Duke’s Birth Story

I was hot. It was hot. Sticky, sweaty, hot. The trade winds had stopped blowing just in time for my last week of pregnancy. Luckily we had AC in our condo that we decided to turn on for the sticky pregnant lady who couldn’t stop talking about how hot she was.

Then we waited.

Actually, we waited a whole year. The miscarriage I had right before getting pregnant with you, tacked on another 3 months of pregnancy before you took your turn. When it was all said and done, I had been pregnant for 12+ months and was really ready not to be anymore. But this was my third time experiencing the last week of a pregnancy and I can’t help but smile thinking back to that torturous last week. Yet again, I was ready for you to be here and yet again I was “trying” with all my might to will you here. I mean, after being pregnant for so long there was no way you would be late, right? In my mind I had told myself you would be at least 4 days early. Your brother was. Plus at your 20 week ultrasound the doctor said he thought you were measuring a few days early. Right then I moved your due date in my mind from July 8th to July 6th. Nothing drastic, just a few days. Since we live on an island in the middle of the sea, we thought it would be a smart idea to fly your Auntie Anna out for a couple weeks to be an extra set of hands. She agreed. She was only going to be here for 2 weeks though. And after what felt like 50 years It was July 10th and Anna had already been here for 10 days. I was at a midwife apointment I thought I would never have. She was stripping my membranes and my mind was swirling. What about the money paid to get Anna there, the timing, the cranky downstairs neighbors, being 45mins from a hospital, not doing really any pre-birth mediation, was there enough food prepped, would I miss a night of sleep? I was ready! I was! But was I? All the thinking in the world couldn’t change the truth. You weren’t ready. It wasn’t time yet. I lunged walking up the hill from stone dam. I squatted while reading books to the big kids. I paced the shoreline at Kalihiwai. I was leaning forward and on hands and knees as much as humanly possible. When I walked I visualized you dropping down in my pelvis. But you knew and deep deep deep in my experienced pregnancy mind I knew it too. Control was pointless. But oh how I wanted to know when it would start and end! How long active labor would be. When and if my waters would break. If the bigs would be awake or asleep. How my emotional support would be after the fact? Would Dad be able to handle all I needed from him? Would I feel baby blues? Postpartum anxiety or depression? But the great design of childbirth doesn’t include these answers. At least not natural childbirth. I was daydreaming about taking back some control. Marching into that hospital, demanding they cut you out of me!! But as much as I needed you with me, I knew I stood to have the ultimate control by giving in to all my anxiety and fear and trusting to a level that feels impossible. Trusting the impossible to be possible. Trusting in the one human act that we all have in common… birth. Trusting that I had a strength greater than the burning sun. Energy that was boundless and a willingness to submit that seems contrary to everything else. The mystery of life giving continues to baffle. Oh, and I still felt really hot. Can somebody put a fan on me? My mind was all over the place. The heaviest weightiest thinking and then, over a turkey meatball dinner the night before you came, me saying I give up. Birth, you win. I am done trying. 12 hours later you were here.

During dinner the contractions changed and everything started seeming more regular. I tried helping to put Nova and Fairbanks to bed. I read a story to them but in the middle had a really strong contraction. I was sitting on the edge of Fairbanks’ mattress on the floor. I had to brace myself on the edge of the bed and I started moaning and swaying a little. I think it made your brother a little nervous because he covered my mouth and said “stop mom!” I finished my contraction and soothed his worries…but I knew that it was something I couldn’t stop…even when in the very near future it would be hard and uncomfortable. I was starting to feel the flood of emotions. We tore a couple more pieces of the paper chain we had made to count down to your arrival that hung over the kids window. I kissed them both to bed and went and laid down on my own bed and stared out the window at the green trees moving in and out of the warm glow of the Hawaiian setting sun. I think this is the part of the story that you would want me to say that in my contemplative mind I found peace and a calmness that would power me through….but I didn’t. I am going to be super honest here because this story has a very happy ending (the happiest that endings can have) but you need to know it all to be able to acknowledge the beauty of this process as a whole. I was kind of a mess. I felt so much fear. Dread even. I felt a choking sort of darkness in my mind. Birth has always been a purging process for me. I have to let a lot be felt in order to be ready to feel what was to come. I need to make space. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and it was hard to know what was hormones and what was circumstance. Natural childbirth is the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. And choosing to bring my babies into the world at home means that space and the energy in it matters a lot to me. We had downstairs neighbors that weren’t very nice to us and it made our whole home feel unstable to me…like at any moment it would topple over or disappear. Not an ideal feeling for the nest you are bringing your baby bird home to. There was an uneasiness that felt crippling. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to do what was coming. Grant laid down next to me and I had a little meltdown releasing all my fears to him and letting the tears soak my pillow. I didn’t want to labor alone in the dark in the middle of the night. I wanted to labor during the day with sunlight and people awake. I didn’t want to feel alone. I think after that initial meltdown stage one was complete. I think that was my emotional “transition.” I took a couple deep breaths and probably texted my midwife friend Lindsay for some encouragement. I think part of our conversation consisted of her telling me, “You are a warrior!” You know what? I was. I am. I could do this. It wasn’t going to be easy, I knew that, I have owned that before. I wasn’t alone. I had all the mamas that the world has ever known lighting a candle for me to add to the fire that was growing in my body. I was Pele the Goddess of Fire. The refiner’s fire inside of me was there to create something more beautiful and sacred than all the volcanoes that created Kauai. This baby inside of me was the most important creation that will ever be and I was his Mother. I WAS HIS MOTHER.

