I remember how Dayna and I met. It's not the way I use to meet mommy clients four years ago, and that's why I love it. It made me reflect on how we evolve as women and as mothers and I wanted to share the entire story behind it with you.
I have been a birth photographer for four years, and I could not even imagine 4 years ago how my career would unravel as my daughters grew and as I delve deeper into the birth world as a birth worker.
Dayna and I met through our local community, our girls (her twins and my almost 6 year old) spent the past year going to VPK together in the best preschool at Kids Academy in Coral Springs, FL. One of her girls and my daughter Kate were in ballet the entire year, and her other day and my niece were in the same VPK classroom together. Through the year we got to know each other as mamas in the same community and build a relationship that I had never imagined I could have with moms! As my girls grew and I changed everything about the way I ran my business, the way I approached our lives as a family of four, I began to develop relationships just like with Dayna, with other birth clients. Dayna was one of my last birth clients before I made the huge leaps and changes that have grown my community and my work to the beautiful, organic, living vessel that it is today.
Three and four years ago, to find birth clients, I'd post my photos on facebook as much as possible, with a 2 year old toddler at home. I rarely had the chance to blog. I rarely had the chance for anything because I had a toddler at home and was a work from home mommy!
I didn't know my community very well. I had made some mommy friends going to the playgrounds, parks and south Florida beaches with my daughter Kate, but I was so new to the field of birth that I didn't know many doulas or midwives, obgyns or labor and delivery nurses at all. I was just starting to dip my feet into the birth world.
Fast forward four years, so much has changed and I have evolved.
About a year and a half ago, I realized that birth was really my passion.
I also realized I was very overwhelmed.
Trying to balance (keyword trying!!) motherhood to two kids under 5 years old as a stay at home mom, run a household, AND run a full time photography business was leaving me really overwhelmed.
About one year ago I realized what I had to do. I met Lisa Raynor, my dearest friend and doula here in Coral Springs and in Boca Raton, and she helped me with the final push to bring my career goals to fruition. She told me to try out full time preschool.
I was so nervous about this. I was juggling being a full time stay at home mom to two young kids, a full time job, all my maternity, breastfeeding, newborn and family photography clients in addition to my birth clients, my marriage, my home, and I was so nervous how we would pull off putting two young kids in full time preschool. How could we afford it?
That's when all the big changes fell directly into place.
Let me tell you, it was terrifying.
I put both of the girls in full time preschool.
It didn't happen over night. I started with only VPK hours for Kate from 9-12pm and Emma was going two days a week from 9am-12pm. Slowly I started adding hours, and then days. By the end of three months, both of my girls were attending preschool from 830am-5pm five days a week.
I cannot tell you how much guilt this brought me. Having been a stay at home mom for almost 5 years while juggling a work from home business, I felt SO guilty that I was putting my kids in full time school. So many mommies can do it both, I told myself. I am so embarrassed and ashamed that I am saying I can't do it, I don't want to do it.
Over the next 6 - 12 months I would start a healing journey to learn to not compare myself to other mothers, what they do, what their approach towards life and parenting is, and what their life looks like. I would learn that it's not my business to worry about what other mothers and women are capable of, it is only of importance for me to focus on what I want out of my life journey.
I gave up all photo sessions besides birth photography.
This was an absolutely terrifying leap of faith.
Family photo sessions, Maternity and Newborn Photography, and Breastfeeding photoshoots consisted of 50% of my years earnings.
You might be thinking "and she gave it all up?"
Trust me, I WAS THINKING IT.
Let me tell you why I did this change in my life. I decided that if I was going to be paying for two children to go to full time preschool every week, all of those hours at home while they were at school would be dedicated to focusing 110% on my birth clients and my birth photography and birth films. This is after all, my passion, I realized. And the investment I make on the BEST preschool in Coral Springs needs to pay off on me investing all of my time and energy into growing my relationships with my birth clients everyday, every week, every month.
Trust me, I still love all the other sessions I use to do. And it broke my heart when I had so many families reaching out to me after I had slowly started my transition, asking for family sessions, breastfeeding sessions, and I had to turn them away and recommend one of my colleagues.
But as the weeks and months passed, I started realizing that I had made the best decision I ever could have. I went from juggling 120 families every 12 months to working intimately with 24 families. I got to really know every single birth family I was working with, I would remember hubby's name as I walked into labor and delivery. I'd remember that older brother was about to turn 3 years old next month. I'd remember that they just got a new puppy. These details (and many more intimate details ranging from fertility issues, loss, difficult pregnancies) became so vital to me to learn and remember. I realized in the past year that my true passion is not necessarily in birth photography. Rather my true passion is supporting, educating and empowering the women I work with, and building my relationship with them.
The change I had implemented thrust my business into a whole different world that I had never known before. I started having more time to dedicate to things I had never had a chance to even do. I started blogging. I LOVE writing. I've been a writer since I was in elementary school, I wrote my first book when I was 8. Being able to pour my soul into something I am so passionate about made my career so much more dynamic and fulfilling.
I finally had the time to network.
I have met so many absolutely phenomenal astonishing individuals in my community in the past twelve months, I did not even know these incredible human beings and specialists in the birth world existed, and now I have such an esteemed honor of calling them my friends. In the past 12 months I have deepened my relationship with Lisa Raynor, my doula soul sister, I met Martha Lerner, owner of Zenmamalove.com who my maternity/newborn/family photo clients from the past had boasted about for years, I got to meet the most amazing expert in the fertility world, Dr. Scott Roseff of IVFMD, who has a heart of gold by the way and works so closely with women and their partners/spouses to build healthy new families.
I had the privilege of building a close relationship with my favorite birth providers in the birth world ranging from Nurse midwives to OBGYNS to licensed midwives. I learned about baby nurses and how crucial they are to the family in the 4th trimester through meeting and growing close friendship with Mercedes Cabrisas, owner of South Florida Baby Nurse and Jennifer Shapiro, owner of Blissful Baby Nurse and Newborn Services.
I met Jackie Polsky, of South Florida Psychologist Associates, specializing in the post partum mama, Natasha Chamely, owner of Baby Love Spa in Margate, FL, it was such a pleasure to meet and become friends with the amazing Susan Winograd, who owns Pelvic Rehab.com and works closely with post partum mommies and the entire family, as well as Dr. Moshe Winograd, who is a phenomenal post partum and loss psychologist at Coastal Behavioral Health, and became friends with Carly Tokar (Tokar Family Chiropractic) and Gena Bofshever (Dr. Gena Chiropractor). I got to experience first hand chiropractic care through Dr. Elaina Gill, post partum physical therapy from the amazing Dr. Kathleen Vigo of Painless Pregnancy, and Laura Knecht of Good Little Sleeperzzz helped my toddler and now almost 6 year old finally get on the right routine for a proper bedtime (south Florida's BEST pediatric sleep consultant!)
I've also had the immense opportunity to work with the amazing doulas at the Orchid's Nest, the phenomenal labor and delivery staff at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. I had the pleasure of meeting and growing a wonderful partnership with the OBGYN team at Omega Women's Care.
It's just been an unreal year.
I cannot believe that my closest friends are all in the same birth world that once was a lonely place, now is filled with the same amazing faces I see but in and outside of work.