Celebrating TWO…and my First Home-Water Birth

Celebrating TWO…and my First Home-Water Birth

It’s hard for me to imagine, but this time two years ago, I was barely recovering from having my first HOME Water Birth Story session! Yes, me. I was recovering…from photographing it! To say this birth was eventful would be a huge understatement, as this birth was filled with so much peace, joy, love…and also worry, pain, and uncertainty. Our strong Mommy undoubtedly passed her strength and spirit to her incredible, brave, princess fighter, and through some tears and quite literally a “labor of love,” I watched as this life was brought Earth side. We started at my clients’ home, fairly late in the evening, maybe around 9 pm, but ended up at OU Children’s sometime well after midnight. Thankfully, God had His hand over this family the whole time, and I could not have been more thankful to be a small part of their amazing journey while growing their sweet family. Through the joys of having social media and especially Facebook, I have been able to watch this precious little one grow into now a beautiful little “wildflower” as her Mommy likes to say. I’m sharing today as I think of this child often, and am so thankful for her life and that I was able to witness the beginning of it. With the COVID pandemic taking over our ability to do normal, daily tasks, including various types of photography over the past several months, I have missed being able to meet and document our world’s newest blessings. And this birth was so very special to me, so sharing my love for Births and this Birth Story just seemed natural. 

Here are a couple of images from this special child’s amazing Birth Story, as captured through my lens. I love every image from this Birth Story. Documenting this time is truly an honor for me. To be there, in the room, present with Mom, Dad, the medical team, and of course, God, who makes this miracle happen. I’ve been questioned before about how I can document “births.” “Aren’t they…umm…”  … LET ME STOP YOU THERE. Births are beautiful. They are part of everyone’s story, and documenting the details couldn’t be more fulfilling to my soul. If you can’t see beauty in these images, my guess is that you have some preconceived notion of what you think birth is like, and not what it actually is. Because…just look at these! BEAUTIFUL. GOD. MIRACLES. 

Happiest of Birthdays to you, Eden! Thankful to have been among the first to meet you!

                             

 

xx, 

Shelby 

 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness

Note: If you aren’t comfortable with complete transparency and personal issues, just skip this post! I’m very real, very honest, and this has nothing to do with photography! I wanted to share because I know others are struggling with similar issues, and no matter how personal, this is an important issue. Sharing might just allow someone to change their mind about how they feel about themselves now, or might open their eyes to possible causes of feeling ill. 

Today, April 9, 2020, was supposed to be the most freeing, anxiety-filled, yet hopeful day for me. What a mix of emotions, huh? A day that I thought about, prayed for, and is truly what made me come up with my “word” for this year, “Renew.” For some, this may come as a shock because before Covid-19 changed the course of all of our lives, I was going to be in surgery for a few hours today, and that may not seem like a sense of…renewal. So why did I think having an {elective} surgery would be freeing, and help renew me, body, mind and soul? 

What I know now, that I didn’t know 17 years ago, is that my sense of self-worth and self-esteem probably shouldn’t have come from what my external appearance is. Unfortunately, and I’m sad to say it, I am not alone in this. We are living in a world where our appearance seems like it’s everything, and we all want to do things to improve our external selves. From magazine article tips, to spa treatments, to laser therapies to invasive surgeries, we all want to look better. I’m not sure exactly how many want to improve their internal selves, but for me…I’m working on both, in different ways. 

Back to my need for surgery. Like many women, I had a breast augmentation when I was younger. I had gone through my teenage years wondering when my breasts would grow in, and alas, they never did. So, at twenty-three, after finding the love of my life in college and having him accept me fully and wholly for who I am inside and out, I still pushed the issue for me to have a breast augmentation, despite his concerns. I can justify my decision for enhancement out the wazoo — I was 4’10”, zero boobs, little self esteem on my facial appearance, and definitely had issues finding clothes that fit. I don’t care how many will jump on this and say it was/is easy for people “my size”…it’s not. And please spare me the, “you can always try kids’ clothes!” Just don’t go there. It’s not funny. Again, appearance does matter in our society, and my appearance didn’t seem to fit the mold of success nor beauty. I had the breast augmentation and after about 6 months, I finally adjusted to having them — it was amazing how well I could fit into clothes and feel more feminine. Dresses didn’t just drape down off of me, blouses fit my breast area beautifully, and I do feel I had more of a sense of confidence! I could wear (and enjoy wearing) bikinis for goodness sakes! 