Just like I knew it would, the sun set and my contractions increased. Soon enough the house was quiet. Everyone was asleep, dreaming…I lay with my silent fire in the dark. I was on my side closing my eyes through contractions until I couldn’t lay down any longer. When I would feel the contraction start to build I would get out of bed fast and sit on the yoga ball at the end of the bed, leaned over resting my upper body on the mattress. I would sway and rock through each wave. Coming back down I would tentatively crawl back into bed. Time melted away…8pm, 10pm, midnight..until 1:30am. I woke your dad up with my sounds. I told him I didn’t want to labor alone anymore. He thought it was time to call the midwives. But I wasn’t sure. My contractions were all over the place. Some 3 minutes apart, some 10mins apart. I did not want them to show up just because I wanted to be ready. What if I was only dilated to a 4? Grant sat with me through another contraction and said he was going to call them and just see what they thought. We called and we talked details for a minute. Sharon listened to me work through a contraction and said she was going to start getting ready to come. OK. I think it was about 2am at that point. By 3 am Sharon and the photographer were there. The lights were on in my room. I hadn’t left our bedroom/bathroom area. One thing I was really nervous about was waking the other kids. I joked with the photographer about leaving my hair down for photos and we all laughed. We talked shop and I offered her my video light if she needed it and any lenses she would want to borrow…and then another contraction would come. IT was like that. During my breaks I was chatty and talkative and then once I was riding the wave I went into my monkey brain. Sharon set down her supplies and during a break asked if I wanted to be checked. As she checked to see how dilated I was I just hoped I was at least close to active labor. Just close was all I wanted. Her eyes widened. “You are an 8 1/2!”. Really??!! I started bawling and laughing from relief. I had labored by myself from a 1 to 8.5 from 7pm to 3am. What I initially hadn’t wanted was the very thing I had done, labored at night in silence, by myself. And I was in active labor! I was a warrior. I was strong. I could do this. I was almost done. I want to say I really just let go and went to another world but I felt super present and my mind felt lucid. The next few hours consisted of a lot of moving around. At one point I decided to try working through a contraction on our lanai. We opened our sliding door and the humid air wrapped around my body. That sweet wet smell of our jungle home breathed into me. But after one contraction I wanted back in my cave. It’s funny, cause although I say my mind was lucid my body was in charge and I did as I was told. I got in and out of the shower a couple times. I thought about filling our Jacuzzi tub with water but it never seemed right. I was missing the upper body support that the soft tub with my other two births gave me. We stacked pillows, princess and the pea style, on the floor and I tried laboring on hands and knees but it didn’t feel comfortable. I tried the same stack on the bed but my arms always felt like they were having to do so much work. My shoulders and chest were sore from supporting the rest of my body. I just wanted relief. The waves were getting stronger and stronger. In one of the more defining moments I was throwing up over the toilet, while contracting and peeing at the same time, all over myself and the floor. Oh and I was buck naked. There was thunder inside of me. That implosion feeling of being ripped apart at the peak of my contractions. My body was in control. I was not. I was not. My baby’s heartbeat was fine. I was progressing. I was still alive. I was a machine with one goal: Birth this baby. Maybe this was transition?

