Tags archives: documentary family photographer

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. 

 

Backyard Summer Session

Backyard chalk- summer sessionA classic Florida summer, playing in the backyard with your siblings. Having fun with chalk, eating popsicles, and playing on a slip-n-slide! These times spent together with your family are where treasured memories are made.

A documentary photo session is for you as a parent, yes, but they are also for your kids. These sessions give your children photographs to look back on that show what their childhood was really like. There is nothing wrong with getting dressed up and taking a pretty portrait, but those photographs don’t show your day to day, real, honest life. They don’t show how your kids use to act, or the silly things they use to do, like making “clay” out of chalk, or coloring their doll with so much chalk that the water they were sitting in turned purple. These photographs give them a true glimpse into what their lives use to look like. They bring up precious memories, and they bring up good conversation reminiscing on the past.

Don’t wait until your lives are more put together, or you move into a bigger house. No, your family is not too crazy, or too boring.  I believe every person is inherently interesting, and valuable, and has a story to tell.  Would you give me the honor of telling your family’s story through a documentary photo session?  We all know that kids grow up fast, so don’t wait, book your summer session today by contacting me Here

PopsiclesMother and sonBubble- summer sessionBlowing bubblesChalkGetting DressedBackyard PlaySibling LoveSmell it!Go mom!PurpleMomDon't do it

Nursing Session

“I breastfed my first baby for 19 months, my second for 2.5 years, and my third for two months and going strong. My first two weaned on their own and I plan to follow this baby’s lead, too, in terms of how long we go. All three of my babies had medical issues at birth that made breastfeeding a big challenge in the beginning but once we got the hang of it, it was wonderful. I’ve been lucky to have a very supportive husband and family and colleagues when I was working full time. I’ve nursed (and pumped) in lots of different places and situations and have never had any negative reactions. I used a cover in public for probably the first three months with my first baby, but never after that because it’s cumbersome and uncomfortable. Breastfeeding has been about much more than nutrition for us: my babies nurse for food, for comfort, for reassurance, and to fall asleep. I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to breastfeed my kids.”

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Breastfeeding a Three Week Old.

“My baby Josiah is 3 weeks old and my experience with breastfeeding isn’t nearly as black and white as I thought it would be. No one explain to me how painful and frustrating learning how to breastfeed an infant was going to be. Everyone always said “it is be a rewarding experience” completely leaving out the pain that I never thought my nipples would ever experience and the exhaustion of someone pulling on a sensitive body part, that already hurts for 15 minutes every 2 hours. To give you an idea, go give yourself road rash and then rub the road rash for 15 minutes every 2 hours for the foreseeable future. I’ve had lots of friends who are mothers that tell me often the pain does go away, but at 3 weeks we don’t have that luxury. That being said I wouldn’t change it for the world my baby’s health is more important to me than any limb of my body. Getting to be his mother is the best feeling in the world.

Breastfeeding in public is something that has gotten a lot of attention in the media. And as a mother who is solely breastfeeding, being in public and having someone come up to me and try to publicly shame my for feeding my child is despicable. My baby’s health and happiness is worth more to me than a stranger’s opinion or comfort. Because If I’m feeding my child in public it’s for his sake, not mine. I’m not doing it for personal gain, if anything in this experience I’ve lost my own comfort, time and sleep. If I’m breastfeeding in public, I’ve probably only slept two to three hours total for the last couple weeks. My nipples are in pain, my body is exhausted and I have a crying baby. The last thing I need is a stranger try to make me feel shame of the most natural thing on the planet. To those people out there who think it’s gross and I should be ashamed of myself…. Where would you be toady to have this opinion if when you were an infant no one fed you? My son is my heart walking outside of my body. I never truly understood what God meant by His unconditional love for me, until I held my son in my arms and had to love him without condition. Including breastfeeding.

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Why Documentary Family Photography is so important.

“Although we’ve been led to believe that our fondest memories are made in the grand occasions of life, in reality, they happen when we pause in the ordinary, mundane moments of a busy day. The most meaningful life experiences don’t happen in the “when,” they happen in the “now.” This concept is not earth shattering, nor is it something you don’t already know. Yet we still continually put off the best aspects of living until the conditions are right.” – Rachel Macy Stafford ( Hands Free Life)

This quote really speaks to me because it is so true, and it applies to my vision as a photographer so much.  Yes wedding, and birthday photographs are important,and should absolutely be captured, but what about the rest of your life? Aren’t the days spent at home with your kids important too? What about the cuddles, and the laughter, that princess or superhero outfit your kid won’t take off?  My goal is to reveal to each family how important their day to day lives are. I want them to see the beauty in the mundane moments, and the chaos of raising kids.

