but also a lot of anxieties. Rob (dad) was so concerned for Laura's well-being the entire time and didn't leave her side for a single second. He may have broken a record with questions for the nurses and also of asking his wife how she was feeling. It was so heart-warming to witness. You could actually feel his emotions and he was feeling a wide range of them.

 

Once they learned that she had fully dilated, the doctor joined us and everyone was prepped for delivery. Assuming, as most would, it would be awhile for a first baby to descend and make his/her way earth side. 

 

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Laura and Rob decided not to find out the baby's gender, so there was also a great anticipation to see what she'd been carrying for the past 10 months. Sadly, Rob's father had passed a short time ago, and while Rob said he didn't care if it was a boy or girl -- it was obvious to me that a boy would mean a lot to him. A way to remember and honor his late father, with whom he was very close. 

 

Remarkably, Laura pushed for only 20 or so minutes, which was a record for me to witness for a first time mom. And their baby boy was born. The photographs of Rob realizing he now had a son are some of my favorite images captured to date. There was meconium stained fluid so Laura didn't get immediate skin to skin right way, but that gave her and her husband a few minutes alone to soak in the fact that they done it. She was amazing and worked so hard, and their baby boy, Robert III had arrived at last. Named, of course, after his Daddy and his late grandfather.

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Baby Robert was born on April 26, 2018 and weighed a whopping 9 pounds 4 ounces. He was placed in his mama's arms just a few minutes after birth and Laura and Rob became parents. It was an honor to capture this for them, and I'm sure these photos will be looked back on and treasured forever. 

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A Powerful birth story | Baltimore, Maryland

Being a mom is so damn hard. I know I don't need to tell most of you that --  you either are one and you know that fact deep in your bones, or you have an adoring mother, whom you've seen first hand deal with the demanding role of motherhood. Lately, my struggle is making sure I'm raising my girls to be as strong as possible. It seems that the world they will "adult" in, could be quite different for women, and that calms this mama's worries. I hope to be a small part in that movement, and to be able to tell my girls that I helped in some way.

You may not look at birth photography in this way, but I believe the rising interest in this art will definitely change some things. First and foremost, it shows birth in a different light and shows so many people how strong and incredible women are when giving birth. And this goes for any type of birth -- medicated birth, cesarean birth, home birth, unmedicated birth, hospital birth, lotus birth, etc. I believe it will also normalize birth, and not make it so "gross" or taboo to talk about. It's therapeutic for women to talk about their births, and if it feels good to talk about it -- they should.

This is all relevant to me, because I was incredibly fortunate to document such a powerful birth a few weeks ago. Heather contacted me back in the fall. We did a gorgeous maternity session with her family in November, and made plans for me to document the birth of her third baby girl. She was due on January 1st, and I had all kinds of hopes to photograph the first baby of the New Year! We were going to be famous. Baby had other plans, as they usually do. 

Heather called me at 2:45 a.m. on January 3rd to tell me her water broke and she was headed to the hospital. Although I don't usually head to the hospital right away, I was so excited and there was no way I was going back to sleep. So I left my house at 4:30 and headed for Howard County General. 

When I arrived, Heather was walking the hallways with her mom, and her husband and her 15 year old daughter were fast asleep.

Her husband, Ellis, was wearing a mask, and at first I just assumed he was trying to block out the light and catch up on sleep before things got real. Heather was put back on the monitor for a bit to listen to baby, and after the nurse left, she told me that just a few hours prior to her water breaking, her husband was diagnosed with the flu. The first and only time in their 10 year relationship. Talk about bad timing. 

It wasn't long before Heather's doctor made her way in and they informed her that he had the flu. There were lengthy explanations and deliberations and eventually it was decided that he would have to leave. For the safety of Heather, their baby girl and all the other newborns on the floor. 

