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This blog post has been a long time coming. It’s hard to know where to start. I’ve changed, and experienced so much this past year. It’s almost too difficult to wrap my mind around who I used to be, and who I am now. I’m going to attempt it. I started my first business in high school. I loved it. The thrill of making something with a talent I had and then making money from it, and making my customers happy was just so amazing! I was involved in everything in high school. From cheerleading to NHS to Yearbook to youth group… I was busy. That was my way of life and it kept me focused on the good things of life and out of trouble.

I went to college and made new friends and got involved all over again. Go, go, go. Every week was full and every weekend had an activity. Plus, when you throw in the fact that I was dating Michael and that I have a super close family that loves being together… life was FULL!

So, during my Junior year of college, I started my business and that quickly became one of my top priorities. I was so committed to making this thing happen! I knew some people thought I was crazy, but ten years later I’m pretty sure they see why I was so intense in the early years! It paid off!!! We have clients and students that we love, and our business brings us so much joy!

I worked hard on this little business of mine and it quickly became the biggest part of my life. It was exciting… people were proud of me… it was succeeding.. but it was my everything. I didn’t mean for that to happen. But that is what HAS to happen when you book 42 weddings in a year and a 1/3 of them require travel, and then they ALL come with engagement sessions, and then I also started speaking and teaching and hosting workshops. I’m so thankful for that season of hustle, because it was temporary. We slowly took less and less weddings and trusted that bookings would come as we raised our prices.

It was in this season of doing just a little bit less that we started to talk more about starting a family. Those were scary words to even speak in our house. Michael knew that I wasn’t going to be ready when he was. I have never viewed myself in a “motherly” roll. I’m not a natural caregiver… I’m not a natural homemaker… so many things about being a mom didn’t seem like something that “fit” me as well as they fit other people. I had college roommates who could just naturally talk about having babies like it was no big deal, but I couldn’t. I think that’s because when they were dreaming of having babies, I was thinking about my business. I had so many things that I wanted to accomplish. I had too many levels to hit and records to break.

The thing is, I don’t think that my motivation in my business was a BAD thing. It’s a gift to be able to grow a thriving business and start it from literally nothing. I truly believe that my business is 100% a gift from God. What was hard was that I was so good at it that I started to believe that THAT WAS MY THING! I thought ” Ok, I’m going to kill-it in the small business world and that’s going to be a huge part of my identity!”. It quickly became a part of my identity that was SAFE and FAMILIAR and CAME EASILY to me…. so it’s no wonder that I wanted to stay in that safe role as long as possible!

The idea of starting a family and being a mom did not seem safe and surely wasn’t familiar, and it definitely wasn’t something that I knew anything about. Thinking back to the pre- “trying for a baby” years, I remember viewing having a baby as this HUGE, monumental accomplishment that would change EVERY aspect of my life in really hard ways. My body, my marriage, my time, my ability to work, my priorities, my goals. Everything had to change. I specifically remember thinking “There is no way I’m nursing because that is just WAY too demanding!!!!”.

Oh my.

It’s hard to read what I just typed.

I had no earthly idea what I was talking about.

Sure, the fears were real. If you’re in a season of life where you resonate with the fear of giving up what is familiar in your life in order to start a family, I get it.  Those are VERY real fears. You don’t have to feel bad for feeling that way. I remember talking to my friend Nancy Ray about this two years before ever trying to get pregnant and feeling such a flood of relief to know that I wasn’t alone. You HAVE to read this post she wrote before having Milly! There were other women who LOVED their business and their life, and who were nervous about what it would mean to be a mom. Nancy and I also talked about how hard it was to actually SHARE fears like this because we were so afraid that it would come across in a hurtful way to those that are desperately trying to start a family. It’s because of that fear that I never really talked about it that much. I didn’t want to accidentally bring it up in conversation with someone trying to start a family and for it to seem offensive, and so I just kept it to myself.

Nancy’s vulnerability and willingness to share her fears with me was such a gift that I didn’t know that I needed. It made me realize that it was ok to feel this way and that I wasn’t bad, broken, or wrong. That’s the main reason I’m writing this blog post . . . because I think that there are so many women who are thriving in their businesses and in their pre-kid life, and they are so scared to take the next step into motherhood. Well…. I have good news for you.

I WOULD NEVER GO BACK.

EVER.

