It’s been 3 weeks since Olivia Sky arrived and it’s only now that I’m able to sit down and write her birth story. Here’s how it all played out baby girl.

The Day Before

Our morning started out just like every other. Even though it’s spring, there is still snow on the ground from a bunch of storms that rolled through a couple of weeks before you was born. It’s been so cold for so long!
It was raining this particular morning, but not too cold. I brought Jaime to school. We listened to The Greatest Showman soundtrack on the way and sang all the wrong words. Her favorite song is “The Other Side.”
Lady always come for a ride with us in the morning and then I take her for a walk at the fields on Elm Street. She hates the rain, but I made her do one lap around the football field.
Then, I took a trip to Walmart for some last minute Easter candy and flip flops to bring to the hospital. Everything I read online said to bring flip flops to wear in the hospital shower. I also wanted to make sure I didn’t forget my camera. Oh, and I had to make one last trip to Old Navy to pick up some more cute baby clothes for you.
When I got back, I finished packing up my hospital bag and had lunch. Tomorrow was the big day. We were finally going to meet you! The doctor scheduled an induction and we were supposed to go to the hospital at midnight.
Grandma came over later that afternoon and slept over so that Jaime and Julianna wouldn’t be alone. They weren’t allowed in the maternity ward because of a flu outbreak. I was so heartbroken! One of the things I used to dream about while I was pregnant with you was the moment you got to meet your sisters. I knew they would fall head over heels in love and I couldn’t wait to see their faces. I just had to accept that it was going to happen differently than I dreamed.
While Jaime went to dance that day, Julianna, Daddy, and I went to Chili’s for dinner. She wanted to hear the story of her birth so we talked about that for a while. She asked me if I was nervous and I told her yes.

Then, the phone rang. 

And my heart sunk. They were calling to say your delivery would be postponed. There were no beds in the hospital so they wouldn’t be able to accommodate us. I was so disappointed. I was looking forward to meeting you and now I had to wait. So Daddy and I went to bed.
Around 5:45 the next morning I started having contractions. All on my own. I guess you were determined to come on your due date no matter what. I tried to go back to sleep, but they came pretty consistently for a while. I knew that I couldn’t call the doctor though until they were 5 minutes apart for at least an hour.
I wanted to pass the time so me, your dad, your sisters and your grandma all went for a walk at the high school. We ate lunch and I even did a little shopping. It was around 1:00 when I went to lay down, but daddy wanted me to call the doctor since my contractions had been pretty consistent all day. It was a good thing he did because she told us to come to the hospital. Yay!!
When we got to the hospital it took a while to get checked out. Apparently a whole lot of babies wanted to be born that day. I was so nervous they were going to tell me we had to go back home. And when the nurse checked me I was only 2 cm dilated. Luckily, my water broke. That didn’t happen to me with your sisters but it guaranteed me a room so I was happy. The only bad thing is my contractions intensified after that.
The pain became unbearable. Poor daddy. I was squeezing his hand and pulling his shirt. It was pretty bad. Around 6:30 or so they gave me some medicine for the pain and it helped a little. One side affect of the medicine was this terrible shaking though. I was shaking so badly I could barely talk. We tried so many different things to get comfortable, but it wasn’t until the doctor suggested this thing called a peanut that I felt some relief.
Finally, a little after 11:00 at night, I was ready to push. It only took 7 minutes and 4 pushes to welcome you into this world. The doctor cleaned you up a little and put you on my chest and I could not believe you were finally here!!
It’s been a roller coaster since that day and I am so thankful I brought my camera with me. These pictures bring me back to the day you were born and I cherish them so much.
Fresh 48 session. www.stacymaeandco.com

This is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. If you’ve scrolled through my Instagram, you know we love our Lady. She’s the sweetest thing and ever since my belly started showing, she’s been by my side snuggled up next to her baby sister. But I worry about how she’ll react to the new baby once she comes home. What will she do when the baby cries? Will she be skittish around her? What about when she gets older and starts crawling around the floor?

Lady is a rescue dog. We’ve had her for about 3 years now and she fits in perfectly to our family. My 11 year old is obsessed with her and Lady kindly tolerates Jaime’s constant attention (whether she wants it or not). My oldest is not the biggest animal lover, but Lady’s personality is perfect for her. She knows when to back off and doesn’t bother her too much. Just the way Julianna likes it.

