Tag Archives: northern virginia birth photographer

I never take it for granted when a family chooses me to document their memories, moments or milestones. It really is always an honor. And it’s especially wonderful when they ask me to document another Fresh 48 hospital session like this one. There’s a feeling of familiarity, trust and pure joy in our relationship when I join families on their continued parenting journey. I love to share in their excitement and happiness over their newest bundle of love!  

This sleepy little squish was pure baby chub perfection!! 10.6 pounds of pure perfection to be exact! I just want to squeeze him. How lucky am I to have photographed both him and his older sister during their first few hours of life? And Shady Grove Hospital holds a special place in my heart, because that’s where we welcomed all three of our children into the world. I always love to see those duck swaddle blankets again. 

newborn baby is sleeping in the hospital bassinetnewborn baby is crying in the hospital bassinetmother is lovingly reaching for newborn baby in the hospital bassinetyoung mother is cradling her newborn babynewborn baby is sleeping and then wide awake during his hospital staymothera young mother is soothing her sweet baby boynew parents are lovingly looking down at their newborn babyyoung parents are lovingly admiring their newborn babya young dad is holding his newborn baby in the hospitalyoung dad is holding his sleeping newborn boynewborn baby is sleeping against his dadnewborn baby feet are kicking with the hospital braceletsnewborn baby is being swaddled in the hospital bednewborn baby is laying on the hospital bednewborn baby is sleeping in the hospital bednewborn baby boy is swaddled with an adorable blanket and hat

Cheeks for days! And that sweet baby hair! It’s almost hard for me to leave the cozy and intimate space of their hospital room. It always takes me back to those special first hours with my own babies. Stay tuned for his newborn session at home with his older sister! She’s equally adorable with crazy beautiful blue eyes and the softest blonde hair.

Fresh 48 sessions are some of my favorite moments to document for families. If you’re expecting, don’t forget to reach out! It’s a time that will feel like a blur to you but has so many wonderful details you’ll want to remember and treasure. Your baby will probably change by the time you go home. And it’s the perfect time to just sit in bed and snuggle with your baby for those first family photos. Is there anything better than that?

All babies are tiny miracles. And sometimes a tiny baby is so many miracles combined that you can’t even get your head around it. I teared up a lot during this newborn session. You’ll have to read on to find out the many layers of miracles for this sweet baby boy.

I first met this amazing family when their older son turned one. (Not to steal the show from his tiny but mighty brother, the older brother is also a miracle with a severe congenital heart defect. He will be facing heart surgery in the coming months.) We met up over the years for photo sessions. I was so, so happy and excited for them when they hired me to photograph their second baby’s birth after three miscarriages. 

Here are mom’s words to tell her family’s story: 

After the third miscarriage, I went through every diagnostic procedure imaginable, but there was no clinical explanation why I continued to miscarry.  If by all measures of science, we should be the pinnacle of fertility, why did I still feel so inherently broken?  The emotional strain took its toll on me. I needed a break. We decided I should go back on birth control and focus on other things.  But before I made it back to the doctor, we were staring at that little plus sign once again.  

At the first ultrasound, we saw a beautiful, strong, 8-week heartbeat.  We left with our congratulatory bag of samples, pregnancy pamphlets, and a photo of our baby resembling a race car that we dubbed Hot Wheels

At 12 weeks, Hot Wheels looked great.  Thanks to a simple blood test and modern science, the doctors told us that our risk of chromosome abnormalities was very low and that we were having another boy!  Our excitement came spilling out.  We had made it past the first trimester!  Jameson was getting a little brother!! 

At 19 weeks, the doctors told us Hot Wheels was measuring two weeks behind.  The blood flow to the baby was absent and restricted.  He was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and given little to no chance of survival.  We had two choices.  To continue with the pregnancy and hope for the Hail Mary pass.  Or to abort the pregnancy.  We had only one option, because something told us Hot Wheels was a fighter.

The next three months were full of ups and downs.  At the lowest point, around 24 weeks, his umbilical artery had reversed flow.  At 260 grams, he was not big enough to be resuscitated.  We went home, broken and preparing for a stillbirth.  A few weeks later, after a first round of steroids, Sebastian was still fighting.  We made it past Thanksgiving and got to spend Christmas at home.  The morning after Christmas, I had a nervous feeling that something wasn’t right as I hadn’t felt him move all morning.  So I went to the hospital, and his blood flow showed reversed flow again.  I was admitted for monitoring and for my second round of steroids.  By Friday, at 32 weeks+3 days, all three major arteries had reversed flow.  We needed to deliver as soon as possible.

Sebastian was delivered via C-section on December 30, 2016, at 8:13pm, weighing only 440grams (15.5) ounces.  The NICU staff stood by to support.  I remember hearing him cry and thinking it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.  He suffered a brief cardiac arrest shortly after birth.  It was agonizing listening to the doctors do chest compressions on our fragile baby as I lay helpless, not knowing if that brief moment was all we would see of our baby boy alive.  Within a few minutes that seemed like a lifetime, he was stabilized and on his way to the NICU.

