motherhood

In Home, Birth

A School Bus Home Birth | Ohio Birth Photography | Milk & Hannah |

I was on Instagram one evening after dinner decompressing from the day with a cup of hot coffee in my hand. I scrolled past photos of puppies and bellies and food and landed on a photo a friend and local midwife posted of her client's birthing land. She had hashtagged it #busbirth.

Um. WHAT?
a WHAT birth?

I texted her furiously.
She explained that Caroline and Seamus had recently relocated from Virginia onto a large plot of land they had purchased. They were remodeling a school bus into a livable home on the property. She confirmed that they were planning to deliver on the bus, in the middle of this large plot of land in the woods. But, it was 2 hours away from me. And she was due in 2 weeks.

All the details faded, but the story of this first time mama believing in herself. A warrior living off the grid and rooting for alternative options in life and birth. I loved it. I was (am) inspired by her boldness. I wanted to be there. I wanted to tell her story.

I asked her to tell them I wanted to be there.
She said she'd see what she could do.
I waited, impatiently.

_________________

A few weeks later, Susette was born in the daylight aboard a school bus deep in the hills of Ohio. Chicago softly crackling on the turntable, chickens roamed outside and a fury of rays peeked through the gold tasseled curtains.

As the wood stove warmed and the wildflowers sprouted all along the valley, she breathed her first breaths of this wild world's air in the peaceful, serene, lush homeland that her parents had created for her. 

This is the story of that day.
 

Caroline,

I am in awe of you. So proud of your intense love for your partner and your daughter. You are incredible and I was honored to watch you become Mother. 

 

Midwives present:

Amy Knisley | Well Rounded Midwifery

Lora Hart | Ohio Home Birth 

SelfLove, Lifestyle

When You Dare to Love Your Body | I'm Not Brave | A Mother's Day Tribute

As Amy Schumer laughs on her Netflix special, she talks about the last thing she wants to hear when someone compliments her on her nudie magazine cover.

"Brave."

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Brave?

Not Beautiful? Strong? Carefree? Unique? Wonderful?

Those words sunk deep into my bones and struck not one but many chords.

A problem saved quietly for the chubby, we're the brave ones.

"Thank you so much for being naked AND chubby."

I'm not brave folks.
I'm not.
I struggle with loving my body, and that may be shocking for you to read.
I still weigh myself on occasion and sink deep into society's expectation of me, defeated and feeling worthless.
 

I still sometimes wonder if I'm beautiful. 

But then, I choose the feelings that come next.

They watch me.

My daughters watch me. My son watches me. He's listening to the words that I speak about my female body, and he's creating language to speak and to think of other women's bodies.  My daughters are creating language of their own female bodies, how they should talk about them, how they should feel about them. How they should love them, which parts are worthy.

And although I can not protect them from the pressure of this world, I can make sure that when they hear me talk about myself, it's all love and it's ALL worthy. In hopes that when they look at their precious selves in the mirror they feel the same.

See beauty and bravery, friends. 
Look in the mirror and speak love to yourself. 
Speak it. 
Speak it to the parts of yourself that you don't want to. Feel the curves of your body, and become familiar with who you are. And love it. Dare to.

On this Mother's Day, I am not brave. 
But I refuse to stop looking at my body, fighting what this world tells me I should be, and telling myself I am an absolutely beautiful, incredible species. 

 

 

 

 

Personal, SelfLove

Self-Love in Motherhood : A Milk & Hannah Photo Mission | Columbus OH, Birth and Motherhood Photographer

Mothers who are critical of their bodies breed daughters and sons who are critical of their bodies.

Mothers who love and respect their bodies breed daughters and sons who love and respect their bodies.

How you choose to talk about your body and how you treat your body--will affect so many more people than just you. 

 

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A main mission for Milk & Hannah Photo is to encourage radical self-love. 

It is the reason that photographs include nipples and butt cracks. The reason that stretch-marks aren't photo-shopped away. I won't remove wrinkles, or fine lines...whatever the fuck those are. I don't ask you to smile, and I won't ever "take off ten pounds". I don't choose the best angle for your chin at your birth, I choose the angle that shows you while you work your ass off to bring a baby into this space.

