At Home with Baby Parker | Northern VA Newborn Photographer

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Sweet little Parker was my first newborn of 2018.  It was a sunshiny January day on the morning of his session and Parker's family lived in the cutest neighborhood at the end of a pipestem, backing to trees.  It felt like we were in a secluded wooded area instead of in the middle of Northern VA.  Meghan and Brett, Parker's mom and dad, were so calm and relaxed despite having a newborn and a three-year-old big brother named Brayden (and two fur-babies as well!). 

Brayden was a little shy at first, but it didn't take long for us to become best buds and he did such a nice job of holding his baby brother.  It's such a special thing to watch your baby become a big sibling, isn't it?!?  I can remember my kids looking so HUGE when we brought home baby!  Brayden was such a big boy, but at the same time, he was able to still fit in his crib that was soon to become Parker's new bed and I thought it was so cute watching him look into that bed as his baby brother dozed.  

Parker was a dream baby who slept and slept and slept!  My favorite images of him are the simple, classic ones of him yawning and stretching...but of course, since his dad is a Hokie, I am kind of partial to the images with his Hokie gear.  This family is also crazy about the Redskins, so I put my love of the Steelers to the side for a few minutes to take some photos of Parker in his Skins stuff as well.  God bless him, poor kid.  (haha, just kidding around!!  -mostly-)

Hopefully, his love of the Hokies is stronger than the Skins but I can't promise that will give him any less heartbreak in life.  It's rough being a fan of both of those teams.  ;-)

Wishing Baby Parker and his loving family all of the best things in life!  It was an honor getting to know them and being a part of this special time in their lives!

A Handmade Cradle & an Adoring Family | Baby Elliott's Northern VA Newborn Session

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(tapping microphone) Is this thing on??  Oh, it is?  Pshew!  This fall and winter were a complete whirlwind for me.  Full of wonderful things:  a big move, a new home, a new town, amazing clients old and new, and lots of love and laughter (and crying and whining) with my husband and kids.  But there are a few things it was not full of:  TIME, SLEEP, ENERGY, & SANITY come to mind.  In the process, my little blog here gathered a bit of dust so I am happy today to fix that with a post about my most recent newborn session!  (Interestingly, my previous newborn blog post was for a baby Elliott too!  It's a wonderful name!) . Hopefully I can work backwards to catch up on my blogging backlog...fingers crossed!

Introducing Baby Elliott, a sweet little guy who was so relaxed during his session.  He barely made a peep, and that one little peep was about as loud as he gets according to his doting mom and dad.    This little guy threw them for a loop when he came into the world at a much faster pace than his older brother, Sebastian.  He must have been ready to get this party started!  Elliott had the sweetest little feet and hands (which he loved to keep up near his face) and such a sweet temperament.  

It was a rainy day on the morning of his session, but we didn't let that stop us from finding really beautiful light-filled room with a window bench.  I was SO excited when Meredith mentioned that she wanted to incorporate the hand-crafted wooden cradle her father had made for her as an infant as well as a beautiful homemade quilt that was passed down through her family.  Quilts and cradles???  I live for this.  One of my favorite shots from this session was of little Elliott's tiny footsie poking up from out of the cradle, highlighted by the window light.  Something tells me that his mommy may have done the very same thing as a baby and there is something so nostalgic and special about that.

Elliott was surrounded by love:  Meredith and Tory, his mom and dad, along with big brothers Sebastian and Conner.  Conner, a freshman in high school, was such a pro with his little brothers and I loved seeing him interact with them.  I'm sure they will always look up to him as they grow older!  Sebastian was perhaps the most easy-going two-year-old that I've ever worked with at a newborn session.  Most kids his age are at least partially freaked out about a new baby, but he was loving and sweet and just as calm as could be.  He did everything I asked of him with a smile on his face.  I couldn't believe how wonderful he was to work with!  I can think of a certain two girls at my own home that were pretty much the biggest pains-in-the-booties ever during our newborn sessions, so watching Sebastian in action was really incredible.  

I left Elliott's home with a warmth in my heart and a smile on my face because his family was so sweet and completely enamored with him.  You could just feel how magical this time is for them and I felt honored to help them document it.  I hope that one day when they look back on these images, it is like a little time capsule that takes them straight back to the way things were, these magical, sweet first days of bringing home baby Elliott. 

Welcome to the World Baby Elliott | Leesburg Newborn Photographer

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After looking flawless during her maternity session in almost 100 degree heat, I knew that Katie would be a rock star new mom.  When I arrived to their adorable home in the most charming neighborhood near downtown Leesburg, VA for their lifestyle newborn session, I was immediately impressed with how at ease she and her husband, Keith, were despite the fact that they had only been parents for about two weeks!  

Their son, Elliott, was just the sweetest little peanut.  Like most newborns, he was still waking up quite a few times at night to eat so the coffee was flowing in the Hughes household!  Those early days are SO blurry, aren't they?  Feed, sleep, poop, repeat!  In the blink of an eye, your baby enters the world and EVERYTHING changes.  

It really is a watershed moment.  From that day forward your life is divided into BEFORE becoming a parent and then AFTER.  I'm so glad that Katie & Keith opted to have maternity portraits taken too because one day when little Elliott grows up, it will be truly unbelievable that he was once so small as to be able to fit inside his mommy's tummy.

The Hughes' home decor was absolutely beautiful!  Katie described her style as 'comfy modern' and I definitely agree!  I love having in-home lifestyle newborn sessions because you really get to see families in their own element, being completely and uniquely themselves.  It's such an amazing opportunity to help couples like Katie and Keith to capture this special and fleeting time in their lives.

