Happy 1st Birthday, Evelyn Irene’s Birth Story

One year ago, my younger sister delivered her first child, a precious baby girl. I was so happy to have been there for her labor and delivery–as her doula, photographer, backup coach, and encourager. Let me tell you about Evelyn’s birth story.

Haleigh’s husband is a Marine and they live on a military base in southern California. We learned about halfway through Haleigh’s pregnancy that Nick would be deployed to Afghanistan very close to their child’s due date. I knew that if he had to miss the birth then I would do everything in my power to be there as Haleigh’s coach–even though I live over three hundred miles away.

As July 2014 approached, Nick’s leave date kept changing and he wouldn’t receive his official orders until one week prior.  I decided that I would drive to California on Sunday, July 13 (the day before her due date) and stay for as long as I could. Our prayers were answered and Nick wasn’t scheduled to leave the country until July 18, but there was still a chance that he could miss the birth if Haleigh didn’t go into labor by then.

You see, Haleigh and Nick chose to have an intervention-free birth assisted by a hospital midwife. They researched and read as much as they could and knew this was the very best choice for them and their child. So when the option to induce labor was mentioned, Haleigh and Nick took the risk that he might miss the birth and bravely declined. Oh, and they were waiting to find out the sex of the baby until he/she was born!

Early July came and went with no signs of labor so my plan to head to California on Sunday, the 13th was a go. I started to pack my suitcase on Friday, got some rest, and woke up on Saturday to a call from Haleigh. She was awake most of the night with some moderate contractions and wasn’t sure if she was in labor quite yet, but I decided that I would make the trek to California a day early just in case. I left after lunch and arrived on base by 7pm. We had dinner, I got settled in, and we went to sleep. Apparently I was the only one to get any sleep that night.

By 2:30am, Haleigh’s contractions were seven to ten minutes apart. She tried to rest and get some sleep, but couldn’t. We had breakfast around 9am and relaxed around the house. At 10:30am, Haleigh and I went for a walk around the neighborhood, came home, and she got in the bathtub. After lunch her contractions escalated to five to eight minutes apart. She continued to labor at home for several hours, took another long bath, and by 6:15pm her contractions intensified and were consistent at just two to three minutes apart.

2015-07-13_0001

2015-07-13_0002

2015-07-13_0003

We left the house and made the 30 minute drive to the hospital and arrived around 8pm, July 13, 2014. After an hour in triage, Haleigh was admitted, given a labor and delivery room, and told that her cervix was dilated to three centimeters. They also discovered that the baby’s amniotic sac must have broken while Haleigh was in the bathtub.

Having a natural delivery is not easy. It’s called “labor” for a reason.  By 11pm contractions were just two minutes apart and the baby’s heart rate was perfect. (Because Haleigh arrived to the hospital on a weekend, she would have an OB/GYN assist her birth because the midwives are only on-call Monday thru Friday.)

2015-07-13_0004

Sunday came and went and Haleigh continued to labor into the early Monday morning hours. It was getting hard. Really hard. Having intermittent monitoring can be a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to be able to move around to allow labor to progress, but for 20 minutes every hour she had to wear the fetal heart rate monitor which prohibited her from getting into a comfortable position. The doctor examined Haleigh at 12:30am and determined she was dilated to five centimeters, was 90% effaced, and Baby’s head was at a -3 station.

Haleigh found solace and some relief in the hot shower, so Nick and I took turns attending to her and keeping her company while her labor progressed. She felt some urges to push so the doctor examined Haleigh again. At 2:15am she was seven centimeters dilated, still 90% effaced, but Baby had moved down to a zero station!

Back to the shower she went, where she stayed for quite a while. By this time, Haleigh had been awake for over 24 hours and was exhausted. She was crying, grimacing, in a lot of pain, couldn’t get comfortable, and felt like there was no end in sight. Nick and I were tired, hungry, wished we could take her pain on ourselves, and wondered if we should talk to her about considering an epidural or other options when all of a sudden Haleigh comes out of the bathroom and says, “I feel like I need to push!”

2015-07-13_0005

Haleigh was experiencing transition, the most painful part of labor. She got through it with no medications like a champion. It was five o’clock in the morning and she was 9.5 centimeters dilated! Haleigh waited just a few minutes longer, got into position on the hospital bed, pushed for just 15 minutes and the baby was born at 5:31am on Monday, July 14, 2014 after 27 hours of labor. It was the most beautiful and perfect delivery I could have imagined. As the doctor placed the baby on Haleigh’s stomach I couldn’t help myself to shout, “IT’S A GIRL!”