When Michael and I started trying for a baby, it wasn’t an instant thing. It look us about half a year to get pregnant with our sweet Evy, and I know that that was totally the Lord. Why? Because I went from being so nervous to get pregnant to PRAYING and PLEADING with God to give us two blue lines. Something happened in those 6 months of trying. I went from being fearful to hopeful. I had always had this underlying fear that we wouldn’t be able to have children and every month that it was a “no”, God taught me what it meant to trust and wait and know that He’s in control. I know 6 months is nothing compared to other couple’s stories… but when your sister and best friend get pregnant accidentally two weeks apart from one another while you’re the one still trying…. it can make you start to think that something is up!

So let’s fast forward to May. I saw the double blue lines that we had prayed for and I couldn’t believe it. I honestly was in shock but I was so thankful!! I cry every time I read my journal entry from that day! We spent the next nine months preparing for this little person to enter our lives and it wasn’t an easy journey. I had diabetes and a tumor and emergency surgery while 9 months pregnant. It just wasn’t the “ideal” pregnancy…. but then she came.

WE GOT TO MEET HER.

If you resonate with my personality and my fears and my story, and you’re looking for some hope for your next season… listen to this next part of the story.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TO PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR WHAT’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO YOU WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST BABY.

Before having Evy, my brain could only process the WORK, the CHANGE, the STRESS, the SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, and the DEMANDS. That’s all I could wrap my mind around, because WORK was all that I really did. I worked SO hard on my business and now I was about to quadruple my workload by being a MOM?! That sounds terrifying!  I honestly remember my best friend Jill saying on the afternoon that I was being induced “Katelyn!!! Aren’t you SO EXCITED to MEET HER??!?!?!” …. And if I’m being honest, I was excited to not be pregnant… and to get the delivery over with! I couldn’t understand the excitement she had because I had never known a love like that.

Something changed the moment that she entered this world. The fears and anxiety I had about this new season of life seemed instantly silly and unimportant. (But they definitely weren’t silly or unimportant beforehand!)  I remember the nurses bringing her into our room at 3am and I had only had about 4 hours of sleep since delivering her and yet I couldn’t wait to see her again.

WHO WAS I?!

Where did the girl go who had barely changed a diaper and never desired to hold other friend’s babies go?! How could I love a little baby THIS MUCH!!?

I really don’t have words to explain it…. but the love I have for her trumps any fear about what is going to happen to my business. That’s something that was actually impossible to understand before holding her in my arms.

We came home from the hospital and, like I had expected, life was VERY different. My new top priority was Evy and nursing and being a mom. The cool thing about my story is that even though God had been preparing me for motherhood for a long time, I still hadn’t mastered the art of finding peace in not being productive. Even at 8 months pregnant, I still NEEDED to feel productive in order to feel valuable and like I was doing something with my time. Then my aggressive hand tumor happened RIGHT before I had Evy, and I literally couldn’t type anymore. I couldn’t work AT ALL. I couldn’t even put up an auto-responder… Michael had to type that for me! In those weeks post-surgery, before Evy was born, I learned what it meant to rest and just being ok with not accomplishing much of ANYTHING.

I realized later that my post-surgery time was actually a pre-Evy prep time!! What I learned being down for the count with a hand tumor was actually God’s way of teaching me to be ok with days when nothing goes my way… when I don’t have time to blog like I want… when Evy won’t nap…. when she throws up and needs a bath and suddenly my 45mins to work just doesn’t exist anymore.

There are definitely struggles with being a mom and running a business. I had a pretty intense identity crisis when Evy was about 8 weeks old. Did I still love my business? What am I really good at? Do I still love shooting weddings? I actually got a website overhaul around that time frame and it helped A LOT! ha! It was like I got a confidence boost and an online facelift at the same time! I cried when we it went live because I felt like I still had a business-side to me!!

I still have to fight the urge to compare myself to other business owners who are doing crazy stuff because they have the time to and I don’t. I still have to constantly be ok with pushing some things back and extending deadlines and giving myself grace. But you know what makes it all worth it??? ….

Remembering that Evy is the greatest legacy of my LIFE.

She’s what I’m going to care about when KJP doesn’t really exist one day. My business is creating a legacy (and it’s an important legacy!)… but it doesn’t compare to the impact that Evy and her future family will have on the world.

I love being a momma to Evy.

Believe it or not… I LOVE nursing, and I have been nursing Evy for over 9 months now. I NEVER thought that would be my story but it is and I’m thankful! I’m actually going to be kind of sad when that special thing that only I can share with her is over!

I’m a different person than the go-getter that I was in high school and college and as a newlywed. I’m still accomplishing big things, but my greatest daily task is raising a little girl who loves the Lord and knows that she’s loved by Him and us!