Since I was getting cozy in the bathroom, they suggested I try working through a couple contractions on the toilet. There is something called a “sphincter reflex”…that the incomparable Ina May discusses in one of her books. You know how it’s easier to go to the bathroom when no one is watching? Or sometimes laughing makes you pee a little? It’s the theory that when you are relaxed it’s easier for things to open up. Sometimes sitting on a toilet during labor can help you instinctively open up and help things progress. I sat on the toilet and worked through a couple contractions as everyone patiently held the space. After a contraction my midwives asked if I wanted her to help break the water bag. They thought that releasing that pressure might help speed up this last bit. I said go for it. They took a long knitting hook looking thing and tried breaking it open. No luck. They tried again. Nothing. Now keep in mind neither of my other babies water bags had broken until I was pushing. I make them super power strong. My kids like to make a dramatic entrance preceding an exploding bag of water. During the second contraction on the toilet, my eyes widened as I felt downward pressure. “I feel like pushing”. Everyone started scrambling. No one really wanted you to be born into a toilet. Should she drop down on all fours? Can we have her turn around? Throw those chux pads on the floor! In case this baby was a comin’ and fast they prepped the bathroom floor. The contraction ended and I stood up. I can’t remember how it happened but I made my way back to the bed. Nothing felt comfortable. I tried being on all fours. Each contraction was burning and rippling through my body. The pain was intense. My natural voice wanted to yell out wild and high pitched and I had to concentrate really hard to keep my voice low, my sounds guttural. My rebel yell focused on down down down. Sending that energy to my baby and that opening that would bring you into my arms. They suggested turning over on my back, knees to my chest and trying to push that way. Seemed so opposite to how I had delivered before. What was I doing on my bed? Where was the water? On my back???? I was up for trying anything. My body was tired. It was close to 6am. The contractions were coming but not back to back like I feel like they should at this point. One big contraction and then breaks. It would fill my mind with doubt. Was I close at all? But there is no supposed to or right way when it comes to birth. I turned over on my back and I held one leg up as grant held the other. The next wave came and the pressure was insane. I pushed and screamed. “He’s coming! We can see the head! You are doing great! Rachel, breath and keep your voice low. You can do this. You are doing this. One more push. One more push.” The adrenaline surge that was rushing through my body after that one contraction was causing me to hyperventilate. Rachel, breathe! Rachel breathe! Rachel, you need to slow down your breathing. As I found my breath and geared up for the next contraction, our bedroom door opened and sweet Fairbanks had woken up right at 6:00am. What a scene he walked into. Both midwives, a photographer, aunt Anna, Dad and Mom lying on the bed on the cusp of something huge. I am not sure if I said anything but someone asked Auntie Anna to scoop him up and he lay on her shoulder. Standing on my right side. The next contraction was there. Knees pushed into my chest. It was like a movie from the night flashed through my mind and I still battled the trust that this was actually happening. The urge to push came from my heart into my entire body and I yelled out in a release that I am sure was heard on the mainland. One continuous push…fire fire fire, OUT CAME HIS HEAD…push still happening, yell still sounding and OUT CAME THE REST OF THE BODY. In one contraction, one push, I delivered my Duke. It was 6:04 am and the sun was just rising. Had it happened? Did it work? I took a deep cleansing breath, opened my eyes and saw my sweet perfect son being handed to me and placed on my chest.

Like all the births before yours, they were hard, challenging and life changing. They took a level of trust and leaping into the unknown like nothing I have ever, or will ever, experience again. But with your birth, there was a fog that surrounded me in the days leading up to you being here. A force weighing down on me telling me to be afraid, that I wasn’t ready, that things weren’t right. Whether it was hormones or circumstance, it was real and heavy. Until that moment. The whole experience of you being born was so intense for me emotionally that I was still mulling it over in my mind months later when I stumbled upon a quote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”― Albert Camus. Goosebumps up and down my arms. That was it. That was what it was like for me. It felt like winter until you took that first breath with the rising sun and then I realized that you were summer. You were the sunshine. The happy. The positive. The light. The trust. The one. And despite the fears and challenges that surrounded me at times during my pregnancy and your birth, YOU WERE SUMMER inside me all along. And once, in my arms, your perfect love and trust healed me. My summer baby. My Duke.

I cried and smiled and laughed and introduced you to your brother and sister (who woke up about 30mins after you were born). They both met you as though you were all old friends. Like you had always been with us. So much sweetness and gentle touch. Everyone’s eyes on you were adoring. Being the third child, the after moments of your birth weren’t as quiet or serene but it was definitely not lacking in excitement. Kids all over the bed. Everyone asking questions. Dad cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing. Anna made me scrambled eggs and toast. We wrapped up in beach towels and I stared at my little miracle. There was a bird that had kept watch on the porch from the time you were born for an hour or so. The soft misty light of the island filtered in through the windows to greet you. They did a quick stitch on me, we admired your amazing placenta and talked about your extremely strong water sac. They helped me use the bathroom, and then your sweet midwives tucked us into bed. They asked if I wanted help showering before they left, but I declined. I just don’t like washing it all away moments later. I don’t even like washing my newborns until days after they are born. I just want the smells and vernix and sweat to last a bit longer. I am a birth junkie like that. You were a great eater from the start. You had a little stuffy nose that I had to clear out often but because of that you made the sweetest little grunting and snoring sounds. Your cry from the second you were born was strong and meaningful. You weighed in at 8lbs 14 ounces. You looked different than Nova and Fairbanks did. You had lighter hair and a slimmer face. You were you and no one else. I couldn’t stop looking at you curled in my arms content and warm. Here. A few hours after you were born we kissed the midwives goodbye tucked into our clean bed and me asking every few minutes if that actually just happened.

