Tag Archives: doula

Why Are So Many Celebrities Having a Home Birth?

 

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The following celebrities have had a home birth:

Cindy Crawford,   Demi Moore,   Gisele Bundchen,   Hope Dworaczyk,   Miranda Kerr,   Jessica Alba,   Pamela Anderson,   Meryl Streep,   Joely Fischer,   Julianne Moore,   Jennifer Connelly,   Mayim Bialik,   Alyson Hannigan,   Alanis Morissette,   Kelly Preston,   Ricki Lake,   Lisa Bonet

Having a natural home birth is becoming a popular birthing method among women who have done their research and want the healthiest and happiest of babies! As highly successful actresses and models, these women know what they are doing when it comes to taking care of their bodies. Benefits include:

  • Greater freedom
  • Greater control
  • Faster labor
  • Faster recovery
  • Fewer Interventions
  • Empowerment

Greater Freedom

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In a hospital you are forced to lie down for the doctors convenience, but with a natural birth you are free to walk around, squat, change positions, etc. It’s about what makes you feel most comfortable! In addition, being in an upright position works in your favor because gravity is helping you bring the baby down!

Greater Control

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One of the biggest reasons to have a natural birth is because you can be in control and participate in your own labor. In a hospital birth, you can’t do this because you are under heavy pain medications and the doctor makes the final decisions.

Faster Labor

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In a natural birth, you feel the pain but you also feel where and when it is time to push. In a hospital birth, when you numb the pain you numb your awareness, causing the pushing to be harder and the labor to be longer.

Faster Recovery

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In a natural birth, you are able to walk around shortly after giving birth. But in a hospital birth, it can take a fews days to recover if you took pain medications and a few weeks to recover if you had a c-section.

Fewer Interventions

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In a hospital birth, the medications you ingest are also ingested by your baby. Depending on how much medication you are given, your baby could need to be hospitalized to get the drugs out of his or her system. In addition, studies have shown that babies who are not exposed to pain medication during labor are more alert and breastfeed better.

Empowers

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There is nothing more profound than being able to witness your own birth and be 100% in the moment when you see your child for the first time. Experiencing real labor and knowing what your mind and your body are capable of doing is an incredible and irreplaceable thing.

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Choosing home birth and Finding my midwife

NEWEST

It amazes me how much I have loved being pregnant. I knew I wanted kids but I never thought I would enjoy the process of creating life. I spent my entire adult life fearing pregnancy. I feared it for the responsibility, I feared it for what being a mother would do to me, and most of all I VAINLY  feared what pregnancy would do to my body. After meeting Robert I knew it was something I had to do and wanted to do myself. We spent quite some time trying for a baby and I feel blessed with every pain, ache, or middle of the night trip to the bathroom that this baby is growing and healthy. This growing belly is the first home my baby will ever know. Sure, it’s uncomfortable and painful as I toss and turn sleeping on my sides. My hips hurt, my back hurts, my cervix feels like it’s being stabbed but this belly is nurturing my growing child. It’s also nurtured my own sense of self. I grow as a person with every hiccup and painful uncomfortable moment.

I started my pregnancy with an OBGYN that had a rotating combination of doctors and midwives on their birthing staff. I chose this doctor because they gave you the option of choosing a birth center with a water birth option if you chose to go natural and also a hospital if you would be opting for an epidural. Early in my pregnancy before I started doing research on birth I without a doubt planned to deliver in a hospital with an epidural. After touring the small one room birthing suite with the small and very tight bathroom I knew I would be more miserable than relaxed and happy there so their natrual birth center wasn’t an option. While the doctors were as kind as any other doctor I’ve come across it didn’t feel like they did more than look at the numbers on my charts. They cared about my last menstrual period, blood and urine analysis, ultrasound statistics but it felt like I was being run through a baby making factory… and I was.

