FEATURED Guest Mama Blogger: The Triefler Tribe on the topic of VBAC


I spoke to Michelle for the first time in the beginning of July of last year. She initially reached out to me to get my input on Boca Raton Regional Hospital. I am a huge supporter of mamas choosing this hospital for their births, especially when moms are trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). Over the last four and a half years I’ve been to many hospitals from Jupiter through North Miami and have really gotten to see various hospital restrictions/policies and the way labor and delivery is run from hospital to hospital, and under larger hospital umbrellas like Broward Health, HCA, etc.

Back in July, Michelle reached out to me asking what would happen, if a rupture occurred or a c-section needed to happen. I immediately recommended to interview the practices who deliver at Boca Regional who do VBAC, and since Michelle was specifically interested in midwives (Certified Nurse Midwives) for her delivery, I suggested the practice that most of my VBAC clients have chosen over the last two years to VBAC with — Courtney McMillian, CNM and Polina Goldenberg, CNM at Boca Midwifery. Michelle and I chatted back and forth for about a month on facebook messenger and I shared all my knowledge of the previous successful vbacs I had attended with her during this time. I was really happy for her when she told me she had met with Boca Midwifery and decided to leave her OBGYN in Port St Lucie who did not do VBACs and hire the CNMs at Boca Midwifery for her trial of labor in hopes of a successful VBAC. I was so happy this mama would have the best chance at a VBAC. Her midwives and their backup OB Dr. David Lubetkin currently have a 13% c-section rate, and a very high rate of successful, smooth and safe VBAC deliveries.

In Michelle’s guest blog post below, she shares with us the story of how she planned for her VBAC and her amazing birth story. I invite you to check out and follow Michelle on her amazing Triefler Tribe blog here

➡➡➡➡ thetrieflertribe.com

Where she shares personal stories of her own infertility struggles, talks about her motherhood journey and what it’s like being a girl mom (and now has one child of each gender!) and compares her first pregnancy journey to her second.


When we found out we were pregnant again, naturally this time, after conceiving our daughter via IUI and given a 3% chance of conceiving on our own, our world was turned upside down in the most beautiful way. Having had a c-section with my daughter at 37 weeks for suspected IUGR and breech presentation, I knew this time I wanted a VBAC. I knew that in order for that to be possible, I needed to have a home birth or to find a hospital and provider willing to take me and allow me to attempt a VBAC. I wasn't a big fan of attempting a VBAC at home so I joined a VBAC support group on Facebook and was given a wealth of knowledge of where to go and who to see. That meant having to travel an hour and a half south of where I live in order to have the BEST chance of being successful.

I started going to physical therapy and a chiropractor to make sure my body was aligned and in the best shape possible. I needed to do everything in my power to make sure my son had enough room to turn head down, unlike his stubborn big sister!

The day before I went into labor, I went to physical therapy and had acupressure done.

From my previous midwife appointment the week before, I was already 3 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and my son, Weston's, head was at a 0 station so he was getting ready to arrive any day! Contractions started that night but weren’t consistent. The next day, I had my midwife appointment at Boca Midwifery. They checked me and I was still at a 3 but 90% effaced. We went all the way home and I started having irregular contractions all day long. They got to a point where they were getting uncomfortable so we decided that it was time to head down to Boca once again. My midwife was very confident that I was in early labor. Luckily, Aaron and I were able to put my daughter, Peyton, down to sleep for the night. I was bawling my eyes out because I felt in my heart that I was putting her to sleep for the last time before we brought her brother home. My in-laws came over and Aaron and I left the house for the last time without our little girl.

When we got to the hospital, at around 10:30 p.m. my contractions slowed, of course. I was still admitted and the night was only getting started. We waited a while and I started bouncing on my ball and walking around and things started picking up again. My parents decided to start heading down south, my midwife arrived at the hospital, and my doula was there shortly after. While Aaron got some last minute sleep in, my doula and I started walking the halls. Contractions started getting more regular and more painful. I was dilated to about a 4 now. (Side note: I will say that I am the WORST with cervical checks. I can hardly get through them). I decided to get into the labor tub that we rented which was SO worth it. It really helped.

birth without fear-1.jpg

Having a doula was invaluable.

My AMAZING doula, Lisa Raynor, was absolutely incredible. I could NOT have gotten through this without her. She knew exactly what to do for each contraction and her hip squeeze technique was just what I needed. It helped SO SO much. Not only was she there for physical support, her emotional support and knowledge helped me make decisions that I otherwise would have been so confused about. I will forever be grateful to her for all she did for us.

labor doula south florida-1.jpg

So, I was in there for about 3ish hours when my midwife came to check again because my contractions were clearly extremely painful and very close together. I also started feeling some pressure so I was checked again and dilated to only about 5/6ish. So it wasn’t as much progress as expected and she asked if I wanted her to break my water instead of starting a low dose pitocin. I agreed, my water was broken, and I got back in the tub. Contractions from there were excruciating. I believe my water was broken at about 4 a.m. and by 6:30 a.m. I was completely and utterly exhausted. I was practically passing out in the tub in between contractions from laboring all that day and all throughout the night without any sleep. It was SO hard to keep my focus and I was really struggling. All I wanted was rest but these contractions weren’t stopping anytime soon.

bradley method south florida-1.jpg

My midwife offered to check me again and I was SO hesitant and the thought of another check, during these contractions, and having to mentally bounce back seemed impossible but I agreed. I wanted to know if I made progress… but when she was about to do it I freaked out. I was having horrible contractions, I was completely exhausted to the point that I wasn’t even making sense to myself, and mentally, the checks do not go well for me. I NEEDED to keep a positive and strong mindset and that wasn’t going to happen. I had to make a choice at that point. The anesthesiologist wasn’t going to be available until after 8:30 a.m. The thought of not having any sleep since the previous day and eventually having to push really didn’t sit well with me. As much as I wanted to do this naturally, the circumstances weren’t in my favor and I agreed to get the epidural.

labor doula boca raton-1.jpg

I felt a bit defeated, I’m not going to lie. I wanted the natural birth experience. It seemed like everyone in the room understood what I wanted but also knew that I was past the point of complete and utter exhaustion from being up for 24 hours and we weren’t sure how much I progressed at this point. The epidural went very well. It was basically painless and it was an instant relief from all of those horrific contractions. My midwife came back in to see what I progressed to since I was open to the check since I was numb and I was at a 6 still. At this point, any feelings of defeat of getting the epidural were GONE because if I didn’t get it and I knew that I didn’t progress after ALL OF THAT PAIN and having to go through another check… it would have put me over the edge. I was so disappointed. No one gave up on me though and everyone had to help me mentally get back in the game.

So I rested. It felt so good to finally relax and let my body do what it needed to do in a restful state of mind and in calm body.

hypnobirthing boca raton-1.jpg

They started me on a low dose pit to try to get some progression going.

When I say low, I mean like at a 0.5. While I rested, my husband, midwife, doula, and birth photographer all went down to get some food.

dr david lubetkin boca raton-1.jpg

Shortly after, they were all back in the room but not because they were done eating. Weston started having heart decels during my contractions. My blood pressure was dropping. So they had me switch sides to see if that helped and it did for a little while.