 It seemed like a dream. Part of me thought I would just going on being pregnant forever…and having you in my arms was surreal for weeks following your birth.

I had a friend ask me months ago over lunch what that moment was like, giving up complete control during birth. Giving in to complete trust. Looking back, how did I view myself in those moments? I only had to think for just a moment before tears streamed down my face, “Those are the times I like myself the most. I am incredible and believe it”.

That is what you gave me. A reason to let go of control. To truly BE PRESENT. Not trying to make anything be but just accepting what was. To face the unknown and choose the uncomfortable. To be afraid and KEEP GOING. To feel my emotions but do the hard thing anyway. To choose trust. To choose faith. And in the end be filled with a strength and belief in my physical and emotional abilities beyond what I could ever imagine for myself. I gave birth to you. I grew Summer inside of me and get to keep him for the rest of forever.

Dad and I loved on you and then when the neighbors started pounding on the bedroom ceiling he took the big kids out to the beach so you and I could rest together. He didn’t want to leave us. No one ever wants to leave you. The door shut and we lay in bed together. Everything was quiet except for the birds outside. I was suppose to be sleeping but I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.

Koʻu kau aloha pēpē. Aloha wau iā ʻoe.

xxoo-Mom

 

 

(All my love to Hua Moon Midwives and their gentle and expert care. And giant thanks to Nicolette for taking so many of these amazing photos for us. They are treasures.)

Britt + Matt’s Wedding- Ritz Carlton Dana Point


Giant smiles on both of their faces the entire day. And it was a long day. And smiles were there, the whole time.

Intimidating good looking but with personalities that make you feel like a best friend. They were grateful, up for anything and madly in love with each other. It showed too.

Can we just agree for every wedding from here on out to have an In and Out truck present for a midnight treat? It was genius and the guests loved it.

So much thanks and love for having me be part of such an incredible day. I love when New York kids get married in my backyard.

 

Wedding planner- Kevin Covey and assistant Beth Vogel

2nd photographer- Jarrod J. Photo (who shot a few of the amazing groomsmen photos posted)

Bride’s makeup- Ashley Walter – ashleynicolebeautyct

Bridal party MUA- Beach Beauty Bridal

Florist- Nisie’s Enchanted Florist

String Trio- City Connection

Band- Into The Night (Booked through City Connections)

Invitations and printed decor- Britt Strief

Lauren + Justin’s Kauai Wedding- Makai Golfcourse and St Regis Princeville

 

Sometimes you just instantly click with a couple. From the first time I met while shooting their engagements in Hanalei and then again on their wedding day…I just felt that “thing”. That thing that makes me wish I was their next door neighbor. That thing that makes me feel like a guest at the wedding. That thing that makes me feel super super grateful that I get to be a part of all this. That thing that makes it OK to tease the groom about his obsession with white sneakers. It was so much fun spending the day with these two. Our dry senses of humor and love of photography made for the perfect combination to create the images we did.

Just a select few guest, a starry Kauai sky and an amazing private hula show was almost too good to be true. Oh and the food was super ono.

Another amazing Kauai wedding in the books.

 

Vendors:

Lisa Insalata Weddings- Cordinator

Martin Robert Design- Flowers

Makai Golfcourse- Venue

St Regis Princeville- Getting ready and Beach photos

Makeup/Hair- Danielle http://echelonbeautykauai.com/

Joel Guy- Videographer

Tommy Tokioka- Officiant

Kauai Ono- Catering

ET Lighting- fabric installation and lights

Kauai Tent and Party- Rentals

KO Bakery- Cake

Wallis Punua- Musicians

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hailey + Jacob’s San Clemente Wedding

When Hailey first emailed me about shooting her wedding, she attached a photo of the two of us that she had from a wedding I had shot years ago. She said since then she had always known she wanted to me photograph her wedding. I was probably wiping away tears and responded with a huge YES.