In true miracle form, Sebastian went home after 90 days in the NICU. With many ups and downs during that time, he now weighed close to 4 pounds and did not need any respiratory support. I loved meeting him at his newborn session and was so thrilled to see him home with his family. He is a true tiny miracle.

big brother is holding dadmom and dad are smiling at each other with their sons in their armsParents and little boy are admiring the newest family additionMama is snuggling her older son while holding her baby son in her armsLittle boy is laughing as he sits between his parents with his younger brother in mommom is admiring her tiny baby sonBig brother is snuggling with his tiny but mighty baby brotherdad is holding his two boys in his armsgorgeous family photo of a young family sitting on the parentsa young family of four is snuggling on the bed with their two sonsbig brother is smiling at the camera and patting his brothermama is snuggling with both of her sonsmom and big brother are smiling at the baby boy in her armsbeautiful mother is smiling sweetly at her tiny sonmama is holding her baby son in his gorgeous nurserydad is holding his baby son in his arms in the nurserydad is smiling at his tiny sona tiny baby is being cradled in his dadmodern art pieces decorate a nursery wallmom is holding her baby son in her arms in his modern nurserybaby boy is getting a bottle feeding from his mamaa young mother is sitting with her newborn son in his nursery mom and newborn son are sitting in his nurserybaby boy is wearing a tiny but mighty newborn onesienewborn baby boy is looking at the camera with a very cute worried looknewborn son is swaddled and happytiny newborn feet in the baby crib

A few months after his newborn session, I was in tears again when Sebby was re-admitted to the hospital. You can read more here, but I am happy and relieved to tell you that he is back home and growing! Sebby is beyond lucky to be born into such a wonderful family. I absolutely love his parents and older brother and only hope that their roller coaster rides in life become fewer and less eventful!

Thank you for allowing me to take part in and to share your story! Much love to you.

I always love to catch up with my families after their newborn photo session, especially when it’s for a relaxed and joyful family session in their home. The last time I saw this adorable family, I was hugely pregnant and just a few weeks away from welcoming my own baby into the world. I only realized today that I didn’t blog their newborn session… 

This time, we played in their backyard for a relaxed morning to document their family time together. This is the best way to capture summer fun with young children!

children popping huge soap bubbles in their backyardbaby brother is surprised by a soap bubble bursting in front of his facebeautiful curly hair on a little girl as she twirls and playsbig sister is making big soap bubbles for her little brothers

The baby’s face is absolutely hilarious! The bubbles confused him so much, because they disappeared right in front of him.

baby boy is fascinated by a large soap bubble in front of his face

It was beyond adorable when big sister and big brother tried to help the baby pop bubbles. I think this confused him even more – and also got soapy bubbles all over him.

big sister and big brother helping baby brother pop soap bubbles

Once they tired of the bubbles, it was time to play with their water toys. Children can play with water for hours! I’d forgotten the joys of the water table since my boys outgrew theirs so long ago.

little girl is pouring water into her water tablebaby boy is trying to play with his water table

Getting water poured over your head… One of the many joys of being the youngest and having older siblings.

baby brother is having water poured on his head by his older brother

And then the jumping started! They do this all the time and have clearly mastered their form and squeals of delight. They were SO MUCH fun to watch! I think all of my summer sessions should include water and splashing.

little boy is jumping into his baby poollittle boy is wiping water from his face after jumping into the baby poolbrother and sister are running to jump into their baby poollots of water is splashing out of the baby poolbrother and sister are smiling as they sit in a baby poolbrother and sister are playing in their backyard baby poolbig sister is jumping for joy in the baby pool as her brothers play

Time for popsicles. Even the baby got to try one! The older two thought this was hilarious, of course, but the baby wasn’t sold on the cold treat.

brother and sister are comparing their orange popsiclesbrother and sister are sharing popsicles with the baby baby brother is trying a popsicle for the first timebaby brother makes a frowny face after trying a popsiclebrother and sister are eating popsicles in their playhouse

This was such a great session to document, full of laughter and personality. Documentary sessions at home always make me happy. I bet next summer the baby will be jumping into the water with his brother and sister, which means even more giggles and squealing!

Another bonus of documentary sessions at home? There’s no rushing around! Getting out the door for anything always seems like a marathon event with young children. So by staying at home, you have one less opportunity for toddler tantrums or forgetting important things at home. 

What an amazing maternity session I had with this lovely family! This Mama was just stunning in her beautiful white and pink lace maternity dress. Perfectly fitting as the family waits for their baby girl to join them. Maternity sessions are such a sweet reminder of those fleeting months. They’re months of anticipation, of excitement, of nervousness, of eagerness. It’s a weird time that I wanted to freeze and speed up all at once.

I wanted to freeze that amazing feeling of growing a tiny human inside of me. The memory of those tiny punches and kicks. I wanted to freeze the time with our family dynamics before they changed. But, at the same time, I wanted to speed past the anxiety and worries over the baby. I wanted to skip the last month that feels like it will never end. The heaviness of the growing belly, the sleepless and uncomfortable nights, the aches and pains. Oh, and labor! That part I definitely wanted to skip each time.