Every story is different… and everyone’s purpose is life is unique to them. For those of you who don’t desire children, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and your purpose in life is JUST as important as those raising a family. For those of you still waiting on children… whether that be biological or through adoption, God has a beautiful story unfolding for you as well. No one can escape the fact that we all have a reason that were put here on this planet! If we didn’t have a purpose, life would be meaningless!!

So if you resonate with any of this and you’re thinking about starting a family, but you’re fearful because you love your current life and your business and your freedom, then be encouraged that I was just like you and I wouldn’t want to go back! Like I said, everyone’s story is different, but I hope that my experience as a go-getter turned baby lover will give you hope and excitement for the future season of your life!!!!! You can still be passionate about your business… you can still make dreams happen… but don’t be surprised if your idea of a BIG DREAM starts to change and transform as your heart is being pulled in a new direction. I still have big goals for our business… but those goals don’t overshadow the hopes and dreams I have for the legacy of our family. :) Be encouraged, friends! Change is a good thing!!!

And a post is never any good without a few pictures!!! Here are a few of my favorite images as a momma…..

xoxo, Katelyn
43 Comments Ask Anything, Blog, Personal
  1. Deborah Zoe reply

    Beautiful Katelyn, so so so happy for you guys and all the growth you’ve experienced this past year!! Can’t wait to meet that little Evy some day!!

  2. Skyler Smith reply

    Katelyn, I always love your blog posts, but I particularly adore this one!!! I have tears in my eyes! It’s so incredible to read about your journey. As a junior in college who just started my business earlier this year, it’s inspiring for me to see that my dreams of owning a thriving business AND having a family someday can come true!! You’re an incredible role model!! Thank you for sharing your light!!!

  3. Carrie Krupke reply

    thank you so much for sharing your struggle with the To-Do List and finding your worth in something larger than business tasks! I’m sure this post took awhile to write, but it is worth it to help support and encourage Mama Business Owners. THANK YOU!

  4. Jill reply

    I’m just crying and crying reading this (maybe it’s the almost 38 weeks pregnant hormones!). So so happy for you guys and thrilled that you are sharing this part of your story, KJ! You are a BEAUTIFUL mama!!!

  5. Megan Kelsey Photography reply

    I couldn’t love this post more. Having a baby feels like a monumental life change that I can’t even wrap my head around, and it seems SO scary in this season of our lives but that’s only because it’s fear of the unknown. This post is encouraging and gives me hope for when we start a family of our own!!

  6. Ashley Ziegler reply

    She is seriously the sweetest little girl ever! :) I really appreciate this post. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Karlie Colleen reply

    Hi Katelyn!

    This is my first time commenting on your blog. I often don’t have time to read anyone’s posts because I am to busy with life and my business. But when I read on your Instagram that your blog post was THIS topic, I stopped everything to read it. I am a photographer in Phoenix and have been married for a year and a half now. We get pressured all the time to start having kids, from our families and friends. Though I am excited to be a mom in the future I struggle with these exact feelings you had. I am scared to lose my identity, my time, my business. None of my friends or family own businesses like mine, so they don’t understand the demand and hours that go into being a growing Photographer. Thank you so much for writing this blog post. Balancing motherhood and being a business owner is something I think about every single day (no exegeration) and this was exactly the kind of post I needed to read. I really appreciate your honesty, and love to watch you and your family through social media and see that it is possible to be a great mother and an awesome business owner at the same time. Thank you thank you thank you!

  8. Rebekah Carter reply

    This brought tears to my eyes b/c I felt like you were telling my own story, except I’m a nurse instead of a photographer. I’m so glad you shared your story b/c I know it will help other women who are scared just like you were & just like I was. I too am so, so glad I overcame my fears, & I too would not go back to my pre-mom life even though I did love it at the time.

  9. Chelsey Barrett reply

    I needed every. bit. of. this. Thank you, Katelyn!!

  10. Sophie Thomas reply

    I wrote this fear in my PowerSheets today. I’m having my second son in March, and I launched my business in between my boys. I am so uncertain as to what business + life with 2 babies 19 months apart will be like. I just got into a good groove with childcare and toddler routine… I just have no idea what it will be like! And I like being productive too. Your last paragraph about dreams changing was especially helpful! Thanks for sharing. It was a word from God for me.

  11. lisa reply

    love this post!

