Category archives: Personal

Getting real about my postpartum experience.

Mom in labor with husband's supportAustin only left my side once during labor, because he had to move the car, and even then, he moved as fast as he could, because he knew I needed him.

Mom in labor with a nurse standing near byTrue love is letting your wife rest her head on yours, even though you are getting soaked, because you know that is the only thing that will bring her comfort.Laboring in the showerThe best healthcare provider I have ever met. I thank God for my midwife Kathy. She truly cares about her patients, and is passionate about her job.Birth with a midwifeMeeting Thea for the first time. Birth photos all by the talented Paulina Speltcha.
Cesarean birth, skin to skin in the OR.
On Monday, October 17th, 2016  at 8:16am, after 27 hours of drug free labor, my daughter was born via Cesearan. Hearing her cry for the first time, was pure relief. The battle had been won. All 9lb 1oz of her was here. They placed her on my chest in the OR, and her little hand grabbed my face. The first thing I noticed was that she had the same nose as me. I was too tired to express my emotions, and if I am being honest it wasn’t the best moment of my life. I didn’t feel the magical love that everyone talked about.  I was way too tired, and traumatized to really feel much at all.  I wanted to instantly bond with her, and feel that great love, but it wasn’t there.

The view from my hospital room. Photo by Paulina Speltcha.Sunrise in West Palm BeachWhile we were at the hospital I spiked a fever, so they put me on a ton of antibiotics to prevent any infection that might have been forming. We stayed at the hospital for four days. If you know me, you know I am not a fan of hospitals. The constant people in, and out, the attention, and overall atmosphere doesn’t mesh well with my personality. I thank God that our hospital room had a view of palm trees, and the ocean, without that it would have been much harder for me. 

Leaving the hospital. I really hope we buckled her in better than this before we left, but we were so out of it, I’m not sure that we did. Oops.Baby in carseatThursday late afternoon we were finally released from the hospital. Bringing a baby home for the first time is scary, but my husband and I were both anxious to leave. We were both exhausted, and ready to be in the comfort of our own home.  I didn’t think of how hard life would be once we got there. Somehow, bringing Thea home confused her days and nights. Instead of just eating and going back to sleep like she had at the hospital, she was awake in the middle of the night. I remember sitting in our bedroom at 3am with an awake newborn, who didn’t want to go back to sleep, or be put down. It was not fun. Add to this the fact that when I laid down to try and sleep I was having nightmares about being in labor. The lack of sleep felt like torture. We were so overwhelmed.

Time stamped 2:54am (Ironically sleeping)Newborn at homeOur first day home with Thea.
Postpartum experienceThe next morning I called my mom in desperation. We needed help. We couldn’t do this alone, but I felt so guilty asking for help. I was Thea’s mom, I should be able to handle this right?? I felt like a burden, and a failure asking for help. I know now that I shouldn’t have felt this way. My mom got to spend time with her brand new grand baby. I’m sure she was ecstatic, but I didn’t see that in the moment.

Grammy to the rescue.Grandmother holding newbornI spent the majority of my time for the first few months of Thea’s life in this spot on the couch. It was easier for me to get up and down from the couch than the bed, and Thea slept better in the swing. ( Photo by Austin)Newborn Sleep deprivation Daddy Daughter napMommy baby portraitThe months to come were some of the hardest of my life. With the lack of sleep, and my body not healing properly, depression set in (not surprising for me). It all felt too hard, like so hard I couldn’t do it. I remember asking God why he made me Thea’s mother because obviously I wasn’t cut out for it. Everyone around me expected me to be over the moon, and so in love with my new baby. This expectation just added to the guilt. I was struggling to bond, and feel the love that everyone talked about.

I don’t want to leave you with the impression I never enjoyed her, because I did, I just didn’t enjoy her like I should have.Self portraitI mean look at this sweetness. She was/is so precious.Baby in a swingBaby being heldAt six weeks old, Thea started sleeping a 4-5 hour chunk in the beginning of the night. It felt amazing, and it gave me a glimmer of hope. I thought maybe I could do this after all. Sadly it only lasted a few weeks, with her teething early, sleep went out the window once again. Sleep continued to get worse, she eventually got down to waking up every single hour ( and no I am not exaggerating). This was my breaking point. I couldn’t do it anymore. I finally broke down sobbing, and my aunt took her for the night. It’s hard for anyone else to watch a breastfed baby who won’t take a bottle, but they made it through, and  I slept for five hours straight. This was the longest stretch of unbroken sleep I had slept in the three and a half months of Thea’s life.  It was also the longest stretch of sleep my body would allow. My body didn’t know how to sleep through the night anymore. 

I posted this photo to Instagram, talking about sleep issues. Looking back now, I think it should have been titled “This is what Postpartum depression looks like.” But depression is tricky, it doesn’t always look like this. There are smiles, and happy moments still, but a dark cloud lingers overhead.Postpartum depressionAround four months old we let her cry to go to sleep, it was that, or me locked up in a mental ward.  It was one of those things I never wanted to do but ended up doing to save my sanity. (For those of you who think I was a terrible person for letting my baby cry herself to sleep. I don’t really care what you think, nor do I want to hear your opinion.) It helped. She didn’t magically sleep through the night, but enough to keep me from losing it, we went from waking hourly to 3ish times a night.

