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the value of family..

I have spent half of my life now without my mom.

When that realization hit me in October of last year, I was kinda just numb to the whole thing. I mean, this is my life.. my reality.. and there is no amount of whining about it that is going to change that. I have tried, from very soon after my mom passed away, to accept that it was just the way it was going to be for me.  Pick up, move on.. try not to dwell on it.. just accept.. and move on.

Well, for many years there was a lot of uncertainty and discontent in my life, from the time I was 15-18, I was never really certain where I belonged or even where I was going to sleep at times.. but was grateful to have God in my corner, and somehow, through the craziest sequences of twists and turns, I made it through high school and into college.. Promise scholarship and all.

Off to college, which was welcome reprieve from feeling like a burden to people who weren’t my blood. It was a great time in my life to explore where I wanted to be, who I wanted to be and to just keep working toward that goal, with the distractions of college life to make everything that I didn’t have in life seem less important. There were times that I was grateful not to have family constantly on my back.. what a naive statement that is..

I realized throughout college that I was blessed to have a family that I finally felt I could call my own in my adoptive parents and siblings. It took a long time to accept their unending love and care.. I guess I wasn’t used to that sort of devotion.. and maybe in some ways felt that I had not earned it so why would it be there? But it was..

I transferred colleges to be with the love of my life, Tim.. and made him my family.. looking back now, it is a darn good thing that our relationship worked out, because I don’t know where I would be if it had not, I put all my eggs in his basket…and Tim got nothing out of marrying me, other than me, well and my sister. He got no in-laws and no large family full of crazy aunts, uncles and cousins.. he got me, and my sister, who lives 2 hours away. I have a great deal of guilt sometimes that maybe he deserves more, or that I have a lot of weight to carry to make up for the lost relationships because of my checkered past. He also would love to have family, and to be a part of something.. but no dice, locally.. and we don’t see my sister as often as we would like. I am hoping after she finishes school we will both be more free to get together.. but alas.. it still feels like he didn’t get too much out of the deal. He initially got my adoptive family, but since he knew them before I did, it probably felt more like he got me out of knowing them, not the other way around..

Holidays used to be split between his parents and my adoptive parents, who conveniently live next door to each other (yep, I married the boy next door) but about a month after I had our first baby, Analeigh, my adoptive mother was diagnosed with agressive pancreatic cancer and she past away 9 months later, leaving a huge hole in our hearts and a dent in the holidays, where she was the one that made everything special. So now, it feels like I have lost my mom.. once at 13 and again at 24. Do you ever feel like you just aren’t worthy of something? It feels like that to me sometimes.

With baby #2 on the way now.. I am hormonal and emotional and weepy. Everytime I hear someone say they are hanging out with their mom.. or their mom has the kids.. or they wish their mom would stop doing this, or do this.. or anything about their mom.. I just want to cry. It is slow season for photography and I am exhausted and with Ana every day while Tim works, and while he is out earning extra money for us (bless him) but it starts to wear on me when I realize I don’t have that unconditional, open arm relationship with a mom.. someone who can tell me what it was like to be pregnant with me.. or even to be pregnant at all. I don’t have someone that calls and asks to see my kiddo, which I always envisioned with my adoptive mom.. that she would help me raise these babies.. I feel very alone.

The only thing I know to do with this negative energy is to make sure that my daughter (and future son or daughter) never have to feel the way I do right now. That they know the love of their mother is always there and never ends.. and I pray that I never get sick like my adoptive mom did.. because I can’t leave my kids without that relationship. Ugh, the thought of it alone kills me..

I don’t have a conclusion for this ramble.. i am just having a really hard day and wanted to whine about it… but now.. back to pulling my big girl panties up and moving on… this, after all.. is my reality.

 

xoxo,

allie

 

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week six – heroic husbands and emotional rollercoasters..

Week Six.. I still feel really good and haven’t had an over whelming urge to toss my cookies yet. I had one wave of nausea but I think it may have just been blood sugar because I ate a yogurt and felt better immediately. Oh and by the way… I have lost 5 lbs! I always become immediately healthier when I find out I am pregnant. I slow way way down on drinking soda and other sugary drinks and only indulge once a week or so with dinner. (Why does Pepsi taste so good when you are not supposed to drink it?) And for some reason I am not grazing all day like I normally do. I think I get food aversions to almost everything, with Analeigh I only ate pizza and cereal. This time I have eaten spaghetti and sweets… wonder what that indicates? a boy? another girl? TWINS?!! haha

Tim said something about twins the other night, then realized that it was a slim possibility and then proceeded to fake gag. HAH! I have twin cousins and so does he.. I have no idea how that plays in to the likelihood of this being a twin pregnancy but OH BOY if it just so happens to be.. eeeep! I guess time will have to tell!

