Indianapolis photography

Kelly & Danny | Broad Ripple and Fountain Square | Indianapolis Engagement Session

Ohhh, my goodness! What a fun engagement session I had with Kelly and Danny earlier this month! We met at a few spots in the Broad Ripple and Fountain Square area that are special to them, threw on some music, and laughed a lot during one of the nicest March days we could have asked for that week. Danny and Kelly both enjoy dancing, so of course we had to add that into their session. Also, I realized I yell “CUUUUUUTE!” way too much during shoots, but I couldn’t help it! These two were so much fun to hangout with!

I’m incredibly excited for their wedding in May. I hear there will be a live band playing, vegan comfort food served, and I just know their day is going to be so beautiful!

Enjoy some of my favorite shots from their engagement session below!

xo

A Moody, Relaxed Styled Elopement | The Ripple Retreat, Indianapolis

Today I’m thrilled to finally be sharing the styled elopement shoot I hosted and photographed a couple months ago. I had a vision to create a moody, relaxed, and laid back intimate wedding/elopement styled shoot and found some wildly talented local creatives to partner with for this shoot.

I seek to serve laid back couples who are looking for authentic and meaningful images to capture their unique day, so when I was putting this session together, I purposely looked for ways to make it feel simple, down to earth, and with lots of meaningful touches.

I found the perfect venue and contacted the owners of The Ripple Retreat, a local Sobro Airbnb which is darling. Rebecca, the host, lives nearby and was quick to help and easy to communicate with for our time at her space. The house felt so calm, simple, and inviting, with beautiful touches of color and natural design elements throughout. (I’m trying to block a time off for my husband and I to stay there sometime for a stay-cation!)

My models are some good friends of ours, who were so down for getting some styled wedding shots, and the bride wore her original dress and the rings were the ones they gave each other on their wedding day. How sweet is that! I wanted to work with a couple so that I could get some real connection between them. Eva and Jeffrey were so wonderful to work with! Fun fact: they run a screen printing business called The Wandering Press, and do live event printing!

The bride’s makeup was done so beautifully by Diana of Simply Blue, who is so kind and is incredibly talented at what she does. Hair, the gorgeous hair, was done by Martha of Vow Artistry, who worked alongside Diana and created exactly the look I was hoping for.

Ok the earrings. You guys, these earrings are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Designed custom for the shoot and hand-crafted by Sarah of Chival Jewelry, these pieces stood out so beautifully. Sarah spends hours on each of her creations, and also makes them with love for each person who wears them.

I knew I wanted something unique for the florals, and luckily I was able to find Shila of Wild Clover Floral, who has a passion for creating one-of-a-kind florals. She took my general ideas and ran with them in the most amazing way, creating an installation for the shoot, along with gorgeous bridal florals. She also styled the florals for the table, complete with beautiful candle holders done with greens and water - something I have not seen and am obsessed with now!

I reached out to Kaitlyn DeSpain, a local artist who created not only the stunning invitation suite with a unique design and a piece of art in and of itself, but also supplied a hand-carved stamped tapestry she created with inspired floral prints. The colors fit so well with my vision, and her work is seriously so unique and amazing.

The cake - you guys this cake was everything I’d hoped it would be. Bri Haarer, who bakes as a side hustle was kind enough to make a naked cake for the session, with lemon and berry touches. It brought in such a simple, yet elegant touch to the table as our centerpiece.

The most beautiful thing about this session is all the amazing folks who came together with their creative passions to make this thing happen. I’m all about #communityovercompetition and one of the coolest things is seeing others live out the things that make their hearts light up. The vision I had for this shoot fell together so perfectly, and I feel so fortunate I was able to capture the beauty manifested from the minds of wildly talented humans.

Enjoy the images below, and please go check out all of the artists and makers who participated!! xo

Makeup: Diana, Simply Blue

Hair: Martha, Vow Artistry

Earrings: Sarah, Chival Jewelry

Venue: The Ripple Retreat, Sobro

Invitation Suite and Table linen: Kaitlyn DeSpain

Florals: Shila, Wild Clover Floral

Cake: Bri Haarer

Photography: Leah Rife Photo

Sydni's Senior Session | Broad Ripple, Indianapolis

Ok, so Sydni is pretty much one of the most amazing humans on the planet, and if you're lucky enough to know her, you'll know what I mean. I first met Sydni when we were looking for someone to help babysit our boys, and ever since, I've been constantly in awe of this girl. She is so, so kind. She is passionate, quiet, artistic, talented, beautiful inside and out, and has a heart for others. I see such a spark in her - a love for others and a sense of adventure - and I was so honored to be able to capture some senior photos for her.