Real life is messy, and lacks perfection, but isn’t that what makes it great? When you look back in 20 years when your kids are all grown, what are you going to want to remember? I want you to be able to look back and remember what made your children unique. I want your children to be able to look back and remember what it was like growing up, and to see how much they were loved by their family.

I invite you to be brave. Let me capture these everyday moments for your family! They are so special, no matter how crazy, imperfect, or boring they may seem to you. Your kids are only this age for so long! Don’t put it off any longer!  Even if your hesitant, message me here, we can set up a meeting, and talk over all your concerns. I will walk through everything with you, and we will do whatever works best for your family!  I take pride in getting to know each family I have the honor of photographing. My #1 goal is to create images that your family will cherish forever.

Great GrandmaA Day in the LifeDocumentary family photography Day in the Life-49Florida Heat- Documentary Family photographyGran-mommy Documentary Family PhotographyDresdners-34Documentary Family Photography

Abigail's Story.

Eduardo and Diana, have three children, Jeilany, Eduardo Jr, and Abigail. Abigail, age four, is their youngest. She was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in June 2014. Abigail is a joyful, and brave little girl. She is always making those around her laugh and smile. She is positive, even through her all the adversity she has faced being sick. As I spent time with the Mayorga’s, I saw the hardship of having a child with cancer. They have to watch their child go through such painful treatment, and try to help her cope with any anxiety she may have about her treatment.  I also saw the happiness, not because she has cancer, but because they have chosen to smile and laugh and be joyful through this circumstance. My goal is to give people an intimate view of the reality of having a child with cancer, as well as, give encouragement to those walking through this journey of childhood cancer, too.At HomeLearning the alphabetThe Ugly IguanaCar Ride to SchoolSistersHopeTreatmentDescribe your overall journey of having a child with cancer.

It was a drastic change. I had to stop working. She was unable to go anywhere literally nowhere.  We would spend months at the hospital. The kids would feel abandoned. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. The last thing you imagine is to receive the news, let alone to have to watch your 3 year old endure so much pain. The only thing that has kept us strong is the way she is always positive and happy and crazy, it’s contagious. Now in this part of the treatment she gets to be a little bit more able to be free but still with the occasional hand washing.

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A day with the Hartley's

A few weeks ago I spent the day with the Hartley’s. They had their fourth baby in July. Their kids are so sweet. They spent the morning playing tennis. Then they spent some time at home, and most of the day at grandma, and grandpas house. Watching Delia, the oldest, hold the new little baby Madsen, was so sweet. She is such a natural with him. She will make a great mom some day.  I love the different interactions between family members. Having extended family adds a whole other element which I love.

I love spending an entire day with a family. It is such an honor to be allowed in someones home, to get to photograph real honest moments in their lives!  Hartley's-10Shelby Truly Photography Documentary family photographyHartley's-11 day in the lifeDocumentary PhotographyKids tennis day in the life session Shelby Truly PhotographyKids tennisat homeHartley's-24Hartley's-25Hartley's-26Hartley's-27Hartley's-28Hartley's-31Hartley's-33Hartley's-36Hartley's-41Hartley's-43Hartley's-45Hartley's-48Hartley's-46Hartley's-49Hartley's-52Hartley's-50Hartley's-54Hartley's-51Hartley's-56Hartley's-60Hartley's-64Hartley's-68Hartley's-71

Photo Session Giveaway!

This October I am excited to have a booth at the Palm Beach Baby Shower Expo at the Mariott in West Palm Beach. It is going to be a great event for families with new little one’s on the way. I will be giving away a session at the Expo, but to get the excitement rolling, I am also giving away a session Now. Starting today and ending Friday, you could win a 90 minute family session with me including 1 8×10 Print and 10% all other products!

Follow the link below!

http://www.bellybabybeyond.com/#!giveaways/c9wb11802534_10204561073200673_3826101149713829810_o