INDIANAPOLIS PORTRAIT STUDIO | samantha's story

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I have one daughter – Katelyn Alexandra. She was born October 26, 2011 and is 3.5 years old. Kate is so smart! She picks up on everything so quickly – it’s simply amazing to watch her learn and grow. She’s also the most loving and thankful person I’ve ever met. She’s always seemed to draw people in … I don’t think she’ll ever have trouble making friends. She’s shown more confidence in her 3.5 years than I have in my 30. Kate makes us genuinely laugh every single day. She’s hilarious and knows it. The best story, however, goes like this: A year ago my mom, Kate, and I were playing in my mom’s living room. Kate had taken off every article of clothing and was running around completely naked having the time of her life. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and a look of panic swept across her face. I said, “Someone is here, Kate! You’d better get some clothes on!” So, naturally, she grabbed a pair of rain boots and an Easter hat. Covering the essentials, that girl of mine!

I never wanted to get married or have kids. I wanted to have a career and horses. After my husband and I became serious about our relationship, I knew that I wanted to have a family with him. We originally thought four or five kids would make our family feel complete, but we’re happy with just our little KatieBird now.

I found out I was pregnant through a cheap home pregnancy test. I was in denial for 2 days until I took a digital test. Then I was over-the-moon excited and terrified. Tim and I told a few friends, both sets of our parents and my siblings that same morning. We told the rest of my extended family a few days later and the rest of his extended family at 10 weeks after our first ultrasound. My biggest fear was miscarrying … I’m not sure I could have handled it. I worried a lot … and then worried about worrying. Thankfully, everything turned out be completely normal and we had our sweet little KatieLady 9 months later.

I had a feeling that the baby was a girl early on in my pregnancy, but I was still SO shocked to find out that she was actually a girl at my 20-week ultrasound. My husband’s family is heavy on boys, so I assumed a boy was more likely to happen!

My pregnancy was a little rough in the beginning. I was so incredibly sick for the first few weeks. All day, every day. But I never actually threw up. It was like having vertigo all over again. The rest of my pregnancy was very easy. The worst thing I experienced was my hyperhidrosis in full-effect due to the fact that I couldn’t take my meds. Being pregnant in the summer is sweaty enough without sweat glands that are already overactive!

At 41 weeks, I was induced at St. Vincent Carmel with Dr. Mernitz. 13 hours later, after laboring all night, Katelyn Alexandra entered the world at 8:19 a.m. on October 26, 2011. 7 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches of love. My labor was intense. I was silent through most of it. More focused than I’ve ever been in my life. Stronger than I knew. I cried with relief and happiness when they laid her on my chest. Still attached to each other before the cord was even cut. She immediately began rooting around like a little bird in a nest anxious to eat. So, I called you KatieBird.

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I was terrified about bringing Kate home. I asked our maternity nurse if she could come with us. But I was also excited about having a little person to raise and teach and love. I think we got a full night’s sleep after a month or so. I panicked the first night she slept all night. We exclusively nursed, so full nights of sleep were far and few between.

Postpartum anxiety has been my struggle. I worried about everything and was too proud to ask for help until I was so sick that I could barely go anymore. I’ve finally realized that the medicine and help doesn’t make me weak; I’m strong for realizing a need for it and breaking the cycle of negativity & worry. I want to be a good role model for my sweet girl, but I can’t do that with the doubting voices controlling my thoughts.

I’ve had so much more motivation to be a better person since she came along. I’ve learned that I have to get my anxiety under control in order to raise her to be the strong, confident woman I want her to be.

Being unconditionally loved and unconditionally loving someone else is the best part about being a mother. I need her and she needs me and there’s a comfort in being needed.

The most challenging thing is the sass! Kate is the sassiest little thing I’ve ever seen. She’s developed quite the personality and attitude. She knows what she wants, and although it can be quite the challenge some days, I hope she never loses it. You’ve gotta have a little sass to get through this life!

