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Maggie's Birth Story | The Barrier At-Home Family Session | Pittsburgh, Pa

"For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mother. I dreamed of having an unmedicated birth, that was calm, sensual, and empowering. "- Maggie

I am so excited to share the Barrier's family photos from their at-home session here in Pittsburgh. Maggie and Andrew have a quaint home tucked away from the city while still being 15 minutes away from all the hustle and bustle of city life. Laura, their first only four months old was the sweetest to photograph. The day could not have been more perfect and we captured some truly beautiful moments that will live on in these photos.

I knew from the moment that Maggie and I talked that I wanted her to share her birth story with the world. Maggie dreamed and envisioned a beautiful birth experience for many years but when that dream was taken she was left mourning the loss of that experience. In sharing her story I hope that more women can find solace in knowing they aren't alone and their pain is valid.

Read more about Maggie and her journey as a new mom coping with an unexpected c-section.

Barrier family photo at their home in Pittsburgh, PA by LeeAnn K Photography
Maggie, Laura & Andrew sitting on their swing in their front yard for their at-home family session in Pittsburgh, Pa

What's your favorite part about being a mom?

Portrait of a Mom holding her baby in the air while standing in the nursery by LeeAnn K Photography

Without a doubt, my favorite part of motherhood is getting to watch her grow and learn everyday knowing my husband and I created someone so beautiful and so perfectly her.

The days may be long, the moments fleeting, but the influence I have on this little person will last her lifetime.

Lifestyle family portrait of a mother and her baby for an in-home family session in Pittsburgh, Pa by LeeAnn Stromyer

20 years from now what do you hope you'll remember? What do you want your children to remember?

I want to remember Laura’s tiny little toes, her sweet toothless smile, her joyous little laugh, her wonder and awe in everything this world has to teach her. The pure joy Andrew and I feel looking at our perfect baby. I want to remember diving in and being present in each day.

Lifestyle family portrait with a baby and her parent by LeeAnn K Photography

Not the stress of what’s to come, the mess of my house, or what I cannot change - I want to remember experiencing life with my kids (hopefully there will be more 🤣), exploring this beautiful world, learning from others, cherishing the love of a happy family, and soaking it all in.

In-home baby portrait by LeeAnn K Photography

I want Laura to remember a childhood filled with love, laughter, exploration, and learning. I want her to have fond memories of seeing the world with parents who will jump right in and explore with her - the adventurous hikes through national parks, nights camping in all kinds of weather, seeing the grandest museums, experiencing different cultures, learning something new everyday, and being supported when stepping out of her comfort zone.

Candid baby portrait  for an in-home family session by LeeAnn K Photography

What are some challenges you've faced as a mom, how did you work through them?

By far my biggest challenge in motherhood has been Laura’s birth.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mother. I dreamed of having an unmedicated birth, that was calm, sensual, and empowering.

Close up portrait of a mother and baby holding hands by LeeAnn Stromyer

I wanted to let my body birth naturally and enjoy every step of the way. I got that in my pregnancy but not in my birth. During my pregnancy, I educated myself on every aspect of the birth process, my midwives practices, hospital procedures, etc and came up with a birth plan to help me achieve my goals. I covered it all, not expecting to need every element.

My labor with Laura started around 6:30 pm Friday, April 5th. My water broke on our way out the door for a simple Friday date night with my husband. I was 38 weeks and 3 days along in my pregnancy. I was excited that baby was ready to come a little early and that we finally made it to the labor and delivery stage of this pregnancy.

We didn’t know the gender of our baby at this point so we we’re ecstatic to finally be meeting our little baby. I immediately called my midwives and we set a plan in motion for when to come to the birth center and what I should be doing at home in the early stages of labor. I decided I still wanted to eat dinner and go get a few snacks for the birth center.

So in my adult diaper and sweatpants, we set off to Chick-fil-A and Target.

Lifestyle mother, daughter photo for their at-home family session by LeeAnn Stromyer

We chuckled at this ridiculous situation but I knew my body would take a while before this baby arrived so we had plenty of time. Once home we went to bed in an attempt to get as much rest as possible for the impending marathon that is active labor. I couldn’t sleep very well and my body was starting to experience contractions that quickly intensified. Through the night my contractions were every 2.5min and lasted about 45 seconds. We went to the birthing center around 9 am on April 6th.

