How to Have a Baby When You’re a Wedding Photographer with Vanessa Joy
It’s impossible. At least that’s what most of us women think. After all, we know that we can’t miss a wedding we’re booked for no matter what happens, short of a terrorist attack (and even that is covered in my contract). There are no sick days, no calling out and, as far as a lot of people are concerned, no birthing days either.
I have witnessed horrible behavior not only toward me, but also wedding colleagues who dared to start a family. It wasn’t anything I wanted to experience for myself. Like so many others, I thought pregnancy would ruin my life. I once had a mother of the bride call me a month before the wedding, and the first thing she said to me was, “You’re not pregnant, are you? Because the hair lady and florist both are, and it’s ruining everything.”
It gets better. I once had a potential bride sit down for a consultation with me who said, “We love your work and would love to hire you, but we’re a little concerned that you’ll be starting a family soon.” Wow. I tried to convince her that I wasn’t, but she still didn’t hire me.
So where does that leave us workingwoman wedding photographers? Childless? No. It means we have to be more informed and ready than most women who are thinking about having a child. Countless women have asked me about this topic ever since I wrote “6 Reasons Why I Hid My Pregnancy for 8 Months” on my blog (https://vanessajoyphotographyblog.com/2014/04/6-reasons-why-i-hid-my-pregnancy-for-8-months). Here’s the best advice I can give to anyone looking to have a family and a career.
Think More About What Comes After
A lot of couples make the mistake of thinking about and planning for the wedding more than they do the marriage. It’s the same thing with babies. So many women think more about the pregnancy and delivery more than bringing the baby home and caring for it. It’s only natural, because what it takes to care for a child is beyond a nonparent’s imagination. Think of it this way: There are no sick days—you have responsibilities all day, every day.
You might not have the luxury to plan your childbirth around your wedding schedule, but at the very least, you need to plan for one to two months away from work after the birth. Sure, you may hear about the hero moms who shoot a wedding two days after giving birth, but they are the exception, not the rule.
Even if everything goes swimmingly, you will need at least one month, preferably two, in order to get to your new definition of normal. You’ll need an extraordinary amount of help for the first two months. If you’re not already outsourcing everything you possibly can, now’s the time to start putting that into practice. Get a family member or friend to start a TakeThemAMeal.com account for you so you can get help at home too. If people want to come see the baby, let them, but have them help you out while they’re there.
Have a Plan
After the craziness of the first two months, you’ll get into what your normal routine should look like. Even nonroutine people are going to develop some sort of routine. Your routine might not look like a color-coded calendar, but a child needs to eat and sleep on a regular schedule.
Now think about what you want that routine to look like. Don’t think about the daily routine yet—that’ll come once you learn how your kid operates and how you operate with them. How many days a week do you plan on working for five or so consecutive hours a day? You’ll need to figure out childcare for those days and times. Do you plan to work only during your child’s naps and bedtimes? Learn all about sleep training now so you can get them sleeping on a predictable schedule. You will be too tired and busy to read a book on the subject after the baby arrives. I used Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old, and it worked like a charm.
Stay in Shape
There are some circumstances in pregnancy that you cannot avoid, and others that you can. Do your best to eat healthy and exercise while pregnant within your doctor’s guidelines. Though you’ll want to, being pregnant is not an excuse to let it all go. Being pregnant is training for a marathon.
You’re about to do the most difficult and miraculous thing a human being can do, and typically it’s not a sprint to the finish. Labor lasts hours and hours, so being in good shape is a really nice way to help that along as well as help you shoot weddings late into your pregnancy. Stay within your pregnancy capabilities and your doctor’s limitations, but be active through your pregnancy as much as possible.
I saved this for last because it’s probably the biggest thing on your mind right now: How can I make sure I don’t miss a wedding?
As hard as you try, life happens. If your precious event happens at an inconvenient time, if you need more bed rest than you expected, if your postpartum recovery is harder than you’d reckoned, you just might miss a wedding. That’s okay.
Your contract should specify what will happen if you can’t be at a wedding and need a replacement. Your clients will have signed off on it, so, although they will be disappointed, you’ll save yourself with that contract. But you’ll still be there handholding your clients before and after the wedding. But most importantly, it’s okay because you already know in your heart that no wedding will ever be as important as the incredible gift of your beautiful child.
Watch this video for the life-saving baby tools I used with my daughter Felicity.