Speaking of Timmy, he has been a freakin’ saint since finding out the will be my baby daddy again. He is interviewing for a promotion because he point blank said “You can’t work as much as you do now and have two babies.” to which I full heartedly agreed, not really knowing the solution. But my providing husband is taking care of it. God bless that man. I feel so at ease which I didn’t expect since we got pregnant so fast it was like… whiplash. I am just happy, relaxed and excited. I know the details will take care of themselves (read: my husband will take care of them.. and God will lead us in the right direction.)

Tim brought home Sprite the other day for me, so I would not drink caffeinated soda. This may seem really silly but I felt so well taken care of. He cares so much about my health and even more now that I am carrying his baby. It feels good that he won’t let me polish off an entire sleeve of Oreos even if I take slight offense to him hiding them.. LOL (true story.) He also just says subtle little comments about how I am “growing a human” and it’s hard work.. or anything like that.. it just makes me feel really good! I have been going to bed early at his encouragement and taking naps with Ana when it feel like the right thing to do.. and because of his support I feel like it is important work in the growth of this child, not laziness.

I am a pretty emotional person but it is definitely kicked up a notch right now.. thinking about Ana no longer being my only child already has me choked up but I am so grateful for the way everything has played out. I will have 3.5 years just with her before this baby comes and with how mature she it, I think she will be a great help and so excited once I start growing. Her God mom is due any minute now with her first born son, and I think Ana totally understands pregnancy and birth (as far as, one leading to the other) and she is excited to meet baby Dylan!

Here is a maternity photo I took of Ana’s Godparents in American Baby Magazine!

 

 

One other thing stands out this week- at is has made me weep every time I look at it.. and I really think you should take the time to look at it too and appreciate it’s message

It is a documentary (about 15 minutes) by photographer Sue Bryce and videographer Hailey Bartholomew about Jill. A woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few months after getting married, at age 32. It is a story about beauty, about strength and about love. Just watch it and let yourself ugly cry like I did..

THE LIGHT THAT SHINES

 

In other news, we still haven’t chosen a midwife… just way too many factors to consider..

Midwife A-

-have known for about 2 years. one of her assistants is a doula that I want at my birth, 100%.
-have photographed several homebirths where she was the attending midwife.
-have similar trusting philosophies on birth and prenatal care.
-about 50 minutes away but offers once a month care day locally so most of my care would be right up the road with my doula attending.

Midwife B –

-met recently and fell in love with her and her apprentice immediately. had a “i’d let you catch my baby” moment.
-photographed one birth with her as attending midwife.
-have similar trusting philosophies on birth and prenatal care.
-about an hour and 20 minutes away, but already has agreed to be flexible in our appointments.

 

On paper, it seems like I should go with Midwife A.. but I can’t pull the trigger.. what is wrong with me?!

Going to try and make a decision this week!

 

xoxo,

allie

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About The Birthographer

Seeking my passion has been #1 the last 7 years as a photographer. Listening to the call for my life has driven me to believe that as a photographer there are certain things I am supposed to shoot and perfect and certain things I should leave to someone else, who has passion for it. One of the main things that has emerged as a passion is photography for pregnant mamas, from belly to birth to baby.

As a birth photographer, I have shot over 10 births since January 2011. Several homebirths, two bradley method hospital births (with doula), and three hospital births.  In this journey, it was baptism by fire. I have been on the heightened learning curve since day 1 and have fallen deeply in love with this field. I started training as a doula (birth coach) shortly after photographing my first birth, something I felt called to do ever since I had Ana.

I wanted to become a doula, not to sell myself as a doula/photographer – but to give myself the advantage of knowing birth, and having pregnant mamas who can trust me with being in their birth space. It has given me great confidence that I can advocate, assist and be trusted should I need to be more than a photographer, but I have learned through doing the gamut of natural, home and hospital, non-medicated and medicated that birthing for the best outcome includes a doula. So, I cannot suggest enough the importance of having one. There must be someone there who knows the birth plan, knows the family and can advocate and encourage the mother to stick to the plan. It gets too stressful for everyone when things start to get intense and a doula is that solid rock that will be there throughout labor and birth to guide the parents to the birth they desire. If you have questions about this – please email me and let’s talk.