The day of Elliott's newborn session was the first day back to school for Loudoun County teachers, so it was also Katie's first official day of maternity leave since she is a local teacher.  I'm sure it was a little weird to not be setting up a classroom with her colleagues, but her sweet little buddy was the most wonderful reason not to be at work.  And boy, oh boy, did he want his momma that day.  He was a hungry little fella and did not want to be parted from Katie for very long.  I can remember times like that with my kiddos too.  Where all you feel like you are doing is nurse, nurse, nurse, and nurse some more!!  She handled it beautifully though, like the rock star that she is!

Elliott has two adorable fur-siblings who enjoyed being a part of the session as well.  They were adjusting well to having a new addition to the family and were super sweet to me as a guest in their home.  I always love getting shots of the WHOLE family during newborn sessions, pets and all!

Congratulations Katie and Keith!  Elliott is a handsome boy!  May he continue to grow big and strong (same with the coffee!) in the days and weeks ahead.  :-)  

Check out some of the highlights from their session below!

A Double Fun Twin 1st Birthday Session | Northern VA photographer

First birthdays are so special, aren't they?  They're such a huge milestone!  Turning one marks the end of babyhood and the beginnings of becoming a toddler.  It's incredibly nostalgic to think back one year to the birth of your child.  I personally think it is completely insane how much babies grow and change in just one short year.  How does that happen right before your eyes??

Now times that times two and that's how Londyn and Wren's mom and dad feel!!

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I love doing first birthday sessions for my lifestyle newborn clients!  It is a really cool way to come full circle!  I love going back to their newborn galleries and seeing how those teeny tiny features have grown.  A lot of times, parents will say that the little personality that they show me during their newborn session has persisted throughout the year.  Chill babies stay pretty chill.  Expressive babies keep showing those endearing expressions.  Sensitive babies are still needing mom and dad just as much, just in a different way.  In the great nature vs. nurture debate, I'd say that being a newborn and child photographer has given me a great deal of evidence to argue that a lot of our personalities comes from the 'nature' side of what we are born with.  According to mom and dad little Londyn and Wren's personalities are pretty different from each other and that has been evident since birth!  They predict that they will be the best of friends, but will also have their sibling rivalry moments along the way.

They celebrated their birthday with a flamingo and pineapple themed birthday party, so their mom, Nora, wanted to incorporate some of that into the session by dressing them in the cutest little rompers that matched the theme.  In fact, she had the party in mind as she was booking so that she would be able to use some of the images from their gallery as decorations for the party.  What a great idea!  

The girls and their parents met me at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, VA for a sunrise session and we were rewarded with beautiful light and perfect temperatures despite it being in the middle of summer.  They aren't quite walking yet, but seem pretty close!  Both girls loved to crawl around and explore...as long as they didn't have to get on the grass!  I loved that mom and dad came ready to be in some of the photographs because I think that their interactions with each other are still such a special part of this age.  It was very cool to watch how much of a team Rocky and Nora are.  You have to be when you are a twin parent!  Sheesh, I am just trying to keep up with my little Hudson most days so I can't even imagine doubling it!

We ended the session with a cake smash.  Every one year old reacts differently when they are given their first cake.  Some are freaked out by the texture of the icing, while others go to town with reckless abandon.  Wren and Londyn were such ladies.  They got a little messy, but mostly just daintily touched the icing to their cute little mouths.  By the end though, they were totally over it and were ready to be wiped up.  I wish I had that kind of restraint when a piece of cake is in front of me haha!!

I loved spending a gorgeous morning capturing this special time for Rocky and Nora.  May you all enjoy many more beautiful moments in the coming year!  I can only imagine what kinds of 'double trouble' this year will bring!  

What Your Baby Should Wear for a Lifestyle Newborn Session | Northern VA Newborn Photographer

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a photographer here in Northern VA is, "What should my baby wear for our lifestyle newborn session?"  I send all my clients a welcome guide with information on how to prepare and what to wear, but I thought it might be helpful to expand a little bit on that!  Read on for helpful hints on how to dress your baby for your lifestyle newborn session!

Birthday Suit (almost!)

There is no better way to show off your baby's brand-newness and teeny tiny features than to have them nakey when I arrive.  I put the "almost!" in there because I very rarely ever photograph newborns completely naked, preferring to keep a diaper on instead.  (One of the perks of lifestyle newborn photography!)  To keep baby happy, be sure to turn your heat up (or cut the AC if it is a hot day) so that he or she can stay warm despite being undressed!  

Personally, I *love* flaky baby skin but if it bothers you, feel free to put a little baby lotion on before I arrive.  (Aveeno has always been a favorite of mine with my own kiddos!)  You will want to avoid using Vaseline, Aquaphor, or coconut/olive oil on your baby right before your lifestyle newborn session.  They are great moisturizers and I have used all of those on my own kids, but they will result in your baby looking very shiny in their images.  

Another little tip is pick up some diapers by Honest Company (if you aren't cloth diapering, that is!).  They come in the cutest patterns and photograph really well!  They have a free trial that you can sign up for to get some for FREE!!  I love taking "almost-birthday suit" shots at the beginning of the session when babies are generally the happiest and most content.  

Plain White Onesie

At some point in every newborn session, babies will need a diaper change and to take a feeding break.  I love getting in on the action and photographing that tiny little diaper getting swapped out.  Before getting topped off with some more milk, I often ask parents to put their baby in a onesie to try a different look for the session.  Plain white onesies are classic and really emphasize how teeny, tiny your newborn is!  I find that other outfits can swallow newborns up in those early few weeks so onesies really work well to help show their true size.  You will want to be sure to have a 'newborn' sized onesie and maybe even a preemie, depending on the size of your baby.  The Gerber brand generally runs on the smaller side, so I love those for newborn sessions!  If you don't have any, don't worry...I bring some to every session.

