My Last

She was all ours. There’s this moment, this rush, as your baby leaves you and enters the world, that she is suspended between time, the private world of the two of you, and the public world where happiness and sadness await her.

From the first whisper of her presence, Nora was our surprise baby. She was nothing like her siblings, whose conceptions were meticulously charted and scientifically controlled in various sterile and lonely offices. Our journey to parenthood was long and lonely, measured in days, months, breaths, tears, years, and finally two miracles. First came Lucy, all sunshine and kindness wrapped in one incredibly beautiful, artistic soul. Then Jack, adventure and energy, emotion and movement. We had one of each, and as everyone told us, we were so, so lucky! Growing a family is a heart-rending business; how do you start and how do you stop, and how do you grow when the growing process is so heart-breaking. So, I told everyone two is perfect and stored away the secret longings for more. I wanted more baby, more sleepless nights, more perfect milky smells and snuggling on my chest, a baby's warmth and weight, but I kept those dreams quiet in my heart.

One lazy Saturday morning I woke up and it was different. I was different and I knew--no tests, no drugs, no interventions. But I knew. Three pregnancy tests later, our breath held, our hearts stilled, we both knew that life holds unexpected magic. Nora quietly made her presence known, and I felt it. It’s been hard for me to understand my body. After so many years and false hopes, I had lost faith in it, but I shouldn’t have. Lucy’s miracle announced itself in a half dream. I knew IVF was successful, and it was a girl before any pregnancy test and ultrasound confirmed. Nora was the same, in my sleepy dream state, I felt her, and I’m learning to trust--to let go of my mind and embrace what my heart and soul already knows.

Nora continued to be a surprise. Her pregnancy was different. I have hazy memories of this bittersweet time, filled with illness after illness, morning sickness, and a dark cloud, much like the inversion that winter, hung over me. I mourned the final moments alone with my 3-year-old as he held my hand and whispered, "I love you Mama." Somewhere in the midst of this, I decided I wanted to try a natural birth. It was our last. It was always a question and desire, and for this final baby, I wanted to try. The decision was made in the final weeks of pregnancy, weak with a relentless case of bronchitis, my breath shallow and labored. I felt like a shadow and I yearned to feel strong, to breath deep, and reclaim myself. We prepped as best we could, read stories and books, and detailed a birth plan. And then we waited.

Nora did not come early, like the other two. She didn’t come a week ahead of schedule, on St. Patrick’s Day, although I dreamed my Irish Grandpa was going to send her from heaven, and I had an Irish name chosen just for the occasion. She didn’t come on her due date although it snowed on that day, and all my babies arrived on snowstorms. She didn’t come during dance parties or speed walking. She didn’t come when a stranger offered her reflexiology services, massaging my feet and instructing me to Lamaze breathe. She didn’t come after days of stop and go contractions, and my Dr.’s advice to be induced. I suddenly felt empathy for every past due pregnant Mama. Those days are measured in years, not minutes.

She didn’t come two days later either when my contractions started up in the middle of dyeing Easter Eggs, and we managed to flood the bathroom and lose a wedding ring in the rush to get out of the house. She didn’t come when I woke up at 6 am the following morning to Google false labor.

But, she made her intentions clear moments later, a mere movement in bed, and my body was suddenly on a collision course.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like waking up and knowing a baby is coming minutes later. This final birth I had decided to go all in. Cookies for nurses and staff made, candles purchased, two pages of a birth plan filled out. I had read in one of my birthing books that you should make a very detailed list of your perfect birth plan. Then you should burn it in a ceremony because it is most definitely not going to happen the way you plan on it happening. In hindsight, that’s the best advice I have ever read.

Later, at one of Nora's check-ups, I walked the distance we drove that morning at 6:30 am. It’s .9 miles to the hospital from our house. It felt like en eternity, that early morning drive, but never have I been more grateful that we live so close to care and help. When we bought our house, they were still building the hospital, and we weren’t even sure what the building was. The bright lights shining past our house, through the park, looking down on us. Little did I know that our babies would all be born there--that my pregnancy and Dr.’s visits, and baby and childcare visits would all happen within those walls. I get sentimental about a lot of things.

But on the morning of March 25th, I was confused. "Intense" is what my Doula liked to say in our consults, and sure, I’ll go with that. But also, a military invasion, a revolt. A haphazard battle that was supposed to be controlled, but I was losing the war. Wasn’t there supposed to be time? Maybe my body was an ocean? But there was no break in the waves, as they crashed over and over each other, as I stood alone in our hallway. Prioritizing what needed to happen, a shower? But there was only one priority, get to the hospital, get to the hospital right now. All those days of starts and stops, and questions if this was it?! There were no questions now. This was happening and it was happening immediately.

