Life in Motion: March | Northern Virginia Birth Films

Another year, another film as part of our Life in Motion video blog circle. This time I'm sharing a film from a home birth earlier this year. This birth really touched me in many ways. Beginning with the continuous emotional and physical support from the birth team throughout both parts of labor, and the incredible genuine love and spiritual connection that radiated within this family, to the surprising location in the home where baby decided he wanted to be born. There were so many unforgettable aspects of this birth, and I am so grateful I was able to be there to document this beautiful story as it unfolded. Thank you to the wonderful providers at BirthCare and BirthPartners. Always a pleasure sharing the birth space with you.

Check out the highlight images and video below, and then stop by my friend Stacey's blog next to see her sweet summer memories film, and follow the circle around!

A Mother's Dance: Northern Virginia Maternity Photographer

Yauri connected with me in December to discuss having her pregnancy and the birth of her fourth child documented. When I learned that she was a professional dancer and how passionate she is about self-expression through movement, I knew in my heart that dance would be infused into the keepsakes I was to create for her. And so our vision evolved into a casual but meaningful winter session portraying dancing as an artful tribute to motherhood and God's blessing of new life.

I asked Yauri to tell me a bit about the role of dancing in motherhood. Today, I'm honored to share excerpts of her beautiful writing with you, along with some image highlights from her maternity session:

I think of dance as communication. A way of storytelling. And so dancing--performing, taking classes, and teaching classes--means my movement and artistic voice comes from an even deeper place since I have become a mother. I believe it is a result of experiencing vulnerability during labor and giving birth, needing support through the labor process, and coming into my womanhood as I have become a mother. So my movement and dancing tells that story, too.
This is our fourth baby, and with every pregnancy, there is a specific rhythm each of our children has. I can feel it. I can name it. It becomes familiar, even after birth. Dance is certainly a way for me to grow closer to my baby. I have danced professionally throughout my pregnancies. Being able to perform while also growing and carrying a life, I have felt that my babies were dancing with me. I know what my body is capable of as a dancer and therefore I know what my body is capable of as a woman and a human being. I have confidence and I feel empowered throughout the labor process because I allow my body to do what it needs to do. 

 

 

Letters to Our Children: Mason Turns Five

Dear Mason,                                   

Today you are five. I just watched the video from your first year, and now 5 years old seems so big to me. You are still the same happy guy you’ve been since you joined our family. This morning we all awoke to bright sunshine for the first time in many days, which made me smile, because you are a child who brings so much light and warmth to us. You like to show your love by offering the bigger piece of something yummy to your brother or sister, saving a bite of your special treats at school, and asking for something you can bring back for them when they aren't with you. You volunteer to take one for the team by playing the character or using the toy that isn’t popular...just because you like to make people happy. You are a model of kindness and generosity. You are a fiercely loyal brother and a thoughtful friend.

You are still working on staying seated during meals, but you love to eat pizza, sushi, smoothies, and Indian food. We're going to have to have your brother keep an eye on you in high school and college because you’ve never met a beverage you didn’t like. It takes you a while to settle down at bedtime, running around in your Avengers Pull-up and waving your sword like a ninja monkey until you crash into bed. But, you have finally become a good sleeper. You still like your naps, climbing under the covers after preschool and calling to me: ‘Mom, can you tuck me in?’

You learned how to ride your bike and swim faster this year, and how to read and write. This week you discovered you could tell a fib and just say you ‘forgot’ when I asked you about it. You learned to pray from your heart and to consider others who have less than you. You love to color mandalas and build Legos. You say little jokes and phrases that make us laugh, and create so much that reveals your little soul. Your favorite place to be is outside in nature, searching for edibles in the garden, collecting bugs, spotting birds, and asking us about clouds, planets, and other 'fings in da sky.’

You and I love to snuggle, wherever and whenever. Sometimes we do eskimo kisses and butterfly kisses. Other times I hold you tight, rub your back, and you just close your little eyes while I give you lots of smooches all over your sweet face. You love to be close to me. I am so grateful for that. But what you don’t know is that time we share together is when I’m doing my best to imprint you into my heart. Your baby-smooth skin, the arch on your top lip, your soft cheeks, the shape of your eyebrows, the smell of your hair, the tiny patches of blonde downy fur that I discovered the day you were born. I take it all in, saying silly things and giggling with you, yet swallowing back a lump because you’re growing and changing so much right before my eyes...this fills my cup right up to the brim and breaks my heart all at once. I never want to forget you just as you are, today and everyday. So I make pictures with my mind and with my camera, and cling tight to our moments the best I can.

Happy birthday, my sweet and tender boy.