We headed to a few spots in Broad Ripple, and basically hung out for a couple hours, talking, taking photos, and dodging the sprinkles that held off enough for us to get some wonderful images. It was kind of amazing. :) Sydni is heading off to college next year and will be studying nursing and is considering studying photography as well. My family and our boys will miss her tons, but I am so excited for her to head off and experience all kinds of amazing things!! 

Enjoy some images from her session below!!

xoxo

Indianapolis senior photography | broad ripple
Indianapolis senior photography | broad ripple

Cynthia's Motherhood Session

Hello friends! I hope you have been enjoying this series on motherhood I've been working on. When I decided to work on a personal project, I immediately thought of working with some local moms because I have a dear place in my heart for mamas. I wanted to use this space to hear different perspectives on what it's like to be a mom.

I'm involved with a local group for moms, and one of their hashtags for this year is #thisismotherhood. I loved that line so much, and have been honored to be a part of a group of moms who embrace their differences, embrace each other, accept each other just as they are, and our group is really a non-judgmental place for moms to get together. I reached out in my group to see if anyone would be interested in sharing part of their motherhood journey, and I was blown away with the responses I got. I have been able to start meeting with the moms who I'll be working with, and I get to sit down with them for an hour, take some photos, and listen to them share. It's been so beautiful and such an honor for me.

Because I'm sharing parts of the stories of different women who have voluntarily sat down with me, I'd ask that you approach reading these posts with respect and an understanding that these stories are sacred. Please honor this space. The moms I'm interviewing all have a unique and different story of their journey to motherhood. No two will be alike, and that is so beautiful to me. Please honor these women and listen to their story free of judgement, assumptions, or negativity. We deal with enough of that already, right? 

Please accept these stories as parts of the bigger picture of being a mother and being human, and recognize how rich that makes this world. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen. 

With much love,

Leah

Cynthia

Cynthia lives in Ingalls with her husband Patrick, and her 4 children, Cole (7), Aurora (almost 4), Payton ( almost 3), and Logan (almost 1). She works at East 91st Street Christian Church Preschool in Indianapolis. She is working towards finishing her Child Development Associate degree and desires to become a lead Preschool teacher. If that all goes as planned, she also has plans to work on her personal training certification. Cynthia is quiet, kind, and during our session wasn't afraid to be completely real, which is a quality I admire so much. She welcomed me into the very real life she leads with her family of 6, and made me feel right at home in their routine. I really enjoyed hearing Cynthia share, and I hope you enjoy reading through her story below.

 

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Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.

"My husband and I met in high school, and we got married when we were 19. I was going into my sophomore year in college and Patrick was going in as a freshman, so we didn’t have plans to start a family right away. I’ve always wanted kids, I grew up around kids, I babysat a lot. In my family you got married, you had kids, and that’s just what you did. 

I got pregnant with Cole the beginning of my senior year of college. And I was so sick, couldn’t keep anything down and lost a lot of weight during the first part of that pregnancy. I experienced preeclampsia with his pregnancy, and enjoyed all the side effects of water retention and feeling swollen. That was really hard because aside from having to deliver early, and even though we were only an hour from family it was just far enough that we couldn’t have much help. Cole was in the NICU after he was born at 35 weeks and 3 days. He was only in the NICU for 10 days, and did really well. He was tiny, but perfectly fine. He was born the week before finals week at college, but thankfully I had really great professors who were flexible with my exams and it was really awesome.

