Maternity Series #2: 40 Weeks


Jonah Paul Shellaway... born at 2:54am on September 30th, 2013


You're here! You're here, and life is fuller and more wonderful than we ever imagined. I have been so completely overwhelmed with love from the first moment I held you. You are just the sweetest, cuddliest, sleepiest little guy and I can't imagine a more perfect addition to our family.


Maternity Series #2: 39 Weeks



It's time for your old mom to get a little sappy on you... We're so close to meeting you and I want you to know what a privilege it has been to be on this journey with you. That's really the whole reason for doing these photos and letters every week - so you can someday see how blessed I felt to be pregnant with you. That no matter how uncomfortable I've gotten, and though some weeks the last thing I want to do is lug out my tripod and take a self portrait, I know that someday you'll be able to look back through this series and see how much I loved you - from the very beginning - and how very lucky I have always felt to be your mama.


Maternity Series #2: 38 Weeks

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Today is my and your dad's 4th wedding anniversary! Every year I take a photo in my wedding dress, and this year it was quite a feat to get it on (and even harder to get it off!) With only 2 weeks to go, the last thing I wanted to do was squeeze into my wedding dress, but tradition is tradition and it ended up being a rather hilarious endeavor. I'm very happy to be typing this in my far more comfortable pajamas, and even happier to be another week closer to meeting you.


Maternity Series #2: 34 Weeks

MaternitySeries34Weeks-1-Edit-2-Edit-2forMBBhellomysweetbaby Only 6 more weeks to go! Your birth is feeling ever more imminent, and I'm officially in big time birth-prep mode... It's hard to be fully prepared for what I know will be one of the hardest, yet most beautiful, days of my life - but I'm trying. I'm re-reading my favorite birth stories, drinking lots of red raspberry leaf tea, listening to my hypnobirthing tracks, working out, doing lots of inversions and ligament releases, and basically doing everything I possibly can to ensure our birth journey together is safe and gentle (and hopefully much much faster than your sister's birth). As I spend time each day getting ready for your birth, I feel the bond between us growing that much stronger and I know it will all be so worth it.



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I've got to be about the luckiest mama in the whole world... you know why? Because somehow I ended up having you, your sister, and your dad as my family. I'll be honest, I felt lost for a long time when I was younger - and then I met your dad and knew I was home. And then your sister came along, and now you, and my heart is more full than I ever thought possible. If I wish one thing for you in your life it's that you find people who make you as happy as you all have made me.


Maternity Series #2: 29 Weeks

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You are getting so big! My belly better start stretching out more because you're running out of room in there. Your movements are getting stronger by the day and your feet have found a new home in my ribcage. But as uncomfortable as I'm getting, it just means we're that much closer to meeting you.


{Maternity Series #2} 28 Weeks

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We're in the home stretch now! I'm officially in my 3rd Trimester and can't believe how close we're getting to your arrival! The bigger my belly gets, the more protective Rocco gets of me. Hopefully you'll like our crazy pup as much as your sister does.


Maternity Series #2: 27 Weeks

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We were back at the cabin this weekend for the 4th of July, and as usual we had a great time. It was HOT so I was just a wee bit uncomfortable, but your dad made sure I stayed cool and drank lots of water. I think you were just as excited as I was to get back to our bed on Sunday night because you kicked so much I could barely fall asleep! :)



Maternity Series #2: 26 Weeks

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This week's photo was taken by Kristy Dooley Photography.


I had the most wonderful time in Raleigh this weekend with my girlfriends. We met in an online photography class last Fall, and it was so nice to finally meet in person... it felt more like a reunion than the first time we were meeting! They were sweet enough to take some maternity photos for me and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. The photos are so special to me, not just because they so beautifully document part of my pregnancy journey with you, but also because they're taken by people who are so dear to my heart.

It is my sincere hope for you that you find something you're truly passionate about, and that you're lucky enough to find a group of friends that share that passion.



Maternity Series #2: 25 Weeks

MaternitySeries25weeks-7-Edit-Edit-EditforMBB hellomysweetbabyYour big sister is getting SO excited to meet you! She loves giving my belly kisses and hugs and saying, "I love you, baby!" And you always seem to start kicking whenever you hear her voice. I'm sure you guys will drive each other crazy from time to time, but I have a feeling you're also going to have a lot of fun together.




Maternity Series #2: 24 Weeks

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I got to see you again this week! You're growing right on track and cute as a button. It's fun to compare how different your ultrasound photos are from Emma's. She looks a lot like me, but I think you're going to look just like your dad.


Maternity Series #2: 23 Weeks

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Oof... your mama has been BUSY this week! Lots of late nights and little time with your dad make me pretty grumpy, so I'm hoping things slow down soon. If nothing else, I keep reminding myself that in four short months I'll get to spend my days with you and your insane cuteness and my work stresses will be far behind me.


Still no master, but a whole lot closer...