They stopped the pitocin to let the contractions slow down a bit and to make sure his reserve was still good.

After 30 minutes, all was well, and they started the low dose pit again. They started it and my body and Weston DID NOT like that. I was having a 3 minute long contraction and he was struggling in there. I kept asking what was going on and is everything okay, but everyone was SO busy and bustling around, flipping me back and forth… I knew something was wrong. They were just about to give me terbutaline to stop the contraction but they put me on my back first and it stopped so I didn’t need the medication. They stopped the pitocin completely. At this point, if things continued to go this way, with no progression, it was looking like a repeat c-section. My midwife and back up OB have a very low tolerance for heart decels and their main goal is for a safe mama and baby.

vbac doctor boca raton-1.jpg

I knew that things weren’t looking great when my midwife sat down and explained to me that a VBAC was not a guaranteed thing and that this was a TOLAC (trial of labor after csection).

TOLAC (trial of labor after csection)

My heart sank and my husband, Aaron was sitting by my head trying to make me feel better. Of course I wanted a healthy baby and for me to be okay after all of this, but I couldn’t help but feel so SAD that I did so much during this pregnancy to give myself the BEST chance at a VBAC and that this was happening the way it was.

c-section first time mom boca raton-1.jpg

My ANGEL of a nurse, Mary Jane, I will never forget her for as long as I live. I knew her for a few hours, but she is probably one of my favorite people ever.

She was the EXACT nurse I needed for this experience.

She had asked me earlier that night if I prayed. I told her no. After all of these hiccups, I was laying on my side toward Aaron, she came over to my other side and I heard her whisper in my ear “I know you don’t pray, but can I please pray over you”. I said yes, of course. She started the prayer with everyone surrounding me in the bed and it was such a calming experience. She has such a calming voice. After she did this, things were starting to look up. It was absolutely incredible.

do you push at 10 centimeters dialated-1.jpg

Later on my midwife checked me and I was STILL at a 6 after all of that time!! She asked if I had any procedures done on my cervix because there seemed to be scar tissue there. I said no, because I haven’t. I have no clue what that was about. Now we knew why I wasn’t progressing. She started to massage my cervix (I didn’t feel a THING from the epidural, but I felt this, and it was a LOT of pressure. If I didn’t have the epidural and she had to do this, I would have lost my mind). She took her hand out and said “you just went from a 6 to an 8”.


That was when I knew that getting the epidural was the right choice for me. I would have continued to labor, hard, with no progression because of some issue with my cervix. This is why I am so glad I had the care that I did. Instead of just giving up and rushing this VBAC attempt into the O.R., they did everything they could for me. After that, things were going SO well. The vibe in the room changed and everyone was chatting and laughing and truly enjoying one another. I had some energy back, my positivity was back, and Aaron looked at me and said “the vibe in here has completely changed, let’s keep this going”.

how long do you push for to give birth-1.jpg

We were all having blast and soon enough his head was coming out of me and it was time to push! This was my favorite part of the entire experience. We were all laughing and joking around while everyone is staring at my vagina waiting for more of his hair to come out! I was surrounded by Aaron and a bad ass tribe of women.

best obgyn in boca raton-1.jpg
womens health partners-1.jpg

My mother, my nurse MJ, my midwife Polina, my midwife Courtney, my doula Lisa, and Paulina, my birth photographer. The most amazing birth team I could have ever asked for. I can’t even begin to express how much I love each of these women and what they did for me and baby Weston. They kept us safe, they never gave up on me, they didn’t give up on him and they helped me achieve the birth experience I have always dreamed about.

boca midwifery-1.jpg

I pushed for less than an hour and Weston was HERE. Born January 18, 2019 at 12:45 p.m. weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and 20.5 inches long. He was put directly on my chest and it was the most blissful experience in the world. I was so relieved and said “WE DID IT”. The feeling in the room was incredible and I am so happy with how everything turned out.

I couldn’t be more grateful to EVERYONE at Boca Regional Hospital.

The most incredible staff I have ever known. Every single person is rooting for you, wants what is best for you, and takes care of you.

cord around the babys neck.jpg

I do want to talk about something else. I want every woman reading this to know that you have a choice. You have a choice in how and where you want to birth, no matter if you had a previous c-section or not. You have the right to exceptional prenatal care.

You have the right to NOT be traumatized by your birth/ birth team.

Birth doesn’t always go exactly as planned. Mine didn’t both times. But this time, I had support, I had a fantastic birth team, and I had a voice. I feel so content and happy with my birth experience. I want every woman to feel the way I do. You deserve it!

Thank you Michelle for an amazing guest blog post!

I invite you to check out and follow Michelle on her amazing Triefler Tribe blog here

➡➡➡➡ thetrieflertribe.com

Guest Blogger: Planning an Out-Of-Hospital Birth

This February, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a new and exciting guest mama blogger on the Paulina Splechta Birth Photography & Films birth blog @thecarinachronicles

I had the pleasure of meeting first time mom, Carina, during pregnancy with baby boy Matteo.

The mom blogger behind "The Carina Chronicles.com” Carina blogs about healthy eating and powerfoods during pregnancy, and even ventures into topics of couples therapy and her “Unexpected” Pregnancy Reaction. You can visit her blog here ➡ thecarinachronicles.com

During her pregnancy we had the chance to run a ‘trial labor session’ at Natural Birthworks Birth Center in Margate, FL to be able to give women planning a birth center or home birth an idea of what early labor might look like for some moms. In Carina’s guest blog post below, she shares with us her research making process that led her to deciding to have an out of hospital birth with her first child. I am so eager for you to read her post! Let me know your thoughts on out of hospital births below!

Planning an Out-Of-Hospital Birth

The decision to have a home birth isn’t a common one, especially since only 2% of babies in the U.S. are birthed at home. We have grown up relating births to hospitals, along with the picture of birth being a terrifying experience thanks to what movies and tv shows portray it to be.

The truth is, most complications in hospitals arise due to interventions as soon as labor begins. If a woman is low-risk for complications during pregnancy, then they can ultimately have an out-of-hospital birth. Women have been birthing since the beginning of time, and our bodies are made for this.

midwife boca raton.jpg

Here are some ways to prepare for an out-of-hospital birth, whether it be at home or in a birthing center. Doing adequate research, mentally and physically preparing for labor, and designing the ultimate labor environment are essential for having a comfortable home birth.


Researching and instilling confidence in yourself about an out of hospital birth is the most important starting point. Giving birth out of a hospital setting is not the norm, especially when it comes to telling others about it. Most people simply relate giving birth to being in hospitals because it is known as a “safe” environment. Most people will scare you into the complications of birth, such as “What if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck?” or “What is the baby becomes distressed?”. Midwives are equipped to handle these situations and there is always a Plan B if your midwife feels a need for a transfer. This is why it’s important to have all the information on hand and remain confident in your power and ability to birth naturally.

labor doula south florida boca raton delray.jpg

A very powerful and informative documentary is ‘The Business of Being Born’, a documentary that explores the maternity care system in America and questions what occurs behind closed doors. ‘Midwife’ is another great documentary we enjoyed which examines the life of a home birth midwife, from prenatal visits, to birth, to postpartum. This convinced me to make the switch from my OBGYN at twenty weeks of pregnancy.


