Family Photoshoot

Recently my friends from E+E Photography took photos of our little family. They just moved into a new studio and used us as models to test out shooting in their new space. As always, I LOVE how the photos turned out! We took them just in time for Acacia’s 3rd month and my 23rd birthday. I never would have imagined me being a mom at 23, but now I can’t see it any other way! It’s so much fun watching her develop week by week. She has discovered a love for kicking her legs, is starting to grab for toys, and spends most of the day babbling and smiling. Acacia’s first family trip is coming up this weekend where she will be joining us on our annual road trip to Malibu, CA and Sedona, AZ. We’re all super excited about it!

Dress – Spell Designs
Sandals – JustFab

 

xx, Chanel

Desert Solace

 

Dustin watched Acacia for the day so I could go out with a couple of friends to trek around the desert and take photos. It was much needed since I hadn’t been hiking in probably 6 months or longer and have been feeling anxious from being cooped up in the house. Getting outside and away from the city for a while was such a breath of fresh air (literally). The whole desert was engulfed with lush greenery and blooming flowers. We explored abandoned buildings and trailers that were scattered across the area and drove into the mountains to marvel over the beautiful river and endless canyons. It’s hard juggling being a mom, a relationship, friends, school, and my art, all while still finding time to do things I love like hiking. However, as I slowly but surely get the hang of this new, hectic, lifestyle I hope to make more time for nature in all her transformative and healing forms.

 

xx, Chanel

First Mother’s Day

For my first mother’s day, I woke up to Dustin making breakfast (biscuits and gravy, my favorite!) and then we spent the rest of the day at the zoo. It was also Acacia’s first time visiting! She slept almost the entire time, but she was awake for the penguin and zebra exhibits so I’d like to think she had a good time. We ended the day eating dinner at my grandma’s house. It sounds cheesy but I felt kinda cool that day, like I had been initiated into this elite club of women who call themselves “moms”. I even looked the part in my baseball hat and Birkenstocks while carrying Acacia around in her new Baby Bjorn carrier.

I hope all you mamas reading this had a good Mother’s Day! Being a parent in general is one of the most under-appreciated (and underpaid) jobs on the planet…but it’s also the most humbling and rewarding in my opinion.

 

xx, Chanel

NEW WEBSITE

I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember.

I used to take disposable cameras with me to elementary school so I could take photos of my friends and was always so excited to get them developed. In high school I enrolled in my first photography class and was entered into my first exhibit…after that there was no turning back. I’ve been studying visual arts with an emphasis on photography at Boise State University for about 3 years now. To help sustain myself financially as an artist while going to school full time, I’ve been shooting portraits and wedding photos for about 4 years.

After all that time, I finally got around to creating and launching my artist website! You can go check out more of my travel photography, portraits, instant film, and collage work. I’ve also started selling prints of my work, along with stickers too! Eventually I’d like to start printing my art on t-shirts, tapestries, and add some of my original work to the shop. So be sure to stay tuned!

I’m also booking new sessions for 2017 and willing to negotiate travel. So, if you are in need of a photographer for any event then visit my contact page for booking and other inquiries.

Head over to my new website and tell me what you think!

xx, Chanel

6 Week Postpartum Update and Why Maternal Care in America Sucks

The United States is ranked 61st in Maternal Health and we have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world. For being one of the wealthiest nations, this country is one of the only ones lacking in maternal care.

Three weeks ago, I started hemorrhaging at home due to some retained placenta that was left inside my uterus from labor. So much blood was pouring out of me…I ran through the kitchen to get Dustin and rush to the hospital. I turned around and looked back at what resembled a murder scene. Blood everywhere. Literal pools of blood. I became lightheaded, struck with fear, and my body started tingling. I honestly wondered “is this it?” “am I going to miss out on watching my baby-girl grow up?”

I was sent to the ER downtown and immediately had an emergency D&C to remove the rest of the blood and clotting. I lost so much blood that evening that I required a blood transfusion. Soon afterward I started spiking a high fever and spent the next four days in the hospital being treated for potential infection.
Fast forward three weeks later to my 6 week postpartum checkup. I was feeling great and was looking forward to getting the okay from my doctor to do things like workout, hike, and have sex again. My doctor and I decided to do one last ultrasound to make sure everything was out of me, just for peace of mind. I was optimistic going into the ultrasound but was immediately crushed when I saw the screen…there was still more placenta in there…how the fuck is there still more? My doctor scheduled me for the following afternoon to do my second D&C, this time with a camera and ultrasound to make sure she was getting it all. I was terrified to go home and start hemorrhaging like last time. She called for more blood products because there was a possibility that I would lose a lot of blood like last time. My doctor also brought up the possibility of a rare condition where the placenta continues to grow back which results in the need for a hysterectomy. My terror and anxiety was multiplied by a kazillion at the thought of losing my ability to have anymore children and going through menopause at the age of 22.

As I write this, I’m sitting on the couch at home recouping from my procedure. My doctor confidently told me that she thought it all went well and she got everything out of my uterus successfully. I’m hoping and praying for no more complications and to finally heal properly. Before I go on, I just want to say that I’m beyond grateful my daughter was delivered healthy and safe. I’m grateful that I came out of the hospital safely. I’m also grateful for the doctors and nurses who took care of me both times.

But the more I think about everything, the more upset I become.
This. Shouldn’t. Have. Happened.