But this baby will be something new. Someone who will take my attention away from her. Someone who will take her place in our warm, comfy bed at times too. We started kicking her out a few months ago, encouraging her to go upstairs and sleep with Jaime, but she inevitably sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night and ends up under our covers. We’ve bought a few different dog beds, each one comfier than the next, but she doesn’t go near them.

We also started putting out baby things a few weeks ago so she can get used to them. The bassinet, a car seat (which she was not happy about since it stops her from jumping in the front seat next to me while I’m driving), diapers, a pacifier, etc. We plan to bring home one of the baby’s blankets from the hospital so that she can get used to her smell.

I wondered what else we should be doing so I did a little research. Here are some other tips I found online that we’re going to try.

Tips for introducing your newborn to your fur baby. www.stacymaeandco.com

When you get home from the hospital, greet the dog alone without the baby. I told my husband I want to come in the house first so she can greet me and I’ll love on her for a few minutes before he brings the baby in.

Praise the dog when she interacts with the baby in a positive way. Goes without saying, but Lady can be insecure so I think she’ll appreciate the words of encouragement when she comes over to sniff the baby.

Give your dog attention when the baby is around. I guess it’s obvious, but I never really thought about this. If I am only giving Lady attention when the baby is sleeping or out of the room, she’ll decide good things happen when the baby isn’t around.

Never leave the dog alone with the baby. Period.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress! If all goes well, I can’t wait to take a million photos of them together!!

 

 

Dear Baby Girl,

 

In the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep and I find myself staring at the ceiling, I think about you and what I want for your future.

 

I promise to take you on adventures. Let’s explore new places together. Find little pockets of the world that are beautiful and quiet and soak it all in.

 

I promise to paint your nails. To take the time to slow down

 

I promise to make a mess. Even though most days I’ll probably be asking you to pick up your toys or clean your room, I will make time to make a mess with you.

 

I promise to pig out on pizza and ice cream and donuts. But also teach you about being healthy and taking care of your body.

 

I promise to be your biggest supporter. To encourage and inspire you to be a strong, independent woman.

 

I promise to be there. All the time. In the middle of the night. When I’m busy at work. Whenever you need me. And your dad too!

 

I promise to let you be you. If you want to wear mismatched clothes. Color your hair. Pierce your nose.

 

I promise to tell you you’re beautiful. Not just on the outside, but the inside too. I want you to be confident in your abilities as much as your appearance.

 

I promise to be silly with you. Dance in the rain. Sing in the car. Tell jokes. Take a break from the routine of our day and have fun.

 

I promise to make your sisters read to you. They are older than you. A lot older than you, but they’ve been waiting a long time for you. They are excited to meet you. I want you to know that they may be busy at times, but I promise they will always make time for you.

 

I promise to hold your hand and protect you. As long as you’ll let me. And when you’re too big to hold my hand, I’ll walk next to you, side by side, still watching.

 

I promise to believe in you. Always. Even when you don’t believe in yourself. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. Along with your sisters.

Promise to my baby. www.stacymaeandco.com

It’s Friday! Today I am 39 weeks. That means baby girl can make her debut any day now. The waiting is the worst part. Someone said this to me and it’s so true. There are 30 days in a month when you’re pregnant except the last one where there are 500. Lol!

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the things that have helped me get through the long days … and nights.

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack. I finally saw the movie last weekend and LOVED it! Before it was even over, I was on iTunes searching for the album. Now, every morning, my daughter and I listen to it in the car on the drive to school and sing at the top of our lungs. You need this on your playlist!!

5 on Friday. What I'm Loving Lately. www.stacymaeandco.com

The Goal Digger Podcast. If you’ve never heard of Jenna Kutcher, I urge you to check her out. Especially if you’re a small business owner or creative entrepreneur. She’s super sweet and refreshingly honest. I hope to one day build a business and brand that mirrors hers. She’s got killer advice and always keeps it real. I listen while I’m answering emails or driving in the car.

5 on Friday. What I'm Loving Lately. www.stacymaeandco.com

Naptime. I could not get through the day without a little siesta before school pick up!

