Eden: One Month

An entire month has flown by and I'm not really sure where it went. Steve and I can barely remember what it was like to get a full nights sleep but it's amazing how our bodies adjust to fit our circumstances. Oh and coffee...there's always coffee to help...

~

For being a newborn, Eden has been pretty good to us. Her days are pretty simple: eat all the milk, take all the naps, stink up all the diapers. She loves cuddles and sleeps the best when someone is holding her, which makes it difficult to get things done around the house during the day. But losing my free time is the least of my worries because I know this newborn stage is so short. Even now her personality is coming out and it's so fun to watch her change everyday.  It's still a toss up trying to decide who she looks more like. We think she is a good blend of both of us but we shall see! 

Likes: cuddles/ nursing/ staring intently at everything/ burping really loud/ pooping while mom is changing her/ taking baths/ sucking on her hands

Dislikes: being hungry/ getting out of the bath/ being disturbed while nursing/ gas/ hiccups

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Eden Sparrow: the name

When deciding on a name for baby girl, we didn't have many in mind to start with. We honestly thought we were having a boy at first, so we leaned more towards boy names in the beginning. However, there had been a few names that crossed my mind before we were even pregnant, but Steve never seemed too crazy about them so I just kind of set them aside. I wanted both of us to love the name we chose. 

We had some criteria when it came to choosing a name. First off, we wanted the name to have a significant meaning or at least a story behind it. We also wanted to pick something unique that could give her a sense of individuality as she grew up. We even considered what it would be like for her as an adult with the name. And lastly, we decided we wanted to meet her before making a final decision. 

Eden was one of those names we heard that just stuck. We liked the reference to the Garden of Eden in Genesis because it was a perfect place that offered both beauty and nourishment to the first of mankind before the fall. Eden also means "delight" which we thought was sweet. So when we thought of our future daughter with these attributes (perfect/ beautiful/ delight), we wanted to think of a fun middle name to go with it. 

Sparrow was used in some of Jesus' parables in the New Testament. In Matthew 10, Jesus talks about how "not one of them(sparrows) will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care" and that we shouldn't be afraid because we are even more valuable than birds. Matthew 6 talks about the same idea with a reference to birds and says," Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them." Personally, I have always found myself coming back to these passages because of my tendency to worry and forget God's promises. A sparrow has kind of become a symbol or reminder to me of God's promises and that we are even more valuable to him than the "birds of the air" or the "flowers of the fields". 

Therefore, Eden Sparrow came to mean- delight in God's promises. So every time we looked at our beautiful little girl, we would be reminded of God's promises rather than worry about tomorrow. 

On the day that we finally got to meet sweet baby girl, we knew Eden was the name. She was perfect, beautiful and brought us SO MUCH delight. She took our hearts and shattered them into a million pieces and we will never be the same.  We feel so amazed at how God has provided for us as we have come into this new stage of life. God is faithful and we are so thankful!

 

Below are some photos I took our first week home:

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Eden: First Bath

May 1st, 2018

What could be cuter than a little tiny baby in a big giant bathtub?  Eden's first bath was a positive experience. She loves when the water runs over her belly and hair. It seems to calm her instantly when we start to massage soap into her beautiful head of hair. Also, the smell of a clean baby is now one of my favorite smells.

I'm excited to see her love for bath time grow when she gets bigger and can play with some cute bath toys!

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Eden Sparrow Westrum

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April 22nd, 2018 10:00pm- the moment our lives were forever changed.

This amazing & beautiful creation came into this world 9lbs and 6oz and 22.5in long. I was in labor for about 40 hours and yet the moment we met, I instantly forgot about the pain and struggle it took because I was so thankful to finally have her in my arms. She exceeded all my wildest dreams and she continues to make my heart burst with affection and love. I am still in awe of the miracle that is miss Eden. 

Let's rewind a little bit in order to get the full story of how we finally got to meet! Going into labor, I had high hopes of doing a water birth but the only restriction was that I couldn't go beyond 41 weeks. Eden was quite comfortable in there so we didn't quite make it before the 41 week mark, so we had to adjust our strategy a bit. I still planned to do an unmedicated birth and the birthing center we chose has huge tubs in each room. So either way we'd still get to use a tub in the process. 

On Friday night before Eden was born, Steve and I went out with some friends to an arcade and had a great time. When we got home, we headed straight to bed at about 12:30. Right when I laid my head down on my pillow, I felt a contraction that I knew was different. Steve had already dosed off, so I decided to get into the bath and see if the contractions would continue and strengthen. The contractions picked up but I still didn't wake up Steve. I wanted him to rest before things got really intense. At about 6am, Steve finally woke to find me in labor and decided to call my doula Kayla to come over. I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible before heading to the hospital. 

 Our last day before we became parents. 

Our last day before we became parents. 