  12. Liz reply

    Thank you for your transparency. This is exactly what I am going through right now put in words. Thank you for your words of encouragement. ❤️

  13. Tierney reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this This is exactly what I needed.

  14. Amy reply

    As I sit here at my desk crying, I wanted to say thank you so much for writing this post. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year now and the topic of when we want to start a family is one that is brought up often in our home. My husband is a wonderful man and I know will be an amazing father one day, but the idea of pregnancy, having a child, and all the changes that it will bring scares me to pieces. I love my life, my time with my husband, my career, etc., and on one hand I don’t want that to change. He has asked me before if I even want kids because of all of my apprehensions concerning them. Yes I want kids and want to be a mother one day, but it’s hard knowing that everything will change in the process. Your post was really encouraging to me in knowing that I’m not alone and I don’t have to feel guilty for thinking this way. So thank you for sharing your heart, it certainly touched and encouraged mine.

  15. Grace reply

    Loved this post! I’ve been following your blog since I was a teenager….you were the most consistent blogger ever and I LOVED that! That was back when my photography dreams were strong…but life has taken a different course for now. My little man is now 7 Months and it has been such an encouragement reading your posts about your precious Evy. We have gone through some health issues as well, but God has been so good! I have found myself in tears reading about Evy…thank you for your honesty and for sharing that part of your life. This post was just what I needed to read… today, as my little man is sick (snuggled in my arms ), I cancelled some of my lessons for my studio. A year ago, I would have not been able to handle that…it’s amazing how priorities change. So thank you for being willing to share your story. Anyways, I am thankful for your testimony!!!! You are such an inspiration! Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful first Christmas with Evy!!!!!!!!!

  16. Paige Carter reply

    Katelyn, this blog is so beauvtiful! When I was pregnant with my first son, who is, to this day, an absolute joy, I was a beginning teacher. I was overwhelmed but so excited. My mentor told me in a very serious tone, “Paige, they don’t tell you this… when you go in the hospital to have the baby, another procedure is performed.” She went on to say that a heart transplant takes place and doctors don’t do it…that the very heart I came in with would be no more. She was so right! My heart’s desires and priorities were, and are, forever different. Thank you for sharing this!

  17. Evie Perez reply

    Katelyn, I just love this post!!! and LOVE seeing you in this new season. Your daughter is so blessed to have amazing parents like you and Michael. Thanks for your encouraging words!!!!

  18. Angie reply

    Katelyn, I love following you on IG and watching your stories of Evy! I probably watch your stories daily. Your love for her is SO evident! And hearing your heart on business and motherhood is so refreshing! I started my photography business once I already had one child. Now I have two and some days being a mother just trumps business because I love those kids so, so much! I have loved seeing you and your business transform and change as Evy came into the picture. I see so many successful photographers without children doing all the things and going so far in business, so seeing you make room for Evy in your life and still run a successful business is encouraging to me. And you are on point when you said, “but my greatest daily task is raising a little girl who loves the Lord and knows that she’s loved by Him and us!” That’s what I want my kids to know beyond anything else in life… that they are loved and to know and follow Jesus.
    Thank you for sharing your heart! You are a beautiful and amazing momma!

  19. Megan reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I NEEDED THIS TODAY! Today my 4 year old woke up sick and I had to call in to stay home with him. Usually I don’t struggle with that as much, but today it was extra hard because I’m working at a new school (teacher life). The go-getter wanted to somehow make it work for me to still go in to work today, but my momma heart knew better. The guilt struggle was a little hard, until I came across your post (thanks for the instagram post to it!) and knew I was not the only one who struggles in the journey of motherhood while balancing work. Thank you for opening up, being vulnerable, and sharing!

  20. Karen reply

    “(My child) Evy is the greatest legacy of my LIFE” …. I love this and it makes my heart swell! I felt the same thing 5 years ago after having our son … and I was at WPPI a few years later and thought “why is the entire speaker lineup only single or married people w/ no kids? Can someone talk about family/work balance, please?’ …. I think this is a conversation that is so important, and I thank you for bringing it up! :D

  21. Brealyn reply

    Katelyn, thank you so much for this blog post. It couldn’t resonate with me at a more perfect time. I am feeling EXACTLY as you have written in this post — and I’ve felt alone. This gives me so much hope! Thank you for your honesty and transparency.

