Asia & Autumn | Mommy and Me

What do you get when you combine a 2-year-old, matching twirly pink dresses, and a secret garden? This fairytale Mommy and Me session!

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” 
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

I had the absolute pleasure of shooting a Mommy and Me session for Asia & Autumn this past weekend! They are such an energetic pair full of love, laughter, and playfulness and when you combine their cheery personalities with gorgeous matching pink tulle ballgowns, you get a photoshoot that dreams are made of! I went to school with Asia and when she contacted me for a Mommy and Me session, I was overjoyed! We originally had plans for a spring shoot but rain caused us to postpone. Finally this past Saturday on the day of our shoot, we lucked out with a 70 degree summer day. It was absolutely the perfect weather to explore the magical gardens of Surreybrooke. The endless gardens on the property were blooming with beauty, and sweet little Autumn loved to walk around the paths to see what she could discover! Whenever I have the chance to take photos of children, I can’t help but smile as I catch a glimpse of the world through their eyes. Autumn loved watering the flowers, chasing the kitty that walked around the property, and having a tea party with her mommy. Enjoy these photos from our magical morning!

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Fun fact: Asia didn’t show Autumn her dress until the day of the shoot. When Autumn saw her dress she couldn’t wait to put on her pretty princess dress. She spent most of the time at the gardens twirling around in her dress and anytime her flower tiara fell off she wanted it back on immediately! #princessautumn

Thank you Asia for allowing me to capture you and Autumn’s special bond. Now time to schedule a playdate between Autumn and Lucy ❤

Conor’s Birth Story: Emergency vs. Scheduled C-Section

Our son has arrived! This is our birth story and an article for expectant mothers to hopefully help ease any fears about having a scheduled c-section.

He has arrived! Our family is complete.

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Introducing Conor Bryan Whitfield, 7 lbs. 5 oz. of adorable, squishy, squirmy, baby boy!

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Our sweet little sleepy baby boy has been in our lives now for exactly three weeks.  Today, February 16, is technically his due date but due to complications from Lucy’s birth we knew that any future child would need to be born via c-section at 37 weeks. What did this mean for us? Three BONUS weeks with our son in our lives!

I now want to talk about Conor’s birth story and address expectant mothers who may be going through the same thing I did. Knowing that my baby had to be born at 37 weeks via c-section, I had many fears and uncertainties, especially after Lucy’s birth which was a very traumatic failed induction turned emergency c-section [Lucy’s Birth Story]. I remember looking online for answers, only to be utterly terrified at some of the horror stories I found. Bryan tried to ban me from googling everything, but Jennifer the worry wart was in full force. Many questions swirled in my head: would my incisions from my previous delivery rupture, how would a scheduled c-section differ from my emergency c-section, would he be fully developed, is he really ready to come out,  would I recover well, what else might go wrong?

But this is a happy article.

This is the article I wish I would have read before giving birth to my son to ease my mind. While every birth is different, I want to share my personal story and the answers to all of the questions I had about having a scheduled c-section at 37 weeks.

Would I rupture?:

The main reason why I was told that I would need to deliver any future kids via c-section at 37 weeks was the risk of a uterine rupture. With Lucy’s birth, the emergency c-section consisted of two cuts internally instead of the typical one (called a T cut). This meant that if I would go into labor on my own with a future pregnancy, that there was the potential that the contractions would cause my uterus to rupture which could have been deadly for both the baby and myself.

Thankfully, I did not end up going into labor on my own. The original plan was going to be to wait about 5 days longer than 37 weeks to let his lungs develop more, but due to an unforeseen liver condition that arose during my 36 week mark, we ended up scheduling the c-section at exactly 37 weeks.

What would a scheduled c-section be like?:

Comparing this scheduled c-section to my last failed induction turned emergency c-section is like comparing apples to oranges. It was so completely different in the most positive way imaginable.

