July 12, 2022
“I hope Lena will grow to have the best qualities of the both of us.
I want her to be patient, kind, and confident.
But, most of all, I want her to feel how loved she is.”
– Charlene Guadiz –
Charlene and Perry had originally scheduled a Maternity Session with me a couple of weeks before Christmas last year, but before I had a chance to take out my camera, her little one surprised everyone by joining us a whole 9 weeks early!
Weighing only 2 lbs 5 oz, and 14.5 inches in length, little Lena spent her month in the NICU and was cleared to come home after 5 weeks.
Two months later, It was amazing to meet this beautiful family and to witness the love that knit them together through their most difficult and uncertain moments in welcoming their newest member.
Becoming a first-time parent already comes with a slew of anxieties, worries, doubts, and questions. Will I be a good parent? Will my baby be healthy? Am I doing this right? Disposable or Cloth Diapering? Is a swaddle the name of a bird? Should I give my baby pacifiers? Should I breastfeed or bottle feed? Which carseat is the safest? Do I need a stroller? What kind? What is colic? What can I eat with gestational diabetes? Covid – 19 rates are going up again. Will I be safe? Will my baby be? The list goes on.
Then there is your actual labor experience, which is another anxiety – inducing can of worms. How will I know when it’s time? What is a doula? You’re telling me it’s going to be BAGEL – SIZED? How much will it hurt? Is induction safe? How long will it take to heal? How will I get through this? Should I medicate? Will I be okay? How do I know that the doctor or midwife will anticipate and be able to handle an unexpected situation? What if the baby isn’t okay?
Natural Light Maternity and Newborn Package Photography | Tiffany Chi Photography
Light and Airy Pregnancy and Baby Los Angeles Photographer
“I had complications during my pregnancy, including a hospital stay and bed rest. My doctor had told me that Lena was behind in her gestational development and we needed to monitor her growth closely.
We were taking things day by day, with the tentative schedule of delivering her at 34 weeks. However, a few days before Christmas, I went in for an NST and the nurse was concerned about Lena’s heart rate.
My doctor decided to keep me overnight at the hospital and schedule me for a c-section the next day. Lena was born at 30 weeks, 6 days and was immediately admitted to the NICU.“
Finding yourself in the NICU after years of seeing in the media what a “traditional” labor & delivery should be like, followed by months of anticipation and expectation, can feel so devastating for an expectant mother. She is experiencing grief for her unmet birthing expectations, but also for the safety and health of her child.
Labor & Delivery, and complications from the experience is already a traumatic event for a mother. For not only is she filled with grief and anxiety, but surely experiencing guilt, as well — for not feeling “capable” of securing and insuring her baby’s life & well being. As irrational as this may sound, she feels responsible for what happens, and simultaneously helpless. It is a lonely and agonizing place to be, for a brand new parent.
“Every year, 10 to 15 percent of babies born in the United States (roughly half a million) [are sent to the NICU] for reasons including prematurity (born before 37 weeks gestation), heart problems, birth defects, breathing irregularities and infections, among others.
One in eight babies born in the United States are preterm, making that the number-one reason babies are admitted to the NICU; [thankfully,] of those, 98% survive.”
“The first few weeks were tough.
She lost several ounces the first week, and although the nurses assured me it was normal, I still worried constantly that she wouldn’t be able to gain any weight.
Little by little though she began to make progress, and we were amazed at each new development. When they took off the TPN, when they began tube feeding, the increase of milk during each of her feeds, when she began bottle feeding, and when she was taken off of tube feeding and solely bottle feeding: every milestone was worth counting and celebrating.
She finally came home after 5 weeks, and we have continued to be amazed at each new development. She is definitely a NICU champ, and we are so incredibly proud of her!”
“Brand-new moms and dads with babies in the NICU often feel helpless, but their role in their baby’s care is vital. Bonding, holding and breastfeeding are as important as the medical care infants receive.
You may not have the chance to hold your baby right away because they need immediate medical attention. But once they’re safely ensconced in an incubator, you’ll probably be able to touch them gently, while wearing latex gloves.
Each time you enter the NICU, you’ll scrub as if preparing for surgery and wear a disposable hospital gown on top of your street clothes to prevent passing germs on to your baby. You may also be asked to wear a mask.”
Luxury Natural Light Maternity and Newborn Studio Photography | Tiffany Chi Photography
Light and Airy Studio Los Angeles Photographer Southern California
Postpartum can so often feel like such an isolating and lonely experience for new mothers. In pregnancy, there is the buzz of excitement for new life to come, and after birth, especially a premature one, every ounce of energy is relegated to the baby.
We often feel powerless to our circumstances, and struggle with our loss of identity, our changing bodies, the health of our baby, the fatigue and worry, and some days it’s a wonder that the world keeps turning. I know it’s heavy, mama.
It’s so important in these moments to remind ourselves that we are not alone. You are not alone. Your story and your baby’s story, though unconventional and not at all what you expected — it still matters, deeply. It’s still worth capturing, because it’s a testament to your strength and courage.
Though new parents to premature babies can often feel helpless, their care & presence is more important than ever. Some tangible actionable things include:
Pump: If your baby is too weak to nurse, you can express breast milk with a pump, which will be fed to them via a feeding tube.
Cuddle: When baby is strong enough to be held outside his incubator, place them skin-to-skin on mom’s or dad’s chest. The proven benefits for a preemie or sick baby of this “kangaroo care” include warmth, stability of heartbeat and breathing, increased time spent in deep sleep and quiet alert states, less crying, better weight gain and increased breastfeeding.
Go cloth: Laundering tiny cloth diapers is a chore that can help you feel involved in your baby’s care. Happy Heinys makes special preemie-size diapers.
Be there (even when you’re not): Tape a picture of your family to baby’s incubator — it’s a sweet way to “be there” all the time. Plus, it lets new shifts of hospital personnel know who you are when you visit. Make sure your cell phone numbers are clearly visible and taped to his bed — it can help ensure immediate calls in case of emergencies or treatment changes.
Linger: Bring a blanket, a few one-piece bodysuits and a small stuffed animal from home so they can learn your smell and hopefully be comforted by it.
Take care of yourself: Accept help, take naps at the hospital and go out for fresh air and meals.
– Source, https://www.parenting.com/baby/nicu-care/
If there’s one thing I’ve realized since becoming a mother myself, it’s that life will not always go as planned. In fact, it’s often the opposite: an oscillating rollercoaster. It’s chaotic, terrifying, glorious, full of joy, heartache, celebration, and everything in-between. The best we can do is to remain present for it, and to offer the anxious, worried, grieving parts of ourselves a few breaths of kindness and grace as we heal and move forward.
I am so grateful to have been able to photograph this Newborn Session for the Ilacas family and to have been able to celebrate the bravery and courage of this little girl and her superhero parents.
It may not always go as planned, but remember that it is never too late to capture the beautiful life you’ve created.
I’m here for you when you’re ready.
Let’s tell your story.
Follow along on Instagram to be the first to see my latest updates.
Tiffany Chi Photography is a Natural Light Maternity, Birth, Fresh 48, Newborn, Baby and Family Lifestyle Photographer based out of Orange County and serving Southern California.
Natural Light, Bright, Light and Airy Baby Family In Home or Outdoor Location Photography Sessions.
about tiffany chi photography
Watch my introductory video.
& featured work
My Motherhood Sessions have been featured on prominent Online Publications such as La Peche Journal, The Fount Collective, ShoutOut Los Angeles, and The Motherhood Anthology.
From California, to Paris, to Motherhood. This is my story.