 

If you need help finding a doula, just email me at alliedbennett@yahoo.com and I will put you in touch with the three lovely doulas I know in the area. If you are a doula in the mid-ohio valley, I would love to meet you and get to know you!

As far as birth photography goes, the story is the star.. which is why I find a doula so important. I want all moms to have the birth of their dreams, and yes, I want to help you remember it! I don’t remember much about my birth, other than it was fast, furious and awesome! I wish I would have allowed someone to document it for me! All I have are grainy point and shoot images my husband took, and although I treasure them, I would do anything for an image of my emotion when I had her, to relive that rush of oxytocin and see what my face looked like when I saw that she had dark hair and skin like her daddy. For someone to have taken video of me swaying through a contraction and then smiling at my husband, knowing this was the day we would meet our daughter. I just love giving that gift to people, to relive the moment their lives changed forever.

As far as dads go; I have lots of laboring husbands who will tell you how much they liked having me and/or a doula around, even if they were hesitant at first. It frees them up to be in the moment, to also experience the birth of their child. A doula and/or birth photographer brings about an air of experience and a simple “this is normal” can keep laboring parents going when they are so unsure about this new ride they are on. I love dads, and so far, they love me. Plus, you know you would just melt to the ground for an image of him watching you birth his child, or the first time he holds your baby.. MELT.

Ok, Okay… so I love birth photography.. but what does it cost? I am on call for your birth for two weeks surrounding your due date, 24/7. I expect to be kept alerted via text when the slightest twinges are happening, if you think labor is imminent. So I can ready my troops for your labor. I will come to you when the contractions are coming steady and are nearing 5 minutes apart, or around the time you have alerted your doula and/or midwife. If you are going to the hospital, I can come labor with you at your home, before you go and then follow you there. Every scenario is different and every labor is different, so lots of these decisions will be made individually with you. I will stay until the baby is born and things have calmed down a bit. Usually getting the weight and measurement and the first nursing session, and a family shot at the hospital or place of birth. I have had births where I was there for 4-6 hours and then I have had a few 9-12 hour ones. I have been lucky to not have anything longer than 12 hours, but it is very possible. Keep that in mind when you are seeing the prices and then decide if that investment is something you are interested in.

 

 

Also, you can see in my birth slideshows that I also shoot video to use in your birth story montage. I just cannot watch a mother be so powerful and think of them never being able to see themselves that way. So, yes, video is included if time allows and will be used in the slideshow, viewable online and also burned on a disk for you to watch on your computer for years to come.

edie’s fast home-bradley method birth

wesley’s natural bradley method birth

jackson’s natual bradley method birth

deacon’s first day (c-section story) 

olivia’s home birth

olivia’s birth – runner up birth photo of the year 2011

anneliese’s hospital birth

Parker’s Hospital Birth – coming soon.

gabriel’s fast homebirth 

first 48 session info

—————————————————————————————-

2016 birth photography  – includes 2 weeks on call, coverage for part of labor and birth plus about an hour afterward, all images passed to you digitally and a slideshow set to music.

$450 due at time of booking (non-refundable, to hold the two weeks surrounding your due date, if the birth were to be missed the cost would go toward a first 48 session within 48 hours of birth (at the location of the birth) and the digital images from that session would be included)
$450 due at 37 weeks (non-refundable, were if I were to miss the birth, it would go toward a newborn session + $195 in credit for prints/products)
$450 due after the birth, before the delivery of the slideshow and digital images
——-
$1350 for coverage, slideshow to music and digitals.

I am sure you have to have questions, so email alliedbennett@gmail.com

If we do decide to go forward with having me at your birth, I have a laundry list of things we can talk about for your preferences etc.
I would love to meet with you to decide if this is right for you, or to put you in touch with the mamas I have worked for in the past.

 

xoxo and happy birthing,

Allie

[…] if you are interested in birth photography and videography, please visit the birthographer info page  […]

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week five – choosing midwives..

When I dreamed about being pregnant again, I always thought as long as I was healthy, I would hire a midwife team to deal with me prenatally and to also handle all the aspects of the actual birth this time, as opposed to going to an OB/GYN at the hospital. I also always figured that actually being pregnant and thinking about the forthcoming birth and actually having to DO it would scare the crap out of me.

