Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer

Jen contacted me one chilly spring day from her home up in New England looking for a photographer to do a family session during their vacation here in Florida.

There’s a saying around here: I live where you vacation. And it’s true! I can’t tell you how many sessions I’ve done for folks visiting the area. And what a treat it is for the families. Just playing for an hour, connecting, and being present with each other. No phones or itinerary except to enjoy the moment. And then, when they are back home and still sun kissed from Florida, they receive a carefully edited collection of photos from their vacation, perfect for a photo book or a beautiful canvas to hang on the wall.

Think back to your last family vacation.

How many awesome photos you got of your family all together without phones? Smiling. Having fun. A few? One?

Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography

“Of course I’d love to document your family on your vacation! I’m so happy you found me”

Little did I know how true those words were.

Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography

After we got chatting I learned that Jen was a photographer herself and a volunteer photographer for Preemie Prints. She had fallen in love with this non-profit that gifts free sessions for NICU babies either in the NICU or sometime before their first birthday… because her twins were NICU grads themselves. <3

Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography

After her session I checked to see if anyone volunteers for Preemie Prints here on the Treasure Coast. Nope! There is a need for this area to be serviced and I took the call. Thanks to Jen, I am now a Preemie Prints Volunteer myself. I am so grateful to be able to serve families with preemies all along the Treasure Coast with my time and talents.

Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography

I had a blast getting to know Jen and her family. Watching the kids’ eyes widen with awe as they took in sea turtle nests, seaweed, and broken sand dollars (worth a quarter each, right?). And documenting their tiny adventure alongside the Atlantic.

And I think they had a little fun too!

Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography
Florida Family Vacation Beach Session - Fort Pierce Family Photographer - Ebb and Flow Photography

* M E R M A I D L O O T *

 

#eaffamilies


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Nursing Orion - A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Vero Beach Breastfeeding Photographer

Alex is a beautiful mother of three and an advocate for breastfeeding. When I learned that her youngest had Down Syndrome I wanted to know more, understanding that infants with DS have weak muscle tone and often struggle to develop even the simplest motor skills. Breastfeeding an infant with DS is a challenge for both mother and child, but it can be done!

I asked Alex if I could document her nursing relationship with Orion for two reasons. One, so that I could gift her photographs to commemorate the challenges she has overcome and celebrate their nursing bond. And two, to share her story so that other mothers and parents of children with DS may be informed and inspired. She advocated for the benefits of breastfeeding her son when she was surrounded by professionals that suggested it wasn’t beneficial or even possible. I know that her personal experience will shed light for some and help others gain perspective. At the time of this session, Orion was 9 months old and THRIVING. Given that October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month I think our paths crossed at the perfect time.

Thank you Alex, for sharing your time and words.

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

Growing up I never really knew what I wanted to be as an adult, except one thing - be a mom. I loved how my mom could always make everything seem right, even when it wasn’t and I still truly admire her for that. 

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I knew I wanted to breastfeed because it was what my body was made to do and of course it’s basically free! After he was born he latched immediately and nursed amazingly! It was such a relief and I felt empowered. It was then that I became incredibly passionate about breastfeeding and really began to advocate for normalizing breastfeeding. 

So of course, when I became pregnant with my second son (and still nursing my first) it was no question of if I would breastfeed - but more so for how long. My oldest son was 2 1/2 and there was no end in sight, so I wanted to provide that same comfort and nourishment for my second son. 

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

We had a beautiful and successful breech home birth with an amazing group of midwives. And after six pushes I was now the mama of one beautiful girl and two amazing little boys. 

Orion came at 37 weeks + 5 days and was considered a late term preemie. So when he didn’t latch right away it didn’t shock me - he was tired and this is a whole new big world for him. But there was something different about him that I didn’t know yet. Orion was born with Down Syndrome. As things began to wind down and visitors left, I told my husband to go across the house to Orion’s room and get him a hat so his little head would stay warm. It was then that our midwives told him they believed Orion had DS due to several markers. When he came back with the hat I knew something was going on. Then he said it: “they think he has Down syndrome.”

