Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Not sure who all has hung in there with me through these last couple of “Renew:” blog updates, but this one should catch me up to the present! 

Last week, on September 15th, I had my 3 month post op check up with the amazing Dr. Derek Shadid. First, for anyone who may be considering any plastic surgery, I would *highly* recommend Dr. Shadid and his professional staff any day. He and his staff are truly fantastic, and this comes from a highly picky person! I’ve had quite a few inquiries on who I chose as my surgeon as well as why, and to be honest, it was several factors including professionalism of office staff, his location here in Oklahoma City, his education (GO HEELS!), and more…but it boiled down to one main factor. Him. He is polite, kind, spent plenty of time discussing my symptoms and concerns with me and didn’t make me feel like my concerns weren’t valid (like my primary care manager did). Also, his experience! Not gonna lie – I had a very long (like to the extreme) list of questions and concerns for him, but even before I could get to nearly all of them, he had covered the bases with me. I didn’t feel like a burden for my thoughts or that he didn’t understand my ailments. For anyone suffering with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, you know this is very, very rare. Also, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, April, was kind, understanding, and honestly helped put me at ease (hello, vulnerability). I also want to mention Leslie, the front office receptionist as well as Patricia, who deals with the financials. Leslie was beyond patient with my initial questions and did all she could to get me in to see Dr. Shadid in a very timely manner. She welcomed my persistent calls to see when a cancelation might pop up, and that’s how I was able to get in to see Dr. Shadid so quickly last year. She’s a welcoming face each time I have gone in, and working with Patricia to work through the financial aspect of surgery was also so easy because of her knowledge and kind personality. 

Okay, now on to the good stuff. My 3-month checkup! It went very well! I have been cleared for all activity, meaning that nothing that I do should hurt any of the surgical healing process. This is great news since really about a month and a half or so ago, I had already started to feel so much more like myself and have been working out more regularly. Nothing crazy – walking, mostly, but still more than normal for me. It’s still a little tender in there while doing certain activities – jumping on my trampoline, for instance – but overall, I’m mostly pain free. Dr. Shadid said that some of the tenderness and few slightly sharper pains that I may experience could be from nerves waking up a bit more, and that this is normal and I can work through the pains with massage. It’s nothing to be concerned with, however. During the appointment, one of my main concerns, which was discussed pretty much from Day 1, was the idea of a fat transfer. This procedure would be where Dr. Shadid takes fat from my back or wherever he is able, and both slim down that area and transfer the fat into the breast pockets. Although we all agree this procedure would lead to the most aesthetic option for me, I have concerns still over quite a few things, including cost and possibly continuing cost. Additional health concerns to include calcification? Long term effects? Fat dissolving into the body, requiring more surgery?? Sigh. I don’t know. Lots to absorb and think about, so for the time being, I’m going to be as happy as I can be with the explant. Women, obviously myself included, put way too much into their looks every day. I had no idea how many women changed their God-given bodies so much through surgery. Women that I know. Women that aren’t “out there on TV” or wealthy. Just…all types of women. I’m not against it, but I do feel it’s problematic about our society when so many of us aren’t happy with ourselves, especially when I look around at the women and friends that have had some work done, and they are and always have been so beautiful to me, regardless of procedure. It’s still baffling to me, since for so many years, I was ashamed that “I was the only one” who had “work done.” I had my reasons to justify, but apparently we all do.

Back to the idea of a fat transfer – this was on the radar from Day One because, as I’ve been very open about, I have pretty much zero breast tissue. Just wasn’t in the cards for me. That hasn’t changed through weight gain or bearing children who nursed. As I standing in front of April, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, extremely vulnerable for her to update my 3 month pictures, she could see my discomfort as I said that I was once again sorry for my appearance. As kindly as ever, she gently reminded me that I could elect to have a fat transfer to change that. She knows I’m hesitant for many reasons. After that super uncomfortable moment, I waited for Dr. Shadid and again, just like the first couple of post op appointments, he mentioned that if I’m unhappy with my result, I would be an ideal candidate for a fat transfer. I had secretly hoped that, like 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, I’d have been too skinny to pull fat from! HA! Not anymore. Maybe THAT’S the reason for my weight gain…totally kidding! I have some definite areas where he could get possibly up to half a cup size for each breast. I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it…though, the idea of having some unwanted fat removed does pique my interest! I’m truly glad to have my options, but also wonder why I feel such a great need to change. Anyways, aside from that discussion and talking about my incisions and their appearance (I chose a particular kind of stitching process that wouldn’t leave anything in my body but that also dissolves differently so the result is a little different), we ended with seeing each other in a year, I think. Actually, I’ll have to check whether it’s a year or six months…at the time of the appointment I was not planning on being here because of an impending move, but the move has been canceled, so now I need to actually process that!

