I recently was able to spend some time with a photographer friend of mine for several days and we had many philosophical discussions. During one of those discussions I said “that would be a great blog post” so here we go…
We were talking about how easy it is to research the internet today and find all those beautiful creative newborn baby poses where the baby is propped on their little hands. Don’t we all just love those? I know I do.
The internet is an awesome tool and many of us use it to learn many things or simply to get ideas from. The problem for us (creative, talented photographers) is that it can be very frustrating for a client to bring in several pictures that were “borrowed” from another photographer’s website of images like this and say to us “can you do this for me?”
Of course we can. But we also would love for you to come to us for our own perspective and vision of what your child’s images should be. It is our job as professionals to discover the uniqueness in every subject that we photograph and to be “original” rather than copying what someone else has done.
Too many times people want only what they have seen and they miss out on a wonderful opportunity to see something original of their special little one.
This challenge isn’t all that new. Over the years I have run into brides that did the same thing. They would bring us a list of poses they wanted – usually very ordinary, expected poses from a wedding and they would completely forget that it is our job as “professional visionaries” to see what is unique about their dream day. When a client would hire me to cover their wedding and say “Cathy, I just want you to do what it is that you do – be creative and find my one of a kind story” – that client always received some of my most creative and beautiful images – something truly original, not a copy of what someone else thought was right.
To me, photography is not a one size fits all. It is a reflection of you – no one else.
Here is a perfect example of what 2 different photographers visions are when approaching a newborn baby. One is by my photographer friend, Lisa Carter and the other is mine. They are both beautiful. They are both originals – NOT copies. What do you think?
I'm the original baby Rose
Every year on the fourth of July I think about sharing this story and I never have before. This is the year. Its a happy story and a sad story at the same time. It is, either way, a very important story for this time of year as we celebrate.
The picture in this post is of a young man named Ken. This was his high school graduation picture. It was taken in 1974. Ken’s birthday was on July 4, 1956. His mother used to call him her little firecracker. Cute huh? He was an only child. He was one of the sweetest young men I had ever met and he was very loyal to his friends and family.
You see, Ken was my first fiancé. Now wait before you stop reading – its important to know that detail.
Ken went into the Navy immediately out of high school. He was from Oklahoma and stationed in Virginia. He was extremely smart and talented too. He was going to be an accountant who also was a fabulous guitarist. What a combination that was.
I was totally and completely in love with him. Our future looked very bright together. He had proposed to me in June of 1974 while the song “Time in a Bottle” played on the radio. Oh yes, I think of him every time I hear that song. I had no idea then how poignant those lyrics would be to me for the rest of my life.
On June 17,1974, Ken went back to Oklahoma to break the news to his parents that he had found the girl of his dreams and that we were to be married the following year. They had never met me and I can just imagine what they must have thought. In fact, later I would find out that his mother told him “don’t you bring that girl home with a baby for us to raise”. Having a son of my own today, I think I understand that statement more now then I did then. Funny how time changes our perspective about some things.
Ken came back to Virginia on July 4 – his birthday. I was so excited. I had missed him very much and couldn’t wait to hear about his travel back home. I met him outside the gate at the Navy shipyard where he was stationed at about 3:00
in the afternoon. He had a friend with him that he had promised a ride home to so I followed him in my car.
Ken had a bright orange Volkswagen beetle bug. It was always unpredictable and broke down often. But it was cute – just like him True to form, it broke down just a block or so outside of the gates. I was about 20 yards behind him. Ken and his friend were looking under the hood in the back of the car where the engine was, trying to figure out what was wrong this time. When all of a sudden, out of nowhere a car came flying by and hit Kens car.
The impact pinned Ken between the bumper of the two cars and spun his friend out of the way as the Volkswagen swerved around. As I watched the entire thing in horror. My fiancé was catapulted into the air some 50 yards and when he landed on the ground, on his head and shoulders. The speeding car continued to race away. It never stopped.
I ran to his side, quite in shock after what I had just seen. Ken was unconscious and his face was completely covered in blood. His legs had been crushed and it was obvious through his pants they were in really bad shape. I was crying and holding him in my arms and talking to him over and over again. “Hang on baby”, I said “just hang on. Help is on the way. Please don’t leave me. Please be strong.” Over and over I repeated those words to him. This was life changing – and I had no idea just how life changing it was going to be.
A city bus driver that witnessed the whole thing actually chased down the hit and run driver and ran him off the road while calling it into his dispatch. Dispatch called the police. It seemed like it took FOREVER for the police and ambulance to arrive. I’m sure it was only 10 or 15 minutes but I tell you it seemed like an eternity.
