Birth Photography in Springfield-Branson, MO

Rebecca Block is a professional birth photographer in Springfield and Branson, Missouri. She photographs home births, birth centers, hospital births, and cesarean births. Her portrait work includes maternity, newborn, baby, “Fresh 48” newborns, and family photography. Rebecca is also a trained & experienced doula and lactation consultant serving the Springfield-Branson area and available for travel to other locations.

“She has chosen that good part”

I’ve been putting writing off this blog post for a few weeks while I gathered my thoughts. I knew what I wanted to do, but sometimes I have to wait for the right day and mood to write it. Today is that day. The days when I feel weighed down with worries and burdens of those around me are the perfect times to write stories [that I secretly hope people actually read]. You can skip to the bottom bolded section if you want the short version of what’s about to happen in our neck of the woods….I won’t hold a grudge. 😉

“[Rebecca, Rebecca], you are worried and troubled about many things.”

Isn’t it so much more personal when you put your own name in there? (Just in case you aren’t familiar, it’s the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.)

He’s been calling my name for a while now. To be a little more precise, since around the time we were preparing to live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for 6 months (summer of 2015). I knew it would be unlikely that I’d be able to attend births as a doula or birth photographer while I was there because of childcare situation/not knowing anyone. So I thought maybe I’d get the chance to work on some behind-the-scenes stuff for Hope for a Village. What really ended up happening is that my 30-year-old husband had to live in a dorm with a bunch of 18-to-20-year-olds because someone in the National Guard office here wouldn’t “let” him live in an apartment 15 minutes away from the base with his wife and two kids. And I drove them every evening when he was done with (You want to talk about stress? LOL! It was literally off the charts.) Needless to say, nothing much got done for the Hope for a Village website or anything else I wanted to do. (Like, oh I don’t know, maybe finish blogging an actual part 3, 4, and 5 from my last Haiti trip?!)

“But one thing is needed…”

This fall I quietly changed any portrait photography commissions I received to be a fundraiser for HFAV. I never shared it on Facebook, but told some people in person about it. I was afraid people would think I was crazy. It’s not your typical business model. I thought it would help fulfill that feeling of “what God wants me to do with this part of my life.” But something still wasn’t sitting right. I thought it would be an easy way to help fund a few small HFAV projects. And it has, and I’m SO grateful for that. But something still felt “off.”

Matt, meanwhile, kept asking me what I wanted to do in my life. I kept thinking, “Are you seriously asking me this? Haven’t we hashed this out a dozen times? I am 32, God has blessed my doula business to be so much busier than I ever imagined, I still get to have fun on the side with my art, I’m actively working on my IBCLC goal, and you’re asking what I want to do with my life?!

I think he might have heard what I wasn’t saying. Sometimes I’d sigh and say, “I wish I didn’t have to work so much. I really want to do ~blahblahblah~ for Hope for a Village.” He told me multiple times I didn’t have to work so much anymore if I didn’t really want to. We were at a place now financially where I could actually do that (but I was having trouble accepting that since this was a new thing to us. Since he kept saying things like this and he has a knack for seeing things I can’t, I took some time to think about it. What did I really want to do with my life? What was most important to me at this phase in my life?

Eventually I had two lists in my head of personal and professional goals. What I wanted:

  • Finish my IBCLC certification
  • to use the business skills I’ve gained the past 9 years to help improve Hope for a Village behind the scenes
  • to use my training and experience as a lactation consultant and doula to help change families’ health & lives (…ultimately, in Haiti)
  • to live somewhere with better academic choices/opportunities for my boys
  • to spend more time outdoors (I was missing it – and my garden – because of too much work.)
  • to live simply, not surrounded by electronics and busy things that were slowly creeping their way into my home
  • to not be so busy that I can’t make art for the pure enjoyment of making it (not just when someone wants to pay me for it)
  • to spend more time with my family and friends
  • to spend more time in the presence of God

…and what I didn’t want:

  • to be stuck inside at a computer all day (which I do a lot of for business purposes)
  • to lose track of what is most important in life because I’m always working
  • to lose the time and effort (and a $900 scholarship) I had already put into completing my 90-hour lactation course that would count towards the IBCLC exam
  • to choose a place to live based on job opportunities but lacking in outdoor recreation and large-scale gardening opportunities (we want to grow fruit trees and berries and have bees)
  • to get caught up in the busyness of a big city that I forget I wanted all of the things on List 1

I had to swallow some pride to accept that the first two things were what I truly wanted to do right now as far as career goals went. And that I needed to lay down some others that were keeping me too busy for the other things on that first list. Especially the last one….because just One thing is needed…..and being so busy with other things made it easy to put off THAT thing. (Yet that is the thing that keeps me sane during my workdays!)

“…and [she] has chosen that good part…”

Y’all this is the best line! (That’s why I used it as the blog title.) 😉 The good part is Him! He is the honored guest in Mary and Martha’s home. He is the one for whom Martha was trying so hard to prepare a wonderful meal. I don’t blame Martha too much…I think she truly had a heart to serve those she loved (as well as strangers in her home!). But it’s so easy to get distracted from the most important things when you’re always looking after other people. It doesn’t mean she loved Jesus any less. She just needed a reminder.

Mary realized something Martha hadn’t yet. She recognized the need to stop serving and took the opportunity to feed her soul. She gave up the busyness of her life to be with Him. She sat down to rest and listen, learn, and rejoice with HimJesus was her choice.

I love doula work, but I feel like right now I need to slow down on that so I can refocus on Him. Slowing down will also enable me to accomplish those first two goals (and some of those lifestyle changes). I believe God has big plans for ministering to the Cotes-de-fer area, both physically and spiritually. When I’m caught up in the busyness of running a business, it’s hard to do that. And it’s hard for me to sit at the feet of Jesus and really listen and learn. And He’s been calling my name…

The funny part is…when I do work on things for HFAV, I feel closer to God. It makes me think about His ways, His words, His truth. It makes me feel so much smaller and makes Him feel so much bigger and real than any type of ministry I’ve done here. I know Christianity is not supposed to be all about our own feelings, but the fact is that we are made in His image, and emotions are going to be a part of our walk with God. And it’s partly unexplainable for me….but some of you know what I mean. You just know that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s a peace that passes all [human] understanding.

So this is what this all looks in a practical sense:

  • I’ll be scaling back on how many births I do. (Actually I’ve already started this.) Right now I am aiming for lower-stress situations for me….that probably sounds really selfish to people who aren’t birth workers but that’s what I need to do right now to accomplish these other things. So I’ll still greatly appreciate your referrals, but I may not take on every family that asks. I’ll just refer them on to other good doulas that I know and trust.
  • I’ll be looking for a mentorship or place(s) to get my 500-1,000 hours. I need about 10 consistent hours at a clinic every week over the next 2-3 years to complete either pathway.
  • I’ll be dedicating certain hours as a routine each week to working on Hope for a Village. This means finding childcare for my over-the-top, energetic, can’t-turn-my-back-on-him preschooler. Momma needs a break every now and then. 😉
  • I’ll take on commissioned portraits of mommas and babies if they happen to come my way, and for the time being they will continue to be as a fundraiser for HFAV. Eventually those might also be a personal funding source for my trips there, but for now this will help with some HFAV projects. I don’t plan on putting in very much effort to this right now so I can focus on HFAV and doing my hours each week. Eventually I’d love to find a way to sell art online, but that’s a later goal…
  • I’ll be doing less posting on my business Facebook pages (but possibly blog more birth stories, art, and personal photos). In general, less time on Facebook (I hope). I get a lot of business through FB and I feel like I’m constantly on there replying to messages and creating posts. It makes me feel extra-busy and I need a break from it.
  • I’ll be trying to see more people face-to-face over coffee or park playdates with our kids, or on the Marco Polo app. (It’s a video chat app on both Android and iPhone that makes it a lot easier to see someone’s face when you talk than some other popular apps out there. I LOVE seeing the beautiful faces of friends whom I don’t get to see very often because of time or distance! I’ve already had so many good, real conversations with friends on there this spring. It’s so much better than seeing their posts on Facebook as a way to keep up! Please let me know if you download it and want to add me. (I think we each have to plug each other’s phone numbers in our phones to get each other to show up.)
  • We will eventually be selling our house and finding a place with more land. This is correlated to the timing of some additional training my husband has to do for the National Guard. In the next few years we will have to spend time in Texas and St. Louis before finding our land. No, we don’t have dates yet. It’s the military. We continue to wait…So right now I’m purging the house of a lot of things we don’t need!