A wise home birther once told me, “You need to prepare for this as a runner prepares for a marathon.” This means preparation for birth starts at the beginning of pregnancy. Mental and physical preparation is key to prepare for the intensity of childbirth.

Mental Preparation

We all know the saying “mind over matter” which relates to how you must think during childbirth. Deep breathing, meditation with guided imagery, and positive thinking are important during labor.

birth affirmations labor.jpg

Many mothers have taken hypno-birthing classes, which is a childbirth education course that teaches self-hypnosis techniques to combat fear and pain during labor. Meditation is another great relaxation technique that focuses on practicing mindfulness to train awareness and attention and achieve a mentally and emotionally calm state.

what does labor feel like.jpg

I did not take the hypnobirthing classes, but I did listen to guided meditations intended for childbirth throughout my pregnancy. These meditations focus on a positive childbirth experience and help to eradicate any thoughts of fear during labor. Throughout labor, my partner helped me maintain deep breathing techniques through contractions to calm my nervous system. Focusing on the count of my breath helped to distract me during the intensity of a contraction.

Physical Preparation

At every prenatal appointment, my midwife would ask, “So, how much are we exercising?” Staying active during pregnancy is important for both physical and mental health. Walking and prenatal yoga are two great exercises to prepare the body for childbirth.

squatting during labor.jpg

Prenatal yoga helps to increase the strength and flexibility of muscles needed for childbirth along with improving sleep, reducing stress levels, and decreasing aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Walking during pregnancy helps keep mom and baby’s weight in check along with reducing the risk of preeclampsia, and lowering the risk of gestational diabetes. Always be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine.

hypnobirthing class boca raton delray ft lauderdale miami.jpg

During pregnancy, I worked in a nursing home which required a lot of walking. I worked up to 39 weeks pregnant and would average at least 5,000 steps a day. When the baby decided he wanted to come ten days post due date, I increased my walks to 2 miles every other day along with squats and lunges at the park in hopes to induce labor. Occasionally, I would do prenatal yoga from DVDs I rented at the library.

birth center florida boca raton.jpg


Setting up the perfect environment for your home birth is crucial. Your midwife will most likely give you a list of supplies to prepare, such as towels, blankets, trash bags, and other similar items. Setting up the ambiance of the room you plan to birth in is important to having calm and peaceful labor, from deciding who will attend your birth to making sure you have a toolbox of natural pain relief techniques.

how dialated can you get an epidural.jpg

Birth Team

It’s imperative to be strict on who you have during your birth because the energy given out by those people will affect the flow of labor. You can consider hiring a doula, who is a non-medical person who assists women before, during, or after childbirth to provide emotional and physical help. A birth photographer is also a significant investment because the labor process can be such a blur and capturing those images of you doing something so powerful can be rewarding. But most importantly, you must consider the family members who will be there. Having too many people at once can interrupt the flow of the labor process, possibly stalling your labor.  My midwife once told me, “The hormones you used to make this baby are the same ones that will help you get the baby out.”

labor birth gown robe.jpg

   I had initially intended for a doula to be present during my birth, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out due to scheduling conflicts. However, I now look back and realize the importance of having a doula. It would’ve allowed my partner to be with me every second, instead of having to run back and forth to apply pressure to my hips during a contraction along with simply getting me snacks from across the room. A birth photographer also would’ve been a great investment because thinking back; I don’t quite remember much of that day. Luckily, my midwives birth assistant took great photos and a video of the baby being born in the tub. When it came to family members, I did not want anyone present. I felt like birth is so personal that all I needed for emotional and spiritual support was my partner, and I’m happy I made that decision.

labor tub pool hospital water.jpg

Pain Management

There is a reason why a seventy-one percent of women receive epidural or spinal anesthesia during delivery because childbirth is no joke. However, once receiving the epidural, it may prolong labor which increases the risk of complications. There are many natural pain relief techniques one can use during labor to make the transition easier.

orchid nest labor doula postpartum boca raton.jpg

You can relax in warm water which relaxes muscles and relieves pressure on the pelvis. Sitting on an exercise ball and rotating your hips can also help open the pelvis, and aid in descending the baby. Aromatherapy is found to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation during labor, such as lavender and peppermint oil. I loved being on all fours in the shower while allowing the warm water to hit my back and helped me relax during the contractions.

labor exercise ball for birth.jpg

Be sure to keep all this in mind if planning to be part of the small group of powerful women having out of hospital births. The earlier you start preparing, the easier it will be. Know that whatever you decide, even if your birth doesn’t go as planned, what matters is bringing your beautiful baby into the world. Whether it be at home, a birthing center, or in a hospital, know- You got this mama!

perineum Perineal massage.jpg

How was your birth experience?

Would you consider a birthing center or home birth?

Let me know by commenting below!

Questions to Ask at your first prenatal visit

boca regional maternity.jpg

Once you find out you are pregnant, the next step is to interview OBGYNS / Midwives.

courtney mcmillian midwife cnm boca midwifery boca regional.jpg

You don’t have to skip the above mentioned skip this and go straight into your first prenatal visit

(but this is a little known fact!)

dr jane rudolph ob doctor prenatal boca raton.jpg

When I got pregnant with my first baby, I asked my closest friend if she liked her OBGYN, I got his name and office directions and scheduled my first prenatal visit. I didn’t even do the interview step! But come week 40 of my pregnancy, and I still had not gone into labor, I suddenly started becoming aware of several red flags that had been waving during my entire pregnancy right below my nose that I had not even noticed until it was my due date.


Once you hit your due date, there’s not really any going back. That is not the time to evaluate if you made the right decision going with this provider.

Most women simply do not know that pregnancy and birth, just like every other decision in life, you can make a list of providers (doctors [OBs] and midwives) and go and interview them!