The way your stomach skin curls or doesn't curl. The slight dark circles under your eyes. . The stretch-marks on your thighs. The +20 pounds or the -20 pounds. The defined calves or abdominals. The slick or frazzled hair. The frown, or the laugh, or the hiccup, or the yawn. Your breasts and where they lay across your chest, a little lower than before or just as high as they were.  Those things need to stay in photos. 

Because they're YOU. Right now.
and they're beautiful.


And talking about WHAT OUR BODIES ARE isn't a BAD THING. We're allowed to talk about our bodies RIGHT. WHERE. THEY. ARE. and EMBRACE that without GUILT or SHAME. We're allowed to talk about stretch-marks and sagging breasts and vagina lips and blood and mucus and extra skin. We're allowed to talk about growths and bumps and bruises and leaks. And we're allowed to say those things and not feel a tinge of "I'M LESS THAN."


We are what we are.
Inside and out.

And loving yourself, right where you are... it can change the entire world. It can breed a new world of people who love themselves and encourage other people to love themselves. 

And that is power.
That is worth working towards.

From a by-product of a line of women who were too critical... I implore you to change the world... and to love you.




 

Business, Personal

2017 + a NEW Milk & Hannah Photo | Columbus, OH Birth Photography | Milk & Hannah Photo

 

On September 25th, 2014, I watched Asher take his first breath pressed against his mother's skin.

 

On March 5, 2015, I witnessed the birth of Paxton.

 

Luke, on June 21, 2015.

 

Then Finley, on July 12, 2015.

 

Stacey, on the 11th of October,

 

and Penelope, on the 20th of December the same year.

 

Izabel started off 2016- I watched as she was welcomed into her Mama's tender and loving arms on January 7th.

 

Followed by Ethney, the first baby at home, on June 28th.

 

July 28th, brought Hazel,

 

and Jackson on August the 3rd.

 

On September 28th, 2016, there was Arbor-

 

and Elliot stared into the depths of his Mama on October the 25th.

 

Charlie was welcomed on the 23rd of November,

 

And Giovanni rounded out 2016, at home, on the 11th of December.

 

I started this photography journey a wanderer. A dabbler.

Attempting to find my place in a sea of specialties.

I went on photographing families, children, bellies. Life. But something was missing.

I remember thinking about birth photographers Sarah Shambaugh and Lindsey Scholz's work and feeling a pang in my gut. Like "DAMN. That's mind blowing." But never having the guts to try it on for size.

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When Drew's sister told us she was expecting, a rainbow baby so desired, so loved already- I mentioned the desire to photograph her birth. They live in Michigan, we live in Ohio, but I threw out the idea. Just "to see" maybe "add it to the list of work experience". She wasn't planning on hiring a photographer, we just so happened to be going in town near the due date. If it happened, it happened.

And we crossed our fingers.

Our trip date was already set for my husband's birthday- September the 25th.

At 9am on the 25th of September, Amy entered the hospital doors-preparing to birth a baby . We were in town. I was at the hospital. It was happening, and on my husband's birthday, nonetheless. It felt like---something far more than coincidence.

And then--she labored.

For once in my life--I felt like I couldn't stop clicking the shutter.

I couldn't miss even a second. Every piece of every moment was part of the story. Personal. Crucial. The layout of the room. The stork painting on the wall. The t-shirt her husband, Zac wore, and the way her hands clasped around a styrofoam cup of ice water. She looked so beautiful and yet- so vulnerable-and yet-so amazingly strong.  I was in awe. High. Shaken.

And then-- Asher was born.

I sobbed. I sobbed so intensely that I couldn't see my camera. The tears were hot on my cheeks and I was attempting with all my might to gain some ounce of control and yet I could not. The second my breathing was slowed, I looked at this woman, this sweet child, and lost it all over again.

That moment- that day?

Changed my entire life.

I knew right then what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to tell stories of Birth.
The Welcoming of Sweet Children.
Tales of the strength of Women.
The MIRACLE that is New Life.

