Becoming pregnant while being an entrepreneur, a wedding, couples, family, lifestyle photographer. For the longest time, that phrase right there, felt like such an oxymoron. How could I ever have time to be a mother? After all, I work for myself. My income isn’t consistent throughout the year. I spend all day, everyday, working. If I’m not shooting, I’m editing. If I'm not editing, I’m replying to clients, scheduling posts, going to networking events, attending trainings, oh, the list can go on and on.
I’m a planner. Then, insert a massive laugh from the universe. Or, at least I thought of myself as a planner. My husband and I sat down one day, a meeting. After some very emotional conversions, we had a plan of spending the next two years, traveling this country, growing my business, him pursuing his firefighter career and when that two years was up, we would start trying for a baby.
A little over a month later, we woke one Friday morning. Something was different, very different. He looked at me and said, “I think you need to take a pregnancy test.” I giggled and said, “I think you’re right.” The next few hours were spent getting a pregnancy test and taking it in a restaurant bathroom as we had breakfast plans. I took the test, my stomach dropped. I walked back out, sat down at the table and I’ll I could do was smile, smile as wide as that restaurant. I was in fact pregnant. We were in fact going to be parents.
Two years earlier than planned, two years earlier than expected. I am SUCH a believer that all happens just as it should and I knew, just knew this was divine timing. This little love was meant to be a part of this journey. Excitement, love, joy, it all - in the back of my mind, what about my business? What about my summer weddings? What about taking time off? I’ve never taken time off. What about all that I’ve worked so hard for? How am I going to run my business and take care of our daughter? The questions, as you could imagine, kept running through and through.
Have you been in a similar space?
Are you in a similar space?
My friend, here is what I did.
Here is how I wholeheartedly embraced being a mother AND an entrepreneur AND a photographer.
During my first trimester, I ensured I remained healthy, continued about my sessions, my business as usual and waited until after our first ultrasound to tell our family and close friends. As all progressed healthy and we were moving into the second trimester, I began to make a plan as we wanted to share the news as we moved out of our 12th week of pregnancy.
There was a lot that needed to be organized before the public knew about our pregnancy as my little loves due date was July 2nd, 2019, of which I had FIVE weddings scheduled to document right around that time. I knew, I had to have a conversation, a verbal conversation with each and everyone of these clients. But, before I could do that, I needed to have a plan as I wasn’t just going to cancel documenting their weddings and call it a day. You’ll learn, if you haven’t already done so, that I don’t operate like that.
I called my photographer mentor, explained everything and asked his availability for each of the weddings I had booked. He was available for them all. I then negotiated if he could match the pricing / packages I gave them. This, this was a huge favor as he did so. He’s been in the photography business for far longer than I - so with his gear, expertise, staff, his prices are a lot higher than mine. In addition, I reached out to a few of my favorite second shooters, my associate photographers asking if they would want to associate shoot for me. I gave dates, specifics, pricing, it all. After all those conversations, I scheduled calls with each and my clients. I presented them with three options :
Humbly, all my clients received this information with so much grace, so much love, so much understanding. Each of their decisions reflected exactly what they needed, what made them most comfortable and my, did it leave me with a heart wanting to burst in gratitude. As if I didn’t already love my clients and my business enough, then all of this happened, and although terrified to make those calls, all unfolded beautifully.
After connecting with the clients whose weddings were affected, I connected with one more couple whom I would be 34 weeks pregnant documenting their wedding. If they were comfortable, I wanted to move forward. They were and holy hell, I think I scared every single one of their wedding guests in thinking the babes would be delivered that very day. I was very large, very large throughout my pregnancy. We then shared with the world and my heart exploded with excitement.
I decided to take three months off. One month before the babes due date (July 2nd) and two months after as my first wedding back was September 7th, the babes was born July 11th. For this, I am so grateful.
Initially, I thought I didn’t take enough time off after the babes was born, but truth be told, my peek photography season creates a lot of downtime, which in itself, feels like an extension of maternity leave. The month before was critical, for me at least. My last session was documented at 36 weeks. It was difficult, very difficult. I was massive. I couldn’t see my feet, let alone bend over. My breathing was probably a bit scary. My energy, whittling away. I spent the remaining, nearly five weeks, catching up on my editing, scheduling posts, creating content for when I would be out, closing as many loops as possible, walking constantly, dating my husband, reflecting, connecting, just being in the space, her in my womb, me on the outside world.
My community was immensely supportive. I had to refer out work while on leave. Some of my favorite clients started working with new photographers. I missed getting to document monumental events that I otherwise would. This was hard. Yet, it truly was exactly as it was supposed to be.
My first wedding back was truly such a dream. The couple was amazing. The family that surrounded them, felt like my own family. Do you know what they did for me? The mother of the groom knew I was breastfeeding. She set up a chair, next to an outlet in one of their back bedrooms, just for me to pump. Oh my heart. It was perfect.
I went back to seven weddings and just over 30 sessions to close out the rest of the year. Looking at it now, sounds a little crazy, but at the moment, it felt right. With each wedding, I mastered pumping between locations. With each wedding, the following day, I felt like the best version of myself. With each wedding, I had to flow with the present reality. At one point, the babes stopped taking her bottle, only wanting the source, so the week of a destination wedding in Northern California, I had to buy a plane ticket for my mom to come up with the babes. Again, it was perfect. Exactly as it should be.
Everything truly unfolds just as it's meant to.
It all worked out so beautifully.
Since then, I’ve really had to learn how to manage my time. What used to be working all day, is now done so during the babes nap times (which is about three hours a day) and when I have support. For a while that support looked like my mom coming all day on Tuesdays and our nanny coming for two hours on Fridays. What used to be in person meetings, has become a phone call or email. What used to be immensely curated content, is now inspired content. What used to be a lot of stressing out about growing my business, is now supported by intentionally and authentically connecting with and sharing with my clients, my community.
All the questions that immediately circled my brain, with time, the answers came, and came quite naturally. You see, I mentioned it at the beginning, what is meant to be will be. My daughter, Orion came at exactly the right time. I am, in fact, a better, more present, mother, photographer and entrepreneur. You too, can do it.
FROM TOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT :
1. The last wedding I photographed at 34 weeks pregnant!
2. My mom, myself and Orion flying to Northern California around four months old as she refused her bottle and would only breastfeed.
3. Orion and I on her first flight - the pilot knew it was her first flight so he let us go in the cockpit.
4. My first wedding back, eight weeks after my daughter was born.
5. Pumping in the car from the first location to the second location (p.s. I got an adapter for the car and it was a life saver)
6. How I rolled on wedding days - pump, ice blocks, cooler, milk.