We succumb to more tears and shouts of acclimation. She’s here! Evelyn Irene Brown: seven pounds, five ounces and 18 inches of perfection.

2015-07-13_0007

2015-07-13_0006 2015-07-13_0008 2015-07-13_0009 2015-07-13_0010 2015-07-13_0011 2015-07-13_0012 2015-07-13_0013 2015-07-13_0014 2015-07-13_0015 2015-07-13_0016 2015-07-13_0017 2015-07-13_0018 2015-07-13_0019 2015-07-13_0020 2015-07-13_0021 2015-07-13_0022

Haleigh and Evelyn were released from the hospital on Wednesday and on Friday Nick had to report for deployment. It was a heart-wrenching goodbye but, thankfully, Nick was only overseas for two months before coming home to sweet baby Evelyn. Nick has had to be away a few times this year as he courageously and selflessly serves our country, but his bond and relationship with Evelyn is so beautiful. She loves her daddy so, so much.

evelynis1

Haleigh and Nick, thank you for allowing me to be present at the birth of your precious Evelyn. I love you both so much. Your love for your daughter is apparent in everything you do and I cannot wait to stand by your side as we raise our children together. Evelyn is the happiest little girl–I’ve honestly never seen a baby smile as much as she does! Happy 1st birthday, my sweet niece. Aunt Brenna loves you to the ends of the earth!

Gear for Sale

I’ve recently upgraded some of my personal and professional equipment so I’m selling some great gear! Email me at brenna.heater@gmail.com for inquiries.

BHP_052615-246BHP_052615-249

Canon Rebel T2i + Neewer battery grip
18 MP CMOS APS-C Digital SLR Camera with 3.0 inch LCD screen
ISO 100-6400
Comes with box, CDs, instruction manual, battery, battery charger, and AV cord. Body only, cropped frame. Has very light scratch on the screen which does not affect viewing images.
Camera purchased new in January 2012 for $500.00. Asking $350.00

BHP_052615-265
Canon 50mm f/1.4  lens + lens hood.
Prime lens, like new condition. Never dropped or scratched.
Lens purchased new in August 2013 for $400.00. Asking $300.00

BHP_052615-258
Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens
Asking $125.00

BHP_052615-272
BHP_052615-275
Lowepro Camera Bag
Has shoulder strap and belt loops, three foam-protected dividers, attached soft cloth for gently cleaning lenses, and extra storage for memory cards and batteries.
Purchased new in 2012 for $80. Asking $45.

Johnson Family Spring Session

I have been photographing this family for several years. From birthdays to holiday photos and now commemorating Sara and Jerry’s 10th wedding anniversary, this family is so special to me! Jerry and my husband work for the same company and Sara just so happened to be our doula when my son was born in 2012. When I met up with the Johnsons for this session, their sweet kiddos ran up to me and gave the best hugs! I just love having those relationships with my subjects. It makes my job so much more fun! Congratulations, Sara and Jerry, on ten wonderful years of marriage. Here’s to many, many more!2015-04-23_0026 2015-04-23_0027 2015-04-23_0028 2015-04-23_0029 2015-04-23_0024 2015-04-23_0023 2015-04-23_0021 2015-04-23_0025 2015-04-23_0020 2015-04-23_0018 2015-04-23_0019

Stephens Family Session

I first met Madison about a year and a half ago at the Phoenix Zoo for a play date. She was about to deliver her second daughter and our goal that day was to “walk the baby out,” if I remember correctly. Well, little Audrey and her big sister Miranda are just as cute as can be and we had so much during this session!

My husband and I have a cabin in Prescott, a couple hours north of Phoenix, and we love to take our son up there as much as we can. When Madison and her family moved to Prescott last year I just knew we had to get together and take some quintessential photos in the Prescott pines. I just love the real moments we captured: the wind blowing, the messy toddler hair, picking flowers in the wild. Madison and Phil, your family is stunning and so, so fun!