With all that went on, delivering early, being away from family, being the first baby, and having the NICU experience, it triggered some pretty rough depression. It took me about 9 months before I really did anything about it, and the only reason I went in was because I kept experiencing bleeding after the birth. So I figured while I was in there, I’d talk with them about the depression. I started some antidepressants after seeing a counselor, and Patrick was really against it at the time and wasn’t very supportive in the beginning, so I actually took myself off the antidepressants. In high school, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, which is only slightly different than clinical depression, but I still had periods of feeling low. I actually lied to my doctors about my diagnosis when they asked questions ahead of time during my pregnancy. I was afraid to talk to anyone about feeling depressed because I was scared that CPS would be called on me, or they would take my baby, because you hear so many stories of really severe cases of depression where it’s hard for moms to care for their babies. So because of the depression and the traumatic period around Cole’s birth, I feel like I missed out on the bonding time with him, and I feel like he is closer to Patrick because of that.

We ended up having to move back in with my parents, Patrick was in between jobs, I was working two jobs, and we found out I was pregnant with our second child. Patrick later got a job in Noblesville, so we had moved from Muncie to this area. My friend was in the hospital in labor at the same time I went into labor with Aurora, and she was born only hours apart from my friend’s daughter. They had the same doctor, so that was fun. 

Aurora was 5 months old when I found I was pregnant with Payton. There’s so much repenting that has gone on through that experience. I’m incredibly impatient, so I always find out when I’m 4-5 weeks along. I had gone out with my MOPS table for a mom’s night out, and another mom said how she always feels phantom kicks when she’s first pregnant, and I said how I was feeling the same thing. My cycle had been inconsistent, so I decided to pick up a test on my way home thinking it would be no big deal. I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t wait until the morning, so I got up in the middle of the night to take the test. And after I took the test I think I said every bad word you can probably think and probably made up some and I was every emotion you could feel. I felt panic, a tinge of excitement because it was a baby, but mostly panic. I was trying to think of how to tell Patrick. I had to wake him up and tell him and his response was “great.” So we got through that and had our baby girl.

Then with Logan, he tried to come out a few months early but with the help of medication and the doctors we were able to keep him in until 37 weeks. He was in the NICU for a few days and is doing so well now. So that’s kind of how my journey has gone."

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What is one of the things you love the most about being a mother?

"That no matter how much I mess up, they still love me. Especially with anxiety which made me so stressed that I would yell. There were rough moments, but at the end of the day, the kids were patient with me and showed me such unconditional love."

What has been one of the hardest things about being a mother?

"Functioning with the lack of sleep. Having kids takes sleep deprivation to a whole new level, and I’ll even have to call friends while I’m driving to stay awake. I forget things a lot. I have a heart condition which makes me fatigued anyway, but the sleep deprivation just got a whole lot worse and made me feel so much more tired after having kids."

How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?

"Growing up in the family that I did, where everyone just got married and had kids, I always knew I wanted to have lots of kids. Four is good, by the way. :) I did a lot of babysitting and was always around kids growing up, so this is who I always was, I think. I mean sure, sometimes I’d love to go out and see a movie and not have to worry about a $20 movie ticket, and $50 for babysitting and having to organize it all ahead of time. I think the only other thing I did before kids that I don’t do very often now is read. We have to schedule time for me to read because I’m not one to only read a couple chapters, I get into the book and end up reading it all. So I would love to have more time to read someday."

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What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?

"Anymore, I think it’s the fact that we started so young. As far as my friends from high school go, some are just recently married or getting married soon and there are no kids, and I have 4! But as far as my family goes, my grandma got married at 15 and had my mom when she was 16. My mom got married when she was 18 and had me at 19. I got married at 19 and I had just turned 22 when I had Cole, so we’re progressing out. :) So with my family, it’s perfectly normal. But as far as my peers, I’m just apparently way ahead of the game."

 

What is one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?

"So I know I said 4 was enough, my body is done, but I’ve always wanted to adopt. We want to obviously wait until these kids are older and until it would work out financially. I’d love to adopt sibling groups or older kids. It’s definitely something that we want. Patrick’s joked before as we’ve driven past a hotel that if we bought it I would want to fill every room with kids."

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What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?

"The dishes can wait. That’s one of the things I really stressed over with Cole and Rory. I wanted to have a straightened up, not necessarily spotless, but somewhat presentable house. It was probably in a MOPS group, somebody said ‘What do you want your kids to remember, that your house was clean or that you played with them and did crazy stuff and had fun with them?’ So as you can tell, I’ve really embraced that. The dishes don’t have to be done every night, and as long as there’s no mold growing on the dirty dishes, we’re good! Patrick is really good at helping me and doing the dishes. We’re a family of 6, so after one meal, the sink is full! So we try to not stress about it too much."

