INDIANAPOLIS PHOTGRAPHER | bethany's story

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I have 1 daughter, Elizabeth Grace, but we call her Ellie Grace; she is 6 months. Ellie Grace is awesome! For being born 1 month early, she has been hitting all of her developmental milestones at least 1 month early. For that, she's "Super Punkin!" Also, when she was first born, if she would be fussy, one of the only ways we could calm her down was if we held her in the air like she was a super hero flying to our rescue. Since she's only 6 months old, I don't have too many funny stories yet. But she loves to get puppy kisses from our 2 dogs. The dogs are glued to her side when she cries.

I always wanted to be a Mom - just something I always wanted. We had one miscarriage before my pregnancy with Ellie Grace, so she is our rainbow baby! My 1st trimester I was as sick as a dog and lost quite a bit of weight. The 2nd trimester was pretty good, but towards the end I started to have gallbladder issues. My 3rd trimester I was on light bed rest and no work. I couldn't eat much of anything without having severe gallbladder attacks and my blood pressure was all over the place causing me to black out without much warning. Ellie Grace ended up arriving 1 month early, and as soon as she was born, my gallbladder issues disappeared!

I just had a feeling I was pregnant. I took the pregnancy test and it was a faint positive, so I showed it to my husband to see what he thought. We weren't sure, so we waited another day and took a 2nd test. It was positive immediately! Because of my previous miscarriage, we called my OB and got in right away to confirm the pregnancy. We both cried happy tears!

I honestly thought I was having a boy. My dreams were boy dreams. We had a name picked out and I had visions of my husband and the boy playing softball together. It wasn't until the night before our gender ultrasound that I started to have little girl dreams. (Everything in the dream was pink including my hair!) At the ultrasound, the baby's legs were crossed so we almost didn't get to find out the gender. Finally the legs were uncrossed and my husband looked at the screen and whispered in my ear, "It's a girl!" and within a few seconds the ultrasound tech confirmed. Both my husband and I got giant smiles on our faces and immediately started planning for our little girl. We were both so excited!

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I was admitted to the hospital on a Thursday evening to start the induction. They gave me a few pills throughout the night, and Friday morning at 8am my OB came to check on me. I had already progressed far enough on my own, they didn't need to give me Pitocin after all (THANK GOODNESS!). My OB broke my water and the contractions started right away. I remember hugging the side of the bed and telling everyone in the room to not talk to me or touch me until I got my epidural. Once the epidural took, I was quite comfortable. My husband, best friend, and sister-in-law were all in the room with me. It wasn't until right before I started pushing that I got put on Oxygen. I started pushing and 45 minutes later, Ellie Grace was born. They laid her on my chest and my husband and I both lost it and cried like babies. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and one I'll never forget. It was like my heart exploded on my chest with this new little life. After my husband cut her cord, they did all the normal stuff of checking her over. (We had NICU in the delivery room with us since she was 1 month early.) They cleared her and said she wouldn't need to go to the NICU. Again - more tears of joy! But within a few hours, that changed. Her blood sugar dropped and she wouldn't eat, so they took her up to the NICU. We ended up staying in the NICU for 11 days between her jaundice and not eating.

Because we were in the NICU for 11 days, our first day home with a new baby wasn't what I had imagined. I was nervous, but very excited at the same time. We have 2 dogs at home, so when we got home, I got out of the car and went right in to see the dogs, and my husband walked in behind me with Ellie Grace. Both of our dogs sniffed her and ended up giving her a ton of puppy kisses.

I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to make her happy. Don't ask me why - I just was.

Ellie Grace slept in her crib on her first night home. I didn't get much sleep because I kept staring at the baby monitor. Ellie Grace slept wonderfully.

Starting around 7 weeks, she began sleeping through the night, but that ended at 4 months on the nose!

Sometimes I feel like a totally different person. My look out life has completely changed - for the better. My priorities have realigned. I tend to be calmer and more patient. And I cry at anything, where before it took a lot to make me cry.

The best part about being a mom is having unconditional love for this little being that grew in my belly. I've told some of my friends that now that I'm a Mom, I have a small glimpse into how much love God has for us. I can not even begin to put into words the love that I have for my daughter.

Some of the best parts 6 months in: Walking into her bedroom each morning and being greeted by the biggest smile and brightest eyes I've ever seen; When I pick her up from daycare, seeing the smile she shoots at me as soon as she sees me makes any bad day amazing; Hearing her laugh and giggle at my husband; When she tries to naw on my chin (she's teething right now); When I nurse her before bed, the time that is spent just she and I. Those are just a few of my favorite things.

The most challenging thing for me right now is leaving her each morning at daycare and going to work. I've always been a hard worker (some say a workaholic) but since she's come into our world, work is no longer my #1 priority - my family is. Learning to balance the work / personal life has been tough.

I have an amazing support system between my faith, family, and friends. My friends know it's going to be a crazy question from me when I text or call them and start with, "When your kiddos were little did they..."

Everyone told me it would changed my life but I never could grasp that until she was actually here. I'm a pretty skeptical person so I usually have to experience something myself to believe it. And now I completely understand how parenting is life changing. All for the better.

I wish I could hold onto the snuggles; the unconditional love; the baby smell; the baby giggles and coos.

I have fears of what the world will be like when they are older, knowing how much it has changed since I was born. I have fears for her health.

I pray that Ellie Grace grows up to be a strong woman of God; that she shows God's love towards everyone she comes in touch with. I want her to be a strong lady that knows what she wants. My husband and I want to raise Ellie Grace in the church. We believe in teaching her manners and discipline.

My advice for mommies is: Hold on tight, because your life is about to make a beautiful transition into something you could never imagine!

Yes, moms do have the power to change the world, through raising our children right and by teaching them about God's love.

 Dear Ellie Grace,

I have prayed for you for years. I always knew I wanted to be a Momma, and being your Momma has been the most rewarding time of my life. Everyday I look forward to seeing your bright blue eyes, cheeky smile, and smoochy kisses. The joy that you have brought to my life is one that I could never replace.

I pray that as you grow older, you continue to bring joy to the lives of everyone you touch. You are such a beautiful little girl and I'm so honored to be your Momma.

I love you bunches and bunches, forever and ever.

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Ashlee also provides magical and delightful services for: newborn photography, cake smash photography, baby's first year plans, maternity photography, family photography, and Newborn mentoring for photographers.

If you have a milestone or special moment you want to remember forever, let's chat! Ashlee loves to photograph in the woodlands and around downtown Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, and Greenwood. She also has a professional studio space available for sessions.

EMAIL: ashlee@alaurenphoto.com