Like last time, it was nice walking into the hospital not in labor. It created a calm, laid back experience. The biggest difference was not having to go through the induction process first. With Lucy, I spent 2 days getting pumped with Cervidil and Pitocin and had nothing to eat and very little sleep. This was the recipe for failure. It meant that even if the c-section would have gone smoothly (which it didn’t) I would be two days behind on sleep, weak from the little food, and completely swollen due to all of the water and medications being pumped into me for two days straight. Enough about that first experience though, like i said this time it was a HAPPY story.

The scheduled c-section could not have gone any better. It started with me getting checked in, and then getting hooked up to the fetal monitor and IV. My early morning 7:30 AM surgery ended up getting pushed until 9:00 AM due to an emergency birth coming in before me that required the surgical team. This was fine with me because Bryan and I were able to relax a bit – this meant Bryan getting a nice breakfast and coffee and me watching I Love Lucy. It was then time to go into surgery. The team of nurses, my doctor, and the anesthesiologist were all incredible and put me at ease. The only minor freak out moment I had was when they prepped me for surgery. Unlike with my induction, I had to be in the surgery room without Bryan when they administered my spinal tap (numbing medication). Between the numbing of my entire lower body, and not having Bryan by my side I soooorrt of had a panic attack. BUT, as I said the team was amazing and they helped me through it by forcing me to talk about something completely irrelevant and taking my mind off of the situation. I ended up talking about Bryan and I’s trip to Boston BEFORE we started dating, so that ended up being the topic of the entire c-section. Who knew talking about gelato in Little Italy could take your mind off of being cut open?!

Once Bryan was able to come in, we were able to hold hands and I was instantly reassured. A few non-painful tugs here and there, and all of a sudden I could hear the most wonderful sound in the world, the sound of my sweet son crying and a declaration that it was 9:46 AM. Unlike last time, I was alert the rest of the time we were in the surgery room. I got to cry my happy tears. I got to listen to the NICU team check baby. I got to listen to the surgical team talking about how smoothly everything went. I got to talk to Bryan as he held our baby next to my head. I was able to see the first moments of my son’s life. It was the experience I wish I would have had the first time.

Is he really ready to come out at 37 weeks and will he be fully developed?:

The answer, thank God, for us was yes. I know there are many babies born at 37 weeks that may require a few days in the NICU due to lung development or other complications, but Conor was completely healthy. We required no time in the NICU, and it was only shortly after the surgery that I was able to have skin to skin contact with him and nurse him. He is a great sleeper and eater, and is constantly meeting his developmental and weight goals at his follow-up check ups. We are extremely blessed.

How would recovery be?:

I am officially three weeks out from having my c-section today and I can say recovery has been incredible. There has been little pain and I have been able to carefully get back into the normal routines of life. I am trying to be as careful as possible to not over-do it because I find that on days that I pick up Lucy or try to clean too much I feel worse. Overall, I cannot complain though. My body is healing, my mental state is positive, and my little boy allows me to get the sleep I need at night.

What else may go wrong?:

Ah, the question I had after one week postpartum. It almost seemed like everything was too good to be true and we kept finding ourselves saying things like “for now” when we talked about how great a sleeper he was. Like I said, Conor is a healthy baby, a great sleeper, and a great eater. I am able to carry out a routine during the day with him that leaves both him and I relaxed at the end of the day. On top of that, Lucy has completely adapted to her new brother – which was something I really feared. Before having him, I felt like I was almost betraying her. I felt like I was cutting off the special one-on-one time with her as an only child. If anything, it only makes me put even more of an effort into carving out special mommy/daughter time and including her in the day-to-day activities with her new brother. She loves giving him his pacifier, kissing and tickling his feet, and attempting to feed him his bottle. On top of that, Bryan has been a phenomenal Daddy to Lucy these past three weeks (and of course for all time). He has completely taken over some of the things I usually had done in the past while I recover and Lucy couldn’t be more excited about all of the extra-special time with him.