We waited at the two stoplights it took to get there. Waited with the sky dark, the roads empty, seat belts off, and I remember the beep, beep, beeping, and not understanding what that meant. Scott dropped me off. Neither one of us knows why that happened, as he parked, and I desperately tried to walk alone to where I needed to be. One look on my face, and I was directed to a room, no insurance taken, just my name.

It was shift change, obviously. So I remember swarms of people, and no Dr. I remember asking desperately for a bath, my doula, my Dr., my husband. The husband made it, but no one else did. The birth plan didn’t make it out of the suitcase, which was still in the car, and the oils, clothes, music, pictures of the kids, to keep up motivated! All stayed safely packed away, to be pulled out once we made it home two days later. Although we did break out those cookies for the kind nurses that we barely got to know, who put their hands on my shoulders and instructed me to breathe.

I remember asking for an epidural now please. And saying I think I made a mistake. I don’t want to do this anymore. And I would still really like that bath?

The details are hazy a year later. I remember feeling all the pain, but also confusion. I had envisioned massages and words of confirmations. Ebbs and flows that I could control. Pain management techniques, and a deeply spiritual experience that I was fully connected with. Instead, My brain and body were at war, and I was alone in confusion, my soul floating above, watching it all. I had been in the hospital for 5 minutes.

Scott remembers walking in just as the nurse called out, “She’s an eight!” He remembers rubbing my head and telling me he loves me. He remembers the nurses telling me to lie down as I tried to get up. He remembers holding my hand and legs, and without a single push, Nora flew into the surprised nurse’s hands.

I remember a sense of clarity, a realization that this baby is coming. THIS BABY IS COMING RIGHT NOW. A feeling of complete abandonment as my body took over, and I was both observer and active participator. I remember my entire world and purpose condensing to this one moment, and everything in my body screaming this baby into existence. Then she was here.

It was a scene from a movie, and not one bit as we imagined it would be, as Nora raced into this world at 6:52 am. She came like a sudden storm that rolls over the mountains, fierce and intense and just as suddenly, the calm after.

“Oh, a baby!” I had forgotten that part. And I kept repeating that. "A baby. A baby."

Nora was laid in my arms, I looked down, and she was perfect. All that rush to get here, and now she calmly looked at me, peaceful and observant. She stared into my eyes, and I hers. She had the beautiful dark hair of her siblings, and a pure, sweet loveliness all her own.

I held Nora in my arms, Scott leaning over us, and we marveled at her newness--tiny hands, such a little nose and sweet lips, her bright eyes looking up at me with an infinity of love. She was all ours. There’s this moment, this rush, as your baby leaves you and enters the world, that she is suspended between time, the private world of the two of you, and the public world where happiness and sadness await her. You feel all the responsibility and joy in that instance. It’s always been such a gift to me be aware of that sacred moment, right before your heart bursts with more love than you ever thought possible. As I stared and stared, my brain finally caught up to what just happened, and the tears burst out.

From our earliest dreams of a baby mapped out in the summer of a Roman vacation, to our years of infertility, to Nora’s grand entrance into this world, nothing went according to plan. Nora joined our family at a time when I had given up hope of ever conceiving a baby on our own. She reaffirmed that life is unscripted. That it's not fair, but so much more beautiful then fair and more precious than anything you could ever dream yourself. I spent years wishing to know the future. If I just knew, I cried, I could relax into the waiting. I could live life now. I would find joy now, instead of waiting for the tomorrow of tousled hair, arms heavy, and legs climbing my body like a personal jungle gym. I didn’t know. I didn’t know then that we had to walk that path. That path gave us an impenetrable marriage. That path gave us empathy and strength. It gave us trials. It gave us time. It narrowed our priorities and refined our desires. That path gave us our children: Lucy, Jack and Nora. That path gave us Heaven on Earth.

Photos by the talented and beautiful Ciara Richardson Photography.

Mari and Blake | Utah Family Photographer

The raising of a child is the building of a cathedral. You can’t cut corners
— Dave Eggers

Mari and Blake, from bride and groom, to models, to parents, to some of my favorite people, are absolutely doing this parenting thing right. It was such a treat to watch them love, love, love on their kids. You can see it. They find so much joy in parenthood, and it's inspiring to witness. Tantrums were had, there were tears, and it didn't matter, and didn't slow down their roll. Honestly, life isn't made of perfect moments. It's made of a whole lot of small, imperfect ones. Those are the ones we need to grab onto, because I tell you, every time you put away too small clothes, you get a little heartsick that this moment is gone. A new one is coming and it's pretty amazing too, but enjoy those little every day ones, because together they make a life.

