Sweet & Wild Duo | Folly Beach, SC mini session

I had quickly worked with this duo at a neighborhood event so I knew this Folly Beach family mini session was going to be fun. Before each session, I talk to parents about their children: Are they shy or outgoing? What types of things are they currently into? When I read mom's description of her kids, I knew I was in for a treat for this Folly Beach session!

Big Brother is calm, a great listener, and just downright sweet. He was such a little charmer.

Little Miss, well, I was pretty sure she was going to be the female version of my wild 3 year old and boy was she! Actually, their birthdays are only a few days apart! About 10 minutes into the session she was soaked with salt water from ringlet to toe.

I actually love working with kids with big personalities. They keep me on my toes, but I just love how they are fearless around me. This was truly one of those sessions that I didn't want to end.

July 2017

July was a full month! We transitioned from a family of 3 to 4, which is still weird to say. Landon loves his brother, but is acting out a little for attention. Breastfeeding is going well. I've made it farther than I did with Landon, and Rhett seems to be a lot better at it than Landon ever was.To be totally honest, I'm drained. Even though Rhett is sleeping decent stretches at night, it is tough having to wake up several times and then care for two kids + a house + a business all day.  I keep reminding myself this is just a session and will be over before I know it (and that actually makes me sad). It's amazing how much Rhett changed from the beginning of the month to the end. The last set of pictures in the crib are from his 1 month session. Landon picked out the giraffe as his present to Rhett in the hospital. I plan to use it for Rhett's monthly pictures to show his growth.  

In Full Bloom | Hampton Park Maternity Session

This maternity session was done in Hampton Park in Charleston. You would never know from looking at these pictures that we did this session in March. Hampton Park was in full bloom and was absolutely beautiful!

This sweet couple also moved here from Washington, which is where we were stationed before coming to Charleston. We even share a ton of mutual friends. Such a coincidence!

At the time of this maternity session, they were anxiously awaiting the arrival of their sweet boy who ended up making a surprise appearance. Look out for their newborn pictures to hear the story!

Seriously Cute | West Ashley, SC In-Studio 9 Month Milestone Session

This sweet boy was 9 months old at his in-studio milestone session. It's amazing how quickly babies grow!

This wonderful family traveled all the way from South Georgia for their West Ashley milestone session.

Baby boy was so serious and after trying every trick in my book to get him to smile, dad bonked himself on the head with a water bottle and we had baby belly laughs until the very end of the session. Leave it to daddy to be silly and get baby to smile!

Rhett's Pregnancy Story

I'll never forget the night I found out I was pregnant. It was Friday before Halloween right around midnight. I was up late prepping for my first "Moms With Cameras Workshop" the following morning and remembered that we were going to a Halloween party that next night. I had to take a test because I couldn't drink at the party knowing we were trying. Looking for a reason to procrastinate, I decided I would sneak upstairs and take a test. I'd taken several and Trip finally told me to stop taking them. This way he would never know because he was sound asleep. Of course, he walks into the bathroom so I threw the stick in the counter under my sink. Trip noticed the wrapper that had fallen on the floor in my haste and casually asked what I was up to. I admitted what I had done, but assured him it was going to be negative like all the others and I pulled the test out from under the counter. My heart stopped... "Pregnant" was clear as day on the screen. We did the math and started to get excited (and scared) about baby #2 coming in the summer. We didn't sleep a wink that night. I was also relieved that it wasn't the smoothies making me gain weight. :) 

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The rest of the first trimester was spent sick mostly. I had morning sickness this time around (something I never had with Landon) and then came down with a bad sinus infection coupled with a fever right in the thick of year-end family picture craziness. I was so happy to start feeling better around 15 weeks. 

We decided to do genetic screening at 13 weeks. It was a two part test, part 1 being an ultrasound and part 2 being blood work. We went to the ultrasound excited to see our little peanut and were super excited when the tech switched over to 3D. We never did 3D with Landon so this was such a fun treat - it was an actual, tiny little person with their arms crossed in there! I noticed at one point the tech said "he is..." and then towards the end she asked us if we wanted to know the gender. She assured us that she was pretty positive (and I figured she had slipped earlier) and she showed us some little boy parts. We sat in the waiting room and I couldn't help but giggle - switching between "I can't believe we're having another boy" to "my whole life is going to be spent at the baseball field" to "I really thought it was a girl" since I had been so sick this time around. 

About a week later, while Trip and I were at the Biltmore celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, we got a horrible phone call from my doctor. While the ultrasound didn't show any genetic disorder markers, my blood work did. We learned that our baby was at increased risk for Trisomy 18, which is fatal, and I would need to come in for more blood work as soon as we got back. We briefly talked about what would happen if the second round of more intensive testing came back positive, but I mostly just sat on the phone trying to semi hold it together. We were offered an amniocentesis, but declined since we were keeping the baby either way. The blood work came back a few days later and it put Rhett back in the "normal risk" category for Trisomy 18 which was a huge relief. We weren't totally in the clear because my blood work still wasn't completely normal so we were told we would keep an eye on it.