The women that I met (in real life and online) in my mom’s group have been the biggest support to me on this journey. Knowing that I’m not alone in this wild ride and that other women can relate to me is invaluable. If I have questions or concerns or worries or braggy moments, I know I can always count on words of encouragement from those ladies.

I’ve been surprised at how much motivation she’s given me to be a better person. My patience is stronger and my love for life is bigger than I could have ever imagined.

I wish I could hold on to the innocence and pure love she shows at life. Being able to fit her into my lap for snuggles and kisses. Being able to heal the boo-boos with just a kiss of my lips.

I was bullied a lot as a child. I was awkward and shy, and I allowed other kids (and adults) to walk all over me. I don’t want Kate to have that experience. I want her to be strong and confident and full of love – able to stand up for herself and others.

I want nothing more than for Kate to grow into a strong woman. I want her to be a kind, warm person who passes no judgement onto others and is always willing to lend a helping hand. My hope is that Kate loves and is loved truly.

My philosophy is No Judgement. There is no perfect way to raise a child. No one has all the answers and what is right for one family definitely not right for everyone. Let it go. Playtime is more important than a clean house. Empathize. When Kate is on the struggle bus, I have to remind myself that she’s 3. She doesn’t have a seed of hate in her heart. She’s not trying to frustrate me. I have to try to view the situation from her perspective.

Moms, you’re doing fine. Don’t beat yourself up over the mac & cheese dinner. Or the abundance of tv time. It doesn’t actually matter if you forget picture day at school. You’re doing a fantastic job just loving your children!

Empathizing with other women … not passing judgement … that’s the first step to mothers changing the world. Realizing that your way is not the best nor the only way to raise a family. Support each other. Not spreading hate of any kind. Allowing our children to see us using kind words and actions with other people. Everyone has their own story, their own hurdles. Not one of us is better than the other. When women can start supporting each other and stop competing, real relationships can blossom and kindness can spread.

Becoming a mother is the best decision I have ever made.

This is a poem that I wrote for Kate called "Mine"

If you ask her who I am, she points to herself and states, “Mine.” Continuing on with her important business without so much as a glance to see who spoke. No hesitation, as if the answer is obvious and the inquirer stupid. Why yes, sweet girl. I am yours and you are mine and we belong to each other. And in the soft yellow glow of the pink cow lamp, sitting on the green rug of the nursery floor while you read me Frog and Toad, I can’t imagine a life any different than what we have. I need you and you need me and that is all that matters. In need of comfort or laughter or a playmate, we seek each other. Your tiny hand wrapped around my pinky finger, reminding me so much of the first day we met face-to-face only two years ago. We are each other’s favorites. But, I know that you’ll someday think that you don’t need me. For a few years, you’ll turn away. Someday, you’ll say you hate me. I know. And my heart will break. But, until then, I am yours and you are mine. And for as long as you let me, I’ll call you my baby bird, and I’ll wear your princess shoes while you fix my hair. I’ll push the cart down the aisle as fast as I can go just to hear you laugh. And I’ll ride the carousel a thousand times. We’ll eat oatmeal and cookies for dinner on the couch on nights that we’re alone. I’ll ride in your little red wagon even though I’m far too big. And I’ll drink your pretend tea from the pink plastic cups. We’ll tear out all of the stilettos from my closet and the hall will be our runway and Mimmie and George and Yodel will be our audience. I’ll make you glitter tutus and share my lip balm. We’ll shuffle and switch to giant steps down the sidewalks. And sit on the curb to count the ants as they march to their little hill of a home. We’ll growl and sing and act out your books, not caring who sees or hears (you have the best growl, you know). On the day you break my heart, I’ll have these days. And as we both grow older, you’ll know this: I need you and you need me. For I am yours and you are mine and we belong to each other.

--Samantha Rae Thursday, November 14, 2013 10:01 p.m. EST Westfield, Indiana

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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.

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