OH! And, an update on my symptoms! Here’s a short list from my first BII post, which you can find here: Journey to Wellness

InflammationImproved 30+%
Joint Pain – Improved 30+%
AnxietyImproved (not sure on %, because this was a particularly stressful month)
Difficulty ConcentratingSlight improvement – 15%
Memory LossThis one I’m not sure on. Still not great, but that’s been the same since I was about 18
Brain FogImproved!! 50% 
Hair Loss – Improved – Hair growth visible, looks healthier
DepressionAgain, it’s been a rough month, but I believe until this past month, I did have an improvement. Not huge, but some. 
Mood SwingsNot sure, but I feel confident it’s improved. 
Shortness of BreathBETTER!! Improved 50% or more! I had no idea that my breaths had become so, so shallow. Just days after surgery, I could FEEL myself breathing deeper. Even if nothing else changed, this would have been worth it!!! 
Weight GainNot sure. Some weight loss since surgery, but I also did a juice cleanse for five days about a month ago. Unfortunately, I followed that up with a month of Starbucks and eating out. Sooo…between that and the stress, I did lose weight, but it fluctuates, and though less weight than before surgery, I’m not sure how much is from just that. 

I’m adding to this list: 

Chronic Fatigue – SO MUCH BETTER!! Probably 50%. Yes, I still get tired doing menial daily tasks, but what I haven’t done is lay in bed all day pretty much since maybe a week after surgery. Are there days I want/need a nap? Yes. But it’s not daily anymore, and even better, I’m able to exercise and walk without becoming short of breath and tired. I already know that my quality of life has been forever changed. 

One last tidbit before I end this update. 

I forgot that I had also asked Dr. Shadid about my ribcage and sternum, and how to me, they felt deformed. I feel like my sternum protrudes a bit while my ribs that were under my implants are a bit…concave. Yes, my actual ribs. I wondered for a while if maybe I was imagining this, but he confirmed that this was not an imagination, but that my body truly does now have a deformity. It likely isn’t going to cause any future damage or organ damage or anything, thankfully. That said, for anyone who has implants and/or for anyone who might one day consider getting them, PLEASE KNOW ALL OF THE RISKS. We ALL thought we knew going in to our surgeries for implants. I did. My friends with implants did. My new “breasties” (friends who have the same types of issues in various groups) all did. But we don’t. MY RIBCAGE IS DEFORMED, Y’ALL. Forever. I truly wonder if THIS is why back in 2011 I had my first bout of costochondritis (inflammation of the ribs). Was the weight of my implants over those 8 years what caused that? It wouldn’t surprise me. Even as I type, I can remember the feeling of pain in my right ribs, right under my breast, where I would have this terrible dull ache for months at a time. No rhyme or reason. No doctor ever told me that it could be the implants — which is CLEARLY marked on ALL of my medical paperwork. I still have some dull pains, and I expect that it won’t ever “go away completely”…but I doubt I’m doing anything now to make it worse (like harboring toxic, heavy bags in my breast pockets). This deformity may also be causing some of the issue with my appearance — if my ribs go in, it’s likely that the minuscule bit of tissue I have (pretty much zero, but still trying to humor the possibility) is also pulling in, and not having the normal protrusion like most women. Remember, I’m a LOT smaller than most, so those bags (they were small and only got me up to a B Cup) were still big and likely heavy for my frame. I worry for those who I know have much, much larger implants, and the pains they may one day have because of them. 

I really wanted to share this with anyone wanting the updates. I know that women in particular have benefitted from my openness and vulnerability.

As hard as it is, I am thankful that my story may one day help someone who reads this. 

xx Shelby 

**Picture from March, pre-explant. One day I’ll take some updated selfies, but it’s been a little crazy over here since the surgery! 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update
Updating with another post – this one is from two months post surgery, and the difference in lifestyle is so recognizable by anyone who knows me! Explanting was definitely the right decision, and though the struggles are still real, I know I am better off without the toxic, fake breasts taking away from my life. 
 