So instead of worrying about what else could go wrong, I have decided to embrace the fact that everything is going well and live in the moment. There is no sense in worrying or dreading the possible issues that may or may not arise during these first few months. Yes, it is an adjustment for all of us – but with Bryan by my side I know we will get through it all and time will continue to go by too fast. Before we know it, Conor will be as big as Lucy and we will miss the time when they were so little.

And there you have it, Conor’s birth story! I am hoping this article was able to reassure anyone with an upcoming scheduled c-section that they can go very smoothly, and soon enough you too will have your sweet bundle of baby in your arms!

To close, here is a photo collage of our hospital experience and first few days of Conor’s life:

love & lots of whit – jen xo

The 12 Doors of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a fun photo project in Waterford, Virginia.

One of the (only) highlights of having a long commute, is passing through the quaint Natural Historic Landmark town of Waterford, Virginia on my way home. After paying tolls and battling traffic, the last stretch of the commute is actually SO beautiful. As I am driving through, its hard not to admire the craftsmanship of the beautiful old homes from the 18th and 19th century that have been so carefully preserved over the years. It almost feels like you are venturing back in time while traveling through.

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It is obvious that the owners of these homes put so much love and care into them. As the holiday season approached, I started to notice all of the beautiful doors being decorated with stunning wreaths and it sparked an idea! One day after work, I decided to take a stroll through the town and capture as many of the festively decorated doors as possible. For a very pregnant me, this was only about 30 minutes of walking before I had to call it a quits, so I apologize to the houses further down the road that I didn’t capture! I hope you enjoy looking at these “12 Doors of Christmas” as much as I do!

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Door.love. ❤ Swooooon.

Of course, since I had to narrow it down to 12 for this post, I had to omit a few but I can’t bear to not include those ones too so please see the rest in this collage.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

 

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why…Lucy’s 2017 Christmas Photoshoot is sure to put a smile on your face!

This holiday season compared to last year is a whole new experience for Lucy and our family. She is slowly catching onto what Christmas is all about, well in toddler terms that is. She lights up looking at her Christmas tree, can identify Santa in an instant, and helped me set up the nativity scene complete with the tradition of kissing baby Jesus before laying him down. She surprises me every day with all that she learns and can pick up on. Her latest talent is singing jingle bells and deck the halls at the top of her little lungs!

Last year, I stumbled across a photographers Christmas paradise while visiting the Old Lucketts Store in Lucketts, VA, which I pass everyday on my way to work. They strategically set up all sorts of Christmas displays and allow photographers to utilize their beautiful grounds. Here are a few of the highlights from last year (which I strangely never posted!) when Lucy was 9 months old:

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This year 20 month old Lucy and I ventured back, but with photographer BACKUP! If you have a toddler, you know how unpredictable they can be. Last year was so simple since Lucy was not mobile, but this year the idea of going alone with Lucy and a camera scared me to death! My friend and fellow photographer, Tammy of Berks Nest, came with me and ended up taking most of these photos of Lucy while I was on get Lucy to look at the camera and smile duty (LOTS of elephant impressions)! There are a few mixed in that I was able to snap, but being on toddler duty proved to be full time job. A couple key hints when photographing toddlers: 1. Bring distractions – you will see a little present and a bell in Lucy’s hands in most of these photos – without these props it would have been harder to keep her attention. 2. Allow them plenty of time to venture around themselves in between posed/planned photos. This is also KEY to a great nap afterwards!

Please enjoy these photos of my fiery little Christmas Lucy. A huge thank you to Tammy for capturing her with these beautiful photos!

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love & lots of whit – jen xo

baby bison | newborn photos

When a dear friend has a baby, you can’t help but celebrate it with as much excitement as if it were your own baby!