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In what ways has motherhood changed you?

"I think it’s forced me to stand up for myself a little bit more. I was always shy as a kid, and always tried to avoid confrontation. But now, if someone even looks wrong at my kids, I’m ready to throw down. And it translates to me with jobs and other interests too, and I don’t have a problem saying no to things that won’t be best for me in the season I’m in."

What’s something you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?

"To just try and not to worry about what’s on Facebook or tv, or what other people say. As long as you’re doing your best for your kids, it will all be ok. When I was pregnant with Cole and was so sick, I’d watch shows like Bringing Home Baby, and I wanted to learn as much as I could. But now, as long the kids are fed and taken care of, I don’t stress about all the other stuff."

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What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?

"I thought that I could balance being a mom and keeping the house together. My grandma had 5 kids, and her house would always be so put together. I figured it was no big deal, that after the kids went to bed you just tidied up and it would be great. That is so wrong! My heart condition does make me more tired and I need to log more hours to get enough rest, but even people who don’t have that, it’s just this season with young kids. You can’t get anything done unless they’re asleep. I feel like I can’t even load the dishwasher without my kids getting into things, drawing on the walls, stuff like that."

What’s something about motherhood that you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?

"The postpartum mental illness struggles. If I hadn’t felt like someone was going to come in and take my baby away with Cole, I’d have gotten help much sooner. And I think I would have had more time to bond with him. With Logan, I was stretched to the max and I kept an eye out for signs of signs. I experienced postpartum anxiety with him, and got on top of it and got on medication to help. I would have experiences of feeling shaky, like someone was sitting on my chest and like I couldn’t breathe, and couldn’t talk to people. And people don’t understand, and they just figured I would be in a bad mood. I was able to up my dose after a follow-up appointment, and even though I still get overwhelmed, I don’t get as panicky. If people talk about mental illness, I feel like they talk about it in such a negative way, that it isn’t helpful. I wish we could talk more openly about it and in a way that doesn’t make people feel bad."

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What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten about being a mother?

"I know it sounds cheesy, but the saying ‘they’re only young once.’ Because I feel like I missed out on so much of Cole’s younger years, it feels like he is growing up so fast. I think that experience has helped me appreciate my kids and realized that there is something to enjoy at every age."

What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?

"Well we don’t keep wine in the house. :) I think its just finding somewhere quiet, even if it’s just for 5 minutes to let my ears stop ringing from all the yelling and the noises. Just a chance to regather my breathing and find some calm."

Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?

"With me wanting to be a preschool teacher, I feel like I do a good job teaching my kids. We get a lot of compliments that Rory can speak so well, so it makes me proud that I can teach my kids well and prepare them."

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Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?

"I get angry a lot and can default to yelling. So that’s one thing that we’re working on and finding ways to help me get grounded. My dad was verbally abusive and I come from a long line of people who get angry, and that’s not something I want to continue".

What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?

"Sleep! I would go somewhere and sleep in a freshly made bed, with blackout curtains, and room service, and of course somebody else footing the bill. That would be my dream."

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Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?

"It would be my grandma. It’s hard for my mom to understand sometimes because she only had me and my brother, and my grandma had 5 kids. So I feel like she and I relate in that way. I’ll call her all the time and ask her for advice. She never makes me feel like I’m burdening her when I call."

 

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What are ways you find time for yourself?

"I don’t, but it’s something I’m working on. Right now Patrick works seconds and I work days, so it’s hard to find time. I do try at least once a month to send at least 3 of my kids to a family member’s house to get a small break. And I try to sleep when I can get some extra time in. Patrick is a big help with reminding me to take time for myself when possible, and helping with the kids."

How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?

"The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not sure those are my own words, but it’s relevant. It’s not just those picture perfect moments, but it’s also not just the bad stuff. It’s the messes, it’s the tired, it’s the beautiful, it’s the when things go right, it’s when you’re kid has been having an attitude all day and that night tells you he loves you. It’s all of that."

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What makes motherhood beautiful to you?