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I love this image above so much, as you can almost feel her disbelief and pain, just moments after this news came. I should note, that the moment it was decided, Heather was remarkably strong. Stronger than I imagine myself being in that situation. She continued to bounce on her ball and do her hip sways, silently, while digesting the fact that her husband, and biggest supporter would not be there. 

Heather worked a long few hours preparing for the birth of her baby girl. In all the births I've experienced, I've never seen a better support person than Heather's mom. It was truly amazing to witness and to document. She didn't leave her side for a second. There wasn't a moment that she wasn't massaging, rubbing, moving the hair out of her face, giving cold cloths, or sharing words of encouragement. It was so beautiful to watch a mother, help her daughter, go through the birth of her daughter. 

It was around noon, and baby girl was getting close. Heather was reaching transition and at one point, expressed to her mom that she didn't think she could do it without her husband. But she did, and it was time to meet their daughter. They FaceTimed Ellis and Heather began pushing. 

She was so strong, and her mother was SO supportive and her beautiful baby girl, Colette, was born at 2:06 p.m. She had done it.

I was so excited to deliver these images to Heather and Ellis. That's usually the case when I finish up my galleries, but this time it meant more. I'm hoping that Ellis can look at these and feel like he was there after all. 

Perhaps one of my favorite images I've ever captured was Heather cutting the umbilical cord. It was such a powerful moment to witness. And one I'm sure she'll cherish forever.

As always, I'm extremely grateful for having been invited into a mama's birthing space. I am also especially grateful to Heather for allowing me to share her empowering birth story. 

While my 3.5 and 1.5 year olds may not understand just yet, I look forward to the day I can show my girls these and other images I've captured. Surely, this will help them understand the strength of a woman, and the strength that is inside of them.

Winnie's Birth Story

We had a lovely Christmas with our families -- we ate too much, had a few too many glasses of wine, got to watch and experience the magic through toddler's eyes, and gave and received so many great gifts. Typically, in our family, no one can beat my sister Mandy's gift giving skills. She puts so much thought and always seems to have the perfect gifts for everyone.

She gave birth to her beautiful little Winnie in July, and because she's my sister and my business took off, her photos had to be put on the back burner. But once November came around -- I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was going to win Christmas this year! Her long awaited images were made in to a beautiful book -- which I have no doubt, will be cherished until the end of time. 

Winnie girl was due on July 9th, and to be perfectly punctual, my sister called me that morning to say things were getting real over there. So I grabbed my camera and hopped in the car. Her contractions were coming hard and fast, but in between she had time to make jokes and still be the best momma to our little Liam.

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The labor was progressing and her doctor told her to head to the hospital. She had a few tough contractions that stopped her dead in her tracks, and in those moments it was tough for me to decide whether to be a sister or her photographer. I think at one point I had one hand on her shoulder and the other one on the shutter. Her body was working so hard in preparation for Winnie's arrival and she often winced in pain, but the only thing that brought on the tears was when it was time to say goodbye to her first baby, that sweet boy who made her a mother. 

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We arrived at St. Joe's Hospital and the staff made me wait in the waiting room for a bit (pure torture as both a photographer and sister.) Once I was allowed back, the mood was intense; the anesthesiologist was busy, but she got through the pain of each contraction with  determination and grace.

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After awhile she was able to get some relief. And she was finally able to take care of some important business, like letting her Snapchat followers know she was in labor. We turned on Lumineers radio, broke out our family's favorite snack (doritos, of course) and waited for her body to do its magic.

It wasn't long before she reached that magical number and she was ready to bring her babe earthside. It will never become old, watching this miracle of life. Everytime I experience it, I am in awe over the entire process, and especially of a woman's strength. 

 

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A beautiful, healthy baby girl. 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 20 inches of love. Six months later, she's still this lovable, squishy babe (except MUCH bigger, girl likes to eat) and the perfect addition to our family. 

Like I said, I totally won Christmas this year, right? There was nothing she could get me that would beat these heirlooms... and then I opened an Instant Pot. Maybe next year.