Ultimately I would like to use my experience as a lactation consultant, doula, and business owner in Haiti to help improve maternal-infant outcomes there, just like I do here. But God calls people to work in different locations for different reasons….Human borders are nothing to the way God works. Thankfully my many imperfections and inabilities don’t matter; He can work around those (ever read about Moses and how bad of a public speaker he thought he was?) These are all just little steps along the way to that vision. When I’m done with these I’ll move on to more intensive language-learning of Creole and French. But one thing at a time. 😉

haiti-portraits

Missy

I am so happy for you Rebecca. Thank you for sharing your heart. This blog is written from a place of peace. I can totally feel that. It’s amazing how God is revealing Himself to you and through you. Its amazing how life with God works. It’s amazing how God sometimes uses the simplest of situations to stear us towards the directions He wants us to go and how He helps us to realize that the things that used to matter suddenly have less meaning and still able to have a sense of peace about it all. God is just amazing!

Art for Purchase: “Behold, I make all things new”

behold I make all things new

This image is copyrighted by International Copyright laws. Please support the artist and do not screen shot, print, or otherwise copy this image to any device. BUT, feel free to share the link to this page with your friends!

Buy a print to support missions work in Haiti

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These little guys surprised me one day in the bushes at the back of my yard. Something about the simple, pure white eggs intrigued me as I watched the sunlight dance through the honeysuckle leaves across their smooth surface. When the sun hit them just right from slightly behind the nest, I could see how translucent they were.  I waited til the next day when the puffy clouds filtered the sun a bit so I could photograph them without blowing out the highlights. I tried to get some of the mother bird (a soft gray morning dove) before she fluttered off for a bit, but it was a bit difficult with a toddler in my left arm who wanted to see the bird and eggs, and a camera in the other. I’ll have to try that again when my little guy is wandering around the yard and doesn’t realize what I’m doing!

There were a number of words and themes that this image reminded me of. Pure….hope….newness….. Ultimately I decided on this verse from Revelation 21 because it fits the theme of my life. (And it is almost Mother’s Day!) I have some exciting changes happening this year, and while I haven’t quite gotten to that blog post yet, this is just a hint of what’s to come. And yes, I am gearing up for another trip to Côtes-de-fer, so the proceeds from any purchases of this image will go towards that trip. (I volunteer with www.HopeforaVillage.org)

If you’d like to purchase a digital copy and/or a commercial license for this image for your church or business, please contact me with the details of your request to get a quote. The Paypal button above will allow you to purchase a variety of square ratio sizes in printed format. The paper will be deep matte photographic paper & come without a mat. Please email me for a quote if you’d like to include a mat.

Eliesha Hagemann

That is gorgeous!!! love!!

Sara Newton

This is so beautiful! 🙂 Well done friend! 🙂

Ravan’s Album Preview


Ravan’s order pictured: Navy blue cover, 6×8, thick pages with velvet photo paper


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Matted Cotton Rag Print (Archival Museum Quality):

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LaTeya & Tiara Album Preview

 

LaTeya’s order pictured: Light blue cover, 6×8, thick pages with velvet photo paper

 

Album Copy: 

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Canvas Art:

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Matted Cotton Rag Print (Archival Museum Quality):

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Proceeds from Portraits go to Vocational Scholarships in Haiti

(I apologize for the lack of photos in this post; my website is having issues uploading them at the moment. But you can check out photos from my last trip to Haiti in Haiti – Part One and Haiti – Part Two. I never quite got around to blogging the other parts I had in mind, so this is what it is for now!)

