Grateful

This year has been weird and hard. 

I've experienced some of the happiest moments in my life, watching Lily and Roo grow and bond and become siblings who love each other fiercely and annoy the crap out of each other. The days are passing quickly, sometimes it feels like lightspeed and I wake up and the kids are just bigger, like it happened overnight. Lily is going into first grade and Roo is suddenly a very active little toddler. They amaze me every day. I keep asking time to slow down just a little bit, but it doesn't.

Over the winter, I found a lump in my breast. It took my breath away. I had signed up for an app called Check Yourself and it sends me monthly reminders to do a self exam. I found this lump, very small, but it was there and it wasn't there before. It completely freaked me out, as it had been so long since I'd been to a primary care doctor. I literally did not know what to do. I didn't know how to call a doctor's office and ask to be a new patient and also, I found a lump in my breast and am terrified. 

For a week before seeing my doctor, my perspective shifted. My world was rocked. It was awful. My mind went to terrible places. 

I won't drag anything out for dramatic effect. I am ok. I ended up having my first mammogram and a diagnostic ultrasound, and it was fine. It was a fibroid that they said might hang out in there or go away, and to keep checking and let them know if I notice any changes. 

In the three weeks between feeling it, having my doctor's appointment and then the mammogram, we celebrated Roo's birthday. I felt like a different person, like I was having an out of body experience. My spirituality suffered. I questioned everything and at the same time, prayed and begged for it to be nothing. 

I'm grateful that I'm ok. I'm in awe of those who aren't, but go about their lives and get shit done and have positive, inspiring things to say. It freaked me out how quickly I started thinking of "what ifs". It numbed me with fear many days. I hope I never feel that way again. I keep many friends in my heart and in my prayers who's lives are touched by cancer and disease. It's just not fair.

Life is moving fast. I'm terrified of missing it, to the point where I probably annoy the hell out of my family with photographing the mundane stuff. But that is where my heart sings. Those little everyday moments feed my soul. The stuff that most don't see as important - that's my whole world. 

So when I talk about how important photography is, I'm not feeding you a line. It's a lifeline. It ties us to each other. It keeps us afloat and it keeps us grounded. Seeing the people who are the most important to you, being vulnerable and unguarded, is a gift. We can all sit and smile for a camera. That's easy. But witnessing these little moments through a photo...it helps time slow down, just a little. 

And for that I'm grateful.

So if you haven't been to the doctor in a while, go. If you haven't done a self-exam in a while, do one. Don't wait. Don't let fear hold you hostage. Don't brush off your health. You are important. We need you here, in your family pictures. We don't ask that you're perfect, only present. 

I'm grateful for you. 

Me and Lily Motherhood Photography

To Andrew, On Your First Birthday

Dear Roo,

Today you are one. No amount of thought, self care or planning could prepare my mama heart for today. I rocked you to sleep last night, smelled your freshly washed little head (it smells like love) and smiled as your breathing grew deeper and you let out the gentlest and cutest of snores. We listen to a playlist of lullabies and songs that I compiled on my phone each night, and as I stood to put you in your crib, Seasons of Love came on. 

So I cradled you a little bit longer. I gave you a few more kisses on your apple cheeks. I let you wrap your chubby little finger s around my thumb and just listened to the song as we swayed.

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee...how do you measure a year in the life? How about loooooooove.....

Yeah, it felt a little corny, but we do corny pretty well in our family. 

Shannon Sorensen Photography Connecticut Newborn and Family Photographer

You were born one year ago after I spent a weekend putting my body under too much stress. I  moved furniture Friday night, had a newborn session Saturday morning, did more cleaning Saturday afternoon, photographed a 6 month old session Sunday morning, and then drove some bumpy backroads Sunday afternoon up to Central Massachusetts for my cousin's baby shower. I rubbed my belly and tried to ignore the ache that was present in my back. "I just did too much this weekend. I'll rest tomorrow."

Monday morning came and I dropped Lily off at preschool. It felt like you were going to fall out of me. There's no other way of describing it. There was low pressure and I was certain I was going into labor. A visit to the doctor told us there was no official progress, but something just felt off. I couldn't ignore it. We called Mimi to come down for back up. 

I spent the day with my feet up and Daddy picked up Lily from school. Mimi arrived around 4 and Daddy left for work. I got started making chicken tikka masala in the Instant Pot for dinner. I set the pot to cook and sat down on the couch to rest. And then I felt like I peed my pants a little. Ugh, I got up to go pee. There was some bleeding. I panicked. I finished up and stood to wash my hands and felt another gush. I knew that feeling. The same one I had with Lily. I sat back down on the toilet and took a deep breath. I hollered to Mimi that my water broke and that I needed my phone to call Sean. I immediately went into labor mode and all shame went out the door. Pants around my ankles, amniotic fluid coming out in gushes. There's no such thing as modesty once it's go time. 