I finished my Mastering Natural Light Indoors workshop a couple of weeks ago and holy moly was that class a game changer for me. I thought I knew how to best use the light in my house, but I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg. One of the biggest takeaways I learned was how to create and utilize light to better set the right mood for my photos. Take these two self portraits...


I'm making essentially the same expression in both, showing the same amount of skin, but the one on the left tells a completely different story than the one on the right. The one on the left is more thoughtful and serene thanks to the natural backlighting, but the one on the right is more moody and raw - that one was actually taken in our guest bathroom using my iPhone as the only light source. (I had the camera set on top of the back of the toilet, held the phone in one hand, and the wireless remote in the other.) The one on the right also utilizes Rembrandt lighting, characterized by the triangle under my eye on the shadowed side of my face. This is the lighting Rembrandt often used in his portraits and is surprisingly tricky to nail. You do not want to know how many almost Rembrandt triangle outtakes I have from this workshop. :)


Another HUGE thing for me was finally getting some sleeping pics of Emma. All my photographer friends have these amazingly adorable photos of their kids sleeping and Emma's just too light of a sleeper for me to attempt to go anywhere near her during her naps - much less try to take photos. But now that I was getting more comfortable shooting in low light, I foolishly bravely attempted the elusive Emma sleeping shot. The one on the left was my first attempt, and while I love her smooshy face - I wasn't crazy about how the light was hitting her. (I was using only my iPad as the light source.) So when I saw her sleeping in her signature "arms behind the head" position a few nights later, I knew I had to try again. Her little pursed lips in that one just kill me.


I also took advantage of the new blackout curtains in Emma's room (sidenote: why on earth did we wait so long to get those?!?) to control the light a bit better for some casual portraits.

The last big game changer for me was learning to use what I had around the house to create natural reflectors when there wasn't enough fill light...


I knew I wanted to attempt this shot, but when I got in the tub to test out the light (before I filled it up) I realized that the tub was just too deep for the light coming in through the window above the tub to adequately light my feet. So... I got creative:

Who needs to buy a reflector when you have a white sheet, thumb tacks, and duct tape? :) This set up allowed the window light to reflect back down onto my feet, giving me just the right amount of light and that cool reflection in the water.


This was my final assignment submission for the class. The assignment was to take a photo you never would have taken before you took the class, and this certainly qualified... as with the earlier photo, it was taken in our guest bathroom - a room I had never previously even thought to shoot in. And I used my iPhone as my sole light source, something I also never would have done (or at least not done well) before this class. I think the primary thing that makes this photo a first for me is that, despite being someone who for various reasons has ended up taking a stupid amount of self portraits, I had never once even thought to use split lighting (where half of my face is completely in the shadows and half is lit). I love the mood and visual interest it created.

So there you go! Another Clickin Moms workshop crossed off the list, and probably my last for a while. I really can't say enough good things about their classes, so if you're at all interested in photography I highly recommend them. There are classes for every level imaginable and you don't have to be a mom or even female to join in on the fun. :)

Maternity Series #2: 21 Weeks

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Now that we know you're a boy, I've been in full-on nursery planning mode. While I didn't have everything planned out before we left the doctor's office last week, I did have it planned out a few hours later. I'm so excited to get started on everything, especially your special name quilt. Now if only we could decide on a name... :)



Another month, another Clickin Moms workshop. This is my 4th workshop in 8 months, and I'm really loving it so far. It's called "Mastering Natural Light Indoors" and it's all about how to use the available light in your house (or really any indoor location) to its fullest potential. I'm halfway through the class right now and as you can see, I've taken a lot of self portraits so far. When you're trying to get exact angles of light at exact times of day, a rambunctious toddler isn't the best subject. ;) But between this class and my maternity series, I'm a little selfie'd out. If you've never attempted a self portrait while 5 months pregnant, while standing awkwardly in your empty bathtub, while your expensive camera is perched precariously on a tripod on the other side of the tub, yeah... I don't recommend it. :) Week 1 Practice Shots:



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Week 2 Assignment Submission:

MNLIWeek2-69-EditforMBB MNLIWeek2-69-Edit-2forMBB I'll have more on these last two photos (and why they mean so much to me) tomorrow...


Maternity Series #2: 19 Weeks

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ONE WEEK! Only one more week until we find out if you are a girl or a boy and I can't wait. Your dad is convinced you're a girl, but I think you're a boy. I honestly don't care either way, I just want to know already so I can start planning everything. Knowing me, I'll have your whole nursery planned out before we even leave the doctor's office. :)


PS... missed any of the previous weeks in the series? Click here.


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You've been growing up a storm these past few weeks... so much so that I can't button my pants anymore! And I promise that's not just due to my increased ice cream intake. I'm starting to feel you move around a bit and I so love those unexpected little thumps in my tummy. It's only a matter of time before those kicks become an hourly occurrence, and I can't wait. We love you so much already.