Love,

Mama  

{Some film and digital photos from 2016}

An Open Letter to President Obama on His Last Day in Office

An Open Letter to President Obama on His Last Day in Office:

I remember that fine January morning in 2009, standing on the National Mall as the sun rose gloriously on the day of your inauguration. I was pregnant, and spent the hours before you appeared nudging my way through the crowds back and forth to the port-a-johns. We could see our breath in the frigid air, but we basked in the collective warmth radiating out of the hearts and smiles of the nearly two million of us who waited to welcome you. I asked my husband to lift me up to get a view of the crowd, and as I looked out across the sea of American flags and hopeful eyes, I felt the widest, proudest smile come across my face and a lump of gratitude form in my throat. I was simply honored to consider that the child I was carrying would know a black President in his lifetime.

The hope for what having you in office meant for people of color was my reason for showing up that day. All eyes and ears were glued to you as you accepted your role with appreciation and confidence. I glanced at faces around me and felt the most profound sense of unity, a memory that will never leave me. Back then, my heart did not know the President Obama that we know now. But I had heard whispers of the change, justice, and equality for which you stood...and that was all I needed to give you my blessing.

Then, over the months and years that followed, I fell in love with you and your family for all the security, hope, and kindness you showed in your words and deeds. For the ways that you handled even the most difficult of situations with humility and grace. For the respect you held for your responsibility as President. As your hair grayed, and as your daughters grew into young women, you walked the steady path without falter.

You captivated me with your speeches; words pouring forth from deep within your heart, whether celebrating good news, or in laying your hands on the bereaved. You made me laugh when you were not afraid to laugh at yourself. Your love for your wife made me want to love my own partner more fiercely.

I am proud and grateful that my three children were born during your time as President, and have only known you as our country's leader. You led by example, without scandal or corruption. Your sense of purpose was always clearly focused on the American people, proceeding with thoughtfulness and sincerity. Nothing was ever about your own personal benefit, and you were always quick to give credit where it was due. Politics aside, you are as decent a man as they come...and that is what I believe a President should be, first and foremost.

I am heartbroken to bid you farewell as our Commander-in-Chief, but on behalf of myself and my family, I want to thank you for your steadfast service to our country. You have touched the lives of so many with your leadership, inspiring the people of the United States even across party lines, each and every day until the very end. We are grateful for all the good that came out of your time at the White House. Our great President, you will be missed, but never forgotten.

{snapshots from the 56th inauguration}

A Morning with Leo: Northern Virginia {Spectrum Inspired} Family Photographer

When I was invited to join the Spectrum Inspired team last year, I instantly knew it would be a meaningful experience, though I admit I was nervous sensing the weight of my responsibility to raise awareness about Autism while documenting families honestly and creatively. I decided I would do as I always do and simply follow my heart to seek out the moments with meaning and beauty. Then I was assigned my first Spectrum Inspired session, and I read their story and smiled inside, so excited for the opportunity to serve this wonderful and deserving family.

When I showed up for Leo's session, my initial intent was to just really see Leo for who he is, appreciating all that makes him unique, and translating that into artful images. And in the highlights from his session below, I hope that is apparent. You will see the enchanting way Leo's beloved objects bring him joy and comfort...his Woody, bubbles, balloons, his oral sensory toy, and his fondness for fetching bread from the refrigerator.

But even beyond getting to know him in the short time we were together, what revealed itself to me unexpectedly and took my breath away was the intense and intimate bond that Leo shares with his parents. A connection that I struggle to describe in words but which is woven throughout these images, the tender and purposeful touches, the warmth and comfort, and the radiant pride for who Leo is and how far he has come. Leo is loved wholly and supported fully, as it should be, yet there is something more that transcends the parental love I have known and witnessed. It is as if Leo is still connected by some energy to the womb, to his safe place, where their fingers connect and instantly his body relaxes, and where he basks in the calm and loving gaze of his mother. A most profound, uncomplicated kind of love. It was a true honor to behold.

When I asked her if she'd like to share her perspective as part of this blog story, Leo's mother responded with these sentiments: My family and I are incredibly grateful that we had the opportunity to share a glimpse into our world through the perspective of such a truly talented photographer. Your genuine warmth, and love for your craft created such a special atmosphere; one that allowed each of us to feel comfortable and at ease throughout the shoot. You captured our life with our son, Leo, who has Autism; his beautiful spirit, and our love for one another in such a raw and honest way. We will forever cherish these images, and be able to look back on these moments and instantly feel that love.

And I, too, will always feel the weight and love of these moments when I look back on the images and remember my morning with Leo.

To learn more about Spectrum Inspired, or to apply for a session, please visit www.spectruminspired.org