Break The Rules

I usually advise clients to stay away from clothing other than onesies in general for their babies and to stay VERY clear of any clothing that has characters or writing on it.  Although they have tons of personality, they can be ill-fitting or distracting in images and pull your eye away from the true focus...your sweet baby's little face!

BUT!  I am going to go ahead and be a little contradictory rule-breaker here and say that I might start making exceptions for certain trends that are hot right now.  For example, I really love the modern look of this trendy outfit and these matching shirts are super cute because they emphasize the relationship between father and child and tell a fun story.  

If you'd like your baby to wear something special, you will want to make sure that the items are very fitted since baggy clothes on newborns don't photograph well.  Also, think about the decor of your home and nursery and choose a color/style that complements it.  I always invite clients to text me a picture of anything you are thinking of wearing if you would like a photographer's perspective...so the same goes for your baby!  Here are some of my favorite stores for trendy newborn clothing/onesies/rompers:

Leah Michele Creations

Lenny Lemons

Nooches

Spearmint Love

Do you have any other favorites you'd add to the list?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Accessories

The babies are the star of their lifestyle newborn session and I love to keep things very simple so that we don't take away from that.  You really don't need accessories at all because babies are perfect just the way they are, but I know as a girl mom that the urge to doll that baby up is FOR REALLLLLL.  Simplicity is the key when it comes to accessories though.  You will want to avoid large-sized bows or flowers on headbands and stick with simple, sweet tiebacks instead.  I prefer tiebacks to headbands because newborns are sooooo tiny that it often takes a few weeks for them to grow into headbands and they won't stay in place.  Doing a quick search on Etsy for 'newborn girl tiebacks' brings up a great list of choices.  Just remember, the simpler, the better!  For boys, knit baby booties are always a sweet accessory.  Bonus points if they are hand-knit by a loved one!!

Wraps/Blankets

Using cute wraps and blankets to swaddle newborns is another way to add a few more style points to your lifestyle newborn session! Swaddling also helps soothe babies so they serve a double purpose in my sessions.  I always bring a few neutral newborn wraps and swaddle blankets with me, but am always open to incorporating any blankets that you have that may be special to you or that you just love!  This is the perfect opportunity to pull out that hand-made patchwork quilt that your grandmother made for your newborn or a hand-knit receiving blanket that was a special gift.  There are also some great places out there that make muslin swaddling blankets that are really on trend and stylish.  Here are two of my favorites:

Modern Burlap

Spearmint Love


One of my favorite things about lifestyle newborn photography is that it places an emphasis on authenticity and being genuine.  I've shared a lot of information here on ways to dress your baby for your session, but the beautiful thing is that you really don't have to do anything special or go out on a big shopping spree!  Most of these items are things you'll have in your closet anyway :)  But of course, I am happy to be an enabler for any of you out there that love to shop for cute baby stuff!  Feel free to leave comments below with any other questions you have about lifestyle newborn photography (or with a link to your favorite place to shop!)

Interested in a lifestyle newborn photography session?  Contact me today for more information!

A Sweet Baby Girl with Curls! | A Lifestyle Newborn Session in Ashburn, VA

 Baby Regan smiles for her mama during her lifestyle newborn session in Ashburn, VA

I wish my blog let me do heart-eye emojis because that's what this post should be.  ALLLLLL the heart-eyes for beautiful baby Regan.  She had the most beautiful complexion, full pouty lips, and those CURLS!  Oh, the curls!  I couldn't stop taking pictures of her beautiful hair!  Her mom said that they could see her hair during ultrasounds so they weren't surprised to see how much of it she had at birth!  Both of my youngest, Lila and Hudson, had flowing locks on the ultrasound but when they were born it was more like spiky fuzz!  Nothing like sweet Regan's!  So gorgeous!

Her momma works at the National Archives in DC so she was sure to add some beautiful literary posters to her nursery.  I loved that personal touch!  For privacy reasons, I am only sharing photographs of Regan and her beautiful momma, but I just have to tell you that her daddy was so sweet and gentle with her!  He had stayed up with Regan in the early hours of the morning so her mommy could have a little more sleep before our newborn session- how sweet is that?!?  I loved watching them all interact and dote on their beautiful baby girl!

It was a hot summer day for Baby Regan's lifestyle newborn session so all we had to do to make the house nice and cozy was throw open the windows and turn off the AC.  The steamy, humid day made Regan's little ringlets really pop just like the day her parents took her home from the hospital!  Her mom and dad shared with me that when they left the hospital for the first time, her little curls just came right out in all that Northern VA humidity!

Dearest Regan,  thanks for being such a little gem during your session!  I had such a blast working with you and getting to know your amazing mom and dad!  Best wishes always!  ~Kristin~

Glowing on a Hot July Day | Loudoun County Maternity Photographer

Everyone knows that women do not sweat... we glow.  At least that's what I was telling myself on this blistering July day during this beautiful Leesburg, VA maternity session.  I was a hot sweaty mess, but new mom, Katie, was absolutely glowing and, no, not because she was sweaty.  She was glowing like a candle lit from within and looked absolutely gorgeous at 37 weeks pregnant with their first baby boy.  

Katie and her husband, Keith, were such troopers in the heat and humidity, especially with momma being near the end of her pregnancy.  It was worth it though for the gorgeous skies we had that night!  It's so exciting that they get to meet their little guy in a few short weeks.  I can't wait to meet him at their in-home lifestyle session soon and hear what they have named him.  Keith and Katie have a list of names, but are waiting until they meet their son for the first time to see which one feels right.  I love that!!  

Biggest congratulations you two!!  Thank you for allowing me to capture this special time in your lives!