We did another ultrasound at 20 weeks to check Rhett's growth, and also to see if any trisomy 18 markers appeared. The unfortunate thing about Trisomy 18 is that the deformities it causes are so bad they would easily be picked up on the ultrasound. One of the markers is that the baby will keep it's hands in fists. I will never forget the relief of seeing two tiny, open hands plastered on his face. 

We were sent to the High Risk department at the hospital for an echo ultrasound to check Rhett's heart (a common problem with Trisomy 18 babies). This ultrasound was way longer and more detailed so it was neat to watch Rhett move around - and fold in half. The tech was so kind and talked us through everything she was looking for. Thankfully, the doctor didn't see anything alarming on the ultrasound so he sent us back to the "regular" doctor for the remainder of my pregnancy. However, he was still slightly concerned over my blood work and decided it could be IUGR (intra uterine growth restriction), which we would start checking a little later in my pregnancy. IUGR is a condition where a baby isn't growing at a normal rate. The most common cause is the placenta. 

The next few months flew by. I was actually able to run way longer into my pregnancy than I did with Landon. I didn't really have any swelling and other than the southern heat, I felt great! 

At 32 weeks, I went back for an ultrasound to check Rhett's growth. He measured 25th percentile overall, so he was small, but nothing too concerning. Because of the initial trisomy 18 scare, we were still going to proceed with caution for the remainder of the pregnancy. 

At 35 weeks I started Non-Stress Tests. 

At 36 weeks, we did another growth ultrasound and Rhett had dropped to 10.4 percentile - anything 10% or less is IUGR - so he was still "okay", but toeing that line. They estimated him around 5 pounds and about 2 weeks behind an "average" baby. I also had some more blood work done that once again came back "slightly abnormal". My platelet count was low with effects blood clotting, something pretty important after birth.  The high risk doctor advised to start 2x per week testing and more blood work for me.  Basically both Rhett and I were separately toeing the line of being high risk so they were watching us closely. 

The following week (37 week appointments), I had an ultrasound to check my fluid levels and another NST test. Both came back fine.

On Monday, June 26, I went in for another growth ultrasound to decide if we were going to induce at 38 weeks or 39 weeks. I chatted with the ultrasound tech, who I've gotten to know really well since I'd seen her about 4 times, and she took all of her measurements. She finally told me that she had him about 3 weeks behind an "average" baby and around 5 pounds, 12 ounces. I went out to the waiting room and about 10 minutes later, the ultrasound tech called me back for a few more measurements to see if I was going to need to be induced right away. This is when I started to get worried. My doctor wanted her to check Rhett's umbilical cord to ensure that the blood flow wasn't restricted or back flowing. Luckily everything looked okay. I finally got to speak to my doctor who confirmed that we were going to induce Rhett the following morning because he was measuring in the 6th percentile and officially diagnosed with IUGR. 

(I meant to publish this the night before my induction, but life happened. I'm going to leave this part present tense...) 

That brings you up to speed. It's 10:00pm and I should be in bed, but I'M HAVING A BABY TOMORROW! They really should allow you to drink something to take the edge off the night before a scheduled induction. I'm hoping my brain will turn off and I can get some rest. 

It's the night before I'll meet you, Rhett, and I am so excited, but also nervous. This pregnancy has been full of so many ups and downs that I am relieved that come tomorrow, you'll finally be safe in my arms.

See you soon, sweet boy! 

You can read Rhett's birth story here

Sweet Family Charm | Downtown Charleston, SC Family Session

This family session was done bright and early in the morning in Downtown Charleston. We hit some of the best and most photograph-worthy spots- Rainbow Row and Waterfront Park.

The pastel Colors of Rainbow Row were the perfect backdrop for a little dress twirling. What little girl could resist?

This family was such a breeze to photograph. They were so comfortable while I ran around snapping my camera. I probably said "Oh my word!" a hundred times in the 30 minutes we were together for their Downtown Charleston family session.

Happy Birthday, Rhett | A Charleston Birth Story

At 5:30am on June 27, my alarm went off. It was baby day (at least I really hoped everything would happen in the same day). I showered, did my hair, got dressed and kissed Landon goodbye. The drive to the hospital felt so surreal. I had imagined frantically driving through the neighborhood racing to the hospital, but our morning was slow and relaxed. 


We arrived at the hospital where I was welcomed by my nurse.  As we got settled into our room, I mentioned I wanted a natural birth (after the pitocin) and was going to do Hypnobabies as my pain management. I was a little embarrassed to tell her I was doing it because it's sort of out there, but she was so excited. She said she was game for anything, but I couldn't push on the floor - she didn't want to have to catch a baby on the floor.  We instantly knew we were going to love her. I even asked her when the shift change was because I needed her to be my nurse the whole time. 

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About 9:30am they started my pitocin and my doctor came in to break my water. I remember nervously saying, "Well, there's no turning back now!" I was worried that I was going to go into instant labor because after my water broke with Landon, I was pushing him out a few minutes later. When nothing happened, I was a little bummed but also relieved. 