I wanted to be the one that held a hand, that put hair in a top bun, that photographed your journey to Motherhood at it's peak. Conquering pregnancy's mighty summit. Becoming all at once a delicate and warring goddess of life-bringing force. That's what I wanted. That's what I want.

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Since that September day, I've photographed 13 more birth stories.

Pax, Finley, Luke, Penny, Izy, Stacey Caroline, Ethney, Hazel, Jackson, Arbor Jane, Eliiot, Charlie, and Giovanni.

I've serviced Columbus, Lancaster, Reynoldsburg, Pickerington, Chillicothe, Ohio and Rochester Hills, Michigan.

And I've fallen deeply in love with my work.

I've continued to dabble, to wander.

But with the end of 2016 came the end of three pieces of what Milk & Hannah Photo was:



This year and beyond, I am focusing on the true passion and drive behind my business.


 Bellies. Babies. Birth. Motherhood. Life.

 

I'm focusing on telling authentic stories.

With the exception of my milk baths, I no longer offer any posed photography session. Everything is photo-journalistic and documentary based. Your story, exactly as it is.

 

I'm cutting out vows.

I am no longer accepting wedding or engagement clients. The 2017 weddings on my books are my last. I am honored and excited to be ending my season of wedding photography with such wonderful people.

 

_________________________________________________________


I knew what I wanted to do 2 years ago, but I was afraid.
Afraid to fail, afraid of regret, afraid of change...

It took me awhile, but I listened to the calling on my life. I stopped doubting and starting trusting. There is a journey set for every single one of us. A journey far greater than we can imagine if we have the gull to work hard, the ambition to keep moving, and the guts to fail and then get up to fly.

I am honored that you're here with me. That you're reading this.
I'm thankful that you're along for the ride as 2017 shapes into what I've wanted since that stork-painting-styrofoam-cup-of-ice wonderful, life-changing, breath-taking day of photographing my first birth.




Ready for all the babies, all the bellies, all the Mama's, and all the births--


Hannah
 

Birth, Breastfeeding

The Birth of Elliot | Columbus Ohio Birth Photography | Milk & Hannah Photo

I walked through the doors of The Well to meet Jessica for the first time.

She had e-mailed me near the end of her pregnancy and we squeezed in a "hello-nice-to-meet-you" before a "hello-I-will-definitely-see-your-vagina-hopefully-we-like-each-other".

I arrived early, found a table in the corner and slumped into the curves of a modern wooden chair stationed across a twin of itself. I said hello to the owners, and ordered myself a dirty chai smoothie-my very favorite-while I awaited her arrival.

She walked in glowing, Her spirit was so tall, so wonderful.
She'd didn't know they served coffee, and held a near-empty Starbucks still hot and sitting in her palms. (I liked her already.) Having reached her caffeine limit for the day-she grabbed a homemade vegan chocolate peanut butter bar sitting in a basket by the register. And as she finished reading the label, we ventured back to the table to see if we were a good fit.

We so were.

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She labored quickly-mightily.

I arrived into her room right in the midst of her epidural- I excused myself to the waiting room while they finished up.

Beside the nursery a small slotted magazine rack was affixed to the wall.
The Boxcar Children squeezed in front of Time and Entertainment magazines.
I chuckled.

Her Mama and Daddy were perched on stools under the windows. Her father held in his eyes a weight of something only described as deep-deep love for his little girl

Once back in the room- her labor progressed rapidly, I began taking an account of the space around her. Accounting photographs for all the details lost while focusing on something much greater than the ticking and buzzing around her.

She was complete. She was ready. She grabbed some extra breaths and sent them to her baby.

Her mother spoke encouragement and admiration in Spanish. An intimate gift-only for the two of them- two mother's ears.

And soon enough--

an

She saw his sweet face- and he hers.

in awe of his beauty...

And as their skin meshed together under the warmth of white sheets...

They fell madly in love.

To my empowered, wonderful, kind, badass Jessica:

You are an incredible Mother.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of photographing the birth of your Elliot.

All my love.