A few months ago, I made a quiet little change to my portrait business…you may have noticed it if you poked around last fall. All proceeds from portrait sessions will now benefit vocational scholarships for young people through Hope for a Village in southern rural Haiti. (When a scholarship is completed it may be sent towards paying for Haitian doctors and nurses at our community pop-up clinics.) This area was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, but is an area that I have been to a few years ago and will travel to again in the future.

In Cotes-de-fer, Haiti, young adults make plans for their city. They do things like create their own trash removal system to keep the streets of their town clean. That was the story that partly inspired this change in my business. It was the answer to my asking God, “How can I use my skills to help in a tangible way?” For several months I pondered the idea of doing a family portrait event where the proceeds went to HFAV, but He had something BIGGER in store.

The first scholarship will be to send a local woman to a skilled birth worker training program that’s already in place, Midwives for Haiti. I’ve been told by my friend Missy, the Hope for a Village founder who is originally from Cotes-de-fer, that many of the school teachers in the area are actually trained as nurses! Medical school is paid by the government as long as students agree to live in Haiti (and not leave for other Caribbean islands or the US, taking their medical skills with them). However, there aren’t enough jobs to go around to all the students when they graduate medical school. On my last trip, I met a tiny lay midwife, her sun baked by the sun and her bones tired from traveling many miles to get to all the births in the area. At that time, she said she was the only midwife still working births. It’s possible there was a “lost in translation” moment, but our translator said she was doing 8 births a week. A WEEK!!!

The need for more midwifery skills in the area is great. The options for families were either use the one local midwife, go to the small clinic in town, or go 2 hours to the closest [just okay-quality] hospital. It is 4.5+ hours to the best hospital in the country if you have a major issue. (And even then, it doesn’t mean you’ll get care….AND you’ll have to purchase all your medications and supplies at the random street vendor/pharmacy next door before they’ll treat you…) Recently there was a hospital built by a ministry, which opened at the beginning of December. The cost to deliver a baby is highest at hospitals, followed by a clinic, followed by a community midwife. If you have absolutely no money, you’re looking at giving birth with maybe your mother (if she’s still alive) or your sister. And that poses some major risks if something goes downhill (not to mention some risky old wives’ tales surrounding birth and breastfeeding practices). A trained birth attendant can save lives in this country!!

That’s one less baby without a mama…one less heartache for a family….

I knew with the circles I run in that I would be able to connect her and other interested women with educational opportunities. I just didn’t know what that would look like until now. (On that note, if you are a midwife who would like to come with us on a trip to that area to teach continuing education classes for nurses, PLEASE message me!)

To be honest, I am booked quickly as a doula/birth photographer and my calendar stays as full as I want it at this point. Not to overuse the phrase, but I’m really, truly blessed to be going to births and helping families or documenting their incredible birth stories! I felt like this was the direction God wanted me to take the portrait side of my business for the time being. So what does this look like in a practical sense? After cost of the product and a percentage of basic business expenses, the rest will be sent to Hope for a Village, earmarked for a particular scholarship or medical missions trip (to pay our Haitian doctor & nurse friends for helping at the free clinics we do for the most needy in the area). My model of creating art for your walls stays the same. Just because this is essentially a fundraiser for a non-profit doesn’t mean I’m going to cheapskate what I believe is an important thing – a physical, tangible, high-quality, printed piece of artwork that you will enjoy seeing in your home. It also means that I’m sticking with what I love to shoot: anything babies, maternity, & family. Just because the proceeds are for charity doesn’t mean I’m going to shoot an event or your dogs. Sorry, but it’s true…I used to do little stuff like that & enjoyed it at the time, but I don’t anymore. I really want to focus on creating this type of art involving families. It also means it will remain an investment to hire me. I am making you custom artwork. Yes, my prices may be higher than everyone and their sister’s husband’s cousin’s friend, but they are worth it. The quality products I’ve located through some special companies are amazing and the ART that is on them is created for your family to enjoy for generations.

If you’d like to book your own session, please visit the packages page for more information.