Unfortunately things started to slow down and I was getting very tired. We tried to get things moving again by walking around, playing games, and attempting to nap in between contractions. By about 8pm Saturday night, things had picked back up and we decided it was time to head to the hospital! The midwife working that night was helping a delivery when we arrived, so we had to wait until about 10pm to get checked. When we finally were able to see the midwife, she gave me the worst news: I was only 1 cm dilated!?!

I. WAS. CRUSHED.

I completely broke down in defeat/exhaustion. I felt like the whole day had been wasted. The thought of going home and laboring through another sleepless night was just too much to fathom. I just wanted to meet my baby! 

Luckily the midwife decided to keep me at the hospital and give me some morphine to help me rest. The morphine didn't make the contractions stop, but it helped me to rest in between. At 7am the midwife came in to check on my progress and was shocked to find out that I was 6cm dilated! HALLELUJAH! I couldn't believe that things had turned back around so quickly. It was finally game time and I was so ready to get this baby out!

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Kayla, Steve and I practiced different coping positions and techniques to help baby girl move down. I spent a long time in the tub and that was definitely the best way for me to relax. A few hours passed and we had made it to 7 cm. Progress was happening but slowly. Exhaustion started kicking back in and the two days of not sleeping was weakening my mental strength. Also, I started experiencing back labor and began to feel myself resisting the pain and tensing up during each contraction. So of course, labor stopped progressing and it was time to talk about our options. The midwife suggested 3 things:

  1. Break my water-which would help baby progress but would intensify labor  
  2. Get an epidural- which would allow me to have some rest but mean that I would be confined to the bed for the rest of labor
  3. Get a pitocin induction- which could put stress on the baby and also intensify labor
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Steve and I prayed about it and both felt like the best option would be to get the epidural and then break my water. My exhaustion was overpowering me and I needed some relief. The epidural ended up working in the best possible way. I was able to sleep for a couple hours which was super helpful. It also didn't completely numb me from feeling the contractions but took the edge off the pain so it was manageable. After a few more hours we were finally able to get up to 9cm!

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Around 8:30pm, I began feeling insane pressure and the need to push. So we had the midwife come in and help me do some practice pushes to get Eden to 10cm. With Steve holding one leg and Kayla holding the other leg, I pushed until I was fully dilated. Baby girl was finally able to drop down and I was ready to get her out! The midwife told me that it could take anywhere from 1-3 hours to push her out, but I knew there was no way I was going to wait that long. So with each contraction I pushed with everything I had left in me. The nurse and midwife were shocked at how determined I was and were not expecting things to happen so quickly. But I managed to push her out in just 30 minutes and it was the most insane feeling in the entire world. I doesn't seem like it should even be possible but the reward is unimaginable. Like I just finished a marathon! I will never forget the feeling of holding her and seeing her for the first time. I had no idea she was going to be so big! She was absolutely perfect and I am so thankful to have a big healthy beautiful baby girl. 

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Becoming a mother is something I would have never thought would make me feel so full. I am overflowing with love and compassion like I have never known. It has made me step outside myself and evaluate all the things I thought were important. I honestly thought I knew a lot of things about labor, babies, and motherhood but now that I'm experiencing it, I realize that I still don't know very much at all. I didn't know what I didn't know, but thank God there is grace. There is so much to learn and the less expectations I have for it, the easier it will be to adjust and deepen my understanding. I am so completely undeserving of the grace that motherhood brings but I am going to do my very best to try and love this little one like she deserves. She is the best gift we have ever received and we are so lucky to be her mom and dad.

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Heun Family

Fall has been such a beautiful but short season this year and I am so glad I got to snag some family photos. I love these guys so much and not just because they are family ;) My niece and nephew are hilarious and adorable, but what is even more crazy is that they are expecting their 3rd sibling next Spring! I am honored to get to watch these guys continue to grow in love and in family members. Here are some photos to remember the times when they were just a family of four!

Family Session with the Shelley's

I have few words to express how grateful I am to work with families like this. The Shelley's are thrilled to introduce baby Landon into the world and their family dynamic was so adorable to capture. It's always so easy to work with such laid back people who fully trust in my creative weirdness. It is actually kind of crazy chasing an active little toddler around while trying to keep a newborn asleep and peaceful. We managed to get some awesome shots of all of Landon's poofy full hair, wrinkly baby skin and tiny features while also getting some of little Eva's personality. I hope you enjoy the small glimpse into Luke and Shannon's beautiful family. 

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Phelan Family

Lifestyle family sessions are what make me come alive as an artist. A majority of life's sweetest moments take place in the home. It's natural, candid, and comfortable to take photos like this, especially with a newborn!


Mia is perfection and her parents are head over heels for this little peanut. It was so beautiful and heart warming to capture such tender love and sloppy dog kisses. 