Shannon Sorensen Photography

Sean came home and packed our bags. It was a feeling of calm excitement. Unlike when I had Lily, I knew what was ahead. I knew we would have a c-section. I knew that within a couple hours, you'd be in my arms. Lily would have a little brother. Our world would be forever changed. 

I hugged Lily tightly and explained as best and calmly as I could that Daddy and I were going to the hospital to have her baby brother. She was excited, but also tired from the day, as a four year old should be. She snuggled up on the couch with Mimi to eat dinner and watch Moana. We told her she could come visit in the morning to meet you. 

The next couple hours were a blur. We went to the ER, I got a wheelchair and the contractions started getting stronger. I was strangely grateful to be able to experience that part of labor. When I knew I'd have a scheduled c-section, it felt like something was taken from me, a bit of excitement and anticipation, the feeling of my body doing "what it should". So I was happy to go through those cramps, to feel that gross feeling of sitting in an oversaturated pad, because when your water breaks, it's not just a cute little gush and then it's over. Imagine someone intermittently turning a water faucet on over and over again, in different intensities and for a quick second or what feels like forever.

We went through all the registration once we were in a room. All the physical checks ("Yes, you're in labor!" "I KNOW.") and everything becoming very official, and a little scary ("Here, sign this form about what to do in case you might die in surgery."). Then I walked to the OR. Walked. Because life is weird. In my bare feet, holding my gown shut in the back (because sometimes you want a very small feeling of modesty, even when you are about to be laying butt naked on a metal table having your belly cut open).

Everything was different from your sisters birth this time around. Everything was more calm and expected. My OB came into the OR in rubber rain boots. Bright red. I'll never forget that. She's a smart woman, that Dr. Flagg. I remember sitting up and leaning forward, having my back numbed and the anesthesia being put in. No pain. Lying down under those super bright lights. I don't remember the lights being so bright when Lily was born. I had tears in my eyes and was exhausted then. This time, I was calm, well rested, excited. 

And then you were out! They put you on my chest and I got to see your face. There were tears, and I puked, which was weird, but you just snuggled up to me and we had time. Something I didn't have with your sister. I could look at your face, and study it, and you looked at mine. They didn't take you away from me. I got to hold you and recovery was spent with you and your daddy, not alone in a room that felt like a closet.

Andrew+3-6-17-28.jpg

I didn't plan on recounting the day of your birth like this. But I put my baby to bed last night and woke up with a one year old, so I am finding myself clinging to these details. I want to remember everything. This year went by so fast. It's been an odd juxtaposition of experiencing so much joy with you while the world seems to be hurting so much every day. I look to you to stay hopeful and focused, joyful and seeing the best in people. Together we enjoy the little things in life.

We've spent nearly every day together. I've watched you smile for the first time, learn to sit up, to laugh, to crawl and play. I've watched you get teeth, discover the joy of food (yes, it's amazing and you want to eat allll the things), and guzzle down milk like it's your job. We've spent sleepless nights rocking together, countless naps on the couch with your daddy, and lots of snuggles with your sister. You are a snugglebug to the core. 

Shannon Sorensen Photography
8B02603C-82D8-4A43-8FD1-D24915199E32.jpg

You're a funny little guy. You have a smile for everyone. You love watching people. You're not walking yet, but you are crawling SO fast. One of these days you are just going to take off running, I'm sure of it!

It's hard not to compare you to your sister. Not in a competitive way, but just in the way of observing how similar you are in some ways, and completely different in others. She is a sound sleeper, whereas you are restless and will wake at the sound of a creaking floor. She is a picky eater, whereas you are a bottomless pit and will eat us out of house and home. Some days you look exactly alike, and other days, I see distinctly different features, different glimpses of faces from different sides of our families. I see a lot of your Great-Grampa Clark in you and when you smile. I see your Uncle Jason (from baby pictures of his I've seen) in you when you are just waking up, cheeks full and red, sleepy eyes and crazy curly bedhead sticking out the back.

Shannon Sorensen Photography

I never dreamed I could feel so much joy and love in my life. Being your mama is the best job in the world. Watching you and your sister grow, and witnessing your relationship develop, is everything a mama could hope for. You are crazy about each other, but you also drive each other crazy in a way that only siblings can. She is so proud of you. She tells everyone we meet that you are her brother, and how old you are, and that sometimes you're a little pest, but you're a cutie patootie and she loves you. 

Andrew+3-6-17-48.jpg

I will miss having a baby in the house, but we're already on to the next stage. You are finding ways to entertain yourself, you're getting into everything, and you just make us laugh. You're finding your voice, imitating sounds (hiccups are your favorite) and we can see your little brain firing off something new every day. 