2015-05-07_0011

2015-05-07_0004

2015-05-07_0014

2015-05-07_0003

2015-05-07_0005

2015-05-07_0006

2015-05-07_0008

2015-05-07_0001

2015-05-07_0012

2015-05-07_0015

2015-05-07_0010

2015-05-07_0007

2015-05-07_0002

2015-05-07_0016

2015-05-07_0009

2015-05-07_0017

2015-05-07_0013

Fanzo Family Session

Do you remember a few weekends ago when we got a lot of rain, it was cloudy, cool, and windy and everyone wanted to be outdoors before the 100 degree temperatures hit Phoenix? I sure do! That was the weekend that I had scheduled the awesomely fashionable and photogenic Fanzos for their large family session. A few family members were visiting from out-of-state so we definitely couldn’t reschedule. But it wasn’t the weather that made this session pretty challenging…it was the massive amount of people we had to work around to make each shot happen.

When I pulled into Freestone Park I saw a sign that read “Wedding Ceremony” with an arrow pointing east. I followed the drive to the parking lot where I told the family I would meet them and lo and behold, the lot was full of limousines, party buses, rental equipment trucks, and people. Lots and lots of people. I quickly came to realize that most of the people were not actually wedding guests but high school seniors on their way to prom. Donned in evening gowns and tuxedos, some with professional photographers in tow, others with Mom and her handy dandy point-and-shoot camera, and still others with the ever-popular Selfie Stick (I really need to get myself one of those!), everyone just wanted to get the perfect photo to share on social media before heading to dinner and the dance.

I’m not going to lie–I had a slight panic attack at the thought of how I was going to possibly find an area large enough for my family of 15 without having a few teenagers in the background. But alas, it was accomplished. As the evening went on, the high schoolers dwindled as they rushed to make their dinner reservations (and, I admit, there was also some clever post-production cropping).

Thank you so much to the amazing Fanzo family for being such great sports with everything! Your family is just beautiful and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with friends whom I’ve known for nearly 10 years. Keep on smiling!

2015-04-30_0001 2015-04-30_0002 2015-04-30_0003 2015-04-30_0004 2015-04-30_0005 2015-04-30_0006 2015-04-30_0007 2015-04-30_0008 2015-04-30_0009 2015-04-30_0010

Sammy’s Newborn Session

Have I told you how much I love babies? I do. A lot. And I love new mommies, too, so this session is super special to me. Sweet little Samir Ziad Aslam was born on his due date, April 12, 2015, at 3:15pm at Blossom Birth Center in Phoenix. His parents, Suzanne and Kasim, are pretty much rock stars. Kasim is a really talented writer and performer. She’s an awesome actress and former Miss Arab USA. So Samir (Sammy, for short) will probably grow up and change the world with his wit and intelligence. I loved every aspect of this session.

Suzanne subscribes to a lot of the natural parenting methods that I also practice so I was thrilled to be able to encourage her during her first week as a mommy. From helping Suzanne with nursing techniques to using her Sakura Bloom sling for the first time. Suzanne, you’re such a natural mom. And you’re so gorgeous without even a stitch of makeup on! I hope you treasure these moments with your precious son. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your journey into motherhood. 2015-04-27_0006 2015-04-27_0007 2015-04-27_0008 2015-04-27_0009 2015-04-27_0010 2015-04-27_0012 2015-04-27_0013 2015-04-27_0014 2015-04-27_0015 2015-04-27_0016 2015-04-27_0017 2015-04-27_0018 2015-04-27_0019 2015-04-27_0020

Take a look at Sammy’s around-the-world nursery. The handmade blankets, custom rug, and Kasim’s childhood rocking chair make this room truly one-of-a-kind.

2015-04-27_0011 2015-04-27_0001 2015-04-27_0002 2015-04-27_0003 2015-04-27_0004 2015-04-27_0005

Rachel’s Newborn Session

Meet the Williamses. They are an awesome young family whom I also get to call friends. They recently welcomed their third child into the family. Biggest brother Mark and big sister Anika are so sweet with baby Rachel! I love the real and silly moments we captured during this session. Congratulations, Emily and Tim, on your growing family and thank you for letting me into your home to photograph your beautiful kiddos.

2015-04-16_0001 2015-04-23_0001 2015-04-23_0002 2015-04-23_0003 2015-04-23_0004 2015-04-23_0005 2015-04-23_0006 2015-04-23_0007 2015-04-23_0008 2015-04-23_0009 2015-04-23_0010 2015-04-23_0011 2015-04-23_0012 2015-04-23_0013 2015-04-23_0014 2015-04-23_0015 2015-04-23_0016 2015-04-23_0017