Ice Cream, horses and marsh - A very Charleston birthday session | Charleston Family Photographer

My son turned 4 in April so it was finally time to get his birthday pictures done. I couldn't settle on a location so I promised him a bunch of treats and we hit three charming spots. 

Our first stop was the Market downtown for ice cream and horses. 

Then we headed over to Mt. Pleasant. Our first stop was at the Pitt Street Bridge. After walking up and down the path, we had about 30 minutes left before the sun would set so we raced over to Shem Creek Park for a little dolphin watching.

It was such a good, classically Charleston, evening. And to all of my clients who feel bad about bribing their children in front of me. Let me just tell you, L had ice cream and a cookie for dinner. 

What he wore: 
L's first outfit was a simple cotton t-shirt from Baby Gap and a pair of khaki shorts from Target. 
The lobster shirt is from J. Crew Factory and his red shorts are from Janie and Jack Outlet. 

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Donut date with my biggest little

I got brave and brought my camera to our donut date. This might have to become a thing... donut dates and taking my camera to "normal" places.

October 2017

Another month has come and gone. I'm not even really sure what we did this month besides buy an excessive number of Halloween costumes, eat way too much candy and not get enough sleep. 

Yes, each boy had two costumes. We weren't going to let Landon be a Stormtrooper, so he picked Mickey. In a moment of weakness, Trip took Landon back to Target to grab a (way too big) Stormtrooper costume. He was Mickey and the Roadster Racer for our neighborhood Fall Fest and a Stormtrooper on Halloween night. 

Rhett is in a weird phase for costumes. He's still pretty little so he needed an infant size costume. However, most infant costumes are the sleep sacks - and he's too old for that. Landon and I picked out a Narwhal costume which was really cute... however with that tail, there was no way to transport him while trick-or-treating. So, I sewed some ears on a hat and he was the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. 

September 2017

I can't believe September has already come and gone! This month started my peak season with everyone getting in their pictures while the weather is "cooler"  for Holiday cards so I didn't pull out my camera as much for the boys. However, a few days ago Landon was telling Rhett about the letters he was going to mail and it was just the cutest thing. Rhett thinks Landon is the greatest. Landon loves that he can "make Rhett's heart feel happy".  The third picture, the one of him stretching, kills me. It could just as easily be a picture of Landon at that age. 

Gigi and Granddad came for a weekend visit. When I was newly pregnant with Rhett, I got really sick and my mom came to help me with Landon while Trip worked nights. Landon remembered how Gigi drew a puppy dog face on him from all those months ago. This time, he requested a cat face. He came downstairs beaming with pride over his "kitty cat face... with Gigi's makeup!

I took these next two of Landon while my parents were in town. We let Landon sleep in our room while my parents slept in his bed. He started out in his sleeping bag, but I woke up to this. He's always been a wild sleeper. Being the first one up has it's perks. 

When I say Rhett could sit in his swing all day, I'm not kidding. I was getting all of my camera gear packed up for a session and I was struck by how the window was casting such pretty light on him. He just seemed so peaceful in the dark room. 

The end of September means that Rhett is 3 months old. He's still a peanut - this onesie is a size 0-3 months. I did pack away all of his newborn size clothes, which were working really hard to start fastened due to his length. I know we are getting ready to enter such a fun phase of babbles, sitting up, playing, etc but I love the newborn phase so much. He's been such a great baby (already sleeping through the night and so happy!) that I wish I could freeze this phase. 

You can see more from Rhett's 3 month session, here

Three month milestone session | West Ashley Baby Photographer

It feels like only yesterday I was in the hospital with him, but in reality it's been three whole months. He has brought so much joy to our family and his big personality is fitting in perfectly to our circus! Last month he found his tongue, but this month (really in the past few days) he's learned how to make spit bubbles. He's starting to work his hands and catch a hold of anything in their path. During this quick little session he actually laughed for the first time! 

August 2017

I think I blinked my eyes and August came and went. It feels like we spent most of the month inside because a newborn and a heat index of 110 degrees don't mix too well.

I did get a new toy, a Go Pro. I have been wanting to do underwater photography, but the housing units for DSLR cameras are scary expensive. As soon as I got the "all clear" from my OB, I took Landon to the pool to play. He wasn't too into taking pictures, but I did get a few that I liked. 

The eclipse was incredible. All morning it felt like the day before Christmas. After lunch, I told Landon he needed to do quiet time so he'd be ready for the eclipse. As soon as his timer went off he came running down the hall yelling, "it's time for the eclipse!!!" I downloaded an app on my phone that would tell us each phase and what to look for. Landon went crazy as soon as we got the 5 minute warning. He thought we were going to a parade - I guess because I kept saying we were going to go outside to watch the eclipse. This first set of pictures was taken right when the eclipse started (at 1:15pm). 

Trip planned to stay at work, but he decided to come home. He made it back right after it started. 

This next set of pictures was taken as we were getting closer to totality. It got so cloudy and we could hear thunder in the distance. All of our friends a little further inland were posting on Facebook about the rain and overcast. We were just praying we would be able to see something. These were around 2:40pm. Notice how the house lights start to show as it got darker outside.

As we got closer and closer to totality, the clouds began to part and we had a perfect little gap to watch the eclipse. There is only a 2.5 minute difference between the last picture (above) and the picture below.  I even had to brighten this picture in photoshop so you could see the boys. 

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We didn't notice a temperature drop, but we could hear the crickets chirp. I know I'm super hormonal still, but seeing the ring of light around the moon brought tears to my eyes. I think it was the build up of hoping we would see it and then to actually be standing in your own backyard watching it - it was incredible. I just stood there in awe. I wasn't going to attempt any pictures, but Trip quickly told me to just snap one really quick... 

Honestly, the pictures don't even do it justice - there was a purple glow on the lower half. It only lasted about 1.5 minutes where we live, and Trip and I were both surprised how quickly it got bright outside again. And just as the sunlight came back a huge thunderstorm rolled in. We weren't able to watch the moon leave the sun, but I am so thankful we were able to see totality. Landon literally had a meltdown because he wanted to watch the eclipse again. He has a crazy memory so it will be interesting to see if he'll remember this day. 

Update: he is still talking about the eclipse. 

And finally, the month ended with this little peanut turning 2 months old. He's up to 9lbs, 2oz and 22.5 in long. He seems SO BIG to us, but I know he is still tiny compared to most two month olds. The good thing about small babies is that you get to keep your "newborn" around longer. Rhett is starting to show us his little personality. He loves a good diaper change - he literally smiles the entire time. He also loves fake sneezes and his "panda fire" (pacifier). Rhett found his tongue and loves to show it off. More pictures will know I took way more than 2 pictures of this sweet thing. 

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.  

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