I took a deep breath, looked at my little rainbow baby and said, “okay.”

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

We talked for what seemed like forever before my midwife gave me a make shift SNS (supplemental nursing system) and told me to use it if needed. We did not need to rush since his oxygen levels were good, but we did need to get him to his pediatrician for a referral to have his heart and gut checked and to have his diagnosis confirmed. He nursed a handful of times from Saturday to Monday and never for more than a few minutes before falling asleep. It was totally different than the first 48 hours with my first - Orion just could not stay awake for very long, so I spoon fed him my hand-expressed milk to keep him nourished between nursing sessions.

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

Our pediatrician appointment turned into a four day hospital stay. During this time, the hospitalist was adamant that Orion stay under the lights and would only allow him out every four hours for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes was not long enough to get him aroused and ready to eat, so they insisted I bottle feed him. However, I refused. I had worked so hard to nurse my first son and to advocate for the acceptance and normalization of breastfeeding; I was not going to let his diagnosis prevent him from the benefits of nursing. I was so frustrated with the doctors and nurses for so quickly deciding that he couldn’t do it. I had been pumping after every nursing session and we were helping them administer it through an NG tube. 

We had a lactation consultant come see us and recommend we use the dancer hold - holding your breast with one hand and supporting baby’s jaw with the other. This helped Orion keep up his endurance, but she was still insisting we use a bottle after a 20 minute nursing session.

I couldn’t do it. She handed me a bottle and asked me how I felt.

I felt like a failure.

I asked to have them help me with an SNS, if I could syringe, spoon or cup feed him instead and the only reply I was given was “it’s not our policy.” The hospital would not meet me in the middle and I was not willing to bottle feed him - even if it was my milk! If he didn’t try he’d never learn. The nurses argued with me that we didn’t know how much he was getting by only being on the breast, so we suggested weighted feeds ... alas this was still not good enough for the hospital pediatrician (even though the scale proved he was gaining each feed) and she told us we could only be discharged if we fed him a bottle. I was so hurt. He was doing it and it still wasn’t good enough for them. We signed our discharge paperwork, my husband drank the bottle & we were sure the door didn’t hit us on the way out. 

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

Once we were in the comfort of our own home, Orion’s feeds went much smoother.

I was still using a nipple shield and the homemade SNS, and after each nursing session I would syringe feed him 1/2-1 ounce. We did this for a week or so until I received my SNS in the mail. WOW! What a game changer that was! It took some getting used to, but once we had the hang of the SNS it was a breeze. I would let him latch without the nipple shield and nurse until he unlatched before putting the shield on and inserting the SNS into his mouth. This became the new norm. My toddler was still nursing, so I’d make sure Orion emptied at least one breast before allowing his brother to have the other. This led to them each having their “own side”, which you could see in my milk when I pumped! One side was fattier than the other - it was amazingly cool!

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

As Orion grew the pounds packed on, we got a scale and weighed him every 3 to 5 days. At one point he gained 2 pounds in TEN DAYS and it was around that time he self weaned from the shield.  He’d refuse to latch if it was on. He eventually did the same with the SNS, which was a relief because the bigger he got, the more he wanted to play with it. He had longer sessions and still fell asleep a lot, but he was doing it and the scale proved it.

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

Nursing a baby is not easy. Nursing a baby with Down syndrome isn’t easy either - but it is worth it. Orion has amazing control over his tongue, can drink from a straw cup and is saying “mama,” “dada,” and practicing “bubba”.  Nursing has improved his mouth muscles and helped set a solid foundation for when we need to start speech therapy. I am shocked by the amount of mamas I talk to who have a baby with DS and are told their baby can’t nurse! Who has any right to tell you what your baby can or can’t do? Down Syndrome or not, your baby can do anything you help them achieve.