Six Reasons You Should Choose a Lifestyle Newborn Session

I remember when I started this journey to becoming a photographer and owning my own business here in Northern Virginia that I had this idea in my head of what newborn photography "should" be like.  I felt like if you didn't plop a baby in a basket or have their heads perfectly posed, propped up so sweetly on their hands or in a 'taco' pose, then it wasn't a legit newborn session.  I stressed and stressed over trying to fit into this mold and I can distinctly remember not really liking newborn sessions because I felt so much pressure to pose a baby perfectly and patiently shush them until they did exactly what I wanted them to do.  I felt like that if I didn't do it that way, I wasn't a 'real' newborn photographer.  It didn't take long for me to say THAT'S NOT FOR ME!  And thank God I did!  Because as soon as I accepted that posed newborn photography wasn't who I was, the more and more I loved my newborn sessions!  That love has grown to the point that now they are one of my favorite types of sessions to do!

Don't get me wrong, I will stop dead in my tracks when I'm scrolling through Instagram and I come across a GORGEOUS posed newborn baby.  I have mad respect for posed newborn photographers...MAD respect!  But it's just not my thing, and I have to embrace the person that I am in order to be the artist that I am meant to be.  

I thought that it might be helpful to moms who are researching photography for their newborn baby to highlight some of the reasons that a lifestyle newborn session might be just right for you, just like it is for me!

Six Reasons You Should Choose a Lifestyle Newborn Session

1.  You don't have to go anywhere!  Lifestyle newborn sessions take place in the comfort of your home rather than having to put your sweet little bundle in the car seat, pack up ALL THE THINGS to come with you, and stress over arriving to a studio on time.  That gives you the precious gift of time and Lord knows we all need it right after having a baby.

2.  Show off that nursery!  In addition to not having to go anywhere, you also get to showcase what makes your home a special place for your family and newborn baby...especially the nursery that you dreamed about and worked so hard on!  The nursery is one of my favorite things to document when I am doing a lifestyle newborn session and I think that Northern VA mommies have such amazing style!  That little room is one of the first acts of love that parents get to do for their child and it is so special to take photos that will help you remember it long after they have outgrown it.  

3.  You can include your pet.  They are a part of the family too and it is really amazing to watch the special bond that develops between pets and newborn babies.  With lifestyle newborn sessions, pets can get in on the action too!  This is especially important in families who have aging pets so that you can show your child pictures of your first 'furbaby' to help them remember him or her for years to come after they are gone.

4.  Flexibility of scheduling.  For posed newborn sessions, there is usually a very strict window of time (oftentimes the 5-10 day old range) that is ideal for the curliest, sleepiest, happiest babies.  I too usually recommend holding lifestyle newborn sessions during the first two weeks, but it's really no big deal at all to go beyond that timeframe if you would like to.  I've done newborn sessions all the way up to six weeks old!  Sometimes you have family in town and things are too busy.  Sometimes you have a rough delivery and you need time to recover.  Sometimes moms didn't think they wanted newborn photos, but then change their minds!  The beauty of lifestyle newborn photography is that it is totally ok to go beyond the first two weeks if you would like to! 

5.  It tells a story.  One of my favorite reasons that I love lifestyle newborn photography is that the images tell a beautiful story of this special time in your life.  It is completely unique to you, your baby, and your family so no session is ever exactly alike!  The galleries I deliver to clients are very diverse because I aim to capture a little slice of what your life is like at this moment in time.  Trust me, you blink and it is gone!  It's so nice to have beautiful images of your baby, but it's even more powerful to have pictures of Daddy changing the diaper of his little son who will one day stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him or of Mom whispering "Shhh...Shhh...Shhhh" into her little girl's ear as she cries.  Your child will love looking back at these photos with you one day and hearing about the time you welcomed her home.

6.  It shows your connection.  The most important reason to choose lifestyle newborn photography is that it shows your connection with each other in a way that is emotional, genuine, and raw.  I always strive to capture the love and excitement that is flowing in between mom and dad and their baby, along with their siblings if they have any.  It is so incredibly beautiful!  Pictures showing your connection will be treasured for your entire lifetime.  That, my friend, is a priceless gift to give your child.

Interested in a lifestyle newborn session?  Please contact me today for more information!

Dads Rock! Happy Father's Day 2017! {Northern VA Newborn & Family Photographer}

Not gonna lie...  Dads are quite often the trickiest member of the family for a photographer.  Most of my dad clients are excited for a family or newborn photography session with me, but sometimes they feel awkward or nervous (not that they would ever admit that!!).  Sometimes their wife accidentally schedules the session during an important game and they are a little-or a lot- annoyed about that (pro tip- don't do that!!).  

No matter what though, dads ALWAYS loosen up by the end of a session with me because I can count on them for one thing WITH NO FAIL.  

I ask them to PLAY with their kids!  And when I do, their demeanors instantly change.

I can always count on dads to get their children to laugh and giggle when they start a tickle fight or tell a dumb joke or make a fart noise in their ears.  Even with newborns, I put dads on the job and they get right to work changing diapers or singing a goofy song and pretty soon they forget that they are even taking part in a photography session.  

If it weren't for dads, my sessions wouldn't be nearly as fun.

So here's to you guys!!  Happy Father's Day to all my amazingly awesome daddy clients!  And a very special shout-out to my wonderful husband who is rocking this whole dad thing and to my own fantastic dad (aka Pops or Poppsy Poppsy, according to Lila haha).

and for fun, here is one of my sweet hubby (image courtesy of Lou Lou Photography) :

and of me and my dad when I was a kid:

To ALL the mommies... | Ashburn newborn photographer

*While I am home on maternity leave, I'm posting some sessions from this past year that are near and dear to my heart!  Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for photos of our sweet boy and updates on my return from leave!  My newsletter subscribers are also the first to hear about important news so don't forget to sign up!  I'll be back soon!*

Mother's Day is a weird day for me.  It is a natural day of reflection on what being a mother means to me.  I am so blessed to have my beautiful children to celebrate with...but my heart hurts thinking of my sweet angel in heaven who I cannot hug and squeeze on this day.