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DOCUMENTARIES & BOOKS

A documentary I watched early on called, “The Business of Being Born” really changed the way I looked at hospitals. It was life changing. I highly recommend watching it even if you are planning a hospital birth. It will give you insight into the questions you should be asking your doctor and may just inspire you to explore midwives in your area. While I am extremely thankful doctors and hospitals are there for high risk pregnancies and emergency situations, I don’t believe they are the best option for a normal pregnancy. After watching this documentary natural birth went from being this frightening thing to something I felt was a passage into womanhood.

Next I read glorified midwife Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to Childbirth.” I highly recommend you read this if you are considering a home birth or natural water birth. Even if you are not planning to birth naturally read this book. After reading it I felt a new sense of respect for the female body and what it has been doing since the dawning of mankind. It truly points out the negative effects of some of the standard drugs used in a hospital and shows just how rewarding a drug free birth can be.  I learned so much watching the documentary and reading this book. I had no idea that when you are on your back your pelvis is significantly smaller and you have to push against gravity because of the angle of a woman vagina. In fact on your back your pelvis is about 30% smaller than it is when you are squatting. Until the last 100 years giving birth on your back was very uncommon. Most would squat because this is the natural and most open position. I was also relieved to read that most the pain in childbirth comes not from the pushing but from the contractions before the pushing phase of labor. I always thought it was pushing the baby out that caused excrutiating pain. While I have yet to experience this myself from what I have read it is a relief to finally be able to push.  During my pregnancy I have also referenced the “What to Expect” book and iPhone app often. I most loved the community of women due during my birth month. I loved reading what they were going through and being able to post questions anonomously  and responding to comments. It felt like a team of women all going through the same things with the same goal at the end… a healthy baby –  no matter how you chose to birth the baby (most choose hospitals from what I saw.)

Other books I read include: Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke, Homebirth by Sheila Kitzinger, Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read, How Big is a Placenta Bowl by Renee Moilanen, The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger and a book on a subject I’m truly passionate about called, Gentle Babies: Essential Oils & Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infants and Young Children.  The iPhone apps I liked for daily reference of the babies development were What to Expect, Sprout, BabyCenter My Pregnancy, WebMD, Ovia Pregnancy, Baby Bump Pro, and Pregnancy +.

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6 REASONS TO CONSIDER HOMEBIRTH

  1. Hospitals are for the sick and injured. A labouring woman is neither.  I don’t understand why I would go to the hospital, then, unless complications arose (in which case I would be happy to be transferred).
  2. For low-risk pregnancies, planned midwife-attended home births are just as safe – or can be ever safer – than hospital births. For women who have no history of birth complications or medical conditions there is no difference in the safety or results when attended by a professional midwife in a home compared to a hospital. In fact, planned home births are associated with reduced rates of obstetric interventions like episiotomy, cesarean etc. Home births also show reduced rates of things like severe perineal tearing, postpartum hemorrhaging etc.
  3. No stressful transfer. When you are in early labor many things can stall labor. Transferring or leaving home to head to a hospital is one of them. So many women go to the hospital and by the time they arrive and are checked in they are no longer progressing and are often sent home.
  4. Privacy. I consider giving birth to be a private and intimate event and not something I want to share with strangers. I want to be able to tear off my clothes if that’s what I feel. I want to be able to freely move in and out of the birth tub and I don’t want a new nurse checking my chart or my cervix every couple hours. Once the birth is over and the midwives clean and make sure everyone is healthy I want to cuddle up with my Fiance and baby and relax in my own bed.
  5. A comfortable environment. A woman’s brain and emotions play a huge role in how her birth progresses. Fear, anxiety, and discomfort can slow down labour. And a sterile, unfamiliar environment, bright lights, strangers and all kinds of medical equipment isn’t calm or comforting. At home, I am in a familiar place and can control my surroundings (the lighting, music, bedding, etc). I can wear my own clothes and eat my own food. I won’t be ogled or poked by strangers whose shifts might change mid-labour. Once it’s all done I can take a shower in my own bathroom and put on whatever clothes I want from my own closet. No lumpy hospital beds, bleached-out gowns, weird food, beeping medical equipment, or plastic bins for baby to sleep in.
  6. Less risk of unnecessary intervention or pressure to medicate. I understand that the absence of pain medication might be considered a negative for many women; but for me, it’s an advantage. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare my mind for an unmedicated birth. I knew from the get-go that I would need to draw from personal resources to get through it because there would be no other ones to draw from. As a consequence I know I have to do this on my own.