My entire healthcare experience during my pregnancy felt rushed. My appointments always felt rushed and even my delivery felt rushed. One second my doctor was there, then the next she was telling me congratulations on the baby and that she will see me in 6 weeks and walked out the door.
I shouldn’t have been rushed through my appointments and most importantly my delivery, accidentally leaving me with a large amount of placenta left inside of me. It took me trusting my gut and listening to what my body was telling me to initiate getting an early check-up and for my doctor to find out what was wrong with me. That just isn’t acceptable. After everything we go through, women deserve so much better than what we are offered.

People treat pregnancy as a fragile state. But once we have actually undergone the physical trauma and emotional exhaustion of it, we are expected to almost immediately rejoin the rest of the world as normal human beings even though we just went through one of the most life-changing and strenuous events of our lives. The reality is that it can take months to properly heal from childbirth and overexertion after labor could potentially lead to complications like depression, infection, uterine bleeding, or prolapse.

There is this attitude surrounding women in our country that “women have been doing this since the beginning of time and we can handle everything on our own.” And if they don’t live up to these expectations then they feel like there is something wrong with them. I remember two weeks after giving birth…being apologetic to others for feeling so tired, for the house being messy, and not being able to complete my assignments for school. Bullshit. I shouldn’t have to feel sorry for needing extra sleep and spending what little free time I do have to take care of myself emotionally and physically.

We should take our maternal healthcare and healing seriously like they do in other countries like France, where they spend a week in the hospital after giving birth or Sweden, where prenatal care is free, both parents receive a year of paid leave, and they have the highest breastfeeding rates and lowest infant mortality rates in the world. If we started talking honestly about the time and energy it actually takes to grow a human being inside you and recover from childbirth, then maybe women wouldn’t feel the pressure to return to “normal” as quickly as possible. Just maybe we would have better standards of care for pregnant women, and maybe I wouldn’t have hemorrhaged all over my kitchen floor, or ended up needing two separate surgeries to correct the issue in only a matter of weeks.

xx, Chanel

 

Spring Is In The Air

It’s been 3 weeks since Acacia was born. SO much has happened since then and a lot of it will be talked about in my 6 weeks postpartum post. For now, I’ll just say that it has been the hardest, yet most rewarding 3 weeks of my life so far. A is becoming more alert now and loves staring at people. She also loves sleeping, boobies, and crying a lot. Seems like normal baby shenanigans to me!
I’ve been getting excited by all the warm spring weather lately. Flowers are blooming and the sun is finally shining. We’ve gone to the park a couple times and spent afternoons rocking in the rocking chair on our front porch. I’m cherishing every moment with Acacia being this tiny since she is already almost a month old and is starting to grow so fast!


Wearing:

Dress – Spell & The Gypsy Collective
Sweater – Tilly’s
Baby Onesie – LiveStyled
Baby Bow – Carter’s

xoxo, Chanel

A’s Birth Story

February 27th, 2017

I had been looking into natural ways of inducing labor and found that one of the more delicious ways to go about it is to eat an insane amount of Pineapple. And I did just that…by cutting up an entire pineapple and blending it into a berry-pineapple shake, drinking canned pineapple juice, and eating freshly cut slices all night long. It’s safe to say that I’ll be all-pineappled-out for a long while!
Also, lot’s of bouncing on the yoga ball happened. But mostly just a lot of laying in bed because of how uncomfortable I was at that point.

February 28th, 2017

I woke up on my due date early in the morning to cramping. I tried to record them on my contraction calculating app but fell asleep for a few more hours before getting up for a doctor’s appointment. My doctor notified me that I was 4 cm dilated and could expect to have her either tonight or the next day. The contractions kept happening at a slow and steady pace all through the evening.
Due to pain and anticipation, I didn’t sleep that night.

March 1st, 2017

After standing in the shower for over an hour letting the warm water run down my back to sooth my contractions, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and it was time to visit labor and delivery. They sent me home at 6a.m. with a shot of medicine in my butt to help me sleep. I dozed in and out of sleep and pain until about 11a.m. when I woke up with contractions about 4 minutes apart. It was really time, this time! They finally checked me into the hospital at 6 cm dilated. I received an epidural as soon as I got to my room…I actually received it a lovely total of 3 times because they kept missing the right spot. But soon I found relief in the numbness. My family finally arrived and they kept me distracted for a while as we exchanged the presents that I put together for the gigi & papa-to-be, uncle-to-be, and of course daddy-to-be. It wasn’t even two hours later that my epidural wore off completely and I was in the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. I was silent except for the frequent curse words muttered under my breath. It was like everyone else in the room wasn’t there – my boyfriend, my mom, the doctors – they were all a haze and I was alone in the room with my suffering. I tried focusing on my breathing but the pain and urge to push were so intense that it was hard to think of anything else. I begged for anything to help ease the pain but the nurse told me the only way to get rid of it was to push. And so I began 45 minutes of hard labor. I felt every push, every rip, every movement as my baby descended closer to being born. Finally, with one last push followed by the greatest relief I’ve ever known, my daughter was placed into my arms. The shock was immediate and the euphoria soon followed. She was born healthy, wide eyed, and beautiful. We spent the next 3 days in the hospital, getting acquainted, spending quality time, and falling irrevocably in love with our daughter.

xoxo, Chanel