Today is a day for celebration, to be sure.  But I just want anyone who is reading this who feels a little (or a lot) sad today to know that I am thinking of you.  

Here's to the mothers (and those that have a mother's heart).  All of you.

And cheers also to one of the best parts of my job... capturing the special bond between mother and child!  There is nothing more beautiful in the world.

Happy Mother's Day!

Baby Everett: A Miracle Baby's Lifestyle Newborn Session | Ashburn Newborn Photographer

*While I am home on maternity leave, I'm posting some sessions from this past year that are near and dear to my heart!  Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for photos of our sweet boy and updates on my return from leave!  My newsletter subscribers are also the first to hear about important news so don't forget to sign up!  I'll be back soon!*

Sweet Baby Everett is raising his hand in the picture above saying, "Yep!  That's me!  I'm a miracle baby!"  Newborn photography is always a special honor for me, but it was an especially huge honor to get to document this little guy's safe arrival home.  You may recall me blogging about his Fresh 48 hospital photography session a few weeks ago...  When I showed up at Natalie and Jay's home for Everett's newborn session, I couldn't get over how quickly he had changed in just the two short weeks it had been since he had been released from Fairfax hospital!!  

Baby Everett is a precious miracle to his parents who prayed and prayed to be blessed with a child for many years.  For any of you who may have faced infertility or be facing it right now, you can relate to the struggles that Natalie and Jay faced.  I asked Natalie to share their story with you today:

 "I was diagnosed with PCOS in high school. Part of this disease (some would argue the biggest part) is the inability to naturally ovulate. I never really cared about the infertility part because the weight gain, facial hair, and mood swings were enough to deal with at the ripe ole age of 16. Fast forward to meeting the love of my life and wanting nothing more than to have a baby with him and my concern with the other PCOS symptoms took a back seat.

We tried for a year solo basically knowing it wasn't going to happen. My OBGYN sent me to Dr. Levens at Shady Grove Fertility. He was amazing and so knowledgeable about PCOS. He gave us a "protocol" which included ovulation induction. I would take pills to help produce an egg follicle. I would go into his office what seemed like every other day (really third, 5, 7, 9 of Girl times) for blood work and an ultrasound until I got word that I had developed a follicle. On that day I would go home and inject myself with hormones to trigger ovulation.

 I just knew the first month was going to result in a pregnancy. And then it didn't. And neither did the second, third, or fourth month. Meanwhile I was jacked up on hormones and a total lunatic. By the fourth month my husband and I decided to take a month off before I wound up in jail for flying off the handle at anything, everything, and everyone.

After our break I went back to Shady Grove to restart our "protocol."  Since I had not started my cycle they did a blood test to make sure I wasn't pregnant. Imagine my surprise when my sweet amazing nurse called to tell me I was 7 weeks pregnant. After calling her a liar and crying, my husband and I called almost everybody we knew. We planned out our future. Cancelled our travel plans for the month before we would become parents. The following week we went in for an ultrasound and saw a strong heartbeat. The following week we went back and the heartbeat was gone. We were devastated and I didn't think I would ever want to try again. But we did.

The first month did not result in a pregnancy and I wasn't disappointed. I was pissed. I now knew my body knew what it was supposed to do but it couldn't rally and do me a solid after such devastation?!

Before the next cycle my nurse told me to stay positive. Mmm hmmm....right. But what did I have to lose by being positive? I started off that month of pills, shots, blood work, and ultrasounds by bringing the staff Duck Donuts; somewhat of a peace offering to the fertility gods for being a raging B word the month before. I finally let myself imagine what life with a baby would look like.

The day I was supposed to go in for the blood test after my two week wait was the morning we had 3 feet of snow in our driveway so I couldn't make my appointment. I got the last dollar Store pregnancy test out of my night stand and took it. As I waited the two minutes I thought to myself "it would be awesome if this is positive so I don't have to help shovel snow." I might have even thought of saying it was positive if it wasn't. Maybe.  It was positive!!! What?!?! A baby and no shoveling?

 The pregnancy was confirmed by Shady Grove with something more reliable than a dollar store pregnancy test. It was the most nerve racking 39 weeks of my life. Every movement worried me, every non-movement worried me. I had a team of doctors reassuring me weekly (literally) that he was developing perfectly and was healthy. Weekly visits and ultrasounds are an awesome benefit of being "high risk."

I was getting my hair done on the Sunday starting my 39th week. I just didn't feel well and was convinced I was getting the flu. Nope. I was in active labor and contractions were 2.5 minutes apart. We rushed to the hospital and I was hooked up to the machines. Every contraction was stopping his heart so I was rushed into an emergency C-Section. He was finally here and was healthy as can be...and was immediately grounded for a month for terrifying me in the last minutes of pregnancy. Everett Gary is truly our miracle baby.

 I barely remember going through those two years and, in reality, my story isn't that different from thousands of other women. And I have no delusions that my story is as bad as it gets because it's far from it. Infertility is hard. And it sucks. But, as cliche as it sounds, a positive attitude makes all the difference."

As someone who has also faced big hurdles in our parenting journey, I could completely relate to the feeling of FINALLY bringing home a sweet baby and having your arms and heart be joyously filled.  I admire Natalie and Jason's positivity during a time of major adversity!  

One thing that I really love doing during in-home newborn sessions, is incorporating items that are special to the family and their story into their gallery.  The 'miracle baby' blanket was an obvious choice for this little guy, but so was the really cool "Dr. Nut" crate.  I don't usually use props like baskets/crates, etc. but this special item was a family heirloom from Jay's grandfather who had once owned a soda pop company called Dr. Nut.  The resulting image was a really special one for their family and told such a neat story of the history of his ancestors.  I would give anything just to try that soda!!  I bet it was delicious!