Berry Editorial | Utah Wedding Photograp

You are always new, the last of your kisses were ever the sweetest.
— John Keats

I was pulling images for a friend, and came across these, my very first shoot that I had put together with fellow artists. I was pregnant with baby number two, and there was a fire storm, literally raging all around us in the mountains and foothills. This was before flower crowns were really a thing and hand crafted the one Mari is wearing. I've since used it for a costume almost every year since. My husband make the cakes, and we rented a U Haul. I don't think we really knew what we were doing or what we were getting into, but I love the pictures still so much, years later. Trying something new, reaching out to locations, and not knowing if the whole shoot would fail, and riding the anticipation and excitement and pushing through all of that is both exhausting and exhilarating. But more than a pretty picture of pretty people in pretty places, I loved the camaraderie of a female team of artists. There was no competition or ego, instead a beautiful group of women inspiring each other to be our best. It was my first time working with many of them, but now I can call them friends, and that is my favorite memory of this day. Hot and sweaty, and grateful. A huge thanks to,

Sarah Winward: Florals
April Benincosa: HMU
Jayne Lever/October Ink: Paper
Mari and Blake Tengberg: Bride and Groom
Melissa Blackburn: Gown

Erica and Tanner | Utah Spring Wedding

Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

There is one weekend where this tree blooms in full glory at the Salt Lake Temple. Erica and Tanner timed their wedding jussssstttt right. Today I'm grateful for the warm weather, spring that is just around the corner, and sunshine clients that are pure joy.

Venue: This is the Place | Dress: The Bride Shop | Florals: Amy Curtis | Invitations: Piper Morgan | Cake: Cakes de Fleur | Videographer: David Perry | Bridesmaids Dresses: ModCloth | Groom's Suit: Express | Rentals: Rent Event Utah and Diamond Rental | Groom's Tie: Waltman Co

Ballard Family | Utah Family Photographer

There is sunshine and warmth today, and it has started filling up the bits and pieces of my heart that lie dormant every year. It's going to snow again soon, but we are moving towards longer days, damp earth, and the messy, muddy stops and starts of Spring.

This little mini session is one of my past couples, 8 years ago! It's such a joy to see Meghan and Cole's family grow and the love they hold between them. XOXO

Chelsea | Utah Bridal Photography

Music must be seen, and dance must be heard
— George Balanchine

Chelsea has been a part of my family's life since she was a little girl. First I taught her, then she watched my babies, and now she is married and living life with love and grace and kindness. I was lucky to photograph this beautiful ballerina for her wedding, as pretty as a fairy tale, but with all the strength of character of the best of heroines. We love you Chelsea!

Gown: The Perfect Dress Bridal ~ Florals: La Fete

Ballet | Utah Wedding Photographer

Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.
— Martha Graham

I started this new website and blog last year, literally weeks before I had my third (final? tears) baby. It was, as with all things with me, emotional. The old website kept crashing, emails didn't make it through, I had to change. But I had a lifetime of my children on the other site. And I didn't have the technical knowledge (as always) to save it. I tried downloading several programs and I kept getting errors, and it was super confusing, and I was days away from having a baby. So, I did what any non-technical literate person would do. I screenshot the entire thing, love letters to my daughter, pictures of my new son (now 4 years-old,) and cried with frustration at my inability to properly capture and time. Sometimes I feel this immense responsibility of memory keeping, but then technology keeps changing, and I'm so slow to keep up. My first daughter's life is on a defunct Blogspot, and a defunct website. My son is on Instagram. Nora, I'm trying to be better, but third kid. She's a lost cause already, right?

All this to say, is somehow I started curating myself and cutting all the personal stuff out. It became overwhelming to keep up, and I was in the trenches with motherhood as it were, and it was easier to just pop up some pretty work, and call it good. But then I lost a little bit of me, the stories in my heart that were just as loud as ever, but not heard. This website is new, although I've been around a long time, and I now have another chance to figure it out, and make mistakes as I go, hopefully new ones.

This space is now going to be getting a little more personal, and mixing motherhood and life and my worries into this space, because it's mine and I want it to feel that way. I'm going to stop worrying if I'm mixing the right amount of personal with the right amount of business savvy. Let's be honest, I never had much business savvy to begin with. Instead, I had a whole lotta heart. I want to show that more.