All you do, is call the office, let them know you’re pregnant and would like to schedule a consultation with so and so.

dr david lubetkin boca midwifery obgyn.jpg

Most women realize they have some questions about pregnancy, or symptoms they may be feeling (like nausea, headaches/migraines, bleeding, belly tightening sensations, the list goes on) and they compiled these questions on a sheet of paper, or notes on their iphone and ask during prenatal visits. And I highly encourage that! But before you even get to that point, ask yourself, what are the main criteria that you look for in a provider who is going to be delivering your baby?

obgyn boca raton kenneth.jpg

Knowing what you’re looking for in a provider can help you make the right decision in which doctor or midwife to hire as your prenatal care provider. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes, we have no idea what we are expecting, or hoping for, until much later. Sometimes, as a first time mom, we truly don’t even have any expectations cause we are doing this for the first time, experiencing pregnancy for the first time, every new symptom is really NEW new, so our expectations are set a little low and we are kind of up for anything.

dr rudolph office address boca raton boynton beach.jpg

But just because our main focus of pregnancy is healthy mom, healthy baby, does not mean compassion, patience, warmth, have to be taken out of the equation. And because every single doctor and midwife is so different, it’s important to ask good and direct questions to make sure we are choosing the person who we will trust during our entire pregnancy and when we go into labor without a doubt!

dr stern obgyn boca raton.jpg

So below, I’ve compiled a solid list of questions that not only great for your first prenatal visit, but if you’ve already been under the care of a specific doctor or midwife your whole pregnancy, this is a great time to evaluate what questions you may have, just in case you realize they may not be the right fit for you (which sometimes happens) and it’s so helpful to identify if someone is not the right doctor for you, before you get to 35 weeks of your pregnancy which is the typical cut off time by obstetrics practices to accept transfer of patients from another practice (in case you want to leave your doctors practice to hire a doctor who is more in line with your expectations).

twin delivery boca raton best doctor.jpg

Without further ado, here is a list of 11 questions to ask at your first prenatal visit:

1. Who will deliver my baby?

Keep in mind the bigger the practice, the more providers who are on rotation of who is on-call what night, and if you go into spontaneous labor, you may get any of them, so you want to be sure to meet every doctor and midwife in the practice to get a feel for their personalities, characteristics, how you feel around them, and what their philosophy of birth is.

2. Are they open to birth plans? or a birth preferences list?

dr ty schwarzlander boca hospital.jpg

3. What hospitals do they have privileges at / prefer delivering at and why?

4. How many vaginal checks do they do during pregnancy and during labor? Should I get them, how necessary are they, what are the benefits/downsides and when do I need to have them done?

boca regional hospital west boca medical center.jpg

5. Under what circumstances during pregnancy would you recommend an induction? How can an induction affect the outcome of my birth (vaginal / cesarean) What type of inductions do you do?

6. What is your opinion of labor doulas? What percentage of your patients use a doula? What doulas do you recommend?

dr arcelin womens health partners.jpg

7. Under what circumstances during labor would you recommend to administer medications such as cervidil or pitocin?

8. How do you handle past due dates? (Over 40 weeks, over 41 weeks)


9. What is your percentage of your patients get an epidural, What percentage have vaginal births? / percentage of c-sections? Under what circumstances during pregnancy would you recommend a scheduled cesarean?

10. Are you planning any vacations, trips, major surgeries, or other events 3-4 weeks before my due date, or up to 2 weeks after my due date that would interfere with your attendance at the birth?

midwife laurie gibbons cnm womens health partners boca raton.jpg

11. What positions do you feel comfortable delivering in? (on back, squatting (using a squat bar), on all fours (knees and elbows)?


Once you are decided on the practice you will be delivering with, and get into your second and third trimester, you can go here to read a list of questions to ask your doctor in your third trimester, before you give birth: http://www.paulinasplechta.com/blog/2018/7/18/what-to-ask-a-midwife-or-obgyn-when-meeting-


Not Just a Birth Photographer

I find it really hard to disconnect from my birth clients and just be a photographer.
Nowhere in my birth contract does it say I will hold your hand when labor gets too intense, but if a woman needs me to, I do, like I am in my black tee in this picture taken by a nurse.

due date calculator baby names.jpg

Nowhere under “birth” does it say I will drive all the way back the next day for when your first born is meeting your newborn baby for the first time and you are melting, but I am melting along with you and I am there. 

baby names boca raton newborn photographers.jpg

I can’t help it. These are not only my clients, they become my family.
My heart ♥️♥️♥️♥️ and my life divide three ways...

in ways most business owners never share their heart and life...
1.... to my own children...
2.... to my husband and home...
3... to my birth clients
No personal event ever outweighs me attending a birth. I’ve gone to births and missed my own birthday, I’ve missed my children’s birthdays
I’ve missed Christmas
I’ve even gone to births with the worst of migraines.
In 4 and a half years I’ve gone to almost 100 births. Because it’s not just a job to me. It’s not just photographs that look beautiful. It’s the power of the birthing motherhood community that no one talks about until a woman is vulnerable and simultaneously she is so powerful during labor, titles and time melts away and you are there to support her through a sisterhood that is felt, not spoken.

The Problem with hiring your family / wedding / friend photographer to capture your birth story


There are a few birth photographers down here in south Florida who I am sure have the credentials as professional photographers and high quality work in their field of speciality, but the problem we’ve found with my birth clients who have used their family photographer (or wedding photographer) for their previous baby’s birth is that these professional photographers don’t quite get the right shot. Remember, they are not birth-industry specialists. They tend to photograph the care provider delivering the baby but from a very revealing angle while completely forgetting to capture mom and dad’s very emotional reactions to seeing their baby’s face for the first time.

labor on all fours in the hospital boca raton.jpg

It makes sense to me why this mistake is commonly made by those without birth industry experience: birth photography sounds like it could be a medical-geared genre of photography (such as the medical images you might find in an anatomy textbook about birth). And I am sure it really depends on the kind of birth photographer you hire (I say it is VITAL to look through their vast birth galleries to ensure not only their work is high quality and their editing style suits you, but the TYPE of photographs you would expect). There is a huge difference in photographer styles and approaches. For me, birth photography is much, much more than a baby’s head crowning and being delivered into the hands of an OBGYN.

baby feet hospital.jpg

To me, birth photography starts during labor: the powerful goddess that you are. You may not think of yourself in this way just yet. But just wait. When your sweet baby grows up and you look back on that first day you met her, you’ll realize looking at these images, how strong, brave, and focused you were on the only thing that mattered, bringing her into this world. And it might take your breath away for a second. As she is going off to college, or getting married, or perhaps in labor with HER first child, think of the powerful message you will pass onto her: YES BABY, you CAN do this! I DID THIS with you 30 years ago!

The crowning/delivering moment of birth is a piece of the puzzle. Without the journey bringing your baby into this world, it’s not quite the entire story. Did your partner hold your head up as you’re pushing? Did they look at you in total surprise and also admiration, never knowing you were so strong of a woman? Did they hold your hand?

And once your baby is born, what did you say? Were there tears in your eyes for a split second when you first saw his or her face?

Did your partner kiss your head almost to say “damn I am so proud of you, thank you for giving me my son”

That first touch, that first look, the first time you feel their super soft skin and realize how tiny they are, that they have your nose and his eyes?

holding hands skin to skin dad baby.jpg

All these precious firsts matter so much. They are all part of your journey, your transformation, and that is why my work focuses not on the anatomical process of birth, while acknowledging it, the main part of my work is HOW does this journey affect you? How does it strengthen you.