Since baby Everett has made his arrival into the world, he has continued to fill his parents, family, and friends' hearts with so much love...and we are all so entertained with his adorable expressions and personality.  

I'm so lucky to call these clients friends now and am so very happy for them!  I can't wait to see what the future holds for this little miracle!  I know his future is a bright one!

Eva's First Birthday Cupcake Smash & The Last Days of my Appendix | Ashburn, VA Photographer

There are two amazing things about these photographs.  1) My high school best bestie's little girl turned one and I got to squeeze her and love on her and  2) My appendix was trying to explode (while I was 16 weeks pregnant no less!!) during the making of these images.  True story.  Can't make it up.

My first glimpse of little Eva was when she was a little tiny thing at her newborn photography session when she was only a couple of weeks old.  Fast forward a year, and she is alllllll grown up (but still a tiny, petite little thing)!  It is crazy to me how much babies grow and change within that first year of life.  Literally CRAZY!  Like magic!  Doing first birthday milestone sessions are so fun for me for this very reason.  I love being able to capture all the changes, progress, and growth during this special time.  The first birthday is always an emotional milestone for families because it kind of signifies the end of 'babyhood' and the beginning of 'toddlerhood' and celebrating with a photography session is the best way to capture this stage forever...although we all know that no matter how old or how big, they will ALWAYS be our babies, right?!?!?

 

To celebrate Eva turning one, her parents, Katie and Joe, decided to do some outdoor shots around Charleston, SC where they live and some inside their beautiful home.  We had a lot of fun recreating one of my favorite photos of all time with them on their couch with Eva and their two dogs, Daisy and Walker.  This same pose, one year earlier at Eva's newborn session is on the landing page of my website!  Afterwards, we left for Pitt Street Bridge to take some outdoor images by the water underneath the beautiful palm trees.  Don't let those palm trees fool you though!!  It was an uncharacteristically cold day in Charleston and we were all trying not to freeze our buns off!!

It was about that time that I noticed a pain in my back that kept nagging me.  I thought that maybe it was just from being pregnant and carrying around my gear, but it only got worse as the day went on and started to spread to my upper right side.  Long story short, we walked around Charleston and went to dinner but I didn't feel like my usual self, felt pretty nauseous, and went to bed not feeling great.  

The next morning I felt a little better though so I thought things had maybe turned the corner.  We took some ADORABLE images of Eva getting into a delicious cupcake (with her doggies on standby for clean up duty!).  I loved the dress and diaper cover that Eva wore for this portion of the session.  It was extra special because her grandmother, Katie's mom, Linda, made it for her!  She is SO talented!  Eva was definitely a fan of cupcakes!!

After wrapping up and lots of hugs, I was off to the airport to head back home to Northern VA.  My tummy and back were hurting and I felt exhausted, but I just thought that maybe I had overexerted myself a bit.  I kept saying that I felt realllllly pregnant even though I was only 16 weeks at the time.  After arriving back home, I could barely roll my suitcase up the ramp or pick up my youngest, Lila.  

I called my OB just to touch base about my symptoms and they told me to go to the hospital to get everything checked out.  I reluctantly went and ALMOST walked out of the ER because I didn't really feel terrible enough to warrant a visit to the hospital.  Good thing I didn't though!!  After an MRI, the ER doctor said, "Guess what?! You have appendicitis!! And we are taking it out right now!"  

Excuse me, WHAT?!?!?!?

haha, I can laugh now, but it was super stressful at the time.  The surgeon was amazing and understood my nerves at having to go under the knife while being pregnant.  He told jokes and made me feel at ease.  They wound up taking my appendix out laparoscopically and, although the immediate post-surgical period was NOT FUN, two weeks later I couldn't even tell that I had abdominal surgery and baby boy was perfectly fine!

When I look at the images from this session, I will always think of my sweet little Eva girl and how much she had grown and changed...

....and also my appendix, may it rest in peace. 

 

Baby Everett: Fresh Out the Oven | A Fresh 48 Hospital Newborn Session in Fairfax, VA

There are a lot of things you may want to forget about your time in the hospital after having a baby (the food, the pokes and prods, and, oh yeah, -the pain!!), but I can assure you that the first 48 hours of your baby's life will change your own.  That short, snippet of time will be over before you've even had a chance to think about blinking your eyes!  And it's so, so magical.  

All of a sudden, your baby is with earth-side and now you get a chance to match what you had envisioned to the reality that is this tiny, little person.  Hair, no hair?  Daddy's nose, Mommy's chin?  It's so amazing to see this little wriggling baby on the OUTSIDE instead of wishing you had x-ray vision for the inside of your womb.

Many hospitals have someone who will come around and snap some photos of your baby, but in most cases, that is just what they are...snapshots.  I'm not knocking that AT ALL!  But I do want to make the case that hospital photographs can be so much more.  They can tell a story.  They can capture emotion.  You can look at them years later and go RIGHT BACK to those first special days of your baby's life.   That's what a Fresh 48 session with a lifestyle photographer can do for you.  What a precious gift to yourself, your family, and your child!  

So after telling you how amazing Fresh 48 Hospital Sessions are, now I have to tell you that I'm taking a little break from them for a bit.  It's only temporary!!  I'm expecting a little one of my own in late April and want to let him get a little older before I take on Fresh 48 sessions again because scheduling them on such short notice is hard to negotiate with a tiny baby and daycare.  BUT!  I will be bringing them back this fall in October so I wanted to plant that little seed to some of you mommies out there who are just getting ready to announce your pregnancies.  ;-)  Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have for me!

