Saturday, October 6, 2012

Portraits with Baby by James Harvey Photography

I am grateful to be friends with a very talented photographer, James Harvey --
-- who has helped to capture some of my life's milestones (my CD release party years ago, maternity shots months ago and now portraits with my baby.)

Usually I'm the one behind the camera and I've taken thousands of pictures of Michelle already but I wanted to have photos of us together and I never seemed to have any luck getting one that was flattering of us both. Either she wouldn't look or would make a face or I'd have a weird smile or blink or something. James had the magic touch and managed to get a perfect shot of Michelle and I both smiling. Michelle has such a sweet smile here. I LOVE this photo! 
I made it my profile photo on Twitter as well, replacing the parrot pic with a parent pic! It seems more appropriate. The parrot wasn't even mine. It was a loan from the hotel staff when I was at the Grand Paradise Hotel in Samana, Dominican Republic. "Get your picture taken with a parrot!" Who could resist? (I got one taken with a monkey as well.) This parrot photo has represented me on all my websites for years. I was a single girl who dreamed of living in a bikini on a tropical island. It's not me anymore. My tropical dreams have been put on hold for a while. Now I'm a Mom and Michelle is my dream come true. Someday Michelle and I will live in an island paradise and fall asleep in a hammock under the palm trees, lulled by the sound of the ocean waves...Sigh. As soon as I win the lottery! 

James even snapped a couple more with her smiling. I was thrilled to see them. I love her expression.

Months ago James snapped photos of me in the empty nursery, holding my belly. Now he took some of me with Michelle. My belly has gotten a lot smaller but I still have my "pooch" which the doctor said may never be completely flat again. At this point it looks like I'm about six months pregnant. Oh well. Michelle was worth losing my figure. I am going to work out again. I was happy to find that I can still do a headstand. I want to get back into yoga and aerobics again (Jillian Michaels will whip me into shape but I have to psych myself up to begin the 30 day shred again. It's also hard to find time and space now with the baby. Excuses, excuses!)

I was worried how the photo shoot would go. I never know how Michelle is going to be on any given day, so making plans is always tricky. James had asked what's a good time of day but with Michelle every day is a little different. It was mid-afternoon and it could have gone either way. I was afraid she'd scream the whole time or that she'd be asleep. Of course naps through the day are a rarity for her. They say babies are supposed to sleep most of the day but she never did, even as a newborn. Even if she had been asleep, sleeping baby photos are cute too. I'm so glad she was awake and in a good mood for the pictures though! Luckily she'd just been fed and was content, a bit sleepy but not cranky. James was quick as well because he knew we may not have long before she'd start to fuss. Babies and animals are the biggest challenges for portrait photographers. They don't always do what you want them to. Thankfully James was able to get her attention and to get some good shots in while she was being cooperative.

It's still kind of surreal to me that I'm a Mom. It's something I had never imagined for myself. I didn't think I had it in me. My life has taken such a completely different direction and I'm discovering who I really am. I can't imagine life without her. She is my whole life. It's bizarre because I was the last person anyone thought would ever have kids. I didn't think I was mature enough, responsible enough. I didn't think I could make the sacrifices you have to make. To give up my freedom. I didn't think I could give up sleeping in! But when you love someone more than you love yourself, it isn't a sacrifice. You want to do everything for them, to give them everything. Sleep is harder to come by these days, but she's worth it. When I see her smile in the morning while I change her, it gives me energy to start the day. And I do manage to catch cat naps with her here and there. I adapt to her. Anything that I need or want to do I work around her schedule. She's the boss! I read that there are two different philosophies of parenting -- parent-driven (the parent calls the shots, creates a rigid schedule and baby has to follow it, like it or lump it) and attachment-based (baby calls the shots. You feed on command, co-sleep etc.) I'm definitely into attachment. I couldn't do it any other way.  

Some people will argue that it can make your children too dependent or too spoiled if you cater to their every whim. I want Michelle to feel safe and to know that she's loved. I can't leave her to cry. I'm not going to let her go hungry or demand that she always eat or sleep at a certain time. Whatever her needs are, I meet them. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure what her needs are (when she's been fed and changed and it's not obvious what she wants) but I just keep trying everything until she's happy. It can be exhausting. She's more than 11 pounds (possibly even 12 by now) so carrying her around constantly is killing my arms, wrists and back. But I do it. I can't help it. I can't be happy unless she's happy. My Mom said it was different years ago. Doctors told mothers they could only feed their babies every four hours. Of course they now say that new babies need to eat every 2-3 hours. For a while it seemed Michelle was eating every hour. Now she usually goes 2-3 hours during the day and 4 hours between feedings at night. I certainly wouldn't want to limit her or make her wait.

I loved these shots with the light in the background when James took my maternity photos. It's cool to see my belly replaced by the baby. I lost so much weight in a short period of time (45 lbs in a month or so) but most of it was the baby, water weight and blood. My huge swollen feet are small again. The last 20 lbs (in my flabby, stretch-marked tummy) is the hardest to lose. At first I barely got to eat at all because I was carrying Michelle constantly and she wouldn't let me cook, eat or order food. Now that she's been a little more cooperative I'm actually eating and have even put on a couple of pounds instead of losing more.

Having these photos of Michelle and I means so much to me. I am enjoying this time that I spend with her. I know it will go by quickly so I'm glad to have this stage encapsulated in photos. Thank you so much to James for capturing my baby and me in these images. I love them. If you're looking for a photographer in the area, James does portraits of all kinds and weddings as well. Visit his website:

Michelle and I have so much ahead of us. People keep asking what I'm doing next year (about daycare when I return to work etc). I can't think that far ahead right now. It stresses me out. Being a single Mom it will be difficult juggling work and caring for the baby. She is my number one priority. I want to do what's best for her. Anyway, I'm trying not to rush life along (it goes by quickly enough as it is!) and worry about things a year from now. I'm trying to just take it one day a time. If there's one thing I've learned it's that you never know where you'll be, who you'll be, or what could happen in a year. Everything can change. For now, I'm enjoying being home with my baby girl, even when it's exhausting, back-breaking and the hardest job I've ever had. It's definitely a labour of love.

Time flies. Photos are a way of holding on to each precious moment. Life is short, bring a camera!


  1. Beautiful photos! I especially love the ones of Michelle in front of where your belly was. Such a great idea!