Fast forward quickly to the present, before I jump back again to explain my ongoing health issues. After tons of research and thankfully having a friend take the time to express her deep concern for my health, and share with me her experience via message in February 2019, I finally, in July 2019, decided to accept what was probably there for about 10-15 years. My health had been in steady decline, and though others had brought it up before her, it finally sunk it that it’s at least a possibility that I have Breast Implant Illness. I don’t know for sure if I do. My case – as all things seem to be concerning my health – is different. I had started becoming…different…around eighteen years old (pre-implant). I had some negative experiences, and I wonder if either trauma to my body or just timing of my age and onset of diseases began. I’ll never know, and I’ll likely always wonder. Things started happening my freshman year of college that were out of character for me – I’d have tachycardic episodes, I had several situations where I passed out, likely because of the tachycardia, and depression set in, along with other ailments like stomach pains and extreme fatigue. Unfortunately instead of understanding and help, I was met with questioning and negativity from friends (like passing out with friends was…on purpose? Apparently it was thought that I was attention seeking, instead of dealing with a medical issue. Sigh.). It was a couple of tough years.

Thankfully, time moved on, I continued a relationship with my now husband, and with his support through the drama that my body caused for me, I was able to live somewhat a normal life. And to be completely transparent, my husband never wanted me to get a breast enhancement. Truly. Very bizarre in my mind, but he absolutely loved/loves me for me. He’s always complimented my beauty and never wanted/wants me to change. So, we married, he started making a steady income, and I wanted to change my appearance. That should have been a red flag – face palm! I love you honey…thank you for putting up with me! So in 2003, I got my breasts augmented, and despite hating them for 6 months, I wound up loving my appearance with them. Those dresses fit beautifully now. I felt like a woman. Life seemed great. Minus occasional ER trips for stomach pains that had no known origin, then chronic fatigue syndrome (did y’all know that to combat that, I should get a night job? That’s according to a military doctor, and sadly that’s not even the worst advice ever given), then a fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2006, and then a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2016. Plus fun tidbits like costochondritis, occipital neuralgia, iliosacral dysfunction, a cataract at 38 years old, and honestly the list goes on. And on. It hasn’t been easy, and although it’s been a unique road to travel for my husband, he has supported me and my lack of ability to truly “work” (unless it’s on my own schedule) for necessary income, and he supports my feelings and how I wish to proceed.

I don’t know if I genuinely have Breast Implant Illness. But here are some things I do know: 

I suffer from autoimmune disease
All of my issues revolve around pain in my body
The pain has increased in intensity over the years
My chronic fatigue is debilitating 

Some Symptoms Include (not an exhaustive list):
Inflammation
Joint Pain
Anxiety
Difficulty Concentrating
Memory Loss
Brain Fog
Hair Loss
Depression
Mood Swings 
Shortness of Breath
Weight Gain

Breast Implant Illness symptoms all correlate with what is going on with me

Even if it’s not BII, I want to renew myself with a sense of purpose this year. That’s what I told myself in January. I want to be intentional in how I treat my body. I want to renew the thoughts of my mind telling me my appearance matters that much to everyone else. Seriously, I used to apologize to people for having to look at me. I know I’m not the portrait of beauty in our culture. But I dwelled on that and kept trying to correct it in ways I could. So now, I want to be the kind of beautiful that people like to be around, because I’m good. I’m generous. I’m ridiculously loving. I’m not super fun, but I want to be, and hopefully, even if I have 10% more energy, this surgery will be worth it. I want to be better for my kids. I want to be better for my husband. I want to be better for me. I want to be renewed. 

So, whenever it is that our country opens back up to being social again, and to having elective surgeries, and to having some sense of normalcy again post Covid-19, I will be ready for this *huge,* sort of defining moment for my life. For now, I’m going to mourn what should have happened today, while still realizing there’s a reason it couldn’t happen. God’s always got this. The next surgery date is for May 27th of this year, but obviously all of that is tentative.

And, for anyone wondering, I do worry about having the surgery and it not helping my symptoms. I do! My PCM doesn’t even believe in BII (another face palm), and thinks that despite all of my symptoms, taking out man made toxic bags won’t help anything (and that the breast pain I have is…not real? Like, I’m imagining it). She might be right – not about imagining my pain, because I assure you it’s there, but that I might not feel better. Or maybe my surgeon who does believe in BII is right, and maybe a small percentage of my wellness will be improved. We’ve discussed at length how this surgery may not help my symptoms because my case is different – my symptoms were starting before my implants. But, here’s the thing. At the end of the day, God didn’t make me with those silicone toxic bags. I wasn’t even a Christian when I awoke from my implant and felt that I had disappointed God by changing my body that much. I felt “wrong.” I am hoping that with the explant will come a sense of peace over who I am, who God made me to be, and at the end of the day, will also eliminate the possibility that my pains and heath ailments come from man-made implants that shouldn’t be in my body. 

