This was an extra special session for me. I've known Kristen for several years. She and her husband Jeff are a joy to sit down and chat with - and they have some really good travel tips too! I have always admired their supportive, team oriented relationship (see their anniversary session here).
I have been cheering for these two as they have patiently waited to grow their family - I'm so excited to introduce their precious baby boy to you! Not only will you get to see cute 8 day old Calvin, and hear a bit from Kristen about her journey into motherhood, but you will also get a peak into Jeff & Kristen's beautiful Nashville home. Calvin's Ocean themed nursery & their colorful West Elm Catalog worthy living room are my favorite home decor highlights.
Meet Baby Calvin
So many women have preconceived ideas of what it will be like getting pregnant AND what it will be like being pregnant. However, many women find their story of pregnancy to be anything but what they expected. Can you share a little about your journey getting pregnant?
After being married for 4 years, making it through grad school and settling into Nashville, Jeff and I felt ready to open ourselves up to parenthood. We didn't have very defined expectations on how long it would take for me to get pregnant, but when we were closing in on having tried for a year without success, my doctor recommended doing some tests to determine what the reason may be. When finding oneself on the edge of the world of infertility, I knew very little about causes, options, or anyone in my network who had dealt with it. Come to find out, there are SO MANY reasons women don't get pregnant right away, and the reasons are found equally as often to be male-factor as female-factor, not something generally known in our country. And there were actually people in our network who had gone through fertility treatments that we didn't know until we were open about our situation. It was helpful knowing people to talk to and being available for others as well. It's not a zero percent chance I can get pregnant without medical intervention, but the doctor recommended IVF right out of the gate. Jeff and I took the scientific, one-step at a time approach, wading slowly through the different levels of fertility treatments, since the realization that it wasn't likely to happen naturally took some time to process and deal with. Ultimately IVF was needed for me to get pregnant nearly 4 years after we first began our attempts to enter parenthood. We learned a ton about reproduction, prescription drugs, communication, perseverance, patience, and appreciation for having the means to incorporate science and medicine to bring a life into the world. To help keep me going through the incredible emotional roller coaster, I always told myself that having kids was worth all the effort because what else in life could be more worth the struggle? Calvin was absolutely worth every ounce of what it took for him to join our family.
Challenging parts of your new job as a Mom?
Finding the right balance of self-care and time with Calvin is challenging, partly because so many people over-do it on the things you "must do" as a new mom, so it can be confusing to wade through. People hand out advice too freely. Not everyone takes stock of your situation before giving advice. I don't feel like we're just surviving right now but actually thriving. However, there are still people who first want to tell us what we could/should do before understanding where we are. For example, people often say to sleep when the baby sleeps, leave the laundry and dishes, hold the baby so he's not in a swing/seat/crib too much. For me, that ended up feeling like a load of pressure and not helpful. Don't get me wrong; I value sleep and know that I'm my best when I'm well-rested. A good friend of mine said it perfectly, that the best advice is to practice self-care. So instead of feeling anxious and worried when I can't fall asleep while the baby is sleeping (I WISH I could sleep on demand as soon as my head hits the pillow but not the case for me!), I make the attempt to sleep for a little while but don't beat myself up if I can't. If I don't drift off, then I give myself permission to get up and do some activity, even if it's perusing Instagram. Jeff helps me go to bed early or get naps in on the weekends to help reenergize. Also, the dishes and laundry do have to get done at some point. Sure, most of the clean laundry lives in the laundry baskets instead of on shelves or hangers, but that's why we bought two extra baskets while I was still pregnant. Calvin needs clean clothes and swaddles, and so do Jeff and me! :-) And I LOVE holding Calvin, but I can't sleep while holing him, nor can I go to the bathroom, shower, or dry my hair, so there is give and take, and that is life.
I believe that mundane everyday life types things can often make the sweetest memories -- are there any everyday things you do with your sweet babe right now that you treasure greatly?
As a person with a high motor who likes to be very involved at work and in the community, I am so thankful for getting to devote my time to Calvin during maternity leave. I don't have a sense of needing to accomplish a certain number of things each day, which is contrary to my personality. I love reading books to Calvin and telling him about the world around us. Holding him is my favorite past-time. He makes the best faces, so even at 3am, I cherish our time together watching him develop different expressions. Also, seeing Jeff hold him and talk to him makes my heart swell to bursting on a regular basis.
Any other thoughts you'd like to share?
Jeff is an incredible teammate. We are in this together. He is so supportive, loving, and involved. We both feel like we can handle all of the new challenges because we have each other and a strong relationship. We both make efforts to bring out the best in each other, and though Calvin can't do much quite yet, he's contributing to bringing out the best in both us already.
Kristen & Jeff, I am so thrilled that you all get to be Calvin's parents. Y'all are glowing with joy and wonder & I am mesmerized. Thank you for allowing me the honor of photographing such sweet & fleeting memories.