Once they arrived and accessed the damage and checked Ken’s vital signs – they motioned for me to come sit with him. I think they knew, even then that this was not going to have very happy ending. I however, being the eternal optimist that I am, was certain that the doctors would be able to save Ken. I had to be strong for both of us.
Ken was taken to the Norfolk Naval Hospital where they immediaqtely took him into surgery to set both his fractured legs in casts that went up to his pelvis. He was in a coma and they had no idea how long he would stay that way.
Many things happened to him and to me in the following 3 months while he was in the hospital. I witnessed many miracles while he was there. I had the chance to touch many lives of many sailors who were on the ward that Ken was on. He was in the back where the critically injured were so I walked past many others every day to get to him. At any given time there was 25 or so young people on that ward recovering from many kinds of injuries. One young man had been in a motorcycle accident and had a broken back. Another young man who had his legs shot off at the knees while attending the guns on the USS Kennedy during a drill. Stories you simply wouldn’t believe. There was even a young lady who had been hit by a car while riding her bicycle – she was in a coma too. I witnessed he simply “wake up” out of her coma one day. It was miraculous. It gave me hope and ever single day as I visited Ken I would stop by and talk to each and every patient on that ward trying to share some of that hope with them. I tried to encourage them not give up. Most of them were very far from home and had no family here.
I heard every persons story. I cried with each and every one of them at one time or another. And I saw most of them leave that ward in much better shape than they had arrived.
But not my Ken. No – not my Ken. I came in one day and he was gone. Gone! Not in his bed. No signs of him
ever having ever been there. I fell to the floor crying. One of the interns came to comfort me and tell me – he had not passed away. No he had been flown back to Oklahoma where his parents were. As I write these words, I still remember how completely empty and lost I felt at that very moment.
You see, I was not family – not yet. We were only engaged. I had no legal right to even be informed about his transfer. So this is how I found out. By finding an empty bed. Ken was still in a coma and I was unable to go to Oklahoma to be with him. His mother kept in touch with me daily for a long time. Then once a month. Then once every couple of
months. I think everyone else knew Ken would never really recover from this and that I needed to move one. That was their idea – NOT MINE!
Well, time passed. Many years passed in fact. I was eventually able begin to live again because I know he would have wanted me to do that. I later met a wonderful man. I told him my story about Ken. I also told him that I still loved Ken and always would. He understood and in 1977 he married me anyway.
Christmas of 1979 I received a Christmas card from Kens mother. I hadn’t heard from her in a very long time. remember hoping with all my heart that Ken had finally come out of his coma and had made a full recovery. I quietly went into the bathroom, closed the door, took a deep breath and opened the envelope.
Inside were 6 words. It read “Kenny is no longer in pain.” I sobbed for hours. My heart ached. I felt every ounce of
life flow out of me through every tear. And then as if a warm blanket was placed over me, I felt a sense of calm and quite. I knew that Ken had reached down and calmed my anguish. I suddenly knew – Ken truly was no longer in pain. He was in a better place and he still loved me.
What is the point of this sad story? How could it possible have anything to do with the 4th of July other than it being Ken’s birthday? A lot actually.
The man driving the car that hit Ken was drunk. So drunk in fact that he didn’t even remember hitting Ken. He had started celebrating Independence Day early. He drank and then he got behind the wheel of his car – thinking he was in complete control of course.
This mans celebration and irresponsibility changed the lives of many people that day – including his. What happened to him is another story entirely and I won’t cloud the importance of Kens story by sharing that now.
If I could share just an ounce of the pain I still feel to this day from my loss with you – no one would EVER get behind the wheel of a car after having even one simple drink. In the absolute blink of an eye – your story can go down in history and trust me, it is not a story anyone should ever want to be remembered for.
When someone wishes you a safe and happy 4th of July – I hope for just a moment, this story will resonate in you very soul and you will either stay overnight with a friend, call a cab or give your keys to a friend to take you home.
Please, please don’t make this a story that anyone else has to live through because you think you have a drink under control. I’d love to say, please don’t drink but that’s not realistic is it? I will instead ask that you PLEASE not drink (even ONE alcoholic drink) and attempt to drive. It is NOT worth the risk.
Trust me – I know.
What’s the happy part of this story? It would be Kens birthday – my little firecracker – Celebrate with me and be safe.
Kenny, I still love you.
Since I have been on my own personal quest to eat right and be healthy it occurred to me that many of my new mommies are dealing with some of the same issues but for different reasons. So here’s a few tips to help you I hope.