4E5B75CD-9FC9-4919-888C-103AAC8C91CD.jpg

If there's one thing I've learned in motherhood, it's that time will not slow down. There's no pause button. There are no retakes or do-overs. I struggled with so much when your sister was a baby. Everything felt so big and momentous and the passage of time scared me. So I am doing the best I can to savor each day, each snuggle, each dinnertime giggle and bedtime cuddle. I let go of your baby clothes (but keep a couple favorites), teething toys, and things that you no longer need. I prepare my heart for all the milestones to come, and I slowly chip away at filling out your baby book and organizing the photos, so many photos, of your first year. I forgive myself that I didn't write long blog posts for each month of your first year, as I did with Lily. I took more photos on my phone than with my "big, fancy camera". I am working on simplifying parenthood so I can enjoy you more, and worry less. There's a joke that the second child gets "less" because life is that much more chaotic and busy and crazy, but I feel like you are getting more of who I really am. You helped me find myself as a mother this year. You completed our family, and we just love you so much.

Happy first birthday, Mr. Sweet Face. 

Love,

Your Mama

Dreaming Big Creative Business Dreams

So, we're well into the new year....at least it feels like it. I intentionally avoided making resolutions because I know myself and by February I'll be looking at a list of these resolutions thinking "Hey girl, what were you thinking?" I tend to live an unplanned life, open to change and new directions, and while goal-setting is an admirable practice, it just hasn't been for me. I wind up disappointed in myself for not losing the weight, saving the money, keeping my house spotless and the other 5-10 things I try to convince myself I am capable of while running a business from home with a 4 year old and a baby on the way. 

Call it self awareness? Maybe I'm giving myself too much credit and I'm actually just lazy. It doesn't matter. I know myself well enough to know that setting goals is not my forte. 

But goodness gracious, I'm a dreamer. 

Shannon Sorensen Photography Dream Big Goal Setting

When I started my business 7 years ago, I dreamed of a day I'd be able to work from home and have a flexible schedule and do the mommy things I knew I'd want to do and live a life doing work I was truly proud of - and now I'm in the midst of that dream. It's reality. It's a lot of hard work and constantly trying to find the balance between working and being mom, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It seemed so far away for so long, I had so many days I'd come home from my office job feeling defeated, like I'd never actually reach the point where I could leave the life of working towards someone else's vision. 

And it's not easy, not by a long shot. There are still days of feeling defeated or uncertain, where I question if I'm actually kidding myself and should go get a job with regular hours and regular pay. But there's that part of me that will never give up because I hand over photos to a client and know that I am giving them something so incredibly special, that they'll treasure the way I treasure photos of my own family. It's about so much more than hours worked and money and the physical and mental wear and tear this job takes. It's having the privilege of witnessing some of the most special and personal moments in someone's life and ensuring that those memories are documented and treated like they're more precious than gold. 

So I keep showing up and dreaming big dreams, because I want to keep reaching higher and seeing where I can go from here. Instead of resolutions for a year, I dream of where I want to be next year, or five or ten years from now. Here are a few of my big, badass dreams on the horizon...

Open a studio.

I'm dreaming of having a space of my own where I can work, shoot and meet with clients privately. I'm picturing industrial, exposed brick with tall windows, maybe an old mill building. Funky but comfortable vibe. 

Get published.

I need to step outside my comfort zone and start collaborating with so many of the amazingly talented local New England vendors to make some big and beautiful shoots happen.

Shoot elopements worldwide.

Whether they're in Hartford or Boston or NYC or the Caribbean or Paris. Just saying. I'm not picky. Any day of the week, I love photographing couples who are eager to get started on married life. 

Shoot more documentary sessions with families. 

Raw, emotional, active, playful photos without a bit of posing. Tell these stories and inspire people to want more of these kinds of sessions. 

Hire an assistant.

If I had someone else to do more of the business end of things, I could spend more time on the art. 

And on a personal note, I'm going to add:

Buy a house.

Like a studio space, I want a home that we can call our own. A place that we can paint, knock down walls, do renovation projects, and really make our own. So the kids can come home from school and have a yard to go play in and a neighborhood to go bike riding and where we have some space to breathe. 


What are you dreaming of in the near to distant future? What steps can you start taking to make them a reality? How can I help and cheer you on?

Keep showing up. Keep doing the work. And please keep dreaming. 

5 years

Five years ago, I woke up to a small ray of light shining on my face as the sun rose over Scituate Harbor. It was a bright, sunny winter day, unseasonably warm in the 50s, and it was the day we vowed to spend our lives together as husband and wife. 

Read More