"We’re responsible for these tiny little souls and we get to impact them in so many ways, and meet their needs. I think it was at the IF Gathering where they said it’s possible for a lot of stay at home moms to feel like they’re not doing enough. But you get to spend 24-7 with your kids and have the opportunity to lead them to Christ. I can be the hands and feet of God to them and show them how to do the same for others someday."

A very big thank you to Cynthia for sharing and letting me see a little slice of her beautiful normal. You can check out the other posts in this series here: 

HannahLindseyKatieKristin  ErmaColleenErin & Pris.

xo

Pris' Motherhood Session

Hello friends! I hope you have been enjoying this series on motherhood I've been working on. When I decided to work on a personal project, I immediately thought of working with some local moms because I have a dear place in my heart for mamas. I wanted to use this space to hear different perspectives on what it's like to be a mom.

I'm involved with a local group for moms, and one of their hashtags for this year is #thisismotherhood. I loved that line so much, and have been honored to be a part of a group of moms who embrace their differences, embrace each other, accept each other just as they are, and our group is really a non-judgmental place for moms to get together. I reached out in my group to see if anyone would be interested in sharing part of their motherhood journey, and I was blown away with the responses I got. I have been able to start meeting with the moms who I'll be working with, and I get to sit down with them for an hour, take some photos, and listen to them share. It's been so beautiful and such an honor for me.

Because I'm sharing parts of the stories of different women who have voluntarily sat down with me, I'd ask that you approach reading these posts with respect and an understanding that these stories are sacred. Please honor this space. The moms I'm interviewing all have a unique and different story of their journey to motherhood. No two will be alike, and that is so beautiful to me. Please honor these women and listen to their story free of judgement, assumptions, or negativity. We deal with enough of that already, right? 

Please accept these stories as parts of the bigger picture of being a mother and being human, and recognize how rich that makes this world. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen. 

With much love,

Leah

 

Pris

Pris lives in Indianapolis with her husband David and their two children Noah, 3 and Emma, 1. She is originally from Orange County, CA and misses the beach and hopes to one day move back near the ocean. I asked her to message me an update since she started working full time after I had interviewed her, and here's what she had to say:

"I actually just started working today full time and it's a new journey for us. I cried to and from work but have been blessed with a good opportunity. I was blessed with two full years at home with the kids and I was ready to work. I'm looking forward to taking on a new chapter in our lives. If I had time for hobbies, I would probably take up quilting and reading again."

t was so beautiful to sit down with Pris. She has such an energy about her, and it's obvious how much she lives her life with passion and her everything. We talked all things self-love after kids, natural birth and co-sleeping, and how the journey towards parenthood and marriage looks different for everyone. I hope you enjoy her story below!

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Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.

“I’m originally from Orange County, and David had moved from Indianapolis to Long Beach, so he was living in California when we met. I thought he seemed like a nice midwest guy, and I had never dated anyone from the midwest. I really liked him. He was really conservative and quiet, timid and reserved, but super funny in a discreet way. David and I met online and we dated for 10 months, and then we got pregnant with Noah, so our story is totally different than the traditional steps towards becoming parents. It’s been a rollercoaster. You’re fighting against the grain a little bit because you’re doing things a different way. You’re getting to know each other differently than “I met you, I fell in love with you, I want to have your children.” This is different in that you’re kind of becoming friends and lovers and everything else at the same time. It takes some work!

I always wanted to be a mom; like there is nothing in the world I wanted more. I met a guy who I loved, and when we got pregnant, even though it was a surprise, I knew from then on that Noah was going to be everything. Motherhood came as a surprise, but yet it was something I had been dreaming of.

We went through a rough patch after Noah was born because David went through some father’s postpartum depression, and he struggled knowing how to be a dad. So he asked me to move out 2 weeks after Noah was born. I had to find a new place and it took us about a month to find a place, but it didn’t matter because I was going to do anything for my baby. It was the toughest part of our relationship because I expected David to man up, and at that moment it was like he was pulling away. 