I have attended nearly 100 births in the last 4 and a half years, and what really broke my heart recently was a client sharing her story with me. A photographer was suppose to come to her birth, but she wasn’t on-call for them until 37 weeks, and my client went into labor during her 36th week of pregnancy, and they were unable to reach her. This is exactly why my on-call time for my clients starts at 28 weeks, the start of the third trimester. You have the security of knowing I am available whether day or night, for up to 14 weeks of your pregnancy and should your baby be a premie baby, you certainly deserve a birth story just as much as if your baby was born full term. The really heartbreaking part of this is that it is not the first time I’ve heard it. Women go into labor usually during the night (maybe 90% of my clients have over 4.5 years) and as a professional, on-call photographer who guarantees being on standby for your client, literally 24 hours a day (not just day time hours) you need to be prepared not only to drop everything and go when your client needs you, but to wake up the second you get that call. There is no snooze button in on-call work. And to not get out of bed instantly and commit to this family, despite how tired you are, is simply unprofessional and unacceptable. There are no do-overs in birth.

cesarean csection boca raton gentle florida.jpg

Yes, I do have birth photographers on-call for me when I have more than 1 client due in a certain time frame, I feel most comfortable having many back-up plans for all the unpredictable aspects of birth, but in 4.5 years I have not once sent a back up photographer in my place. I do this by limiting how many families I work with each month, so I can be present not only for each of my families but also, be a good mom to my own kids at home. It is not fair for me to be burned out and overworked and sloppy, not fair to my clients, not fair to my own family. That is also why I do not work in any other genre of photography. Occasionally, when I have a slow month (the birth world always has mountains and valleys), I will invite past birth clients for family photos, but I do not ever commit to year round family/maternity/newborn/breastfeeding sessions. My commitment in my life lies in 2 places: my birth clients and my own family. Imagine if I took wedding clients and you were to go into labor during a wedding of mine. I would have no choice but to send a back up photographer to you. I have a hard time disconnecting from my birth clients. They are like my own family, and I cannot imagine ever saying I cannot come because I have another commitment.

I privately edit all of your birth story myself instead of outsourcing the editing like many photographers do to photographers who spend their year editing the work of other photographers. It is too important to me, I need to edit your photos myself. They are my art of your extraordinary experience, so your photos and video are always completely private with me in my office.

boca raton regional hospital.jpg

Since almost half of the births I have photographed have all been photographed at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the labor and delivery staff are very familiar and comfortable in working with me, they see me every month, and they know they can depend on my professionalism and being unobtrusive.

I have two phones, and although no one has ever had to use the second phone in all 4 years, this is my security measure for you to know that you can reach me multiple ways in case cell phone towers are being funky the night you go into labor.

How does birth photography work?

35 weeks

We are in touch weekly starting 35 weeks of pregnancy, you can inform me of any pregnancy symptoms, comments from your midwife or OB on baby’s size or when they think you may go into labor so I can be especially sensitive and alert.


You notify me once you have consistent contractions for 2 hours so I can be prepared on my end to join you at your birth once you are in the late stages of active labor, that way I won’t be intrusive to you during the earlier stages when women tend to need space to be alone. I tend to be with clients for 2 to 6 hours on average before baby is born so I am able to capture the moments of you being a powerful and strong mama and your partner being supportive of you and it’s okay if you end up having a longer labor because I always am happy to be present and never rushed for time. And I like to stay for at least 1 hour following birth to ensure I can capture all the first moments of you enjoying your baby, breastfeeding if you are planning on it, daddy holding baby for the first time, and the entire baby exam where we will find out how much she weighs and how long she is. For families with older siblings I like to come back the following day for that first meeting between big brother and baby sister.

how many people in the labor room give birth hospital boca raton florida.jpg

You are already such a strong and amazing mama!

And it is really brave that you are listening to your heart and realizing how important it is to you to have this emotional moment documented of both of your faces the moment you both meet your baby so you can remember this day forever, all the moms say they forget most of it just even a year later, and you’ll be able to share the first time you saw her when she is older

Interested in learning more about birth photography?

Contact me below today and check on my availability

for your due date!

Name *

Guest Blogger: Gelena Hinkley Midwife & Owner of Natural Birthworks Birth Center


gelena hinkley home birth midwife doula.jpg

Gelena Hinkley, LM, CPM

Studied under the tutelage of renowned Midwife, Shari Daniels, at the International School of Midwifery in Miami. Gelena is a Licensed Midwife (LM) by the Florida Department of Health and certified as a Professional Midwife (CPM). Gelena’s passion for knowledge in her field has pushed her to continue her education and she is going for her Bachelors of Science in Midwifery (BSM) with the end goal being a Masters of Science in Midwifery (MSM).

What are Midwives? 

Midwives are trained professionals who assist a pregnant mom through her pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. The training, licensing, and certifications they received are completely emerged in Midwifery care. This means they specialize in low-risk, know what's out of the normal, and are trained in how to address that safely, early, and quickly. Their training also discusses newborn care this way immediately following birth and up to 6 weeks after they can help with newborn issues. These direct-entry Midwives usually work in a homebirth setting and birth center.

home birth midwife coral springs.jpg

Why doesn't every low-risk woman have one? 
That's a good question. England, and many other countries have Midwives as the lead for low-risk pregnant moms. When a woman requires a specialist due to a high-risk factor they then are sent over to an OB. This is how it should be for all woman. Since outcomes for low-risk women seen by a Midwife is extremely good this could really help improve the USA rating on our maternal/infant morbidity and mortality.

midwife broward county.jpg

Why a Midwife and not an OB? 
Midwives are trained for normal, low-risk pregnant women during prenatal care, birth, and 6 weeks postpartum. OB's are physician's who've successfully completed specialized education and training in the management of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. They provide medical and surgical care to women. Since pregnancy is a normal process for a woman, they should be seen by one who is trained for normal, if things become high-risk then they should be transferred to a specialist.

water birth hospital ft lauderdale.jpg

Is it safe? 
How many people are in the world today? Midwives are one of the oldest professions in our history. We continue to educate, receive continuing education and certifications to ensure we are providing the safest up to date care to our families.

water birth ft lauderdale midwife.jpg

What's a Waterbirth all about? 
Many believe that since the baby has been living in water for 9 months, then why wouldn't we help it transition with water to life? Other mothers believe the intensity of labor is eased when they can use the water. There is always the small group that also think the water soothing and moistening the perineum will help lessen their chances of tearing. Whichever option, they are all good reasons to consider the water.

gender surprise pregnancy.jpg

You can learn more about Midwife Gelena Hinkley and contact her below:

Peaceful Pregnancy Pathways ~ P3 Birth

Home Birth Midwife




513 Melaleuca Drive, Margate Fl 33063

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Peaceful-Pregnancy-Pathways-P3-146381202069267/?ref=bookmarks

Natural Birthworks

Birth Center


954.960.3213 office

954.603.1471 fax


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NaturalBirthworks?ref=hl

REPEAT C-SECTION Birth Story with Third Baby Girl | Boca Raton Birth Stories


This is a blog post of a very moving, emotional, and powerful birth story about a mama who experienced a journey of TOLAC, attempted VBA2C, and CESAREAN BIRTH

A TOLAC is a trial of labor after a previous c-section birth

A VBA2C is a Vaginal Delivery after two prior c-section births

hospital labor room.jpg

Almost 6 years ago I was being induced in labor room 8 at Boca Raton Regional Hospital with my first child Kate. After about 15 hours of failure to progress, I was brought into Operating Room #1 and my first daughter was born there via cesarean delivery.