 

FINDING A MIDWIFE

After coming to the conclusion I may want to try a home birth I decided I first had to find a midwife I believed in and loved before committing to birthing at home. I considered France, Switzerland, New York, Austin and Colorado since we spend time in all of them. I decided to start looking into the best midwives in each city. Doctors and midwives recommend you keep moving in early labor. Going for walks early on will keep your cervix dialating and labor progressing. I couldn’t imagine walking in the streets of New York or even Central Park during labor. I couldn’t choose Colorado because the weather in December is so unpredictable that if I needed to transfer in an emergency it may not be an option.

I started interviewing midwives and after vetting many of them online and doing research on their education and the history of their practice I chose to meet with Mari Mikel Potter in Austin, Texas. She has her BSN from the University of Texas but never practiced as a nurse, going straight into midwifery. She’s been practicing for 40 years and has delivered over 3,200 babies. In our first meeting she shared her complete midwifery statistics of her patients as well as her beliefs about birth. After spending about 2 hours in our first meeting I felt confident that with both her experience and education I was in the right hands.

I was most impressed when in later appointments she shared with me how to feel the babies different body parts and tell the position of the baby. Each of my appointments were at least an hour long. I loved learning about the vitamins that would be most beneficial to my body to ensure an optimal pregnancy. I learned that the prenatal vitamin is just the very basic and minimal my body needs. I felt like she listened more, gave me more time and has taught me so much about my body, pregnancy, labor, birth, newborn babies and breastfeeding and I haven’t even had my baby! I believe a woman’s body knows when and how to give birth better than a doctor looking at your chart. I believe your body knows what position is best to give birth and assist your baby in the long hard journey of entering the world. I felt she truly believed this too. I wanted the option to labor in a birth tub during the transition phase of labor. I appreciate the low tear rate her practice has, as I was very worried about tearing in natural birth. She has you on so many vitamins for months before the birth that help the skin to be able to stretch and more easily birth a baby. [Click here to read the vitamins I am currently taking and when.]

During the labor and birth itself she uses warm compresses of castor oil to bring blood to the surface of the perineum and applies pressure to prevent tearing. She also spends time massaging the area with olive oil. This is something a hospital just doesn’t have the time or resources to do because some doctors are delivering so many babies a week. She even taught my Fiance how to put pressure on my perineum from 34 weeks forward to ensure you can relax with pressure and not tear. These are all things that felt like she cared about me as a patient versus how many more clients she had to see and how fast she could get me in and out of the office. During one appointment she asked if I thought birth was bloody. I shook my head yes. She laughed and said hospitals and movies make us think they are. She said the only time you should see blood like that during a birth is when you birth the placenta. She said home births are not messy. After the birth the team of midwives clean up, wash everything, make sure everything is neat and orderly. They take pictures and video and even cook for you and your family while there. My midwives services include everything from prenatal care to post part care and she visits every day after the birth until you are healed and can then you go to her for your two weeks post-partum check up. Different midwives offer different levels of care. I chose not to have a Doula on hand because her team acts as both.

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MIDWIFERY FACTS (there are a ton but these I found interesting)

  • The percentage of countries providing universal prenatal care that have lower infant mortality rates than the United States: 100%
  • The percentage of U.S. births attended principally by midwives: 5%
  • The percentage of European births attended principally by midwifes: 75%
  • Number of midwives practicing in the U.S. : 3,000-4,000 direct entry midwives; 3,500 certified nurse-midwives
  • Number of midwives needed in the U.S. to meet European levels: 120,000
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the preferred location for most births is outside the hospital, either at home or in a birthing center, and that out-of- hospital birth should be implemented and maintained as the basic standard for all midwifery education and training programs.
  • Physician attended hospital birth has NEVER been shown to be safer than midwife attended home birth for women with normal pregnancies.
  • 80% of the babies born in the world today are delivered by midwives.
  • 14 other countries have lower maternal mortality rates than the United States. The U.S. rate is more than twice Canada’s (9 per 100,000 compared to 3.2 per 100,000)
  • The U.S. ranks 22nd in the world for infant mortality, losing twice as many babies during the first year of life as Japan. (10 compared to 4.4)
  • Midwives deliver over 70% of the babies born in Western European countries that have lower infant and maternal mortality, lower cesarean birth rates and lower health care costs.
  • The U.S. spends more money on health care than any other industrialized country in the world. (above data is from the World Health Organization)