We then had to seek counseling, because after he asked me to move out, he realized he had made the biggest mistake of his life so we went to counseling for several months. I decided to give him a second chance, and we got back together. And I love him. And we have to have a lot of Jesus in our lives to forgive from that experience. Ultimately after counseling we realized that shockers like that happen - getting pregnant surprisingly and unplanned - and sometimes for either partner it can come as a big life-changing event, especially when it wasn’t something you were striving for. It took a lot of patience for me to understand that we didn’t have that mutual feeling in the beginning, but now you see David and it’s like ‘Wow.’ You don’t really realize how much you can love somebody and how they love your kids. Even though it started rough for us in the very beginning, it shaped us to be strong people. We love these babies so much.

All of my family is back in California and it’s very hard. I think that’s a hard part about being here. You take this leap of faith trying to move out here, but as a mom you need your village. So I constantly FaceTime my sisters who are my best friends. One is in California, but one got married and went to Texas. So we absolutely have to stay connected because I have to reach out to them for constant advice. They have kids as well, and they have been very supportive of my journey of breast-feeding, natural birth, and co-sleeping. When you have family that inspires you and also supports you, you have to really keep that connection, so we really work to keep connected.”

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What is one of the things you love the most about being a mother?

“I think I love how motherhood has shaped me. It’s humbled me, and it’s made me stronger. You have to be tender as possible with your kids, but yet strong at the same time. It’s shaped me to become a stronger person than I thought I was - from a natural birth, birthing at home, and overcoming goals and obstacles in motherhood itself like feeling I can’t get through one more day of nursing with chapped nipples, and then again the next day. Always thinking ‘We can get through one more day.’ So I think it’s taught me so much how to be strong.”

What has been one of the hardest things about being a mother?

“I think it’s feeling not crazy. The level and variety of emotions you experience in a 24 hour period can be so hard. From happy to stressed out, to rushing, to a moment of pure bliss in a moment of interacting and playing with them, to right back to frustration from a tantrum the minute you say it’s nap time. I think that’s been the hardest - not feeling nutty. I have two toddlers and I really have to adjust to all the emotions. I think that’s been the toughest. And then feeling ‘Am I ok to vent about this? Am I ok to share this? Do I sound like there is always something to vent about every time I talk to my mom and sisters?’ But it’s totally normal to feel this way, and you hear other moms talk about feeling this way too, and it’s totally ok.”

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How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?

“I listen to hip hop when I’m in the car alone, and I turn it up really loud, and it’s really inappropriate, and I feel completely normal for a quick second. I drink a lot of coffee. I have to ocaisionally go shopping to feel like that girly girl that I was before that was selfish in a way. That or getting my toes and nails done - all those ‘selfish’ things you get to really enjoy and take in before motherhood and then you realize it’s not all that easy afterwards. When I can and when it’s available, I’ll take up those things in a heartbeat.”

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What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?

“I think the fact that we really strived for natural birth. We had a natural hospital birth and then had a home birth with our daughter. I also have been extended breast-feeding for 3 years, and then we co-sleep two kids, so we’re a family of four in one big bed. I think that’s something that’s unique, you don’t really hear that too often. I love that David is so supportive of it as well, and that we are both ok sacrificing our very personal space for the sake of cuddles and time with our kids for as long as we can. That is a very personal space where parents retreat to after the kids go to bed, and in our story it’s not like that. So it’s very unique and very different, and it’s hard to explain to other parents especially if they haven’t been exposed to co-sleeping before.”

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What is one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?

“Ideally and on a big scale, probably living by the beach again or owning some property and being close to the water and sand. Otherwise, I would say having a honeymoon with my husband once we’re done breast feeding and sleeping through the night and no longer dependent on me. Then I can definitely have a honeymoon with him. We were pregnant and had a toddler when we got married, so I think that’s dream for us. I just want to have a vacation with him, just the two of us.”

What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?

“Really enjoy sleep. And then not be so judgy towards other moms when you’re not a mom. You see that and you hear that, and I know I was like that. At that time before having kids, I would say do a lot of research for the choices you want to make, and for us it was breast feeding and co-sleeping. Parenting is not cookie-cutter, and you have to find what works for you. So probably not doing that side eye toward moms because you don’t really know what’s going on.”

In what ways has motherhood changed you?

“Like I said before, I think it just made me really strong. I was always loving and caring, but now it’s just about them and nothing else matters. I will sacrifice my all for the sake of keeping them rested and happy and fed. I think that’s how its changed me. I make it about my family now.”