You will not meet more down to earth, hilarious families. They welcome everyone with huge hugs and smiles and Hailey and Jacob honestly just seem like the pieces to each others puzzles.

Was honored to be a part of celebrating so much happiness. And to make incredible new friends. Fell in love with these two.

Ceremony- Newport Beach Temple
Reception Venue/ food: Bella Collina Towne and Golf Club http://www.bellacollinasanclemente.com/
Wedding Planner: Tracy Apodaca
Floral: Marianne Bates @poseypop
Dress: Alta Moda Bridal
HMU: @britgharring
Videography: Kavin Lindgren http://kavinlindgren.com/ (Probably my most favorite videographer I have ever worked with)
Band: James Gang West Coast Music (INCREDIBLE)
Cake: Susie Cakes
Treats: Society Sweets societysweets.com

 

Stella + Firdaus Big Sur Wedding- Point 16

  To me there is one thing that really stands out about each wedding I have the privilege of documenting. This one was hands down Stella’s smile. I mean, come on?! It is like sunbeams radiate out of her entire face. Such a lovely couple so full of respect for each other and really wanting to have their union be about what makes them uniquely special. It was incredible to witness and record. Or course Big Sur wins again for creating magic light and locations for me to sink my cameras into You guys know that it takes a team to create these photographs, right? So many moving parts made possible by incredible vendors working along side me.

Getting ready home- Wind and Sea

Ceremony location- Point 16

Wedding Videography- Shark Pig (Corey Bienert..loved working with these two)

Brides hair + bridesmaid hair: www.bridalmakeupandhair.com (Rhonda Johnson)

Officiant’s hair +bridesmaid hair: www.blushhmd.com (Ashley Mendez)

Bridesmaids hair: http://www.jessicampbellhair.com/contact (Jessi Campbell)

Flowers: www.BigSurFlowers.com (Kate Healy)

Catering + Day of Organizing + Supply procurement, transport, and 18 other things: http://www.abigsuraffair.com (Cheri Gladstone)

Rentals: http://www.alexispartyrental.com (Cheri coordinated this)

DJs: http://www.losgatosdj.com (Cass and Dan)

  Long live Big Sur and beautiful glorious couples like Stella and Firdaus that are brave enough to take the leap into forever all while eating delicious food and dancing into sunset.

MJ + Seth’s Newport Beach and San Clemente Wedding

I heard a lot of different versions that day, but one thing is for sure, these two seem to be destined to be together. They have a sweet sweet thing going on and I was lucky enough to photograph it.

Ceremony was at the Newport Beach Temple and then we hopped down to Dana Point for some sand and sun. The best part was the fact that their reception was in my neighborhood and I literally went home in the middle of it to tuck my kids into bed…then back for dancing and a sparkler send off. I love to travel for my work AND I love having the opportunity to shoot close to home on occasion.

Falling in love with this San Clemente place and all the people in it. May all my South Orange County weddings be as great as this one.

Amanda + Christian’s Wedding- Plantation Gardens, Kauai

Quite often I shoot weddings for couples I have never met before the wedding day. We get to know each other a little bit over email/video/video chat beforehand but as I park my car and wander through the hotel looking for the hotel room, I wonder, what will they be like? What will their relationship look like? What will shooting them be like? As I found Amanda getting ready at the Sheraton, like most of my couple before, I fell a little bit in love. The universe has a knack for bringing my work together with the most amazing people who I truly admire and grow to love as I document this day for their family history. These two were so easy to be around and photograph. Amanda has effortless charm and beauty and Christian has this soul you just trust. Both filled with such positive energy and admiration for each other.

It’s not hard to photograph beauty on Kauai and it’s made even easier by the amazing grounds at The Plantation Gardens. Robert Martin Design created so many amazing floral arrangements and I was kind of obsessed that Aloha sign from The Hawaiian Photo Bus. Too much for my house? I want one. Such a beautiful day executed perfectly by Kauai wedding coordinator Marie from Legacy Events Kauai 

Another magical wedding on my favorite island. Big Aloha and love to Amanda and Christian for having me be a part of their day.

 

(Film processed by The Find Lab shot  and digital images processed with Mastin Labs)

 

Ashlee and Bruce’s Wedding- Newport Beach Temple + Oak Creek Golf Club, Irvine CA



Ashlee had a big ole smile planted on her face the entire day. Bruce and her were both feeling like lottery winners. Life has crazy twists and turns and sometimes wedding days really do feel like the “happily ever after” we are told doesn’t exist. I, for one, am a believer. And it is couples like this that reaffirm that belief. A beautiful love and light filled day. Full of grateful hearts and lots of laughing.