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IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING A HOME BIRTH HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR MIDWIFE:

  • How, when and where did you receive your midwifery education?
  • Are you certified or licensed?
  • What physician collaboration or backup do you have?
  • Do you maintain statistics of your practice? May I see them?
  • How many women are due within a month of my due date?
  • Do you work with a partner?  If so, what are her qualifications?
  • What is your plan if someone else is in labor when I am?
  • Do you use pharmaceutical products to induce labor?
  • What prenatal tests do you require?
  • What are your recommendations about my diet during pregnancy? (You should be wary of anyone that recommends a weight gain of less than 25-30lbs. If you are overweight, you should not be encouraged to lose weight. My midwife recommended I shoot for about 33lbs to ensure I have enough body fat to breast feed after birth.)
  • Do you carry oxygen tanks to births? What other equipment do you carry?
  • What methods do you suggest to alleviate labor pain?
  • Is your certification in neonatal resuscitation up to date?
  • To what hospital do you transfer to if it become necessary. Do you go with me? (Your midwife should go with you and act as a voice for you once you are there.)
  • How often will you make postpartum visits?

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Today I am 40 weeks + 3 days pregnant and waiting for our sweet baby. My midwife reminds me babies don’t come on their due date, they come on their birth date so I’m trying to relax and let labor happen when it happens but it’s getting harder! If all goes as planned I’ll labor and have our baby at home with my soon to be husband, my midwife and her apprentices. I chose to have only 2 extra apprentices on hand.  To prepare for a natural home birth I am still working out doing prenatal Pilates, although my workouts look a different than they did a few months ago. As healthy as a pregnancy as I’ve had I don’t plan to be back in the gym anytime soon. We as a society put pregnant women on a pedestal for 9 months for carrying a child only to expect women to be right back where she was pre-baby. I rarely hear women being praised for spending those first weeks and months doing nothing but snuggling with her newborn. I am counting down the days or weeks I have left. With a natural birth there is no inducing. My midwife says 75% of her first time mothers deliver between 41 and 42 weeks. If I had stuck with my OBGYN I’d be meeting my baby within the next week since most will induce near or after the due date. I am learning patience and to trust that just as my body knew how to grow this baby, it will know when and how to birth this baby.

If you’re interested in reading about my home birth experience Emma Bing (who inspired Heidi Murkoff’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” will be interviewing and documenting my home birth experience for www.whattoexpect.com. I hope to inspire many more women to explore the idea of a home birth.

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I made these boards sitting at home when my Mom was visiting. I felt like when labor became to much I could focus on some of these birth mantras and go deeper inside myself to find strength. They are not done perfectly. The goal was to get them down for quick reference when things get tough.

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Homebirth isn’t for everyone but I do encourage you to do your research.

RESEARCH EVERYTHING

  • Anti Ric
  • Vernix Caseosa
  • Magic Hour
  • Water Birth
  • Doula
  • Midwife
  • Eye Ointment
  • Epidural/ Pitocin
  • Perineal massage
  • Empowered Birthing
  • Delayed Cord Clamping
  • Placenta Encapsulation
  • Colostrum
  • Newborn Stomachs
  • Lochia
  • Nursing
  • Safe Cosleeping
  • Skin to Skin Contact
  • VBAC

I am so thankful I have such a loving, capable and supportive partner in Robert. If I were with a man I didn’t believe in, I wouldn’t be able to allow myself to be this vulnerable and birth without fear. I know no matter what happens Robert can and will handle it. If I were with someone else I’m not sure I’d feel confident enough to allow myself this home birth and spiritual experience.