There are some people in this world that change your life for the better. Shaina and Jason are two of those people. They radiate happiness, adventure, love, and kindness and their virtues and values are stronger than anything.  I have been blessed to call them my friends for many years now. Last year, I cried happy tears when Shaina told me they were expecting as I couldn’t imagine two people who were more ready to become parents. As you will see below, I had the joy of capturing their baby announcement photos last fall. They have a wild sense of humor and I couldn’t think of a better announcement concept than these clever mugs that Shaina created! Hill Annoucement-5586Hill Annoucement-5538Hill Annoucement-5531-2Hill Annoucement-5325Hill Annoucement-5444-2Hill Annoucement-5380-2As fall ended we fell into the long winter and we all waited and prayed for the safe arrival of sweet Baby Bison in the spring. Baby Bison is the adorable nickname Shaina and Jason referred to their baby as during pregnancy and you will see why when you see the amazing nursery they created for him. I counted down the day’s until my dear friend’s due date like a small child waiting for Christmas and then finally in the middle of April, baby Silas was born! As you scroll through these dreamy pictures of the new perfectly complete family, please note the INCREDIBLE Bison mural featured in Sila’s nursery which was handpainted by Shaina’s talented brother, Zak Parsons.

Now to the moment we have all been waiting for, photos of the sweetest new arrival, Silas.Baby Silas-1613

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Swooooooooon. That little FACE!

Welcome dear friends to the most incredible journey of all time, parenthood – and welcome baby Silas to life with your fantastic mommy and daddy.

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Rubber Ducky You’re the ONE

Highlights from sweet Lucy’s first birthday party, quack quack!

Lucy is ONE! How is this even possible!!?!

When deciding on her first birthday theme and after months of trying to rack my brain for something super creative and unique, it all just hit me one day – this party is for HER not me, and what does Lucy like? Ducks of course! Besides mama and dada, the only other REAL words in her vocabulary are duck and quack quack. She literally can’t get enough! From her ducky bathtub, to her ducky books, to her ducky toys – her face immediately brightens up when she see’s a cute yellow duck! With help from my amazing sister the theme was set in stone, “Rubber Ducky You’re the ONE.”

To start, I knew an invitation had to be created. I found an adorable ducky costume and put my little Lucy duck in the bathtub and viola – her invitation was made 🙂

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With help from my family and friends, this party came together and Lucy had such a blast! Bryan’s amazing friend, Amanda, made us the most perfect ducky cupcakes and smash cake. It was as delicious as it was adorable, and Lucy LOVED getting her little hands into that cake. We had wonderful food catered by JB Seafood, and my sister created amazing signs to play off the theme and name all of the foods (my favorite, the Quack-N-Cheese)! We had ducky beach ball party favors for all of the kids and set up a bubble machine outside in the park for them to play in! Please enjoy some pictures from Lucy’s big day!

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A huge thank you to all of my family and friends that helped make this party so fun for sweet Lucy! She is growing into such a loving, silly, beautiful little lady!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!

How are there only 4 more days until Christmas?!

It is hard to believe that at this time last year I was 6 months pregnant and now (fast-forwarding to this year) I have a 9 month old baby! Bryan and I are so excited for Lucy’s first Christmas! We are looking forward to spending time with our family, all of the delicious holiday meals, and even though Lucy doesn’t understand much this year – she is just the perfect age to be showing interest in toys. It also doesn’t hurt that we will be off work through the new year, which will mean so much more time with our sweet girl.

I must admit, the past two years I have been a slacker on decorating for Christmas. Last year we set up only the tree (no decorations), and two years ago we didn’t even put up the tree. It’s not even that I was a Grinch about it all, per se, I just ran out of the time and energy. I know, I know, no excuses! This year and hopefully every year going forward, I knew the slacking had to stop and I finally decorated the house for Christmas again. It’s a Wonderful Life is not JUST my favorite Christmas movie, but my favorite movie movie, and it played as inspiration for part of my Christmas decorating this year. I also had the cutest little photo subjects to snap some photos of in front of our tree, enjoy!

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Wishing you all a VERY Merry Christmas and a beautiful New Year!

love & lots of whit – jen xo