But that’s not how pregnancy works. We don’t get to pick and choose. We have no control over anything that happens with our bodies. Our body changes so much in such a short time that I love having maternity photos from each pregnancy to remember what it felt like. My last pregnancy was 9 months ago, and it feels like it was just yesterday and also a million years ago.

Maternity photos will help you freeze and remember those (seemingly endless) short months in your motherhood journey.

mom and dad are holding and smiling at their toddler boy.adorable toddler boy is snuggling close to moma cute little boy is feeling the baby move inside momtoddler boy is being held on top off his mamapregnant mama is walking through the garden with her toddler sona perfect baby bump is being shown off with moma gorgeous pregnant mother is enjoying a quiet moment in a gardenpregnant mama is laying her head in her husbandproud father to be is gazing lovingly at his pregnant wifepregnant mama is twirling in her gorgeous lace maternity gownthe perfect pregnant belly in a flowing and lace covered pink maternity gowngorgeous mama to be in a white lace maternity topDon’t forget to schedule your maternity session today! It will be one thing to check off your long to-do list. The best time for pregnancy photos is between 32 and 36 weeks. You should be feeling great then, and your baby bump will be perfect for showing off.

The sleep deprivation is hands down the hardest part for me with a newborn. I just don’t function well on little sleep. And the little sleep we get with a newborn is interrupted at best. With each baby, I learned and tried some new things, but I have a list of my top 10 newborn must haves to help the baby (and you!) sleep. They’re definitely what I would add first to any baby registry! 

These are my favorite top 10 newborn must haves for sleep:

  1. Rock N Play. I wasn’t lucky enough to have one of these with my first two, but a friend insisted that I needed it with my third so she let me borrow hers. We carried it around the house for a safe place to put the baby, and she also napped in it during the day where I could keep an eye on her. I especially liked it for napping when she started spitting all the time around 2 weeks old. baby sleeping in a rock n play sleeper with swaddle and pacifier by dc nova newborn photographer
  2. Bassinet. Friends let us borrow the gorgeous Pottery Barn Kids bassinet with our third, and we loved it. It was so much better than using the bassinet insert in the Pack N Play that we used with the boys. We alternated between having her sleep in the bassinet in the living room during the day and in our bedroom at night.
  3. Swaddle Blankets. I tried several different swaddle blankets with my 3 kids. The gold standard for me is honestly the Swaddle Designs cotton flannel blankets. They’re the only blankets that my kids couldn’t kick out of immediately! I think the material is grippier than muslin. baby is sleeping in a bassinet with a swaddle blanket
  4. Sleep Sacks. My kids liked being swaddled until about 3-4 weeks. I know plenty of kids who were swaddled for months. But my kids grunted all night long very early on to work their arms out of that swaddle… At that point, I transitioned them to sleep sacks with their arms out. I have several different brands from my older boys. With our third, I discovered this brand and love it so much. We received it as a gift, and I went out and bought the next size up. My kids sleep in sleep sacks until age 3, which may be partly why they never climbed out of their cribs.
  5. Zipper Pajamas. I avoid buttons on pajamas at all costs. It’s terrible having to button pajamas in the middle of the night or when baby is crying to be fed. My favorites are Carter’s pajamas. I use those from newborn through 12 months, when babies are no longer so anxious to be dressed quickly for bedtime. 
  6. Pacifier. Personally, I’m a big fan of using pacifiers with my kids. I used them with all 3 babies until the pacifier fairy comes to take them away at age 3 when they transition to a twin bed. I tested out different ones with my first and settled on the MAM brand for all 3 kids. They make a newborn pacifier and one for 6+ months.
  7. Boppy Nursing Pillow. I really liked the Boppy nursing pillow, especially at night when you’re basically bleary eyed with exhaustion. It’s nice to have some help to hold baby’s weight.
  8. Sound Machine. I’d never heard of a sound machine when my first came along. But my second and third have never known sleep without one :) We have one sound machine for each kids’ bedroom. It’s a pleasant sound to sleep to, and it really helps to reduce the noise of city living. Or the noise of toddler feet when baby is trying to sleep…tiny newborn is sleeping in whicker bassinet
  9. Night light. Yes, you’ll need some light when you get up with the baby in the middle of the night. But you also don’t want to throw on all the lights so that baby thinks it’s day time and perhaps to let your partner sleep more. We use these IKEA night lights. They hold their charge through the night if you need to take it along or don’t have a plug available.
  10. Video Monitor. Chances are your newborn is sleeping beside you during those first few weeks at home, but a video monitor is nice to have if you’d like to check on them while napping. That’s especially helpful if you’re chasing a toddler around or just need to be away from your sleeping newborn for whatever reason. 

I’m always happy to share advice and my favorite must haves so I do NOT get any referral fees or credits. They’re all items that I’ve used personally and that have worked for my kids. For more advice, check out my hospital bag essentials and my baby travel gear essentials.

One last piece of important advice: Make sure you have at least 2 of the items that need to be washed like crib sheets, blankets, pajamas, pacifiers, etc. You don’t want to be scrambling in the middle of your short night!