Xo,

Hope

Fit Pregnancy

I’ve been modeling for over ten years and the unknown idea of having pregnancy take over my body was terrifying. I have trained my mind to have the healthiest habits when it comes to food and exercise. For years I was rewarded with more work when I was my fittest and less work when I wasn’t. Watching what I ate and exercising became a huge part of my life for over a decade and is now something I enjoy. I ultimately fell in love with somebody who I loved more than I loved my old body. At that point we decided to try to have a baby. I’ve given in to lots of cravings (Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Fried Chicken!) but have overall eaten clean and stayed active.

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Fitness

I’ve been asked many times about my fitness routine and diet. I think the key to being able to stay fit during pregnancy was being fit and maintaining a clean diet pre-pregnancy. I’ve been doing Pilates for about 5 years now. In that time I have built a very strong core and have alleviated many of the back pains my scoliosis previously caused.

Since becoming pregnant I’ve worked out 4-5 times a week. I’ve taken off a week here and there while traveling but even then I’d make sure to hike, walk or strength train with weights in a hotel gym. When I am in the U.S. my preferred workout is on a Pilates megaformer. If my schedule is busy or I’m in New York, France, Austin or Colorado I do private sessions at home combined with classes in a Lagree Fitness studio. I’ve learned i have to schedule an hour a day to workout and actually put it in my calendar. My workouts are booked weeks ahead of time. That way you build your calendar and meetings around your workouts and feel committed to them. Working out is as important or more important than any of your other appointments!

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(I was about 3 weeks pregnant in these photos but didn’t know it. Photos above are from my home gym. I work out on a Megaformer from Lagree Fitness. I love Sebastian Lagree and think he is one of the most innovative fitness people of our time.)

 

First Trimester

When I was about 6 weeks pregnant I suddenly was extremely fatigued (as if someone slipped me Nyquil!) and when I was attempting a workout I was dizzy and completely out of breath after just standing up. I was in such great shape and then suddenly what was once easy left my breathless and my heart pounding almost overnight! This was my first sign of pregnancy. It DOES get better if you keep going. There were times i was eyeing the bathroom during workouts in case I had to run to it because of nausea. I was lucky that subsided after about week 10. If I wouldn’t have continued working out during the first trimester there is no way I would have been working out today at 33+ weeks pregnant.

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Second Trimester

Every pregnancy has it’s own challenges. As soon as the second trimester hit my energy was back and I hardly felt pregnant. Unfortunately this is when I started having symptoms of SPD. Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is caused by the hormone relaxin. It’s job is to make your ligaments stretchy so your baby can ease his/her way into the world. When relaxin does its job too well, the ligaments around your pelvic bone become too loose too soon and causes instability and extreme pain in the pelvic area. Getting out of bed or rolling over in bed is enough to make tears roll down your face and lifting one foot off the ground to put on pants (while standing on the other foot) was impossibly painful. If you are suffering from SPD I found this exercise to be helpful and give me some relief. So many doctors told me it was just round ligament pain and completely normal. Not until I switched to my midwife did I find out it was the separation of my pubic bones from producing too much of the hormone Relaxin too soon. I kept working out through this and learned the exercises that were activating it and which to avoid.

It was in my second trimester I started working out with trainer  Brooke Cates  to learn exercises I could do to maintain a strong core, which is super important when it comes time to push during labor. Brooke taught which pregnancy safe exercises would keep my abdominal wall strong and help me avoid getting Diastasis Recti. The abdominal moves have consisted of absolutely NO crunching. All stabilizing moves like side planks, planks, pelvic tilts, wall tilts and stabilizing moves like sitting on your bottom and leaning back to a 45 degree angle and holding it. I do walk on the treadmill and swim laps in the pool in addition to strength training with Pilates. My upper body (arms) have actually gotten stronger and even more toned since I’ve been pregnant since it is what is easiest to work without pain or limitation.