A special treat was being surprised when I saw the groom for the first time and realized we were childhood classmates. So fun to see some familiar faces from elementary school through highschool.

Biggest congratulations to these two!! Can’t wait to hear more about your honeymoon in Italy!!

Lindsay + John’s Kauai Elopement

Lindsay and John decided on Tunnels Beach, on the north shore of Kauai for their ceremony. Kelvin Ho was there to officiate, I was there to document, baby Bergen was there to add just the right element of cuteness and the Na pali coast was there with it’s magic and sparkly light.

It was intimate, fun, romantic and laid back. All of the elements I love love love about my beloved Kauai weddings.

We ended the day at Ke’e Beach as the sun was setting. The whole time I was pinching myself.

If I could shoot this exact wedding on repeat I would.

Big aloha Lindsay and John for having me be there and getting to witness their sweet connection and new beginning.

 

Duke 2 Months

People still ask how old you are when we are out and about and when I tell them 8 weeks most of them get really big eyes. Really?? There is just so much of you that most people assume you are older than you are.

When you are asleep, hungry, sad or eating you look like an itty newborn.

When you are awake you look like a 6 month old.

OK, not really…but kind of, minus being able to sit up on your own.

You have super old wise eyes. You see everything and notice and look and wonder.

I love my curious babies.

So even though you may be young, sometimes I feel like you have been around so much longer and I am starting to think that maybe it has to do with those deep blue ocean eyes.

Little things I am loving about you that maybe only a mom would notice:

When you are half asleep eating, you will come off and thrash around, acting really uncomfortable and rooting around like mad. Super frantic. and then two seconds later, attached and fast asleep.

You sleep hot and when I pick you up off your back it is almost always sweaty.

You have started grabbing my clothes and like to hold on to the neckline of my shirts while you eat.

I can almost always find some lint in your neck folds.

You would always rather sleep in the crook of my arm than with your head on the bed next to me. How can this be more comfortable?

If you are ever a little fussy and tired a few short pats to the back puts you to sleep. Dad and I laugh when we do it. It’s like a reset button.

You are smiling so much more and lots at me. I sang you your lullabye this past week and you coo’d along with smiles.

Duke! You are so rad!!

Going out is getting easier.

We had this super fun morning at this little Anini beach cove that we love and you hung out, touched the ocean with your piggies and then slept for at least an hour in your carseat while we are able to swim and play (within earshot, of course). Felt so luxurious for a mom who hasn’t been able to be in the water much for the last couple of months.

We also took your little seat/bouncer down to the pool and you chilled super hard in it for about an hour while we all swam. You were super content and so I just tried to enjoy myself…although I would always rather be touching or holding you. Mom problems.

The kids are still all up in your grill.

For the most part you are used to it but I do still have to remind Fairbanks not to drive his cars over your head and I have to remind Nova to talk quieter in your ear while she whispers she loves you over and over.

Last night I was doing bedtime with the three of you by myself and there was a really nice moment when all of us were laying on the bed together reading a book. It felt really awesome relaxing and snuggling with my three beautiful kids.

You have been sleeping so great. Usually at night you lay down between 7pm and 8pm and sleep strait for 5-6hrs. Then we lay side by side the rest of the night. Or with you draped half over me.

You are a mouth foamer. It is making us think you might start teething pretty early.

It was pretty crappy when you got croup this month:(

When family was in town a bunch of people were sick with croup and I thought I kept you away enough but it was kind of impossible to quarantine our whole family unless we weren’t going to participate at all. I should have just stayed home with you but I didn’t. Should always listen to my gut.

There were a couple rough days when you were on breathing treatments at home and I was on life watch. Making sure you were breathing enough (or not too much), watching your color, listening to your sounds. It wasn’t the most stress free I had ever been. We went to the doctors office 4 times in a matter of three days.

I have known a few people who have lost young babies and during times like these I think of that. It’s a rough thought.

I know life is a gift and as a mother I feel like I helped to give it and it’s my job to help make it last as long as possible. Because of this I have never felt so much anxiety in my life. I am guessing most moms/parents can relate. Your everything depends on me right now.

I am typing this as you sit and stare at me. Everytime I stop and look and smile at you, you kick your feet and coo and your eyes get wider. Wondering, “What now?” “More of this?” “OK.”

You have complete trust in me. And it is my job to make sure that never changes.

Well, you got better and I relaxed a little.

Oh babies!

I love your little bald head on top and then your little old man ring of hair around the back/bottom.

I love how chunky your thighs are! I have never had a chunky thigh baby until now. It’s the best.

Sometime when you are sad in the car I sit in a contorted position so you can suck on my pointer finger. It works but MY BACK. My poor back.