My midwives checked me and agreed that since my water had already broken we should take some steps to encourage more intense labor. They stripped my membranes, I took castor oil, we started pumping to stimulate oxytocin release, and I climbed 86 flights of stairs that day. Andrew and I focused as much as we could on each other and this sweet baby we would be meeting so soon. We danced, laughed, walked, climbed, and prayed together.

It was everything I was hoping it would be so far.

Family portrait of a mother and her daughter for an at-home session in Pittsburgh, PA by LeeAnn K Photography

At around 4 pm when contractions had fluctuated in frequency and intensity all day my midwives decided it was time to transfer to the hospital to start Pitocin.

I was DEVASTATED. My dream of an out of hospital, unmedicated birth was shattered. I completely broke down and needed time to process.

After a 20 minute cry in the shower (that’s how I needed to process) I rallied, prayed with Andrew again and agreed that a hospital transfer was the best thing. We drove ourselves to the hospital and checked in. My midwife came with me and reestablished care there. We started Pitocin and I reset my mindset. Yes, I wasn’t having my unmedicated birth, but we were still going to meet our baby so soon. Hours went by of super intense contractions (thank you Pitocin - not!), my body went through transition, and it was time to push.

With several very strong contractions, baby descended and we prepped for her birth. Everyone was excited until moments later she turned and wedged herself STUCK. We tried everything to change her position with no luck. 2.5hrs later my midwife strongly encouraged me to try an epidural. Again, I was upset but wanted to meet my baby so I agreed.

Pushed again for another hour until the hospital OB came to talk about a C section. Again I was DEVASTATED. Everything about this birth was veering way off course from my dream.

At 4:24 am on April 7th, 36 hours after the start of labor, our beautiful daughter was born via c section. I was over the moon in love with her. Andrew and I could not believe this roller coaster of a weekend but we were just so happy to have our baby here with us.

Mourning my perfect dream birth has been the absolute hardest part of motherhood for me. I have felt as if I failed my baby, my body, and my husband.

BUT, I have worked really hard to surround myself with people, stories, and experiences that have helped me OWN our birth story and the uniqueness of it all. I have put in the work to heal physically - having had such a good recovery from a major surgery (thanks to my physical therapist!) - and continuing to put in the work to heal emotionally.

While this has been the hardest part, I would do it all again in a heartbeat just to have our darling Laura here with us, to love, teach, and cherish. Plus, I learned really early on kids have a way of making their own plans 🙈

At-home lifestyle family photo of mother and her daughter by LeeAnn K Photography

Black and white candid portrait of a mother and her baby. by LeeAnn K Photography

If you knew then what you know now what advice would you give yourself about being a mother?

Go with the flow.

Love yourself fiercely.

Give to yourself and your husband as much as you give to your baby.

You have to be your best self to be the best for your littles.

Same goes for your marriage. Judge less and support more. Soak up every moment, they go by too fast!

Lifestyle family photo of a family of three in their home for their at-home session with Pittsburgh family photographer LeeAnn Stromyer

Candid at-home family portrait by LeeAnn K Photography

Lifestyle family photo of a family in their home by LeeAnn Stromyer in Pittsburgh, Pa

Last little bit of knowledge from Maggie

Having been a professional nanny for several years I got to experience and practice most of the craziness that is raising children. Juggling multiple toddlers and an infant on outings, through mealtimes, nap times, and playtimes prepared me for motherhood more than any parenting book could have.

I am beyond appreciative for my time with those children, the trust their parents placed in me, and the lessons they taught me. I am confident in my ability to care for, teach, and raise my daughter thanks to those years of experience.

I’d recommend nannying to anyone before they have children of their own!

Fun, lifestyle  outdoor family portrait by LeeAnn K Photography

Black and white outdoor family portrait by LeeAnn K Photography


Hiya, I'm LeeAnn!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this mama's unique story.

I'm not just a family photographer, I'm a storyteller which is why I do my best to share the story behind the photos.

Maggie's story is one of many that needs to be shared and heard.

If you're a mama or a woman who loves reading others' stories you'll want to check other blog posts like this one -

A Single Mom by Choice

Interested in booking a family session or just want to stay in the loop on current blog posts, you can contact me directly or sign-up for my monthly newsletter.

Looking forward to connecting and having you in my corner!

Much love,



Hey friend!


I'm LeeAnn a Pittsburgh-based personal brand photographer helping womxn and queer-owned businesses create memorable brands with unique captivating photography.  

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