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What’s something you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?

“ I think maybe self-love as a mom after kids. I think that’s kind of a topic that gets brushed under the rug based on expectations of how we expect to be perfect and bounce right back after having kids. And I was never real thin to begin with so for me it’s not as big of a deal, but I think just loving your body afterwards is so important. Because you’re going to teach your kids that. I’m big on that. I’m big on ‘It’s ok that mommy has cellulite and stretch marks, and it’s ok. This is your wonderful mama, and hopefully one day you’ll love a woman and you’ll love her for whatever shape she is.’ I’m not going to engrain in my kids that women shouldn’t look this way.” 

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What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?

“Probably the idea of ‘you can sleep when the baby sleeps.’ You hear that all the time and that only works when they’re really little and there’s only one. It doesn’t work when there’s two; it’s impossible because you can’t neglect the other one. So that really taught me the lie of that saying.”

What’s something about motherhood that you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?

“I think that we all have bad days, and it’s ok to talk about them and it doesn’t make you a bad mom. Those bad days are ok. I think we need to talk more about that.”

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What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten about being a mother?

“When Emma was born and I felt like I was possibly neglecting Noah, I called my mom and she said ‘Honey, these kids have so much love from you, even if you leave to watch something while you nurse for an hour, he still knows you love him.’ I think just knowing that I was enough, and having my mom remind me - that was the best piece of advice.”

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What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?

“So typically it’s a Friday or Saturday night. David puts Noah down and I put Emma down, we go lay both of them in the bed and turn on the monitor. We turn on Netflix and watch our show and I have a beer, and that’s our unwind on the weekends. It feels like date night, and it makes me feel good. If the kids are sick and we have to skip, it kind of throws off my week, because I love that time with my husband. I love being able to watch something and hold hands, and feels like adults.”

Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?

“I love how I’ve been able to accomplish goals as a mom. So I’ve never been one to follow through prior to motherhood. I’d always say I would take a class and then never finish it, or sign up for belly-dancing thing and be totally into it and I would do it for a little bit and then be over it. So I love how motherhood has made me be someone that can actually complete things and accomplish the mini goals we have done. I have been able to follow through on things that I wanted.”

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Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?

“That’s a tough one. Because everything scares me. I get scared if I lose them at the park, or if a stranger talks to them at Target. But I think maybe emotionally somehow doing some damage. Like will I cause some kind of need for therapy for them in the future. But it’s something you have to leave in the hands of god and do the best you can, but I think that’s what scares me the most.”

What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?

“I would probably, as tired as I am, and most people would say sleep, and I need sleep, but that’s not me. I would probably just go enjoy me and go get my nails done, watch a movie at the theater by myself, and eat sushi quietly by myself. Or a full daytime concert. :)”

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Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?

“I think my mom and my sisters. But as mothers we also have to reach out to other mothers out there. I had to join La Leche League because as knowledgeable as my mom and my sisters were, I needed a mom who was doing it right then and there in that moment in time. All moms have something to teach us, and it’s little bits and pieces here and there that can adapt to your family.”

What are ways you find time for yourself?

“I think in the evenings when they go to bed, because nap time is cursed and I don’t get time then. I get time in the evenings after bed, if they aren’t sick, and it’s watching a show and just relaxing, and it’s my time. Even if it’s folding laundry and catching up on my show, that makes me feel good and I feel recharged for the next day.”

How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?

“Motherhood is me cooking while baby wearing Emma and having Noah trying to help me, cautiously trying not to burn him while the screaming toddler is on my back. I think that’s what motherhood is for me for now.”

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What makes motherhood beautiful to you?

“I think its when I allow myself to be present and really get involved with my kids and soak in all those giggles and fun that they get just from me being loving to them. I think that’s motherhood - when I really get to play with them on the floor, and they’re pulling my hair and I become a human jungle gym - but they need me. They absolutely want that attention and need me to interact with them, and that’s what’s beautiful to me about motherhood.”

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A huge thank you to Pris for sharing part of her story! You can find the other posts in this motherhood series here: 

Hannah, LindseyKatieKristin  ErmaColleen & Erin.

xo