*All images in this blog taken by Amanda Barbara Artistry. Visit her Website or Facebook Page for more info.
If there have ever been portraits that capture so much of my little one’s personalities, it’s these.
The nuances in their silly faces, their body language. The way Oliver’s hands look like at age two and a half, and the expressions they make as reactions to something funny. Those little things about them that, as their mother, I know so well, now forever beautifully captured in pictures for me, and them, to look back in years to come.
To say I love these portraits is an understatement; I ADORE them.
A quick story of how Amanda and I met; her and I have been #instamom friends for years, and after many conversations of meeting up, serendipity brought us together by bumping us into each other by being at the same place at the same time. It’s always wonderful to meet women you have connected with online for years, but even more wonderful when you see that they are genuinely as lovely in person.
Amanda welcomed us to her home studio for this session, and immediately, the kids were comfortable around her. Penelope in particular thinks Amanda is her BFF, which I think is adorable, and she was so happy to have her picture taken. Even Oliver, who happily and excitedly sat on the chair (sometimes for only seconds at a time haha) had so much fun.
The children’s natural affinity for Amanda was obvious, and so was her talent for capturing beautiful moments. Even inside the inevitable chaos that is taking pictures of toddlers, the session was fun, easy going, and the children were able to just be themselves. The results, of course, being beautiful.
Thank you Amanda for capturing these lovely portraits!
Trying to make the best out of the nicer days we have left this season, the kids and I went for a bike ride this week.
It’s been 6 months since I went back to work full time, and after being a stay at home parent for 3 years, a part of me, a big part of me, still grieves for my stay-at-home mom days. Days where spontaneous possibility of what we could do with our days seemed limitless.
While wearing Oliver on my back, and Penelope seated on the attached bike seat, bike rides became our thing. We explored our neighborhood, visited the farmer’s market, got ice cream, went to have picnics or to the playground. My children and I riding a bike, and together feeling the wind in our hair and faces – it was special… still is.
Today, my Oliver sits on the seat Penelope once did, and my beautiful girl rides beside me on her big girl bike. Though arrangements are different, the joy of the experience is the same.
As a full time working mom, these spontaneous adventures are now more few and far between, which at the same time, make them that little bit more special when we are able to go. I am so very lucky and grateful to have found a job that allows the flexibility to balance work and personal life, especially when being a parent. And so this week, I left work early to take the kids out for the afternoon.
While the sun was still shining, we rode our bikes together. I heard squeals of joy from both of them, laughter at the bumps on the road that made their voices skip, their singing, which is really the most beautiful expression of happiness in a kid; them just singing away.
In our adventures, we came across this park, and wearing their bike helmets, they ran , rolled and played in the most wonderful blanket of yellow fall leaves.
Part of me will always miss the years I spent at home with them. They were after all, some of the most beautiful years of my life. But then, there are also days like yesterday, and one day, I will miss those days too.
With this campaign, community members are encouraged to call 911, and given power to break the window in someone’s vehicle if they believe the child(ren) inside the car are in distress.
I guess the first reason it bothered me is because it made me feel like a bad parent. I know I’m not a bad parent, and I am pretty sure a lot of people would agree to that, and still, that sign made me feel like one.
Call me old school. Call me a bad mom. But I have left my children alone in the car. We were driving home from work, when I remembered we didn’t have any milk. I parked in front of one of those small gas station convenience stores, activated the command start so the AC could run and the car would be at a comfortable and safe temperature. They were both happily in their car seats and the doors were locked. I was gone for as long as it takes to buy a bottle of milk and could see the car at all times. I got the milk, got back in the car, and we went on with our day.
Do I feel bad for leaving them in the car? No. I assessed the situation and made a parenting decision I felt comfortable with. But if someone had seen me, and called 911, all of a sudden, a rational parenting decision would have turned me into a neglectful and criminal parent.
Doesn’t that seem a little extreme to you?
Do I leave my children alone in the car as a habit? Of course not. It was situational. I didn’t neglect or abandon them; I made a parenting decision.
I go even further. Had someone called the police and there had been no clear reasonable or probable grounds for the call (other than the fact that I was not physically in the car with them… but could still see them at all times) – Do I have the right to call the police on the person who reported me, for harassment and unnecessary emotional distress? I should also add, that if the child’s well being is what we’re concerned about, a random stranger creeping on my kids through a window will definitely causes them distress – I digress…
If my children are safe, and I have made a rational parenting decision, someone calling the police on me is just plain and simple harassment.
Parenting is stressful enough as it is, and now even more power is taken away from mothers (YES, mothers! Because we all know Dads are not judged nearly as harshly as mothers are) to be potentially criminalized on something that is subjective.
” ‘I don’t know if I’m afraid for my kids, or if I’m afraid other people will be afraid and will judge me for my lack of fear.’ “
And she’s right!
It’s this really about safety? Or is “danger” something we are letting society subjectively decide?
I agree that a car is not a babysitter.
I want my children to be safe.
I would never leave my children in a car to overheat or freeze, like COME ON! No good parent would!
Is this trend in parenting going to continue?
How much more monitored is parenting going to get? How much more over protective are parents forced to be with their children? How much more power is going to be taken away from mothers when it comes to weighing situations and making parenting choices?
Everyone always talks about how they wish things were like they were before, yet as a society, we directly contribute to not getting there. As a mother, I’m forced to raise children who won’t know what it’s like not be constantly watched and monitored, and the only crime we are committing here, is stealing away our children’s right to independence and to little bit of damn freedom.
Mothering in the age of fear and criticism is reaching such levels, that there are states in the United States where “free range” parents have had to be protected by law, as seen here in a CNN story about “free range kids”.
It takes a village to raise a child, yes. But are we OK letting the villages voice outweigh the parent’s decisions and choices?