With your amazing — and exhausting — new 24-hour job (feed baby, change baby, burp baby, rock baby, and repeat), you barely have time to change your clothes, shower, or think about anything that’s not baby-related. It’s natural to be completely focused on your new little bundle, and completely unfocused on your own needs — like your diet after delivery. The problem with forgetting to eat, though, is that skipping meals deprives you of energy. And as you’ve certainly figured out by now, parenting takes lots of energy — even more energy if you’re fueling a milk-making factory and need a solid breastfeeding diet.. Here’s how to get the best nutrition after pregnancy when eating’s the last thing on your mind (or your to-do list):
Postpartum Diet Trick 1: Snack when your baby snacks.
Your little one is eating every two to four hours now — and so should you. Sneak in small bites of fruit, yogurt, low-fat cheese, or whole-grain bread or muffins whenever you prepare to feed your baby — or, if you’ve mastered the one-handed feed already, while you’re feeding your baby (talk about multitasking!). Stash healthy snacks within arm’s reach (almonds and raisins next to your favorite nursing chair, a banana and a bag of crackers in your stroller bag) so your diet after delivery keeps you satisfied.
Postpartum Diet Trick 2: Just say yes!
When friends ask if there’s anything they can do to help, suggest they pick up a roast chicken, a tray of lasagna, prewashed bags of salad greens, a giant carton of fruit salad, a platter of veggies and dip, or a dozen whole-wheat bagels (melt a slice of cheese on top of one of those babies, and you have yourself a healthy mini-meal staple for your diet after delivery). Try to keep your kitchen stocked with easy-to-prepare foods you like, so that thinking about what to eat takes no thought at all.
Postpartum Diet Trick 3: Befriend your freezer.
If you cooked in quantity while you were pregnant, now’s the time to defrost those homemade goodies and enjoy them. If you never actually got around to following through on your make-ahead plans, stock up on frozen dinners and snacks (look for healthy ones — your store should carry plenty) for your diet after delivery. More nutrition after pregnancy shortcuts: Frozen vegetables are as nutritious as fresh, and a lot faster to prepare, and frozen fruit makes a quick smoothie when blended with yogurt.
Postpartum Diet Trick 4: Dial up a delivery.
Nobody deserves deliveries as much as someone who’s just made one (a significant one). Tap into every delivery option available to you — groceries (sure, you won’t get to squeeze the peaches, but at least you’ll end up with some), delis, restaurants of every kind from sushi, now that you can, to pizza. (In fact, getting good nutrition after pregnancy should be a breeze compared to your taboo-ridden pregnancy diet!) Consider ordering ahead a few meals, so that you’ll have something to reheat tomorrow (or tonight, when that midnight feeding leaves you starving).
Postpartum Diet Trick 5: Plan ahead.
If you’re boiling an egg for lunch, boil six so they’re ready and waiting for you tomorrow. If it’s salmon salad you crave today, crack open a large can so that you’ll be able to fish for an easy snack the next day. Bake a half-dozen potatoes at once — it’s quick and easy to warm them later (with some pre-shredded Cheddar and leftover broccoli). Ditto brown rice — make a box, and reheat it all week. And if you actually manage to get to the market, linger where the prepared foods hang out (bag a rotisserie chicken, sliced roast turkey, turkey meatloaf, ready-to-eat veggie and fruit salads). And don’t forget to visit the salad bar — heap a few dishes high with your favorites (but keep the dressings on the side so you don’t end up with limp lettuce tomorrow).
Postpartum Diet Trick 6: Drink, drink, drink.
Keep bottles of water in every room of the house, so no matter where you and baby are, you can grab a quick drink. To keep yourself hydrated (dehydration leads to postpartum fatigue something you’ve got plenty of already, thank you), make sure you have a drink every time baby does.
Do you think these tips are helpful? I’d love to know if they worked for you.
Fathers Day salute
Allowing Dad to Help with Baby
Letting your partner find his own way is part of the parenting process.
I know I was really guilty of thinking I was the only one who knew what to do for our son – even daddy couldn’t possible know what I knew right? Wrong! It was a big mistake and I hope to help you not make the same mistakes I did.
When I finally broke down and let daddy help it was a relief to me and our son. I was exhausted and I needed help. The real blessing was that daddy WANTED to help. I had no idea how glad I would be until I finally let him into our world. We were all better for it. Today, some of my fondest memories of my husband and our son together. I still remember seeing them sleeping together on the sofa (since they both were tuckered out) and I still laugh right out loud when I think of two diaper changes. One my husband was sprinkled with the fountain of youth as the diaper came off and the cold air hit our baby boy and the other was the first time my husband had to change a really soiled diaper – oh that memory really makes me laugh.