More on Breast Implant Illness to come. 

And, a huge shout out to Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole. What a truly remarkable group this has been in uplifting one another, sharing stories, and truly trying to promote wellness. Without this group, I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to take this necessary step. That, and to my friend who went out of her way to share with me in February of last year – you really got me thinking seriously about my illnesses, and the possibilities that may lay on the other side of explant. Thank you all for sharing your stories, your hearts, and your beautiful scars – all to help us recovery from this illness. Healing is possible – and soon I’ll join you on the lighter side. 

xo

Shelby 

*Picture of me, from my 40th Birthday Session that my daughter captured for me! 

Favor Real Estate – Company Headshots

When you live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, it’s very likely that you’ll run in to some of the kindest people…even if it’s just out and about doing errands, at Kohl’s! 

After we chat over a few items and then our military backgrounds, we were comfortable enough to share each other business cards, and out of that came a beautiful friendship and these updated portraits for this sweet couple! As always, very honored to capture moments and images that families will love, as well as to update some business photos as well! 

Also, you can find these images at Favor Real Estate…talk with the Peterson’s if you are interested in an awesome property management duo to help your real estate needs! 

{D} Family : Newborn Session – Twins!

{D} Family : Newborn Session – Twins!

Seriously, how beautiful…to be blessed with two healthy babies, one boy, one girl?!

This family is absolutely precious — just look at these images! You know, I had someone comment on one of the Facebook previews about their Dad proudly serving…actually, while Daddy is proud of his babies and his wife…in this case, the Mommy is the one serving. That’s right — a toddler at home and the Military Momma taking care of these precious littles AND doing her thing at work while serving our country too! Amazing, loving, and beautiful family. Such an honor to meet them, and I know the sacrifices this family is making. It’s not easy, but with that much love, they make it look like it is!

In talking with Mommy, we decided an at home, candid lifestyle session with a few posed images would work best for their family. I call this realistic expectations! With a toddler at home and two newborn babes, although I know it can be done, I think having the best of both portraiture and lifestyle is the way to go!

Also, if you are interested in seeing their maternity session, you can find it HERE

This one is a must share!! LOVE!
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Proudly showing off what Mommy is up to here in Montgomery, Alabama.
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Perfection…
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I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a prouder Big Brother!
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Daddy has his hands full of love…
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Quite possibly, one of my all time favorite lifestyle captures.
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I adore this one so much! Look at those precious faces!
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Gorgeous
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I might have been a little too giddy about capturing this one! Look at those smiles!
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Pure love…and you can feel it!
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One final image to round out this amazing family newborn session!

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{D} Family : Maternity Session – Twins!

I am going to let this beautiful maternity session speak for itself…the only regret that I have is that I haven’t posted this amazing photo session sooner! It’s been in my Drafts folder for so long, but today’s the day to share this with the world! I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year (about 11 months since we were both back in Montgomery at this maternity session), but I’m actually excited to share since I truly want my focus to be on maternity, birth and newborn one day, and that’s a perfect way to share with my local followers here in Oklahoma City!

I am so thankful that this Mom & Dad trusted me to do both the Maternity and Newborn sessions of these sweet and beautiful twins! I cannot think of anything more beautiful than photographing these precious moments! Clearly, I had a difficult time choosing a few images…all of them are so, so beautiful!

I haven’t officially posted it yet, but when it’s published, you can find their newborn session HERE

She is stunning…the epitome of a glowing Mom, in love with her babies.

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Such a special and beautiful family connection…I loved every moment of this session. Truly.
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I love when my clients incorporate personal items that are special to them in our sessions.
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I am always a happy photographer when I get moments like this, in addition to a gorgeous, natural sun flare! Makes my photographer heart happy!
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This family is so excited to welcome their sweet new babies, and look at Big Brother!
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If you’ve ever had a session with me…you know you have to be prepared to kiss at least a couple times!
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I adore this moment…
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Absolutely precious! 
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I love everything about this!!!
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I can hardly wait to share the newborn session with you all! I’ll leave you with with this stunning moment…and hope to get those babies up linked here soon as well.
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To my GORGEOUS client and her family…THANK YOU!!! I am so thankful you took a chance with me to capture these moments!