And tying it back to that time, which these pictures all brought up, this was the last shoot I did before I had my baby last year (again, tears.) I was so pregnant and I was so sick. I had bronchitis and it was rough. Allison and I had this beautiful idea, percolating for years, and when we got our hands on a Leanne Marshall dress we ran/danced with it. Sometimes I feel like pictures like these aren't real. It's not real life to dress up in a flowing gown and dance with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm selling false goods. But also, sometimes I think it's okay to dream a little bit--to immerse yourself in a little extra beauty. To buoy up your heart when it's cold and windy outside, when the world seems hard and extra grey.

So, here's to dreaming with one of my dear friends, to putting her talented Sophie in a beautiful gown. To having a few hours of creativity and inspiration, to re-committing to yourself as a woman, artist, mother, creator, dreamer.

This shoot is also in the beautiful pages of Belle Lumère. If you ever need a pick-me-up, seeing your work in print sure is a good antidote.

Florist/Stylist: La Fete | Gown: Leanne Marshall | Model: Sophie Baddley Studio: Charcoal Loft

Peggy | Utah Boudoir Photography

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
— Maya Angelou

This was my first Boudoir shoot, ever and I realized something during our shoot, a collaboration between women, me, Peggy and her support network. It wasn't just about beauty and style, which, let's be honest, the space was amazing and Peggy is absolutely gorgeous, but the juxtaposition of vulnerability and strength. I felt like I had a window into a intimate space, embracing all that is feminine and fierce. I felt so much beauty this day, inner shining bright.

If you would like to do a similar shoot or maybe something a little different, bridal boudoir, maternity boudoir, freaking awesome Mom who is killing it and being a woman boudoir, email me at greenapplephotography@gmail.com, and let's chat!

Katelin and Tony | Zion Wedding

Keep close to Nature’s heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
— Jon Muir

I fell in love a bit with Katelin when I first met her. More than her natural beauty, was her natural calm and sweetness. Her desire to bring together all of her and Tony's worlds, and honor the beautiful wedding location Zion National Park, intimate and grand. Bringing together friends and family in a beautiful Ceremony under a huge Cottonwood tree, along the Virgin river and red rock mountains, is a recipe for perfection. I was newly pregnant with my sweet surprise Nora, and I'll never forget this wedding, in the shadow of my favorite place on Earth, surrounded by people who loved and supported Katelin and Tony deeply. Their gorgeous wedding is currently on newstands in Utah Bride and Groom Magazine, and it's a stunning edition, filled with work from many friends! If you need a little inspiration, I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy!

Vendors: Dress: Love and Lace Bridals | Florals: By Bloomers | Rings: 9th and 9th Jewelers | Venue: Cliffrose Lodge | Cake: Sweet Tooth Fairy | Planner and Rentals: Zion Party Rentals | Invitations: Jann Marie | Videography: Maggie Glendenning | Catering: Wildcat Willies

Sarah and Jake | Utah Family Photographer

I like dogs
Big dogs
Little dogs
Fat dogs
Doggy dogs
Old dogs
Puppy dogs
I like dogs
A dog that is barking over the hill
A dog that is dreaming very still
A dog that is running wherever he will
I like dogs.
— Margaret Wise Brown

If you are lucky you get to have a friend like Sarah in your life. She's always there for you, no matter what. She will check in when you are sad, remember important life events, and share her love of life. She photographed my last pregnancy and they are some of my happiest moments. I was honored to photograph her with her loves. Love you Sarah and family!

Courtney and Josh | Utah Autumn Wedding

I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.
— Charlotte Brontë

Sometimes you are given the opportunity to photograph couples that feel like family. Courtney and Josh are one of those couples. I had photographed both their sisters weddings, and have watched the families grow, and I feel so in love with them. I sometimes feel like they are my family and that's the best way to feel about those whose special memories are in your care. I want all that is good and beautiful for Courtney and Josh, and am incredibly grateful to share in their day.

Gown: Hayley Page from Alta Moda | Catering & S'more Bar: Lori Tolbert Catering | Videographer: Fielding Films | Venue: This is the Place Heritage Park | Flowers: Ella Rose Floral & Rachel Osguthorpe | Groom's Suit: Utah Woolen Mills | Rings: OC Tanner | invitation: Watercolor by Aimee Ferree, typography by October Ink | Music: Joe Muscolino HMAU: Natalie Cook and Brooke Cook

Greenhouse Bridals | Wedding Paper Divas

A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in—what more could she ask?
A few flowers at her feet and above her the stars?
— Victor Hugo

Paper Goods and Sponser: Wedding Paper Divas | Florals: La Fete Floral and Design |
Gown: Leanne Marshall | Gown: Shop Gossamer | Cake: Flour and Flourish | Hair: Eliza Griffiths | Make-up: Lesley Lind | Venue: Cactus and Tropicals | Models: Tiffany Pliler & Mari Tengberg