Thankfully, I am healthy.. and the latter statement is not yet true. I am excited! Yes, nervous just because it is still so early and there will be a lot of work ahead, but not scared. I actually feel quite confident in my decision to hire midwives. Although I never anticipated that choosing one would be difficult AT ALL. For the last two years, when photographing, I have always worked alongside a midwife that is about 45 minutes away names Delphine. I love her and find her to be supremely competent and wise. I always imagined that she, and my doula friend Holly, would be the ones attending my birth. I never even thought there were other options… but then.

About a month before Christmas, I get an inquiry about documenting a home birth for a first time mom in Parkersburg and they are using a midwife named Angy. I always knew Angy’s name, just because the birth community here is not that large, but we had not met. I was SO excited to see if all midwives were as amazing as Delphine. When I went to this client’s prenatal visit, I brought canvas prints to hand off to Delphine for her office because honestly, I forgot another midwife even existed! Angy was there with her team, and she was spectacular. I really hit it off with her apprentice Pia, and actually told her that night at the Mama’Ology party that I would totally let her catch my (then hypothetical) baby. Apparently I need to mind my mouth because a month later, and here I am…

 

Angy and Pia were in town today for post partum visit for my client, so I went and showed the images from the birth to them.. and then ushered the midwives over to my own home, to meet my husband and daughter.

Can I just say that sitting in your living room talking to home birth midwives and realizing that this is REAL LIFE and you are PREGNANT… is pretty intense. But it was a GREAT time. We talked a lot about life and a little about midwifery care. I probably should have asked more questions, but I feel like after you attend a birth with someone, you really don’t need to ask many questions, aside from “how much?” and “do you take insurance?”

I feel like the Scenic Drive Midwives came in to my life last month for a very clear and meaningful purpose.. but I can’t help but feel like I am cheating on a birth team I have worked with repeatedly. But then again, they posted this on their Facebook page… so I know they get it!

I haven’t made any final decisions, I am getting all the numbers from Delphine and I am going to pray on it for a week and see if my heart feels set. My husband is totally onboard and loved both midwives the times that he has met them.. so that really is great and I am so lucky to have the support from him, even if two years ago he told me he would never get me pregnant if I thought I was having a home birth! hah! Maybe he is just happy he won’t have to drive me anywhere while I am in labor… because that was not so great fun the last time.

My hubs just came in and told me not to stay up to late because “a.) your cooking a baby b.) you’ve been sick”.. In fact I haven’t felt pregnant aside from a bit of tenderness in my chest, a bit of cramping, and the raging sinus pressure that I feel has been made way worse by my preggo-ness.

Well, off to bed I go..

wish me luck in choosing my team!

 

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up the first hill we go…

You know the feeling… the click.. click… click… the chugging along up and up and up the very first hill of a rollercoaster. The anticipation, the  jumpy feeling in your chest.. the knowledge that at the end you will say “that was awesome!” but right now it just feels kinda unknown and scary.

That is where I am today.

Clicking, slowly but surely up the first hill of my second pregnancy.

You read that right, we’re expecting a second baby to be born at the middle to end of September and to be honest, I am kind of like a kid at Christmas with how exciting this is to me. I have known since the instant I met my daughter on April 3rd, 2010 that I wanted be a mom again, to be pregnant and give birth to another little human and raise them up the best way I know how. I wanted a sibling for my daughter and wanted it fast! When that sweet baby decided that sleep was not her thing and she kept me up at night for 15 months, that put a damper on the whole “let’s do that again!” thing and now, she is just 3 months shy of turning 3. Not exactly how I envisioned this all happening, but I have prayed that God do his will in my life and in my husband’s heart.

He is a content man and happy with our family of three. To sell him out, I think he was just flat out scared that we would have another first year like my daughter’s first year and that he might not be able to handle it again. Completely valid feelings, and I tried to respect that while also knowing in the back of my mind that there were more babies somewhere in my future, and that they would be his as well.

but alas, here we are… click… click…. clicking along… and he actually smiled a really huge smile when I sent Analeigh into him wearing a “big sister” tee shirt last week. And really, that is all I needed from him.