Despite the fact that I have worked in almost every single labor and delivery room at this particular hospital over my 4 year career as a labor and delivery photographer, it has been almost 6 years since I have been in this specific LD room. Labor Room #8 at Boca Regional.

On September 23rd, 2018, I never expected that my client in labor with baby girl #3 who was attempting a TOLAC and hoping for a vaginal delivery after two prior c-section births, would have a similar story to experience.

midwife for birth and pregnancy boca raton.jpg

My birth client hired midwives Polina Goldenberg and Courtney McMillian at Boca Midwifery for the birth of her third baby. Her previous two daughters were born via cesarean section and she was hoping for a vaginal delivery with baby #3.

Mama headed into Boca Regional on a Sunday early morning at 4:05am since her labor started.

Around 8:45am, I was already visiting a Fresh 48 session client at the same hospital in post partum who had a cesarean birth the night before, who actually told me that they bumped into each other in triage, so once I was done capturing my client’s older children meeting their 3rd child for the first time, I joined her in LD room 8 around 9:30am. I stayed with them for a little while and took some photos of her in early labor.

Mama labored through some pretty intense contractions for a while.

She walked the halls of the hospital with her midwife Polina and her daughters to help things progress and squatted and leaned against the hospital rails to get more productive contractions.

At around 2:30pm, I was back in my office when I received the update that mama started getting a little nervous during the latest more intense contractions. She started feeling a pulling and stretching sensation around her previous c-section incision site. Her midwife and the back up OBGYN Dr. David Lubetkin, who was overseeing the labor (a doctor who backs up a CNM Midwife for VBAC must be present in the hospital from the moment a vbac patient is in the hospital in labor until delivery in case an emergency c-section must be performed) both felt it could be scar tissue stretching during contractions due to the two previous c-sections, but with mama being so nervous, no one wanted to take the chance, not even mama.

So we prepared for the operating room.

For me as a mommy of two girls, having two c-sections, one of which happened starting in Labor room 8 and ended in the Operating Room 1, this started feeling really sentimental and emotionally compelling for me. I started feeling a very sisterhood connection with this laboring mama as she and her husband got dressed in OR gear

Since contractions hadn’t become so intense that mama felt she needed her labor doula with her before, we called her and asked her to come to hang out with mama’s older daughters while we would be in the operating room. Pictured below is one of my favorite labor doulas in south Florida, Lisa Raynor, hugging mama just before we headed into surgery.

Sometimes moms ask me what happens with their doula support if they need a c-section. The answer is — sometimes mom wants their doula to join us in the operating room, to help talk them through the process, to reassure them that everything they are feeling, both emotionally and physically during the entire process is normal and safe, to be there in support of their partner or spouse and reassure them whether all is going well, and sometimes, staying behind with your older children is just what you may need your doula to do.

When I went in for my repeat cesarean with my second baby, I asked for my doula to come to the hospital and stay with my 3 year old while I was in the operating room. It really made me feel very reassured she was with a person I could trust to keep her safe and preoccupied, so she wouldn’t be sad, scared or missing me while I was in surgery.

labor doula for c-sections.jpg

As we walked back to the operating room, mama had to pause a few times as she continued to have contractions. When you spontaneously go into labor before a c-section, you continue to feel contractions until you have received either an epidural or spinal with anesthesia that blocks the sensation of intense contracting of your uterus.

This mama took every single wave and surge like a laboring goddess. I was so in awe of her. She really struck such an emotional nerve with me. I don’t know if it was because she is also a girl mom just like me, and I’ve secretly always dreamed of having three daughters, or if it was the linearity of the event — girl mom, using my favorite midwives for her birth, same hospital as my first, same labor room, same operating room. Maybe it was everything all at once. But I felt such a protective instinct over this mama. Almost like I had to be her big sister in these moments.

Perhaps the sweetest moment of any labor ever was this moment that my client’s husband took her beautiful face in his hands and kissed her just before she walked into the operating room

can your husband go into the operating room.jpg

And this moment eerily reminded me of my own experience, my own picture through the operating room window next to the sink that my husband took with our cheap black Friday special Nikon camera, (see the photo below on the right) I can only try to recreate in an imaginary fantasy what everything looked like from the outside from this moment:

And here is where I step back in, feeling so humbled & honored that this beautiful couple and family would trust me with this very tremendous moment and story. How I wish there could have been someone to capture these moments of our story with our daughters. Everything I do a birth photographer, I do with the intention of capturing every single moment I never got to have on camera from my two births.

A lot of moms ask me what happens if they have to have a c-section, who will be with them in the operating room. While I don’t know what happens at other hospitals, at Boca Regional, the hospital is a huge proponent of moms being fully supported. Every unexpected c/section delivery where the mom was originally with a midwife, continues to be accompanied by the midwife through the entire delivery even if in the Operating Room. This is HUGE to psychological health for moms during the partum partum period.

After baby girl was born into the hands of Dr. Lubetkin and midwife Polina, the doctor did see that the stretching/pulling sensations mama was getting during contractions and labor was indeed from a lot of scar tissue surrounding her previous two csection incision site. It was however a relief to hear it was not a uterine rupture.

And from this moment of the first meeting, all the emotions that came flooding after, the story that unfolded, was the most beautiful, most healing experience of my life. Seeing a mother SO supported and surrounded by so much love during a cesarean birth was so heart fulfilling.

If you thus far weren’t moved — oh come on :)

Then the following meeting story will completely melt your heart.

As soon as baby girl was born, and mama was brought back to her labor room, both big sisters were waiting with doula Lisa Raynor ready to meet this sweet princess.

Their meeting is EVERYTHING!!

I live for moments like this.

This was also my first time in the last 4 years that my ovaries really started aching, I started picturing myself as a mama of three. I didn’t even care if my third birth would be a vba2c or a third repeat csection, as long as it would be with this birth team, at this hospital, and with both of my daughters at the hospital immediately to meet their baby, I kind of really wanted it in a heart beat. My ovaries ache just thinking about it. My ovaries ache just writing it right now! Baby fever is so contagious! And this birth story and meeting story is completely intoxicating.

At least for me. My hubby better be careful, haha!

Dad’s Face as he sees their “baby” meeting the new baby!

fresh 48 photographer boca raton.jpg
sibling hospital meet baby.jpg

Oh my stars!

His face totally reminds me of my husband face (see cell phone picture below)

kids in the hospital meet baby.jpg

Guest Blogger: How to Prevent Pre-eclampsia

How to Prevent Preeclampsia Part II: Magnesium Reduces Risks

boca raton pregnancy doctor

Our bodies contain about 25 grams of magnesium, of which about 60% is in our bones, 39% is in our soft tissues, and only a mere 1% is in our blood (National Institutes of Health [NIH], 2018).  Put more simply, 99% of our magnesium is intracellular (inside of our cells). Therefore, it is impossible to identify if a magnesium deficiency exists with typical serum blood work (NIH, 2018).  Even if your magnesium level was normal in your last workup you could still be deficient within your cells and bones (NIH, 2018).  Often when is even more confusing to people is that the deficiency is usually subclinical (which means initially there are no obvious signs).  Magnesium is a vital cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body and it regulates a multitude of processes. Unfortunately, more than half of Americans do not even get the recommended daily amount in their diet.  

