I met Brittany and Don when we got together for their maternity session at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. They drove up from Fort Smith for that very special night where we could photograph and celebrate their joy over their sweet, growing baby. I just completely fell in love with their little family that night and couldn’t wait to see them again with baby in tow and hear all about how magical parenthood was with a brand new little babe.
When their little Claire was just shy of two weeks, they came up again for her newborn session. She may have given us all a run for our money that day, and proved how patient you have to be as a newborn photographer :) but she was soooo worth it!
Allow me to introduce you to my little friend named Claire along with some of the sweetest stories and sentiments from her beautiful mom and dad.
“Claire is our rainbow baby, so we actually kept our news very quiet for a while. As the pregnancy progressed, we slowly told people, and the genuine excitement and support we received meant a lot to us.
“From the very beginning, I just knew she was a girl! In January, we had a friend look at the results gender and call a local bakery. I picked the cake up (But didn’t peek, promise!) so Don and I could open it together. As soon as we saw the pink writing, Don laughed and I started jumping up and down yelling, ‘I was right! I was right!’ and we shared a big hug.”
“Claire Ann was always our first choice for a little girl name. We tossed a few others around, but deep down I think we always knew we would come back to it.
“Claire is my maternal grandmother’s name, and she was named after HER grandmother. She is one of my very favorite people and has always said that she and I both ‘march to the beat of or own drum.’ She is smart, talented, lovely and kind, and has been a source of love and support in every phase of my life.
“Ann is Don’s late mother’s name. I never had the opportunity to meet Don’s mother, but she is very special to him and he was excited when he learned that Ann is my middle name. She was very generous and made everyone feel special and important, so it was very easy to come to an agreement that we would have Claire Ann. My mother and Don’s oldest daughter also have Ann as their middle name, so there are even more family ties!”
“My pregnancy was relatively uneventful, and I was fortunate that it was quite easy. I worked until the day I went into labor, and pretty much lived life normally (sans sushi and wine) until she was born!
There was one morning that I woke up, and Don had his hand on my stomach. He told me that she had been twirling and twisting, and he had just been laying there, feeling her move. That is one of my fondest memories, because it was the first moment he and Claire shared between just the two of them. I loved feeling her move inside me, and after she was born it was fun to actually see what she had been doing in there!”
“There were a few things about parenthood that I was most excited about, but the big ones were having her fall deep asleep on my chest, and feeling her sweet, little fingers wrap around mine. The first time each of those happened, I cried big, fat, happy tears. They seem like small moments but, after years of wanting a child, they meant the world to me.”
Don: “I was most excited (and scared) about being a stay at home dad. I knew it would be rewarding, but also challenging.”
“Parenthood is nothing like I expected! Can anything really prepare you for it? Some days I feel overwhelmed with gratitude, other days, just overwhelmed. ;) The first few weeks were an exhausting, emotional blur, but as Claire grows, it gets easier and we have somewhat found our groove. Seeing a person basically learn everything from scratch has been incredible, and watching Don immediately fall in love with our daughter has brought me an immense amount of joy. Some days it still feels like a dream, and I can’t believe this perfect little person is ours!”
“Labor didn’t go as planned, but we still have very fond memories of those days. Yes, days. I went into labor on July 11th at 11 pm, and Claire was born 1:30 am on the 14th. I didn’t even realize I was in labor until my water broke, and had been trying to convince Don they were just Braxton-Hicks contractions. He was very nervous that I was going to have Claire in the tunnel on 540. ;) I labored for 18 hours at the Birth Center, then had to transfer to Mercy Rogers, where I labored for 18 more until she was finally born! Labor in the hospital was no big deal, and I remember feeling very proud of myself when a nurse told me that I was so composed, she was surprised that it was my first child.
“Don was unflappable during the whole process. At the only scary point in labor, we were almost done and Claire’s heart rate plummeted while I was pushing. The doctor told me to rest for 3 contractions and give her a break, and I became very frightened for her. The nurse put an oxygen mask on me and I started to panic, until I felt Don squeeze my hand and looked him in the eyes. He was calm and collected, and I knew that it was going to be ok.
“I honestly don’t remember my first thought after Claire was born. She was placed on my chest, wailing her little heart out, and as the nurses rubbed her I just kept saying, “Oh. Oh. Oh” with my hands held high. I think I was in shock. I didn’t touch her until one of the nurses told me that I could, and shortly thereafter I asked the room, “Is this normal?” The nurses laughed and said that her crying was a very good sign.”
Don: “My first thought after Claire was born was relief that she and Brittany were ok. My second thought was that Claire was perfect, her cone head excepted.”
“Claire is good-natured and easy going, but can have quite a temper. Snuggling is her love language! She is happiest on my chest, nuzzled into my neck, or in the crook of Dad’s arm and his side. After twilight nursing sessions, when I am lying next to her waiting for her to fall into a deep, she will reach for me and finally rests when we are as close as possible.”
“I have very little advice to offer new parents, as I feel like I am still figuring things out. :) But, definitely have pictures taken when they are still very small! I was so tired, I only vaguely even remember Claire’s shoot with you! I am so grateful to have photos that help me remember the details of when she was itty-bitty.
“The only other piece of advice I have is to let go of any expectations of what parenthood will be like, and just roll with the punches. Oh, and let your housekeeping and laundry slide as long as you can. Babies change so quickly and time goes by so fast, and no one treasures the memories of all the laundry they folded.”