We just ordered your first box of size 2 diapers. It’s wild. You grow grow growing.

I need to buy you more clothes because 3mos stuff is already getting tight.

You still do that little, arms by the ears/back arched, newborn stretch when I pick you up after waking up. Helps me feel like maybe you are not so old after all.

I love being with you on Kauai but it is still kind of hard to be out all day with you. I just want to spend the day at the beach, but you max out after an hour or so.

I guess it doesn’t matter where you live, newborn time is newborn time and you would prefer to be home. I get it.

At this point I don’t know if you are my last baby or not. I don’t know if this will be my last time holding a 2 month old as they sleep.

All I can do with all the unknowns is try my best to be present. Not dwelling in the past or daydreaming too much about the future…but being with you right here, right now.

Even writing these monthly recaps helps me do that.

Helps me to notice the small things and slow down.

Sometimes it can seem as though not much has changed and then I read last month and realize how fleeting it all is.

Instead of mourning this fact I try my best to celebrate it.

I can let the house get dirty and stay in my jammies all day. Right now is the time I have when you want me to hold you always and it’s OK if we just look at each other. Staring at each other is enough. So simple and so profound are your needs right now.

I cherish your loving, patient spirit.

A void was filled in my heart when you joined our family.

I was waiting for you.

We all were.

 

Love my doodeedoodeedoodee bear. My one, my only, Duke.

 

xxoo-

Mom

Britta + Ramsay Wedding- Haiku Mill, Maui

 

This wedding was all dreams coming true. Haiku Mill is an insane location and this couple took “cool” to a different level. Walking to my car afterwards I was feeling all sentimental that the night was over. It truly was a beautiful beautiful day and I was honored to be a part of it. Big aloha to Britta and Ramsay. Inspired by how you two love each other.

(Shot with a pentax645nii, kodak film and a Canon 6D. Developed by The Find Lab)

Rachel + Tyson- Washington School House Wedding, Park City UT

 

Super special day shooting Rachel and Tyson in beautiful and historic Park City, UT.

Of course the location was superb and the flowers magnificent…but what I really loved about documenting this day for them was getting to know their families and them better.  It was a small ceremony with just immediate family invited and everything about it was genuine and meaningful.

So fun shooting for friends and I couldn’t be happier for them! Their lives have already been so full of adventure, it will be fun to see how forming this little family will shape all of their wild adventures to come.

 

location: Washington Schoolhouse Park City

Sarah Winward (Honey of a Thousand Flowers) – Flowers
http://sarahwinward.com/

Rhett and Burke Lewis – video
http://rhettandburke.com/

Wedding Dinner- Grappa Restaurant

Red Rock Hot Club – band
http://www.pat-terry.com/

Stephen Fishbach – officiant

Melissa Rock – event planner

 

 

Ryan + Shanda- Orange County Engagements

These two finding each other, being in love, planning a wedding, finishing school, parenting four kids and doing it all while being the best looking couple in all of California.

And guess what??? They are two of our best friends and we have tickets booked to come to the wedding!!!!!!!

It was rainy and cold and not what we were expecting. But we pushed some film, found the light and I think the rain was scared of our determination because it stopped for exactly the one hour we shot. Then I got to eat dinner with these two and do what I do best, drill them about their relationship.

Counting down the days until November.

Duke Month 1

The big kids are out of the house with dad and I just fed you to sleep. White noise is on while you lay in your crib making sporadic grunt noises and you fall into deeper sleep.

Outside is the island of Kauai, although it hasn’t mattered much to us so far. We have preferred to be nestled together in our home (bed really) for the last four weeks. We could be living on mars for all we care. Sleep, eat, cuddle, care has been our jam and we don’t take lightly the quiet times we have had together.

I feel like it has taken about a month for me to come out of the disbelief that you are here. The initial shock of labor and the end of pregnancy coupled with a bright eyed, aware, wise baby in my arms left me in a state of bewilderment for the first few weeks. Now that my mind and hormones have settled a bit, the beauty of you being here is becoming easier to believe.

I am excited to write your birth story down and relive every life changing moment leading up to you finally being here.

We waited a bit impatiently for you near the end. I just wanted you with us.

Here you are.

Our sweet Duke baby.

I am so happy you are still sleepy and will rest contently on my chest or in my arms. I know it won’t last forever.

You came out the perfect size and, like all my babies, have gained weight like a champ.

I love seeing your double chin increase in size and your belly grow rounder. Every day it seems as if you grow older. I guess that’s what happens with days continue to come and go.