Maybe you need a quality nap or you’re dying for a hot bath, or you just want to see a flick with a friend — sans baby. Who better to watch your critter for an hour — or the duration of an afternoon matinee — than the guy sleeping right next to you: Daddy! Even if he hasn’t had much experience in baby care (without you looking over his shoulder, at least), now’s the perfect time to help him get up to speed.
The first step toward getting Dad on duty? Ask him. It’s okay to acknowledge you need help or just a couple of hours to yourself. He may actually relish the chance to do things his own way (at least when it comes to changing a diaper).
The next step: Back off, Mama, and let Papa have some fun. Let him give the baby a bath or handle a few feedings (or if you’re nursing, ask him to put the baby to sleep). Welcome all questions but try to zip it on the backseat driving. Daddy may seem to have ten thumbs when it comes to wrestling junior into a onesie, but that’s just because he hasn’t had nearly as much practice as you. If you’re hypercritical or bossy, he might just decide to throw in the towel (and the diapers, bottles, and washcloths) and that’s not good for anyone involved, including the baby.
Hey, if your husband really wants to triple bag every poopy diaper, let him. In the past, the two of you have managed to mesh your differences (you’ve got that cute baby to show for it), and parenthood is no exception. Remind him (and yourself) that you’re new at this too — you learned by doing and so can he. Plus, change is good — a different style of playing (perhaps more physical or high-energy than your usual way) will stimulate your baby in new ways.
Keep in mind that your spouse is your partner, not your helper, and should be as fully involved in childrearing as possible (even if he’s the type to need a little shove to get going). You wouldn’t think of leaving him out of the big decisions and events that’ll shape your baby’s future, so why exclude him from the everyday stuff that also makes up your life as a family?
reaching out from a deep dark hole
You never know what I’ll come up with to write about. Most of the time, the blog post come from experiences I have in life. This is going to be one of those post.
Recently, I had three separate conversations with three different people and each conversation seems to echo the same sour note. They each, in so many words, said “some days I asked myself what’s the point?” They were speaking of living. What’s the point of living? Now none of them were suicidal or anything like that. They were just sort of down in the dumps for various reasons. I get calls like that from time to time because, as one of them said, “I’m in a funk and I knew you’d be able to get me out of it” I suppose that’s one of my many talents -lol.
Okay, back to the point of this post. Even though I took the time to listen to them and encourage them and coax them out of their very dark hole – it occurred to me (a few days later in fact) that perhaps part of their problem and struggle was that they are so wrapped up in themselves and all that is going on in their lives that they have lost perspective. And to me the easiest way to gain that perspective back again – quickly- is to do something for someone else. Help someone else and don’t expect ANYTHING in return!
If you have forgotten “what the point” of living is -then take a step back and get out of your own way. Reach out to someone else. Feel their struggle and their accomplishments. It’s so enlightening to do so. You don’t really have to do
anything more than simply listen to them most of the time.
Our lives have become so over stimulated with the pressures of delivering and being a certain way for certain people that we begin to think we are no good because we can’t seem to do it all to please everyone. Well, actually that may be another blog post altogether but it certainly is part of this one.
I happen to believe that one of our most profound purposes in life is to help one another. Don’t judge
them, don’t expect anything from them, don’t do it for them – just reach out to them and listen. You may be surprised
how quickly you will rediscover your “purpose”.
By the way, is there someone that you always turn to when you need help or need a sympathetic ear? Why not
try calling them and asking them how they are today? Resist the urge to tell them about your troubles today. My experience is that those people usually carry the special burden of always listening but never having someone they can
confide in. It can be very lonely for that person – they have to be strong for you and everyone else around
them. After all that is one of the reasons you unload your troubles on them. These special, strong and wise people still put their own needs aside – to be there for you. You know who I’m talking about don’t you? You’d probably refer to them as a hero to you.
My father was one of those people for me. Bruce Hobbs, one of my dearest friends in the world was another. They were my hero’s. They would remind me “everything’s gonna be alright” no matter how bad I thought things were. I miss being able to pick up the phone and call them knowing they would always be there for me and always pick me up, no matter how far I had fallen into that dark hole of despair and doubt. I miss them both. They have both passed away.
I wish I had taken the time to pick up the phone and just say
“Hey daddy, how are you doing today?”
Or “Hey buddy, what’s new with you. How’s life treating you today?”
and then just shut up and listened.
Boy, do I miss hearing their voice… If only I had taken the time
to think past myself.