Baby face hugWhen Thea was five months old, I sought help for my mental health, and something was sparked in me. God spoke into my life, and I finally had hope of getting better. Hope is powerful. I realized that I wasn’t stuck like this forever. That God was/and still is bigger than my struggles. My bond with Thea grew, and I developed the great love that everyone talked about so much. I started to enjoy spending my days with Thea, and being her mom.Playing with babyFamily Photographer I am so grateful for this love, and the joy that she brings into the lives of those around her. I love watching her grow, and learn. I soak up her smiles, and laughter.  I love listening to her ‘talk.’ She is my little people watcher, and observer. She is strong willed, and will let you know exactly what she wants, or doesn’t want. She loves figuring out how things work, and imitating mommy, and daddy. She is still a boobie baby, and will let me know she wants to nurse, by repeatedly pecking her face into my chest like a little bird. She loves animals, and insists on making friends with them where ever we go. And I am thankful to say that she nows sleeps through the night completely!

Baby bathTo the mamas struggling, hang in there, I promise it gets better. Find your village ( I am still in the process of growing mine), and accept help. I promise there are people in your life that want to help, let them. I had help, but should have accepted more. I felt guilty accepting more help, because she was my baby, and I should have been able to do it all by myself right?? 

To everyone with a new mom (or dad) in your life, ask how they are doing, care about them too, not just the baby. Don’t assume she is on a magical new baby high, too many women struggle with Postpartum Depression to assume this.  Even if they aren’t facing PPD, parenthood is hard, not sleeping is hard, trying to do it all on your own is hard. And don’t forget dad, this whole thing is hard for him too, and takes a lot of adjusting, and sacrifice. 

To all of you who helped us in this past year, thank you! When they say it takes a village to raise a child, they mean it. I have learned the importance of community. We weren’t created to do this life alone, even if you are good at being alone like I am. 

I write all of this, not for sympathy or your pity, but so the mom who is in the midst of the struggle knows she isn’t alone.  If you are struggling, and need an ear to listen, or want to share your story, feel free to email me shelbytruly@gmail.com. I will do my best to reply to everyone in a timely manner. 

 

Lake Worth Swap Shop

The Swap Shop of Lake Worth is home to a variety of activities and people, with an emphasis on Mexican culture. There is a drive in movie theater every night, and a flea market four days of the week. The drive-in theater provides the latest movies for families, and friends to enjoy. The flea market brings people of different cultures and backgrounds, selling a great variety of things from authentic Mexican food, fresh fruit, clothes, furniture, and even soap. I was drawn to this location because I wanted to capture this diversity in the people, activities, and things sold.Lake Worth Swap Shop Clothes TruckFlea Market Shelby Truly PhotographySwap Shop Yellow Dress Shelby Truly Photography5Lady in White Shelby Truly Photography6 Rain Rain Go Away Shelby Truly Photography7 Drive In Shelby Truly Photography7 No Animals Shelby Truly Photography8 The Saints Shelby Truly Photography10 No Place To Go Homeless

Pizza and Ice Cream

I love documenting simple life moments. I had such a good time with my family on Monday, we all  hopped in grandmas van, went for lunch,  and then we went to get ice cream at Sloans, where my sister works. I loved the look on my sisters face, when we all came in to see her. It was so nice, to see her so happy. I think these moments are the ones we are going to want to remember in the years to come.
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A Boy and His Gran-mommy

Here are some photos I took on our trip to see family in Jacksonville. We got to spend some time with Austin’s mom, also known as Gran-mommy, his sister Christi, and our nephew Jake.

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The Lawrence's | Documentary Photography

The more I have the opportunity to spend the day documenting peoples lives, the more I grow to love it. I love being allowed a glimpse into someone’s everyday. It is such an honor and privilege that people allow me to come into their home and capture the beauty of their lives. To them their life might seem redundant or boring. I hear it all the time, ” We’re boring.” or ” My house is a nightmare! Why would you want to photograph it??”  There is beauty in daily life, you may not see it in yours, but if you took a step back and really looked you would. The simple, the laughs, the smiles, being with your loved ones. These things are what matter in the long run.

A few weeks ago I spent half the day with my grandparents. I followed their saturday routine with them. It was fascinating. Every Saturday for a couple years now they have gone across the street to New Port cafe to eat breakfast. I didn’t know how popular they were until I went with them. I think everyone in the restaurant knew who they were.  After breakfast they went home to do their daily crossword puzzles, and watch tv. Later, we went to the barber to get papa’s haircut, then came home and ate lunch. I love spending time with my grandparents. It was even more interesting to see what a normal saturday morning looks like to them and to get to document it.

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5 Years

Yesterday marked Austin and I’s first five years together. Five years total of dating, being engaged, and being married.  Austin has been such an amazing blessing in my life.  From the start, I knew there was something different about him. They way he looked at me, his eyes were caring and interested in me, in who I really was. I thought I was just the shy awkward one to people, but he saw something more. I remember the day we started dating so clearly. I was absolutely terrified. I was sixteen. I had never had a boyfriend before, because I feared being hurt more than anything.  I knew that God was telling me to trust Him and say yes to Austin though. To allow someone else into my life, and to open myself up to that possibility of being hurt. It was so hard for me, but looking back, I am so glad I did. Proof that God knows what is best for us, even if we don’t see it. Austin loves me more then I thought any man could, he knows how to make me smile even when I don’t want to, he makes me laugh all the time, and he is everything I didn’t know I wanted.

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“So stop running against the wind
Stop fighting a fight you won’t win
And let me in
I wanna make you feel beautiful

Cause I don’t care about the scares on your soul
I don’t care about your past so let it go
Look in my eyes cuz it’s time it’s time

There’s no place to move no place to run
No place to hide away from love
You’re all I want now
So don’t let this go and pass you by
It’s time to let your heart decide
You know you’re all I want now
You know you’re all I want”

– “All I Want”- Philip Larue

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Thanksgiving

Austin and I were so blessed to be able to spend our thanksgiving with both of our families ( or at least parts of both). I am grateful to have most of my family live near by,  and that his was able to come down and spend a couple days with us! Two thanksgivings can be a bit much but it is so worth it!
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