The truth is, it’s not as easy to give undivided attention as it was with baby #1….so I go to great effort to concentrate on just YOU whenever I have a chance.

You lay on your back in between my legs and we talk and smile together.

I sing your lullaby to you as we bounce on the yoga ball or swing in my arms.

I tell you I love you every day, multiple times a day…because it’s the truth.

Your sister and brother have been over the moon about your arrival from the first seconds you were here. There was no transition time for them to accept you. They knew you and you seamlessly joined their rhythm as if you had always been.

Nova loves to help with diaper changes by warming up the wipes for you in her hands.

Both kids ask to hold you all day and when they do the happy expressions on their faces are so satisfying for me to see.

Both kids will say, “We support you”. Whenever you cry and they love to try and figure out what you need when you tell us you need something.

Some favorite phrases from Nova to you: “Just chilling out?” “Oh! Feeling a little cranky?” “You are my best friend. I love you so much”.

Fairbanks loves to ask you “how you feeling?” “How did you sleep” “Baby Duke happy!”

Although there has been the normal heightened emotion of a new family member being around, neither of the kids have shown anything but sweetness and tenderness towards you. Always soft with you..gently touching your head, kissing your lips or holding your hand. They always talk to you with kind gentle tones. They save all the rougher stuff for mom and dad:)

You have been my easiest baby to breastfeed so far. Very little discomfort in the beginning and you were a pro at latching from day one.

We still have to do the ole’ lay back and lots of burping from the TKO but your little digestive system is figuring it out.

I love how being with me immediately calms you.

Your cry changes and your body immediately relaxes when you are in my arms…making me feel like super woman.

Being your mom really does make me feel so loved.

My favorite moments are when we are looking at each other and our eyes are locked until you drift off to sleep.

Reminds of me of something I read once about until a baby is 1yr old they don’t really know they are a different person than their mother. That one bit of information has made mothering newborns make so much sense.

We are so linked to each other just as we should be.

Your little nose is super sensitive to the air and can get really swollen making it hard to breath. I feel like I stay awake all night if I can hear your breathing.

Also not super into the car seat so I sit in a contorted position so you can suck on my finger (since you don’t like the pacifier).

even though you were over 8 lbs you still fit in the smallest newborn stuff we had and you wore those itty newborn diapers. You have since graduated to size 1.

Being a Hawaii baby means it is sometimes WAY too hot for clothes, we chill in our diaper.

Sometimes when you are wrapped on me, sweating together is unavoidable.

We took you to the the Hyatt pool to swim with cousins a couple weeks ago and like a rookie mom, you got a tiny bit sunburned. I was mortified. I had had you wrapped in a swaddle, tried to have you under shade, but your sensitive, perfect skin still felt it. I texted your midwife in a panic and she reassured me that it was hard to avoid as an island mom. It was my official initiation as a Kauai mom.

Speaking of being a Kauai mom, is has been so hard not to get in the water for the last month. It has been the hardest part about postpartum. No ocean or pools until my body is ready. Boo.

So many sweet aunties have brought over food the first couple weeks you were born. It always makes me feel so emotional to have that extra help.

Family was in town for the Thurston family reunion the last couple of weeks. Loved having them be able to meet you while you are so little but it was exhausting for you and me to be out and about so much. You were so flexible and we made it work….but it was nice once it was all over and we could recoup at home for a few days. You did attend your first luau, first stay at a hotel, first late night out.

It seems like having done these monthly recaps for three kids now, that I might not have a lot to say. The truth is I could go on and on and have to actually stop myself from writing.

Every time it is new and exciting. You are our third and you being with us is unique and special and just as awe inspiring as when your siblings joined us.

Best news this week: You have started legit smiling.

For some reason that genuine smile while you look up to my eyes feels like such a reward after the work that the first few weeks take. That sweet smile bonds me closer to you and reminds me to look for the small and simple moments to re energize.

Your lusty newborn cry

The way you root around with eyes closed and frantic head back and forths

Your stretch after a long sleep

Your sweaty, lint filled, clenched newborn hands

The way you go into vampire mode when sunlight hits your face

Cry, fuss, squirm…mom holds you…calm.

Really really in to you baby Duke. This month has been one of my happiest.

xxoo-Mom

Our Disneyland

Daydreaming about the amazing time we had living so close to Disneyland in our Anaheim house. These are some photos from one of our last trips there before our Hawaii move. Back when Bank’s hair was curly and long and Nova always wanted to wear her shiny black shoes. Also we happened to have a special relationship with Minnie and she gave us lots of attention. Hugging, dancing, excietment. As we walked away Nova said, “I think she’s my best friend”. Sweet memories with my sweet babes.