I am not.
I can’t be the only who feels this way. I hope I’m not.
Every now and then, when I walk into my master bedroom, I still feel that high from the day my son was born. In less than a month, he will turn a year old, and I find myself reminiscing about the days before his arrival. What I was doing, how I was feeling.
My son was born at home. If you’ve read my birth stories ( here and here ) you’ll know that having a home birth was something that was important to me, but after my first birth didn’t happen at home, I knew I needed an additional tool to help me through labor.
I had heard of hypnobirthing before, but in all honesty, the idea of meditating through labor as a way to manage discomfort and cope through pain (which is really what most women are afraid of when it comes to labor) seemed a little hard to believe. But – I was determined to try it, and to be diligent about it.
If you’ve never heard of hypnobirthing, it’s a form of self hypnosis and guided meditation that you practice before, and while in labor. It guides you through breathing techniques and positive birth imagery and affirmations. It helps your body to relax, and allows it to labor without you fighting against it. It gives you something to focus on to stay calm, and for some women, it has even provided pain-free births.
I bought a hypnobirthing book and read it cover to cover in about 3 days. Pregnancy and labor are topics that I find fascinating, so learning more about the science behind it was incredibly interesting. Once I finished the book, I started to practice the breathing techniques, and every night before bed, I listened to the meditation tracks. It was a routine I continued from the time I was halfway through my pregnancy till the day I went into labor.
Like with many things in life, the more you practice something, the better you are at it. Hypnobirth is no different. It would have been very easy to read the book, listen to the tracks once or twice, and hope that it would help me during labor. I practiced as often as I could. I wanted to train my mind and body to go into a relax and calm state whenever I would listened to the tracks.
In my experience, I started to benefit from hypnobirth even before labor had begun.
I slept better
From the time I was 5 months pregnant, I would got to bed 30 minutes before my regular bed time every night, and I would listen to the meditation tracks. Most of the time, I would fall asleep while listening to them, which was a great sign of relaxation, but since I was already in bed, I easily transitioned into a deep sleep after. We all know how uncomfortable and difficult sleep can be during pregnancy, so deep sleep was so very welcomed.
I felt very connected to my baby
I had dedicated time, every day, to talk to my baby. I didn’t know whether I was having a boy or a girl, so I never called my baby a name, but every time I practiced hypnobirth, Oliver would move a little bit more, or let me know in a way that he could feel me. My Oliver is a very calm and happy baby, and I feel a lot of has to do with how connected we were from the beginning. He understood me, and I understood him long before he entered earth side.
I experienced a very gentle and calm labor
The day came. My water broke and I knew that labor was imminent. I was preparing for a longer birth since my first was 33 hours, but little did I know that my entire labor would be less than 5 hours from start to finish, and only 2 hours of active labor. Perhaps it was because it was my second birth, but I can very confidently say that I felt the hypnobirth practice make a huge difference. It gave me the skills to learn to trust my body, and to then instinctively go along with what my body was telling me to do.
I experienced a pain-free birth
My decision to practice hypnobirth for my second birth was to help me cope with labor, especially if it happened to be as long as my first. Hypnobirth doesn’t promise a pain-free birth, it is simply a tool that allows you to surrender to your body to let it do what it already knows how to do. In my case, I experienced tightening and pressure, but in no moment did I experience pain.
It kept me extremely calm in what could have been a traumatic birth
My son had shoulder dystocia at birth, so his entry to the earth side was not as gentle as I would have liked it to be, and it was a little scary. In spite of this, I was calm and connected to my baby, I knew he was OK all along, and even with a few crazy minutes towards the end of labor, his birth was beautiful, calm and a very positive experience.
It tapped into a strength inside me I didn’t know I had
After my son was born, my midwifes were checking him to make sure he was OK after his shoulder dystocia birth. It was a very easy moment for me to panic and be scared, yet the opposite happened. In the most vulnerable moment, I strength inside I didn’t know I had manifested in song, as I calmly sang my baby to wake.
Recovery was easier
After the birth of my daughter, I remember so many muscles in my body hurting, especially my back from curling over while pushing, and my eyes were quite swollen from the pressure. One of the things hypnobirth talks about is not having to push, because your body will do it on it’s own. I practiced this with Oliver, and after he was born, I clearly remember that the only discomfort I felt was in my abdomen, because it was the only part of my body that had done the hard work during labor, and I recovered very easily.
The first weeks postpartum were calmer
The nights when he cluster fed as a newborn and I was getting very little sleep, I would practice my breathing and meditation while he was nursing. It helped me get through those harder nights a lot easier, and he was calmer after it too. I like to think that my calmness in those moments was passed to him through my milk.
On the days the kids drive me crazy today…. I still go back to that calm
The days that the kids are cranky, or whiny, or are crying more often that usual. I go back to that calm, I slow down and remember to breathe the way that I did while in labor, and I feel better. It’s a tool that I use still, months even after my baby was born.
It gave me a very positive birth experience
My birth wasn’t perfect. Then again, what is a perfect birth? Every woman’s journey is unique. There is no text book birth, and sometimes holding on to that idea is perhaps what leads us to be disappointed when the outcome is different. Hypnobirth gave me confidence that my birth was going to be exactly what my body and my baby needed, and to feel positive about the experience that I had.
Pregnancy and labor are experiences that are different and unique to every woman. In my experience, even my own births were quite different from one another. Hypnobirth was an amazing tool that helped me stay calm and in control during my pregnancy, birth, and even postpartum. The benefits of this practice are something I continue to use on a regular basis in my motherhood journey. I couldn’t recommend this more to all expecting mamas.
Did you practice hypnobirth? Did it help you during labor or postpartum? I would love to hear your stories!