On Becoming a Mother

Maternity photo shoot proves to be an emotional experience.

It all started with a can of DEET-free mosquito repellent, a tube of lip gloss, and a professional-grade digital camera…

A few weeks ago, Scotty and I took our first official mommy and son portrait. (Okay, technically, Scotty was -- and still is -- in utero; but as you well know by now, I like to get a jump on things.)

On a sunny yet tolerably warm Monday afternoon, professional photographer Ashley Reed came to casa Conover to chronicle my journey thus far on the road to motherhood, and I must admit that I was straddling the fence: While pregnancy is deemed a glorious, wondrous event -- one that makes a woman feel, well, womanly, it is also a time when, let’s face it, you don’t necessarily find yourself drawn to a camera lens. Yes, you have “that glow,” but you may also have “cankles” and toes that look like sausages.

Whether you feel photogenic depends on a multitude of variables.

But the fact remains, I will only be pregnant with my son once, I thought, and I was convinced that I would regret not having professional photos to capture this moment in time.

So there Ashley and I were, under a tree, drenched in pregnancy-safe bug spray because my backyard is not unlike the land of the Wild Things. I don’t know that I felt beautiful so much as I felt comfortable in my own skin and at ease around Ashley. The whole production lasted for an hour or so and involved approximately four changes of clothing. (Please see the photos above.) One ensemble -- comprised of jeans and a tube top -- included the actual helmet Scott wore while playing with the Detroit Lions and a onsie we had personalized with our last name and Scott’s jersey number; another get-up involved a bohemian-print skirt and a yard of turquoise tulle. I will say, however, that the greatest transformation wasn’t external -- it was internal.

My pregnancy, my future as a mother, my son…all of it became real in a way that it hadn’t before.

To be clear, I hadn’t been sleepwalking through the seven months leading up to that day; nor had I been just going through the motions. As far as I am concerned the train had left the station on New Years Eve the moment Scott and I found out we would become parents. We knew in our bones that our lives would never be the same. We knew that our focus had shifted. And, best of all, we knew -- at once -- that this was what we both wanted more than anything.

Yet, something truly clicked when, during the photo shoot, I gently placed my hands on my swollen belly and felt my son move. Yes, I had felt that before, that special Oh, wow! moment when you feel -- and see -- verifiable proof that you are indeed creating a life. But here’s the difference between when it happened in front of Ashley’s camera and when it happened, say, in the recliner watching Bravo while noshing on a bowl of cherries: I now had a photo to commemorate it. Meaning, years from now, when I look at that image, I’ll remember precisely what I was feeling -- literally. I’ll recognize -- just from my expression alone -- that Scotty was giving me a little nudge or push as a way of saying, “I’m in here, Mommy…and I’m on my way!”

It was, unequivocally, the best feeling in the world.

And those “cankles”? Well, I wasn’t even thinking about them.


Check back here next Friday for another "Waiting for Baby" entry.

Sandy Phillips Kline July 29, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Hi Courtney - - you are a beautiful woman and Scott is a lucky little man! I never felt as beautiful as when I was pregnant. What a special privilege to be able to create and nurture life, and I'm sure you'll never seem more beautiful to your husband, either, as you do right now, carrying his son. Enjoy this time! --Sandy-- PS - my "baby" just turned 18 yesterday, and he still makes me glow with pride!
Courtney Conover July 29, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Sandy, Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to read this column -- and leave a comment. Your words only serve to reiterate that this is indeed a very special time. As uncomfortable as I am, I really am soaking all of this in because I know the day will come when I look at my son and think about the time when he was a little peanut inside my belly. Sincerely, Courtney
Betsy McKeeman August 02, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Courtney! I'm so beyond thrilled for you and Scott. Congratulations!
Courtney Conover August 06, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Betsy!! Thank you so much! Your message is an awesome surprise...Who is the precious peanut in your photo? What a cutie!


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