—Alex

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography

DOWN

RIGHT

PERFECT

A Down Syndrome Breastfeeding Story - Ebb and Flow Photography
alex blog 11.jpg

For more information and support about breastfeeding a child with Down Syndrome:

JULIA’S WAY + KELLY MOM + LA LECHE LEAGUE



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A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Milk Bath Photographer

No matter what advice you get before becoming a parent, there will always be things that will only ring true after you’ve had children.

One of those things, for me, is that life will never be quiet again. Sure, there will be moments of calm and the times when the little one(s) are sleeping. But your day and life, once you have a child, is never your own again. It is an offering to the most beautiful form of chaos. A cacophany of babbles, screams, laughter, cries, and singing. It’s a beautiful thing, to give life and nurture and be needed. But it can also be so. so. loud. (Can you tell I have a toddler and a preschooler?)

This is one reason I LOVE floral bath sessions. They are calm. They are quiet. They are a gift of relaxation to the mother to be (or the new mother during an herbal bath session).

A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography

Momma-to-be sporting her magnificent tiger stripes, ready for her milk bath. So fierce.

A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography
A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography

Time spent reflecting on pregnancy and motherhood. Pressure off the feet, attempting weightlessness in the soothing warmth of the milk bath.

A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography
A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography

And flowers. How luxurious to be surrounded by flowers - quite literally. Feeling like a goddess instead of the Hindenburg? Sounds like heaven.

A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography

And time to quietly contemplate birth affirmations. (Mug and temporary tattoo by The Oxytocin Emporium)

A quiet maternity milk bath - Vero Beach Maternity Photograper - Ebb and Flow Photography

Dreamy Walk along the Lagoon Maternity Session - Vero Beach Maternity Photography

Sometimes I can’t believe that this is my job.

Really.

I am beyond grateful that I get to be a storyteller with photography. And even more so when I have the opportunity to do it for others.

Life is constantly changing. Families growing, shifting around, ebbing and flowing. The chance I give families to hold on to a time in their lives - with all of them in the frame - is such a gift.

dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography

This session is part of the story of how love made magic into reality.

dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography

You can just see the love, excitement, and anticipation in these two.

dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography

This adventuresome couple took me on a hike and showed me a hidden gem here on the Treasure Coast. A boardwalk that went on foreeeeeeever, lined by mangroves.

dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography
dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography
dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography
dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography
dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography

See the love they have for eachother? Just radiating around the two of them and ready to welcome their newest addition.

dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography
dreamy walk along the lagoon - vero beach maternity photographer - ebb and flow photography

World Photography Day - A Day Spent Connecting With Other Photographers

August 19th is World Photography Day!

For the last three years I have gone on a hike on this day, and enjoyed photographing things for myself, beyond the scope of client work. On this day I celebrate the reason why I first fell in love with this fantastic art. Photography was first a way for me to connect with nature. And now it has evolved into a way for me to connect with people.

This year was particularly special because I got to share my hike with another local photographer, Crystal of CR Life Photography.  I brought my daughter and we posed for breastfeeding portraits in honor of National Breastfeeding Month.

World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography

We chatted about how we've seen the landscape change here over the years. The invasive Australian Pine grove was eradicated and the understory is well underway to becoming established.

World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography
World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography

We stopped and admired ferns, butterflies, beautyberry, and moss covered tree trunks.

World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography
World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography

And seeing it through the eyes of my two year old made the Florida humidity just a tiny bit more tolerable. She was more interested in the texture of the moss and the flapping of palm fronds than the beads of sweat that began to curl her hair.

World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography

I'm pretty sure Crystal got some cute photos! She's so silly with kids. And such a great light seeker. It was fun watching another photographer work. And she's definitely more flexible than I am!

World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography

In the end I was reminded of the saying,

TAKE NOTHING BUT MEMORIES,
LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS

and how photography allows me to do that.

Connecting with nature and other photographers AND my daughter. My cup was so full.

World Photography Day - Connecting with other photographers - ebb and flow photography

And then. Well, the two year old told us it was time to go.  😂