Trip took pictures (per my request) and I watched Southern Charm on my phone. Towards the end of the episode, my nurse asked me what my pain level was. When I told her no pain, she said "I'm not doing my job then!" and turned the pitocin up. Every time I heard her turn up the pitocin, I got a little nervous. I finally started to feel something, but it wasn't much. The next time my nurse came in to check on us, I told her she could turn it up more and she said no. My contractions, while not painful, where happening every 3-4 minutes. I laughed and said, "Okay, but I can take it." Famous last words. 

At this point, we were a few hours in and Trip and I were bored. I asked to sit on the birthing ball (a yoga ball) to see if I could work Rhett down. My nurse bumped up my pitcoin a little more and it didn't take long before I needed to stop talking and breath through the contractions. 

Within a few more minutes I went from joking with Trip about our nurse's face if we set up a kiddie pool in the room to telling him "Goodbye, I'm checking out." I put in my headphones and started listening to the Hypnobabies track "Your birthing time begins." My doctor came in to check on me. I heard her telling Trip she would check me after her C-section was over. After about 45 minutes of my contractions getting more intense, and moving into my lower back, I got in bed for them to check me. I was at 5.5 cm. I don't remember being disappointed because I knew I went fast after 6cm with Landon, but I also remember thinking that I was only half way there. 

One thing that was sort of funny this time around was that I kept having to go to the bathroom. I would tell Trip that I needed to go, we would wait for the next contraction to pass and then he would unhook all of my cords as fast as he could so I could potty. I kept getting stuck in the bathroom with a contraction. Afterwards my nurse told me she told Trip I couldn't go in there anymore because she was worried Rhett was going to be born in the bathroom! 

I got back on the ball and rocked back and forth through some pretty intense contractions while Trip pushed on my lower back. He asked the nurse to check me again even though it had been less than 30 minutes since my last check.  I was already at an 8. They wouldn't let me out of the bed this time because my doctor was getting nervous about Rhett's heart rate. My blood pressure also started to rise so they had me constantly changing positions. This part was super annoying to me because I just wanted to be left alone and I really wanted to get out of that bed! 

I guess I should explain that with Hypnobabies, the point is to be super relaxed. I describe it as "checking out." It almost felt like I was in a light sleep or super groggy - I could hear everything going on, but I didn't want to respond. Most of what happened after 6cm I was told later because I was so focused on breathing and staying relaxed through the contractions that I didn't even realize what was happening in the room. The nurse mentioned to Trip that my doctor was getting nervous about the baby and since my groans had changed she wanted to check me again. I think my nurse was worried that my doctor was going to start pushing a C-section.  She checked me and said I was at a 9. My doctor came in and I remember her telling me I could start bearing down if I wanted to. I remember thinking "Good because I already am" and "How am I already pushing?" What seemed like a minute later, my legs were being put up and I was told to start pushing as I wanted. Eight minutes and three pushes later my doctor said, "Open your eyes, Ashleigh!" and my baby was being lifted to my chest. I just laid there and sobbed. The pregnancy with so many scares was finally over and he was here! 

The day before, my ultrasound tech estimated Rhett weighed about 5 pounds, 12 ounces. We were all shocked when that is what he weighed at birth. While doing his measurements, they determined he was "small for gestational age" which meant that we had to do blood sugar checks before every feed. Luckily, his levels stayed up and it ended up not being a big deal. He was a tiny, but healthy little guy. 

The next day Landon came to the hospital to meet his brother. As soon as he walked in the room, he asked where the baby was and said he wanted to give him a hug. Before Rhett was born, we talked about throwing him a birthday party. We even went to the store to pick out a present and Landon wrapped it all by himself.  I was so happy Landon remembered and was excited for it. You can see the present in his hand and my mom said he picked out all the balloons by himself (notice the one polka dot one). 

Landon was born in Washington so we didn't have family in town. It was a treat for the Grandparents to start heading our way the morning of my induction so they could meet Rhett the same day he was born. 

And the poor baby wasn't going to escape without some First 48 pictures. I am so thankful I was feeling great after delivery and was able to take these. 

Wide-Eyed Newborn | West Ashley, SC In-Studio Newborn Session

This sweet boy came in for his mini session at 15 days old.

He was not too keen on going to sleep. Most of his newborn session was done with him open-eyed and wide awake, which is fine because look how adorable he is!

His nursery is elephant themed and it'll be so much fun to recreate this picture as he gets older. You'll really be able to see his growth.


He took a little nap for a few shots. Look how sweet he is!

Last Family Beach Day | Folly Beach, SC Family Mini Session

In April I held beach mini sessions at the washout at Folly Beach. Since this family is getting ready to move, they decided it was the perfect way to document their family during their last few months in Charleston.

I actually photographed this little one when I first moved to Charleston. It was so fun to get to work with her again! You can see her first session here.

One thing is for sure- she was way more active this time around! Chasing around an 18 month old at 30+ weeks pregnant on soft sand was a workout. You can believe I was sore the next day!

K, A & P- I wish you the best of luck with this move. Know you will be sorely missed in Charleston, but I can't wait to see what adventures come next!