This little man, Everett, is the gorgeous little boy of two of my favorite clients, Natalie and Jason.  Right from the beginning, I knew that Natalie and I would become fast friends and that has totally been the case.  She is funny and smart and a wonderful mom!  Jason is an amazing daddy as well...and also a photographer!  It was such an honor being able to document this special time in their lives and I just love them all to pieces!  Stay tuned for their in-home lifestyle newborn photography session later for more from this adorable family.

 

Baby Grayson | A Six-Week-Old Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session in Leesburg, VA

It was a blustery March day when I pulled up to the Slattery family's home in Leesburg for their lifestyle newborn session.  At the door, the sweetest puppies greeted me, full of excitement to meet a visitor and show off their little brother, Grayson, who was contentedly chillin' in his little baby bouncer, ready for his photo session.

One of the million reasons that I love lifestyle newborn photography is that there aren't as many confining "rules".  I always recommend to new clients to try and book their session within the first two weeks of a baby's birth, but it is really no big deal to go beyond that.  There are so many reasons to wait...  Maybe Mom had a rough delivery.  Maybe everyone is just too darn exhausted to even *think* about getting photo ready.  Maybe you prefer to have baby to be more alert and awake for your session.  And the beautiful thing with lifestyle photography is that since we are focusing on your love and connection with your newborn child, it can really be documented at any time, YOUR time, whenever you are ready.  

Grayson's parents wanted to get some photographs of his beautiful eyes open and maybe even a little smile since he had just started showing his adorable gummy grin to them!  He stayed awake for a little while, but let me tell you, this sweet boy was such a calm, sleepy head that he just drifted off peacefully in his parents arms, which was beautiful to capture as well.  I did manage to get a few eyes open photos, some adorable expressions, and puppy love with his furry siblings, so we will count it as a win!

 

Trust me, you won't want to forget these moments.  Interested in a lifestyle newborn session with Kristin?  Contact me today for more information!

Shoot and Share Contest Results | Ashburn Newborn, Maternity, and Family Photographer

A while back, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and enter the 2017 Shoot and Share Contest for the first time.  This contest is a really unique one in the photography community because anyone can vote and all entries remain anonymous until after voting concludes.  As you vote, you are shown four images at a time, you choose the one you like the best, and then it will generate four more images and so on.  

Let me tell you, this contest is ADDICTING!  There were so many times that I would say, "Ok, 5 more minutes!"  Boom!  Twenty minutes later, I was still clicking away.  The talent and creativity from photographers all over the world blew me away and was completely inspiring!  There were a mind-blowing 332,768 entries overall in the contest.  I wish I had been able to see each and every one of them, but that would have been impossible.

Today, I am excited to finally able to share my results with you!  

Woohoo!!  Two of my images were chosen as 'finalists' which means that they were in the top 3.5% of all entries.  YAY! 

Finalists:

7 images placed in the top 10%:

Five images placed in the top 20%:

And two placed in the top 30%:

Thank you SO much to my amazing clients who have welcomed me into their lives to document these special moments.  And a big thank you to any of you who may have voted!  I truly appreciate your support!

Much love,

Kristin

Sweet Baby Braden | NOVA Newborn Photographer

 Reston, VA newborn photographer, Kristin Cornely, documents Baby Braden's first days home

It was a rainy day when I arrived at the Rhatigan's Reston, VA home for Baby Braden's lifestyle newborn session.  The Rhatigans and I go way back due to having mutual friends and I have loved photographing their growing family over the years.  Big brother Colton was excited to show me his big boy bed when I got there.  He was interested in his little brother, but not quite sure what to make of him yet.  ;-)

Meghan looked gorgeous as always and it is even more amazing that she looked so glam considering the fact that Braden scared the living daylights out of them during his birth.  Let's just say that it was a wild and crazy ride and that she and her husband, Bobby, were both so glad that everyone was ok.  

Braden was an absolute dream to photograph.  He slept the whole time and was so calm and chill.  I loved that every once in awhile he would give me the cutest little newborn smiles and don't even get me started about cheeks and adorably wrinkly fingers.  I'm so excited to be able to watch him grow and change!  What a precious little guy!

Everley Turns One | An In-Home Lifestyle First Birthday Photography Session in Leesburg, VA

Meet sweet little Everley!  This calm, laid-back girlie turned one this past January and I was so excited to go to her beautiful home in Leesburg, VA to take some first birthday photographs to help her Mommy and Daddy remember this special time!  Isn't it CRAZY how much babies grow and change in their first year?  I mean, just one year ago, Baby Everley was a teeny-tiny little newborn and now look at her!  All grown-up and beautiful, standing up, learning to walk...it's completely amazing and wonderful!

Everley has a sweet big sister, Lillian, who was a wonderful photo assistant- check out the picture of her helping me take photos of her little sis.  It was SO adorable.  Both girls were so well behaved, kind, and super smart.  I love going into my clients' homes for sessions like these because everyone is totally comfortable and in their element.  The girls loved showing me their toys and were proud of their bedrooms!  It was also great to sneak in some family portraits as well during our time together and I hope that Heather and Chris will treasure them for years to come!  Heather and I taught together for many years and it is so neat watching her be a mom now to her sweet girls.  She is a wonderful mother, just as she was a wonderful teacher!  

One thing I really loved about their family is that they were totally down for an adventure!  I got to their home a little early and took a drive around the neighborhood to kill a little time before knocking on their door.  At the end of the road, I saw this GORGEOUS spot under some pine trees that was just begging to be photographed.  Later during the session, when it started to snow, I asked Heather and Chris if they would be up for throwing the girls in some coats and boots, loading up in the car, and driving up the street- and they said YES!  Turns out that my dream spot was fenced with barbed wire (LOL!!) but we were still able to take some cute pictures outside in the girls' happy pink coats and let them catch some snowflakes in their hands.  I'm so glad that we did now looking back because that may have been the only tiny bit of snow we will see this winter here in the DC metro area!

