BIRTH PLAYLIST | PHOENIX, AZ BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

I'm due in less than 4 weeks. FOUR weeks. That's 4 weeks left of only having two earthside babies and 4 weeks left of feeling like this kid is going to claw it's way out of me. 

Allow me a minute to cry over... everything. 

One thing I no longer have to shed some tears over is the fact that my labor playlist is done. And done in good timing as yesterday's shenanigans of going into prodromal labor. I often see friends and other mommies-to-be that they are need of music to play during their birth so I cracked my own whip and went digging to create the most beautiful birth and labor playlist of all time. Some songs are hand picked by me, others are plucked from the births I have been fortunante enough to attend. 

So pack your mini speakers in your hospital bag, charge your batteries and get ready to be in sync with your baby, birth partner, and body as you're about to take the best ride of your life. 

BIRTH STORY | Part 1

My estimated due date is June 1st and yesterday was May 8th, no one expected the baby to come this early but we did our best to go with the flow and get ready. My birth kit wasn't in, our AC is out in our master, we needed a birth tub, and I still haven't hung up my affirmations. 

It was 10:30am and I decided to call my midwife. My contractions were consistent, about 2-5 minutes apart at this point. I didn't think I wanted to be checked in labor but my denial that this wasn't labor convinced me to go ahead with it. My midwife came over and right as she walked in I was in the bathroom throwing up my breakfast. When my stomach settled down she checked me and I was 4-5 centimeters and 50% effaced. I wasn't totally convinced it was real yet and definitely wasn't ready for my birth team to be here yet, so I sent my midwife on her way and tried all the stuff to see if I could slow it down on my own. I took a bath, tried to nap, and drank 2oz of wine (judge me, I dare you.) Nothing slowed them down. At this point I was almost ready to admit to myself that it was time to meet the baby. 

At 3pm I decided to get my kids (with our nanny) from school to make as many last minute memories with them as my only two as possible. We went to Target, bought birthday cake mix and talked about all the excitement that could possibly go down today, tomorrow, or in the next few days. We were wrapping up our trip when I started feeling nauseas again and decided to checkout and head home. I wasn't teetering on false labor vs real labor anymore. I believed in my body and baby, I believed this was it. 

We called our birth team over around 4:30pm and within 40 minutes everyone was here. Midwife, student midwife, birth photographer and videographer all arrived. My husband and I went for a walk with our birth photographer, talked about my actual due date, and appreciated the cool weather we were blessed with on this day. A storm was coming through, dark skies and a light drizzle was exactly what I would want on this baby's birth day. 

"Things seemed to be

speeding up and getting more intense

with my contractions consistently

at 2 minutes apart."

When we got back we ordered dinner and my husband rushed off to buy a longer hose for the birth tub our birth photographer graciously brought over for us. It was lovely weather so I jumped in our backyard pool and quickly switched to the hot tub. I started feeling nauseous again and got out to shower and lay in my bed. Things seemed to be speeding up and getting more intense with my contractions consistently at 2 minutes apart. I was suggested to immediately start chugging water. And just like that, as soon as I finished a 30oz glass I laid down and contractions were gone for 20 minutes. That was it. It was over. I talked with my midwife and decided to send everyone home. I was disappointed in myself. I thought I was drinking enough water. I thought I was giving my baby everything it needed, but here I was, dehydrated. 

"This is by far the

most pain I felt all day.

I felt defeated."

I laid my head down for the night feeling drained and full of dismay. My eldest daughter (5 years old) came in with tears in her eyes and whimpered "I want the baby to come today." This is by far the most pain I felt all day. I felt defeated. She crawled into bed with us and I apologized while explaining that the baby wasn't ready yet and Mommy just needs to keep taking care of her body for the baby. 

As a birth worker, I've worked with many women who go into false labor and I can now say I see a whole different side of it. This is STILL your birth story. Don't worry about calling your birth team if you think you need them. I didn't want to waste their time. I didn't want to take them from their family. I didn't want to be the mom who cried wolf. As sad as I am for not progressing, I am thankful my birth team was willing to drop everything for me to be with me by my side in all the excitement. I may have went to bed with no contractions but yesterday was real to me and just part one of my birth story. 

Today I'm 36+4 according to my early ultrasound and 40 weeks according to my last cycle, and I'm still taking guess dates. 

Photography: Dianne Hamre

CAYSON'S NEWBORN SESSION | PHOENIX, AZ BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

As she bathed her newborn baby boy she wept, as she realized right then that she has never felt more alive than these last few days. This is motherhood. All too often we get brushed by the urge to cry as we witness our little miracles sharing, caring, and simply breathing. Nothing beats the overwhelming feeling of bursting into tears over what some could call "nothing". 

BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR MEET-UP | PHOENIX BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

I've been following Birth Without Fear's Instagram account religiously for a while now, so over the summer when the Meet-Up location's list came out I was quick to buy tickets to attend. I have seen women and men come out from attending it feeling empowered. 

I often feel happy with how balanced my self love is, but there are times when I need a strong reminder of my power. The day of the meet-up was one of the latte. January Harshe took women and men who have never met before and helped them lift their own spirits, without having to pick them up herself. January helped us realize how hard we work everyday and every stage in parenting, how impactful we are in our children's lives, and how beautiful we all are. 

I would love to attend another and am utterly thankful for that day and every bit of insight I took.

"AWARD WINNING" | PHOENIX BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

Absolutely honored that I won best labor image of the year! This birth, like all the births I've attended, was beautiful, powerful, peaceful and most importantly driven by a warrior mama. How lucky am I to be surrounded by such a strong community, to call this my career, and to spread the value of birth worldwide. Within the last few weeks my work has been shared on The Today Show, Huffington Post, People, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Baby Center, Natural Parent, and MORE. Let's continue spreading the word about how real, raw, and messy birth can be.

THE BIRTH OF ALESSANDRA | PHOENIX BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

Three weeks of prodromal labor leading up to an absolutely flawless birth. Everyday this Mama focused on getting her mind and body in the right place for delivery. Rest & relax were key, all while managing her household with two tiny boys running amok. But how can one complain when the two tinies at home are as precious as these? They clearly stole the show when meeting their new sister.