“Good morning!!
Quite a few people have asked for updates on my post-surgery recovery, and the results speak for themselves! It’s only been two months, and I swear I’ve been more physically active in this time since surgery than the previous four years combined. Yesterday I walked two miles, and this morning (before 9 am!) I walked 2.3 miles! This is in addition to some light workouts, as well as being productive through the day. A few months ago, I could barely get a mile in, and I’d be in bed for several hours after. It’s embarrassing, I know, but that was my life, for way longer than I care to admit. The relentless pain and exhaustion was truly that unbearable.
My pain level has decreased substantially, and while I fully believe my AS autoimmune disorder still exists and will continue to cause issues for me (my spinal pain and hip pains have decreased, but still very much there), I think my body is able to help itself more now that it’s not fighting off something that should have never been in there. I am curious about my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue diagnoses — so many with BII have those diagnoses as well, and a lot of those symptoms have improved. Not 100%, but a big improvement for sure.
I haven’t really lost any weight since last month, despite my efforts, but I’m still feeling healthier in general. I feel I lost some inflammation immediately following surgery, and that was about it. I’ll be seeing a functional medicine doctor soon, and hopefully more things will improve over time and a bit more digging for answers. Physically, my post surgery wounds are healing well, and though I’m trying to adjust my self-perception and self-esteem, I *do* think it is possible there will come a day when I’m not so saddened by my appearance. Though, it depends on which day you catch me on how I’m *really* feeling. All that said, it’s still worth it.

Seeing all three rings closed yesterday was amazing, but being more active with the kids (i.e. I jumped on the trampoline yesterday…something I’d have thought would break my body a few months ago!!!) and being more productive regularly has been even better!! Continuing to pray for healing 💕

xx Shelby 

 
 

Birge Family – Deployment Homecoming

It’s May. To be specific, here in the United States, it’s May 7th. I say that with the knowledge that currently, so many service members are on the other side of the world, in different time zones, in different climates and vastly different environments. And I am grateful.

I am grateful for families like the Birge Family who went without a husband and a father present in the home for months; and thankfully back in March, he returned to his family, with their arms opened wide for him. I don’t take these words lightly — I know he was always there for them as he could be. But I also know firsthand the struggles that come with being military spouse with babies in the home. Having that extra set of hands is a huge blessing, and I know he would have been there in a heartbeat if he could have. But, you see, he is part of our military, and he had a greater calling, to sacrificially serve his country. And he, like so many others, has done this so well, and still let his loved ones at home know how much he misses them.
Now, this family has been amazing. As military members, as clients, as fellow military spouses…sweet Ebilene and I just clicked! I’m so thankful for not only her cheerful, supportive attitude and presence amongst other spouses and service members, but also for her huge heart and patience. Spouses like this keep the military community running on energy, love, and commitment…not just to the country, but to one another. Our service members are amazing for all that they do, but one would be amiss to miss the work of the ones they leave behind. 

As this family has been super gracious about things that have been going on here on my family’s Homefront, I decided I had to thank her in one of the only ways I think I can…which is going a bit above and beyond, just as she has for so many in her company. If you have a couple minutes, check out this beautiful video, created specifically for the Birge Family to document this beautiful time for them! 

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice! 

Blessings Always,

~Shelby 

{H} Family : Two Years Old & Pre-Deployment

Military families have my heart, and for obvious reasons as my husband has been proudly serving in the USAF for over fourteen years, and my father retired as a Marine. Although my childhood was not filled with deployment memories as my Dad retired when I was young, my children have been faced with a couple deployment separations, various schools keeping Daddy away for months at a time, innumerable TDYs of varying lengths, and even just long (LONG) hours at work. There even came a point where I wondered if voluntary separation (him living in OK while I stayed in AL with the kids) would make more sense than living in a house where we’d rarely see him at all.

So when I hear that military families are facing a deployment, I try to help and offer sessions as I can, as I know the struggles are real. This beautiful family, though scheduled for deployment in August, are thankfully reunited and their separation – though never easy – was brief. I am so thankful to have been able to meet them and capture some of these precious memories for them, as their little girl had also just turned One shortly after this session. I look on these family captures and see so much beauty and the emotion of having a young family with a sweet Two Year Old. So.Much.LOVE. They know every moment together matters.

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Rolsen Family – The Waters 2016

Gah! I can’t believe this blog post never got published!! So, here it is…you know, just a few months late (in total fairness, that’s sooner than other posts I’ve made, so maybe this is progress!)!

So, so thankful to have been able to meet this sweet military family before we moved from Montgomery! With two wonderful parents both being in the Air Force, this sweet little peanut is bound to keep them on their toes! I loved watching the connection that each member of this family had with one another. All I really had to do for this one was be there…and they did all the rest! Love families like these that truly cherish their time together.