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Noah

 

When I was a senior, my senior portraits were a BIG deal. I wanted to look like a mature adult polished, confident and ready to take on the world. In hindsight, I knew absolutely nothing about who I was or what life actually looked like outside my high school walls. There was so much more to see and explore in the real world, I wouldn't possibly have had a grip on my identity until I started exploring and growing on my own. 
So when I go into senior sessions, I really am only after one thing and that is to capture a young person as exactly who they are in this season of life. I want to show the different passions, characteristics, and life experiences that have shaped them into who they are. Because in just a few short years, things will probably look VERY different for them. However, they will have these photos & memories to look back and remember where they came from. They'll be able to remember the safe and warm environment of home and always know where they can come back to. It should also be a reminder of all they accomplished in their grade school days and have gratitude for all their parents or guardians sacrifice. 
Here are some portraits I did for a young man named Noah. He has an optimistic perspective and confident approach to his future. I think he is ready for the world and he is definitely eager to explore just like most people are at his age. Oh to be young....

Building Forts

Today I miss my three little pals and their sweet parents in Kentucky. It's been over a month since this trip and I have been trying to find time to express exactly how it all impacted me.

I lived in a very full house of 8 1/2 humans for about 10 days. However, this house is out in the country nestled into this hillside overlooking some beautiful rolling hills. There are chickens and various types of wasps & bees, but somehow really refreshing and peaceful. Me and the kids watched movies, built forts, colored, played uno, board games, and read stories. It was different than my normal day to day, but I left feeling so rejuvenated in my spirit. It was like my soul was able to rest even though life was a different kind of busy. 

Originally, I was there to photograph an in-home birth and we were all really excited for it. Everyday, we thought it might be the day but sadly it never came while I was there. People asked me, "Were you disappointed?" "Did you feel like it was a waste of a trip?" Honestly, yes I was disappointed that I didn't get to do what I set out to do. Does that mean it was a waste of a trip? Absolutely not!!! 

I learned a lot about pregnancy and babies and how untimely birth can happen. I learned a lot about parenting and how failures turn into a learning experience and you sometimes have to try something new. I had awesome quality time with my extended family and caught up on a lot of things. I got sun burnt because it was 70 and sunny most of the time there! And I still photographed lots of ordinary moments that I will cherish for a long time. I built forts and watched Disney movies with my pals and it was awesome!

I came there with a lot of expectation, and left there not fulfilling hardly any of my plans. But man was it worth it. I would go back and do it all again in a heart beat (but maybe try to time it a little better to actually catch the birth ha). Birth photography is something I desperately want to pursue, I just need to get the right opportunity. I am fascinated by the strength, inspired by the beauty and overwhelmed by the love & joy that comes. Someday I'll get to photograph a birth, I just have to be patient!

Kentucky Adventures

For those of you who don't know, I am currently in Kentucky and I am patiently waiting for a baby to arrive. You see, about 3 months ago my cousin called me up and asked if I would be interested in a cool photo opportunity. Long story short, his wife Angela is planning to deliver their fourth baby in home and asked me to come down and document this miraculous moment. I obviously agreed to come down, in hopes that baby would arrive in the time frame I have planned to be here.
Baby was due Monday, April 3rd and it is already Wednesday, April 5th. She must be comfy up there or just really wants a suspenseful entrance!
Meanwhile, I have been spending time with mom, the other three kiddos and her parents most days in their cozy home in Kentucky while we all wait for baby to arrive. Most days we spend as much time as we can outside enjoying the sunny 75 degree weather and playing with some chickens they are raising. It has been great to spend some quality time with them but we all want to meet baby pretty soon here because the clock is ticking!

Elisebeth & Trevor

I don't often ask couples to hike up a steep cliff in 30 degree weather for photos, but when I do it ends up being pure magic. This newlywed couple is one of those real life kinds of people that don't just look like they are in love but actually really are! I couldn't be more thankful that these guys won my Valentine's giveaway. Check out my freezing Devil's Lake couple shoot with Trevor & Elisebeth.

Gorton Wedding

"High school sweethearts" sounds like something out of a fairy tale these days. Well that's exactly what Morgan & Zach's wedding felt like. All the dreamy reds & greens, the matching snow boots, and even a snow storm right after the ceremony to put the cherry on top. These two were the most effortless couple to capture and the most pleasant people to work with. Not to mention they made a winter wedding in Wisconsin look like the most magical thing a couple could dream of! 

Ruby Wedding

This wedding was so uniquely wonderful. Clay and Brielle have a deep appreciation for the traditions of the Catholic church and their style and personalities fit perfectly with this style. Every detail was so thoughtfully intentional but at the same time very laid back. They couldn't have picked a better day for a fall wedding in Wisconsin. I am so inspired from this beautiful nuptial mass and how perfectly it fit together with this couple. 

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