“Because of chronic diseases, medications, decreases in food crop magnesium contents, and the availability of refined and processed foods, the vast majority of people in modern societies are at risk for magnesium deficiency” – DiNicolantonio et al., Open Heart Journal, 2018

So how can supplementing with magnesium prevent preeclampsia?  We will be discussing each of these functions of magnesium and connecting them to preeclampsia.(source of list: NIH, 2018)

  1. It regulates blood pressure

  2. It plays a role in the transport of calcium and potassium across cells

  3. It contributes to the development of bones and teeth

  4. It is required for protein synthesis

  5. It is required for production of the antioxidant glutathione

  6. It is required for the breakdown of glucose

(1) Magnesium regulates blood pressure and

(2) plays a role in the transport of calcium and potassium across cells

…..Read more on Elena’s Daily Dose click here

Nurse and the author of Survival Secrets For The New Graduate Nurse

Limited Edition Breastfeeding Fall Photo Sessions

Breastfeeding Photo Sessions are open to new clients, past birth clients and my birth world colleagues

Saturday November 10th

Sunday November 11th

(Below you will see back up dates in case one of my birth clients is in labor on Saturday November 10th and Sunday November 11th)

Back Up Dates: Saturday November 24th and Sunday November 25th


Pre-Golden Hour Time Slots:

4:00PM to 4:20PM

4:30PM to 4:50PM

5:00pm to 5:20PM

Golden Hour Prime Time Slots:

5:20 to 5:40PM

5:40PM to 6:00PM

6:05PM to 6:25PM

6:30PM to 6:50PM

$50 Deposit

This is only the DEPOSIT! Remainder due in full before session of day of. Deposit is NONREFUNDABLE.

Details: $350 — This session includes 20 minutes of shooting, at least 2 spots on beach location (by greenery and by the water) and 10 edits. All photos are available via a direct download through an online gallery.

Going Back to Work - My Post Partum Experience

Over this past weekend, a dear mama friend reached out to me and asked if me or any of her mama friends ever had to leave a stable full time job and go solo with our own business. I can totally relate to her hesitation and nervousness about leaving a steady job to start your own business. Taking that leap is absolutely terrifying. It’s like taking a trust fall and having no idea if anyone is standing beneath you to catch you.

My Post Partum Going Back to Work Experience

  • Pumping at work

  • Leaving my baby to go back to work

  • Becoming a full time photographer

I wanted to share with her and with you what my post partum going back to work experience was with my boss, with pumping at work, with leaving my barely 3 month old with my mom and mother in law, and how because of my experiences and personal journey, I became a full time photographer.

My Pregnancy

baby shower dress.JPG

When I was pregnant with my first child Kate, (she is almost 6 years old now), my plan was to always go back to work after she was born. Although I’ve been a photographer for nearly 11 years, for the first 5 years of my photography career, I only photographed clients on the weekends (and sometimes during the week depending on if there was still light out when I got out of my office job). During the week I was a glorified secretary (my official title was Office Manager), and I was working at a dead-end job at a Graphics/Computer Engineering Company in Boca Raton, with nowhere up to go. I had many jobs exactly like this one over a decade leading up to this one. It was the kind of job you have to pay your bills, and live pay check to pay check, but it was in no way a career. On top of it, I had the worst boss. A total sexist individual with absolutely the worst “bedside manner” — who paid no attention to his employees being human beings who needed to be treated with respect and positive reinforcement in order for our team to be strong — so they had a high turnover rate. So I was his assistant and the office secretary in this office. I did my job very well, but I was absolutely miserable. Almost everyday I left work either crying or angry. But it did pay the bills and I was grateful to have a job.

When I was in my 3rd trimester my boss tasked me to find a temporary hire to fill in for me during my maternity leave. I found an excellent employee who I trained to fill in for me, and I worked every single day up until the day I was induced.

In my last week of work my boss proposed an offer to me that really caught me off guard for several reasons:

The Bribe

He told me if I came back to work within the first few weeks of the first months following my birth, he’d give me a bonus of $3,000.

If I came back during the second month, he’d give me a bonus of $2,000.

If I came back within the last 4 weeks of my 3rd month, he’d give me a bonus of $1,000.

These were his incentives to get me back to work immediately.

He used his wife as example and role model for me with how she was back on her feet at work within just a couple of weeks of giving birth to her first child.

This offer really conflicted me. On the one hand, we could really use this money. My salary was laughable, and my husband had just started a new job not too long ago, so this money could really help to pay off our student loan debt, pay for the basic necessities of having a baby since we were doing this for the first time, and many more bills and living expenses.

But on the other hand, I was conflicted about accepting this offer. From what I had heard about giving birth, a woman doesn’t even stop bleeding until 6 weeks post partum. I wondered how I could possibly go back to work while my uterus and body was still recovering from giving birth? I also wondered how I would ever be able to leave my tiny baby with someone at home, forget about her while I was at work for 8 hours (plus commute time). I wondered how it would work with milk production. I was so conflicted and so confused about what to do.

But shortly after, I was being induced, and most of these questions were solved for me.

The Reality of Motherhood for Me

I had a c-section and the recovery was a nightmare.

It was like being hit by a truck. For the first week, I needed help from my husband to get out of bed to pee. The walk from bed to the bathroom took 15 minutes. For a few weeks after that, I still needed to go very slowly and very carefully out of bed for my incision site where the c/section had been performed to not hurt excruciatingly.

Other Challenges in the First Few Weeks Following Birth

On top of it, I was still recovering from being sick. I came down with a cold 3 weeks before I was induced, and because of being pregnant, my immune system was weakened, and I was still sick.

On top of all this, breastfeeding had not at all been the walk in the park I thought it would be. I thought it was this natural process that was beautiful and god-given, but as it turned out, my daughter’s latch was absolutely horrible, if you’ve ever talked to a lactation consultant, they’ll tell you a bad latch could produce a ‘lipstick tip’ looking nipple, which in retrospect I had every time I unlatched her. I found out after 27 years of my life that I had what LCs call inverted nipples. I had to learn and become well acquainted with a double electric breastfeeding pump, nipple shields, lanolin, airing my nipples, constantly leaking with breastmilk all over my entire life.

AND TO TOP OFF ALL OF THIS — I was blessed with a very high needs baby girl. Name the most common newborn problems, this little lady had them.

She had colic, jaundice, severe diaper rashes, was impossible to burp, cried every single night from 6pm to midnight for 3 months without fail and impossible to soothe, wouldn’t ever take a pacifier, nursed constantly and for super long 45 minute stretches, one minute was super constipated another minute had back to back blow out diapers. 15 loads of laundry a day. Then I got clogged ducts (which feel like marbles in your breasts — OUCH!) She wouldn’t ever nap alone in a bassinet, crib or otherwise, she always had to be on me — velcro baby 24/7

Velcro Baby

ergo baby wearing

I quickly learned that after being a super independent human being for 27 years, having to be attached to a human being who is painfully latched to your nipples all day and all night, never sleeps, never stops crying, pooping, projectile vomiting, while on top of it you are healing from excruciating c/section surgery, I had a massive learning curve to master, I experienced huge “culture shock” and I plummeted straight into the steep slide of post partum depression.