About 3.5 weeks ago, when we ahem, “did the dance”, I warned him that he was taking a chance he might not be interested in taking.. and if I am telling the whole truth, I kinda freaked out a little after the deed was done. It was a battle of my heart versus my very human brain and knowing that we planned Analeigh down to the very last moment before conception.. and this somewhat haphazard behavior scared the hell out of me! But again, I prayed that God’s will be done and left the next two weeks to transpire as they were planned to. I said, “Okay God.. this is your chance to either let me get pregnant or prevent it.. I trust you”

Last week, i tried to ignore every “symptom” I felt. Sore boobs? must be an ill fitting bra. Super tired? just stayed up too late last night… I felt pretty good right around the time I was going to be able to take a test and had talked myself out of the idea that I could be pregnant, just like I did with Analeigh. I don’t do well with let down.. lol.

I started peeing on little test strips probably 4 days too early but that whole “you can know five days before your missed period” commercial had me excited. Negative, ghost rider.. over and over. I told Tim on the day I should have started my period that I was gonna have to go buy a digital test soon.. and he urged me to “let it be what it is” which was both reassuring and wussy.. hah! Did he just not want to find out yet? Was I obsessing? probably a little but I needed to know whether the margaritas were a bad idea or not..

I went out for Mexican with my friend Kate.. and we talked a lot about babies, birth and when she might do that whole deal.. and I spilled that I was waiting to take a test. We split a pitcher of margaritas as I quoted one of my birthy friends Shanna “drink til it’s pink” she says.. meaning the second line… Totally convinced at this point that I am not pregnant.. but crampy and awaiting my period to start.

The next day, while my daughter is at preschool and I am home alone, I peed on another test strip (yea, i bought them in bulk off Amazon, don’t judge.) and alas… still negative! BLAH… WHERE is my period then?!

I get in the shower and think nothing else of it. I get out, and I am toweling off when i glance down and see one strong and one moderate line on the test.. my heart raced. I tried to recall what I knew about false positives and how they happen. I can’t remember a darn thing, so I do what any other reasonable woman would do. I pee on another…. and read the instructions that say wait 5 minutes. Okay.. waiting…. it takes about 8 minutes for another faint line to show up. OH MY GOSH. I chug water and I text a photo to my best friend Natalia.. she doesn’t respond and I reprimand her for not awaiting my un-announced text. and then of course, I pee on another with the same result.

At this point, I am convinced about 90% that I am in fact, knocked up. But will not feel 100% until I read PREGNANT like I did with Analeigh.

I head out and buy a two pack and pick up my daughter from school, race home and go to the bathroom.

Something about “help me open this” is being shouted at me from the living room as I watch the little ominous timer blink… bring it here or wait I say…

I feel like this is taking a long time, a lot longer than it did when I tested this kind with Ana.. but I am sure it was only 30-60 seconds..

more asking for help from Ana and more stalling from me…

and then just like that.. it froze on PREGNANT.

 

my heart raced harder than it has in a long time and I go out to see what Ana needs help with but it is too late, she has spilled crackers all over the floor.. I can’t help but laugh..

Of course at this point, I had a couple people on text awaiting my news from the digital test (what?! I needed moral support!) and they are both thrilled for me. I want to come up with a creative way to tell Tim, since last time he was there when I peed on the sticks this time I wanted to do something else but for some reason, all I could come up with was a cute “big sister” shirt for Ana and to see how long it would take him to notice and figure it out. It took 6 stores for me to find that shirt, which was two sizes too big.

I came home and awaited Ana waking up from her naptime and immediately put her shirt on and said to go show daddy.. I was busting at this point to tell him.

She walked out and said “look at my shirt!” and he looked really confused, and for a split second I thought he was upset… but then a huge smile over took his face and he said “ARE YOU PREGNANT?!” “yes, I am!”

Since that time, we have told our families, and close friends. I really had not planned to make a public announcement but something told me I should blog like I did for Analeigh, but this time keep it public and keep it real.. so here we go! Click… click… click… up the hill of the first trimester we go. I hope you will stick around and creep on my life while I gestate, birth and raise our second.. I AM SO EXCITED!

 

xoxo,

 

allie

Natalia - January 22, 2013 - 2:28 am

My dear friend!!! I couldn’t be more excited and completely over the moon for you!!!!! You are such an amazing mama to Ana and you will be to this baby too!!! I can’t freaking wait to meet him/her!!!!! Love youuuuuuuu

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