IMG_7124(I love this photo of my bump. I feel like I’m at peace in it. Here I was having lunch with my soon to be husband in one of our favorite vacation spots.)

Third Trimester

I’m now in my third trimester and I feel the baby growing bigger sometimes from one day to the next. I posted a picture of my reflection on my Instagram page and within 30 minutes had over 150 comments about how small my belly is and many degrading comments about some of our readers own bodies. When you start off with a 23 inch waist and are 5’10” you have more room for the baby to stretch out length wise than a shorter woman does. (That and strong abdominals pre pregnancy!) Every woman carries every pregnancy differently. So many women commented negatively about themselves. Someone once told me to “Let go of the thoughts that don’t make you strong.” It’s a quote I now use whenever my mind starts to slip. We should all strive to be our best especially during pregnancy. To me this means keeping your thoughts positive, staying active and eating clean 80% of the time. Exercise has been crucial in keeping me happy and in great spirits. Right now I’m told the baby weighs about 5 pounds and is already 60% effaced and engaged.

 

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Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

  • You’re likely to gain less weight
  • Labor & delivery may be easier
  • Lower risk of gestational diabetes
  • Less back pain
  • Less constipation
  • More energy
  • More likely to avoid forceps delivery, c-section, or other interventions
  • Shorter labor
  • Less swelling
  • Bounce back faster after delivery
  • Child likely to have healthier heart
  • Sleep better
  • Lower risk for pre-eclampsia
  • Avoid depression
  • You look better
  • Keeps your immune system strong

Diet / Vitamins / Herbs

Before I was pregnant I followed the Blood Type Diet pretty faithfully. When I became pregnant I was suddenly craving foods I usually avoid. I still give in and eat what I want as long as my diet is clean 80% of the time. The only thing I really have stayed away from (minus a few cravings here and there ) is sugar. If you are interested in learning more about sugar and how your body metabolizes it I recommend watching the documentary “Fed Up.”

The picture below is the actual vitamins and herbs I take daily as recommended by my midwife. I keep four of these containers filled and labeled and keep one in each house and then also keep one in my handbag for traveling or when I’m not home to take them. (The labeled vitamin container was found on Amazon here.) The only herb that isn’t mine is the Prostate one for men I carry with me for Robert. (He also takes the Fish Oil, Vitamin D, C, and B-50.) Check with your doctor about what vitamins you should be taking and remember your prenatal vitamin has just the minimum of what you should be taking. In addition to what is below my midwife has me starting  Dr. Christopher’s “Birth Prep” at week 34 and drinking Earth Mama  Third Trimester Tea.

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IMG_9012(I’m an obsessed with my labeler. Everyone in my house knows not to touch it or move it because when it’s missing I have a bit of a melt down.)

They say we spend more time researching what television to buy than our own births. I switched to a midwife from my OBGYN after about week 20. I’ll share why I made this decision and what books and documentaries led me there in the next blog. What I learned was LIFE CHANGING and if you are interested in learning more watch for the next post… I want to share it all with you.

Xo,

Hope

I’m Pregnant!

photo 1 copy IMG_86487It’s true. We’re having a baby! My growing waistline is proof and I love every bit of being pregnant! I know I’ve kept it quiet (SINCE SPRING!) but I wanted time for Robert and I to soak it all in and appreciate this blessing. It was a long process and finally getting a positive pregnancy test, after trying to conceive for a couple years, made us want to keep it all to ourselves for a while.

We were on our way to Aspen this Spring when we found out. Announcing it online or on a website seemed so impersonal so we waited and waited. I started realizing most of you would wonder where this new baby came from and I wanted to be able to share the joys and wonders of pregnancy with you. I’ve never been more proud of my body and am in awe I am creating life. Feeling the baby move inside of me has been one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced.  There is nothing more beautiful than growing something that is half of the person you love the most .

Xo,

Hope

My close friend photographer Josh Ryan shot these. He doesn’t shoot maternity  but we have developed such a strong friendship working together for years, that he did mine. Thank you so much Josh!!! I love that you documented such a special time of my life.