Not to mention, my poor baby girl came down with a cold when she was barely three months old, which quickly accelerated and worsened, and the pediatrician we were with at the time continued to tell us to “wait and see” as there were not recommendations for medicating a sick barely 3 month old. (Long story short, two pediatricians later, frustrated parents who were getting no help and no answers, ended up in the emergency clinic where my daughter was diagnosed with pneumonia).

Infant Pneumonia

newborn pneumonia symptoms
infant with pneumonia.JPG
how to know if your baby has pneumonia.JPG

Forget About Money

But going back to when my baby girl was barely 3 months old, at this point I was neck-deep in post partum anxiety, post partum depression, and barely navigating through mothering a brand new baby as a first time inexperienced mom. It was in this state that I finally returned to work.

As you have already gathered, my boss’s tiered bonus incentive offers went out the window, I completely forgot about them once my baby was born.

newborn baby warmer hospital

What Motherhood Meant to Me

Because motherhood, and the 4th trimester as I discovered is not some kind of bargaining chip or negotiation.

Motherhood, especially for first time moms, especially for moms who undergo a difficult recovery whether from a vaginal or c-section birth, especially for moms who are blessed with a hyper, irritable fussy baby, these women are NOT thinking about MONEY and getting back to work immediately. They are in survival mode, thinking about how to stay afloat, while at the same time, as crazy and counterintuitive as it may sound to non-parents — we are also hopelessly falling madly in love with our new baby and not wanting to spend a single minute apart from them regardless of how absolutely unpleasant and traumatic my 4th trimester has thus far sounded to you — because I instantly felt a huge maternal bond to my baby (I know and honor the women who did not, because that is all too common as well and I see you mamas, I see you and I honor you) and the last thing I wanted to do was to put the pause button on all this 4th trimester rollercoaster baby-mooning and say “yes sir, I want to come back to work and work my ass off while you treat me like crap).

post partum depression solutions

The First Weeks Back at Work

I eventually did go back to work at the 12 week mark, and my first day leaving my baby was an absolutely nightmare for me. I cannot even describe the deep level of psychological and emotional pain I felt leaving my first baby at home and going to work. My innate maternal instincts told me to not leave her. And the severe anxiety, crying and depression that leaving her caused me was devastating. This separation did me no favors to the post partum anxiety and post partum depression I was already juggling.

The immediate nightmare I was faced with when I started my first week of work was that my boss gave me a very hard time about pumping. He compared everything to his wife and told me that he didn’t understand the need for me to pump at the office — his wife had supplemented the baby with formula while she was at work so why couldn’t I.

pumping at work.JPG
breast milk fridge supply.PNG

Florida Maternity Leave Law

It was a small business under 20 employees so there really weren’t any Florida business laws he had to worry about violating. He kept pushing me to pump before or after work because he did not want to allow me 15 minute breaks to pump during my work day. He did not want me pumping in the office and the building had no dedicated rooms so he pushed me to pump in the bathroom. I never pumped in the bathroom. I felt this was a disgraceful violation of human rights.

Finally I was given a spot on the floor behind a door, with male employees constantly walking in on me. I was told very clearly I had to record the times during which I pumped and I would be docked this money for using the time for personal reasons.

After just a couple of months of a very loose version of the term “part time hours” my boss fired me. He told me that they had a lack of work at the company and they had no need for two office managers.

I can’t believe that I actually had a screenshot of getting fired from April 26, 2013 and the person delivering the message? The employee I recruited to fill in my position…

get fired for maternity leave.PNG

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that the temporary employee I recruited to fill in for me during maternity leave assumed a full time permanent position — my job.

I almost maybe sensed this coming. But naively I didn’t want to admit it.

I suddenly found myself as a stay at home mom and our family was being sustained by one entry-level income from my husband’s job.

We cut down every expense we possibly could and even had only 1 car for almost a year.

6 Months Post Partum

The time when my 4th trimester really ended

When my baby turned 6 months old, that was really when I started feeling more like myself again. We finally connected with an amazing pediatrician who saved her life from the terrifying encounter with pneumonia after two pediatric practices completely disregarded my plea for help, (the amazing Dr. Edna Tello of Personalized Pediatrics), my baby started growing out of colic and the witching hour vanished, my breasts finally stopped leaking constantly as my milk supply evened out, I started feeling like my post partum depression started to fade and I felt more motivated to start photographing again, and so I started taking the first real professional pictures of my daughter.

dr edna tello concierge pediatrician.JPG

Finally Leaving the House and Making Friends

This was also the first time that I started leaving the house with her — just me and my daughter. We had that entire traumatizing experience with my baby and two incompetent pediatric practices and my daughter having pneumonia and so between that and my post partum healing both physical and psychological, the very first time I ever took my daughter solo to the park and met other moms and children wasn’t until she was almost 8 months old.

But this is the profound moment of my life (that I had not clue about at the time) when the foundation of my career as a birth photographer was being started

Shortly after I became very immersed in the local mommy community.

I started taking pictures of friends and other moms in the community on the weekends and in the evenings when my husband would come home from work and stayed with our daughter. And sometimes, I’d bring her with me while I wore her in a carrier while I took pictures of friends and their children.

baby wearing at work ergo.JPG

Call to Action

I found through hearing other mothers breastfeeding journeys, challenges and struggles that I was compelled to fight for them using my pictures.

That’s where my advocacy in my work was founded.

But it was not an easy journey. I was terrified of restructuring my photography business around breastfeeding photography.

I thought I’d lose all 400 followers — well I did.

I lost all 400 of my facebook followers who had no desire to see pictures of mothers breastfeeding their children.

Breastfeeding Photographer

Breastfeeding Advocate

Women’s Rights

But in the place of the 400 followers I lost, I gained 2,000 new followers — all new mothers who believed in my goals, in my mission, in the power of community and empowering mothers.

But it was still terrifying even then.

Losing a Steady Income is Frightening

I was terrified that I lost my steady income when my office job let me go. I felt like we were going to lose our home and end up begging on our knees for my parents to take us into their home.

But I went with the flow of the ocean.

I closed my eyes and went with the flow of the waves.

My life led me away from a steady income job, to home where I was able to be a stay at home mom for my daughter when she needed me most, and then when I saw that my heart grew a deep passion for education and motherhood, I took a leap of faith doing rather controversial at the time Photography, and 4 years later, I am the head of household financially and we can afford to have both of our children in full time preschool (that my dear doula friend Lisa Raynor encouraged me to do)

We are basically working for our kids to be in preschool, but I have never been more empowered by my role in our family, in my community, among other women. I hope this gives mothers a little bit of hope. I took a huge leap of faith, and put 110% of my passion into it.