Thank you for all you do, Rolsens!

I don’t think I could choose a favorite image if I tried, so here are quite a few from their session!

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I think I need to do one like this at every session!!

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Was this there Evil Laugh pose?!!

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Love!! I love that she ran to me…seriously…melts my heart. But Mom and Dad watching her in the background – priceless!

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I ADORE these images…
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Isn’t she the cutest little thing ever?!!! That SMILE!

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Seriously, I couldn’t choose…color or black and white? Either way…she’s gorgeous!
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You know it’s an awesome family when Dad joins in on the tire swing!

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I’m totally not a PhotoShopper (I process fairly naturally through LightRoom), but I still love how this image turned out!

I hope Mom and Dad love it too!
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I’m totally missing my Alabama families, but hopefully I’ll get some awesome new Oklahoma clients along this journey!!

Kitzke Newborn – Lifestyle 2015

Kitzke Newborn – Lifestyle 2015

 

 

 

 

 

If it wasn’t apparent before, it will absolutely be apparent now that I LOVE at home lifestyle sessions! I had the privilege of capturing this sweet family’s Maternity session, which you can see here: 
Kitzke Maternity
. Just in speaking with this beautiful Mommy, I knew that we would have a wonderful and memorable session, and that held so, so true!

As a photographer, it’s one of those observations that I have to make — her sweet husband was so wonderful! I absolutely adored this couple during their maternity session! He was such a trooper and I can tell you first hand, it’s not all the time when a husband seems to enjoy the session (whether he really did or not, I’ll never know!) or if he was just doing anything to please his wife. Regardless, their maternity images speak a thousand words…all showing how much he adores his wife, and their Lifestyle Newborn session was different only in that he added one more cutie to love! Watching newborn Daddies…<sigh, and melt my heart>…he was so, so good with his son…truly the sweetest thing to watch!

For anyone questioning why one might want an in-home newborn session…please love, I mean, look at this amazing session! From start to finish, it was AH-MAZING…and, as I recall, we did have some fussy moments in there, which I totally expect! Please never worry if your little one needs a little extra attention. You just love your precious little, and I’ll capture the moments that you’ll love to cherish when this very short phase is over…

Take a peek into this precious Newborn Lifestyle Session with SLP!

This one should *seriously* be in a magazine!!! I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!

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<melt my heart. all over again!>

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One of my all time favorites. No really…it is!

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Seeeeeepy baby! Look at that face!
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They also let me practice my freelensing, and I’m so glad they did! It wound up being one of their favorites!
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That handsome little face. Just perfection.

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True Lifestyle…
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I mean…really. Look at this GORGEOUS FAMILY! They will always have a place in my heart!


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My guess is that they miss this sweet face…because after almost one year (which is CRAZY!), he’s changed so, so much!

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Look at this sweet little newborn face!! And, of course, we had to get at least a few with Daddy’s military uniform…

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The signs of a successful lifestyle newborn session with me!

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Could I have a better job?! I think not! I have been so nervous to start over in Oklahoma City as a Lifestyle Photographer, but looking back at these images gives me hope and encouragement to keep going! I love these moments way too much to stop capturing the beauty that’s in real, raw, lifestyle images.

Thank you, Kitzke Family, for having faith in me and believing in me to capture these special moments!

Lightroom or Photoshop…or, Both

Y’all! I am so, so excited!

For a while now, I’ve been using Lightroom as my primary editing software. I’ll probably still use it more frequently than PS, but I decided to try a couple things to help me use BOTH editing software tools more effectively and more efficiently. I am so eager to try them both out. Actually, I’m a little terrified to try the Photoshop part, but we all start somewhere.

For anyone wondering where I decided to get my photo editing software, look no further than Amazon.com! Through Amazon, I purchased the $9.99 Adobe Creative Cloud monthly plan (that I think comes to $10.79 with tax) and have been very satisfied with it. Thanks to an awesome photographer friend in Utah, I was introduced initially to Lightroom 2…then I got Lightroom 4 and then Lightroom 5. Needless to say, I think just getting the automatically updating Creative Cloud plan was probably a better way to go! And to be honest, my husband was the one who finally gave me that push I needed and started purchasing the LRs for me…each time they came out with a new version! Silly man, but I love him!