Instagram stories. If I can’t get a nap in, I’ll make sure I at least lay down for a few minutes and when I do, I’m usually scrolling through Instagram stories. Some of my fave accounts to follow are @lynzyandco @acefanning and @letteredcottage. All very different, but they all make me laugh.

Shopping. Do you know how hard it is to stop myself from buying all.the.baby.things??? This is the fun part about having a baby. It’s like playing dress up! BUT, it can also be tricky because I don’t know how big/little she’ll be so I don’t want to go overboard with one particular size and then she never wears them. I’m loving all the adorable stuff Gap and Old Navy have for spring. Especially this and this! I also love Spearmint Baby. How adorable is this dress??

5 on Friday. What I'm Loving Lately. www.stacymaeandco.com.

 

I was not good about documenting my first two pregnancies. Maybe it’s because it was so long ago and I didn’t have the same tools I do today. Maybe it’s my reluctance to hop in front of the camera. Either way, this will be my last pregnancy so I’ve forced myself to take more selfies and capture this special time. And so should you!

Most of the images were taken with my iPhone, but I’ve also asked my husband and daughters for help too. In the photo below, I used the self timer on my DSLR and moved a big mirror in front of my bedroom door. I wanted to make sure I could see my belly button because that’s something that didn’t happen with my other two pregnancies.

How to take a good baby bump photo. www.stacymaeandco.com. Photo tips for taking maternity selfies.

Are you expecting? How are you documenting your pregnancy? It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, but I totally recommend setting aside some time to snap a few pictures of your growing belly. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, here are a few simple tips to help you take a good baby bump photo.

Find good light

My bedroom is where I take most of my photos. I’ve got all white bedding, white paint on the walls, and lots of windows that get gorgeous morning light. My living room is also an option, but I hate my yucky grey couch so I tend to stick to what works. Take a walk around your own home and pay attention to the light. Which rooms are the brightest? You want soft, even light, not bright sunshine spilling in. The light will change throughout the day so keep that in mind too.

How to take a good baby bump photo. www.stacymaeandco.com. Photo tips for taking maternity selfies.

Create a shot list

Being in front of the camera is not my favorite place to be so I knew I was going to have trouble coming up with ideas about how to document this pregnancy. Enter Instagram. I searched through hashtags like #inspirepregnancy and #stylishbump for photo inspiration. You can also save photos on Instagram so I created a Collection where I could keep all of the eye candy I was finding in one spot. Only you can see the photos you save too.

How to take a good baby bump photo. www.stacymaeandco.com. Photo tips for taking maternity selfies.

Use a prop

It can add some dimension and depth to your photo. Plus, it can add to the story you’re trying to tell. In this photo, I had just gotten a few new outfits that I wanted to share so I just made sure to include the bump. These types of overhead shots are pretty easy to take with your cell phone. Just make sure you’re shooting square so you can see what fits in the frame and what doesn’t. Prop ideas include clothing, books, booties, blankets, teethers, rattles, bonnets, stuffed animals, a letter board, etc.

How to take a good baby bump photo. www.stacymaeandco.com. Photo tips for taking maternity selfies. How to take a good baby bump photo. www.stacymaeandco.com. Photo tips for taking maternity selfies.

Take a lot of pics 

Experiment with the self timer on your cell phone or set up a tripod and use your DSLR. Think of different ways that you can compose the photo too. Shoot from above. From the side. Back up to show more of the scene. Get in close to emphasize the size of your baby bump.

How to take a good baby bump photo. www.stacymaeandco.com. Photo tips for taking maternity selfies.

Edit your pics 

This is the fun part! I love using different apps to get the effect I want. One of my new favorites is Lightroom Mobile. I also use VSCO and A Color Story. Usually I’ll play around with exposure, contrast, and highlights and then add a filter for a quick pop. Less is definitely more when it comes to editing.

You can totally do this! Now, when baby is older and you share the story of their birth, you can start from the very beginning.

Curious how I plan to document baby in the hospital or at home once she’s born? Check out my last few posts. I’ve also created a private, online community where I’ll be sharing daily baby pics, monthly photography related content, and behind the scenes videos. If you’re a mom who loves photography, i’d love for you to join me!