Thanks again to the Farmer family for a fun session and happy first birthday to Everley!  I hope that your custom "O-N-E" collage mounted print looks beautiful in your home and makes you smile when you remember this milestone.  May your next year be filled full of love and adventure!

Baby Evangeline Makes a Family of Four | Northern VA Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

I was SO excited when this sweet family messaged me to set up a newborn session for their newest addition, Evangeline.  We first met a few years ago when their oldest, Silas, was just nine months old and they hired me for family portraits and it has been so fun documenting their family's growth and change over the years.  I have always just 'clicked' with them.  They are fun and laid-back and they make the CUTEST kids!  Seriously, the cutest!

Silas and Evangeline are about the same distance apart as my girls, so I knew all too well what it is like for the older sibling to welcome a baby into the home.  Silas was equal parts excited, but also kind of freaked out!  He loved smiling and playing with me...and of course, as always, he enjoyed the Smarties candies I bring along to every session with toddlers/preschoolers.  ;-)  One of my favorite parts of the session was when he wanted to get in the baby's crib.  Who wouldn't want to still be the baby of the family?  His big blue eyes were so adorable and his baby sister, Evangeline, has gorgeous eyes and skin as well!  She was alert and happy for the whole session so we got to see plenty of those beautiful eyes wide open :)

Now Baby Evangeline is turning one this spring!  I can't believe how quickly time has flown by...and also how LATE I am with this blog post LOL!!  But better late than never!  The world needs more cuteness right now.

I know you will agree with me ;-)

Audrey Rose: A Lifestyle Newborn Session {Ashburn, VA Newborn Photographer}

The weekend of Audrey's newborn session, the Northern VA and Maryland area received its first threat of winter weather.  The teacher in me got a little excited, until I realized that it would impact a newborn session and I quickly started doing an anti-snow dance.  (I know my teacher friends will HATE me for that!)  In the end, we wound up backing the session up one day and I set off on a cold January morning for Ellicott City, MD.  As I grew closer to Ellicott City, I started to notice that there was ice coating all of the trees, despite the fact that the roads were completely fine.  I pulled over in a grocery store parking lot before the session to try and capture some of the pretty ice covered branches glistening in the winter sun.

Little Audrey Rose is the daughter of a friend of mine from college, Josh, and his beautiful wife, Emilie.  They are new parents and are so smitten with their adorable bundle of joy!  Audrey was such a sweet girl during the session and I couldn't help but be reminded of my Charlotte a few times because she was SO expressive (when she wasn't sleeping, that is!).  My prediction is that Audrey will be full of personality as she grows older and will always bring a smile to her mom and dad's face.  She is the first granddaughter on both sides of her family, so I'm sure that the smiles won't just stop at mom and dad!!  

With such a beautiful, classic name, two awesome parents, and a family that loves her so much, Audrey is destined for great things!

Welcome to the world Audrey!  I had so much fun with you!

If you live in the Northern VA area/Loudoun County and are interested in booking a lifestyle newborn session like this one, I would love to hear from you!  Contact me today for more information!

A Christmas Lifestyle Newborn Session at Home with the Yeary Family | Northern VA Newborn Photographer

I got the coolest email on Christmas day!  John and I were hanging out with the family and I believe I had just polished off a (HUGE!) delicious Christmas brunch after watching our girls enjoy the magic of Santa- completely surrounded by torn shreds of gift wrap and new toys.  When I checked my phone, there was an email from little Baby Iris' mom, Kira, telling me that she had made her appearance a bit early on Christmas Eve.  Iris was originally due on Dec. 30th and I thought for sure that she would be a little New Year's Eve baby.  Instead, she had her own plans!  What a wonderful Christmas present to her mommy and daddy!  It put an even bigger smile on my face that day!

We wound up scheduling her newborn session for her original due date (the 30th!) and Iris was so fresh and new- and also so sleepy!  This little sweetheart had kept her mom and dad up ALL night long so she wasn't the only one who was a little worn out ;-)  Ah, the joys of being a new parent!  I can remember those early days sort of blurring together....happiness, frustration, joy, and exhaustion!  That's one of the reasons I love doing in-home lifestyle newborn sessions.  It's one of the only true ways that you can 'freeze time'!  Now, despite the whirlwind that is having a new baby, Kira and Iris' daddy, Wes, will always be able to look back on these images and remember these moments.  

And there were SO many special ones!  Kira and Wes are completely wrapped around little Iris' fingers (and so are her grandparents who were in town visiting!) and I loved watching how they looked down so adoringly at her.  For so long, you dream about what your baby will look like and then -POOF!- they are here and you get to marvel at all the ways that he or she is so perfectly unique and special!  No wonder we spend so much time just staring at them!  Even the family kitty-cat liked watching over her!!

During Iris' session, I was able to incorporate some special items to the family, like Wes' baseball t-shirt quilt, bat (engraved with the couple's wedding anniversary!), and glove.  Baseball was- and still is!- a huge part of his life and I'm sure Iris will grow up to be quite a fan of America's game.  And of course, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, when we curled Iris up on her late uncle's uniform.  Kira's brother wasn't able to meet his niece, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that he was there with us and that he holds her in his arms and will always serve as her guardian angel.  

We ended the session downstairs by the Christmas tree.  I loved wrapping things up there because it was kind of symbolic of the true gift that Iris is to her family.  Sure, everyone loves Christmas for the decor, the food, and the presents.  But really, Christmas is about love and family.  And what better gift is there than that of new life?  

I can't think of a single one.  :-) 

Congratulations to you, Kira and Wes.  Iris is a beautiful gift and I wish you all the best and that your days with her are always merry and bright!