Why did I choose Lightroom? Well, I had Photoshop Elements 8 for years. I could not figure it out! It just wasn’t intuitive for me…I still don’t understand masking and layers! But Lightroom…ahhhh…the ease. I played with Lightroom for less than 10 minutes and was sold on how easy it was to use. Of course, I’ve come a LONG way since then, and understand it so much more than before. But everything was just intuitive with it.

Now, for my new Lightroom toy…although I’m fairly handy with using the screen and mouse, I’m not as good with the shortcut commands. Well, I’ve decided it’s time to change that. What better way to learn quickly than with this awesome Adobe Lightroom Shortcuts Keyboard Skin?!  I’ll let you know how it goes as I’m pretty set in my ways! But just looking it over, I think it will help me reorganize my images and help smooth over my workflow. We shall see…but, here’s a quick visual in case you are interested as well!

 

Now. Photoshop! I think it’ll be a lot easier to use the Photoshop version since I’m not already proficient with it, so the shortcuts will hopefully be easier to learn this way.
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I’m hoping these will give me some incentive to try new editing techniques, especially with Photoshop.

Do you have any specific editing tools that you love? Or something that helps ease your workflow?

Halloween – SLP Style

So, yes, it’s 6 months late…but, this was us on Halloween.

And, the woes of being photographer…I’m FINALLY getting around to doing something with my family’s images!

My friend Becky McCandless of Capturing Life Photography was kind enough to come out (before a hot date!) and capture some of these fun moments for my family! So, so thankful she did…we had a blast! And…if I HAD to let my husband get a motorcycle, I had to make him put it to good use as a prop!

 

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{F} Family – Fall 2015

{F} Family – Fall 2015

Have you ever sat there and really anticipated something? I have. A lot…and this session was one of those things! This sweet Mommy had gotten in touch with me after seeing another client’s session and I am so thankful that she did! Unfortunately, it was not an easy (or quick) session to schedule (life happens, and I totally get it!), but when it was finally set, it was awesome! And can you believe it…this little guy wasn’t feeling very well during the session, but he did such a wonderful job. Look at those smiles!

This is one of those sessions that I can use over and over again as an example of letting things roll, letting kids be kids, and trusting your photographer! Oh, and it’s totally a session I’ll use for outfit coordination…look at those matching colors and that pop, even amidst the beautiful fall leaves! We had a vision for this session, and I think it turned out even better than we could have hoped for, and I’m so thankful that Mom and Dad love the images as well (as did their cat, since apparently the picture package was a new place to lay!). I’ll take the win!

Enjoy this session, the fun, the smiles… and the beautiful fall leaves! Remember, no matter what is going on in session…have fun! Your kids will enjoy it so much more if you are enjoying it too…this Mom and Dad nailed it with their ease and comfort, and their baby boy {A} fed off of their joy. These are the sessions that are the most “real” and the moments you’ll want to have captured.

What. A. CUTIE!! I can’t even lie…when I saw this handsome little guy with that amazing smile (and those eyes!)…heart.melt! 
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Seriously…he knows he’s a little cutie pie!

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Not every picture can be “posed” with little ones…go with the flow and enjoy watching them run around. Those are often the favorite images!

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Oh this boy! Mommy had told me that Baby {A} (yes, since my little guy is nearly 6 and is my baby, this one can be too!) had pictures taken with this football when he was a newborn, so we needed to try to capture it in there. No problem. He nailed it! I only wish I was going to be permanently here to capture more of these images of him holding it.

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Such fun! Our little guy got of of the picture taking groove…so, playing with leaves offered an awesome (and realistic) break…and he didn’t know the difference!

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Just another moment to lay with Mommy…I wish I had some professional captures like this!

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Mom and Dad individually with the kids. They’re a must!

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I couldn’t bear to do just Daddy with the silhouette…so Mommy got one too!

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Look at those colors!! Perfect depiction of an Alabama fall session. I LOVE this location!

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And, one more…I’m always a sucker for black and whites. They’re sort of my thing, and have a sort of timelessness about them!

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Thank you for spending this time with me {F} Family!! I loved our time together, and I’m so, so happy you love your images and prints!

{C} Family – Newborn Session

{C} Family – Newborn Session

Oooh…this sweet baby girl’s newborn session has been waiting to be blogged for quite some time, but I was trying to do a little something different and special for this one! I’ve recently started adding photo videos to my sessions and this one was the perfect session to practice on!

I loved every moment of this casual in-home newborn session … and I’m fairly certain it’ll be easy to see why! This precious little one was a dream to work with (as was her gorgeous Mommy and siblings!) and we had some amazing light to work with in this home too. Enjoy!