  22. Christy Tyler reply

    The funny thing to me – is that your idea of not doing much after having a baby and not dreaming BIG dreams is so different than mine! haha! In my eyes – you were still doing so many BIG things and able to launch courses, host workshops, and shoot weddings – all following Evy’s arrival with seemingly so much ease! (Though I know behind the scenes it probably didn’t feel like that.) Over here? We barely kept up with the blog after our twin boys’ arrival, much less hosted any workshop or launched any new or helpful content. LOL. I guess it is all perspective… but watching you take on all of this had me amazed at all you accomplished while being a new mom. And the funny part is that while you said you were watching others supposedly “doing it all” – we felt the same way watching you! haha. Anyway – you are doing amazing – as you know – and it has been beautiful to watch you change and embrace this new chapter in your life! Evy is so precious! xoxo

    • Katelyn James reply

      oh girl… thank you. But you have TWO and I have one with a TON of HELP!!!! I’m so grateful for the help but it’s only fair that you know that I’m not doing it on my own!!! xoxoxo

  23. Dee reply

    Thank you so much for writing this! I feel like I could have written it myself. I just had a baby a few months ago and it definitely changes everything in the best, most unexpected ways possible. Being a mom is the greatest job I’ll ever have and finding new ways to manage my business is just a different way of being creative :)

  24. Hannah Neckers reply

    Everything I have ever felt, wrapped up in one blog! Thank you, Katelyn, for sharing your amazing heart. I am in the midst of preparing for my own wedding and the idea of being a wife, alone, scares me immensely. (Let’s not even get started on the topic of one day becoming a mother!) Your blog has given me hope. I am so grateful! <3

  25. Christina Hastings reply

    Thank you so, so much for sharing this, and being so open and honest and vulnerable. I really, really appreciate this post. Thank you Katelyn. I have a feeling that there will several reader’s future kiddos who should give you a hearty thank you to you someday.

  26. Reilly reply

    That last photo of you and Evy is so full of joy!!! Love it! Thank you for sharing your story!

  27. Jessica reply

    Beautiful words and I have felt the same way about motherhood and business! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Jessica reply

    Love this! Ironically I started my business AFTER being a mama to 4, and getting pregnant with surprise #5 this year! I was rocking out my biz prior and then BAM starting all over with the baby stages again. She is 7 week old now. I am taking a ton of time off and it was hard to process but that is ok. I just let things go. She will only be little for a year, and I have my whole life to go crazy with my business! Xoxox mama!

  29. Diana reply

    Thank you so much for writing this blog post Katelyn! I am a mom of a two year old, sweet girl and a baby on the way. My photography business is only one year old but I had all of the same feelings as you. I was a go getter, driven, determined and definitely didn’t sit dreaming about being a mom. Life. Changing. This post really resonated with me. Thank you, again, for sharing! xo

  30. Mary Sarah reply

    Thank you for sharing! I had my first daughter January 2nd and I’ve been working on writing a blog about my experiences as well, but now I feel like I don’t have to because you’ve literally expressed every single thing I’ve been feeling! It’s nice to know that there are other women out there experiencing the exact same struggles, doubts, but also joy as me!

  31. Mary reply

    I am going to become a momma in March & I started my business when I was a sophomore in College and have been hustling ever since. THIS WAS JUST WHAT I NEEDED TO READ!!! I am still worried that my hustle won’t stop, but this was a relief to hear I am not the only one who is felt this way. Thank you for sharing!!!

  32. Anna Kerns reply

    I love this post to pieces! Soo precious. I know this will bring so much light and joy to those who read it, especially those considering growing their family + to new mothers! And way to go with nursing while working, girl! It’s a struggle when shooting weddings and traveling sometimes, but I’ve been going a year strong tomorrow with Logan, and it’s such a special thing we share! So happy for you guys <3

  33. Carrie White reply

    Thank you so much for sharing…this is exactly how I feel about starting a family, business, freedom to do whatever and whenever, ‘all the fears’, etc. Love all the images, the first one is my favorite :)

  34. Kate McFadzen reply

    I just loved this post. EVERYTHING you said resonated with me. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever have children, but you completely touched on my exact thoughts and fears. Thank you for putting them into words. -Kate

  35. Alexis reply

    Awe, thanks beautiful, Katelyn!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  36. April Mount reply

    Wow!!! I also have a 10 month old, and although I have a 14 year old stepson who I adore, she was MY first baby. That experience is one you can compare to no other…in many ways, all the ways you described. Before she was born I worked hard to climb the corporate ladder. I graduated college when I was almost 8 months pregnant. That was my identity! My hard work and what was accomplished by it! Now, honestly, I could care less about the corporate world. I have always had a passion, and an annoying obsession for taking pics of EVERY moment. Once my daughter was born I told my husband, “I really want to do this, I want to try my hand at photography.” It was only a few months later, my first Mother’s Day, he bought me a real life picture taker! My Canon! Since then, only 6 some months ago, I have taken my passion to a whole new level. Within a month, I was shooting in the scary Manual Mode. Taking family and friends photos whenever they would let Me! Taking webinars and staying up late learning how to shoot better and edit photos…with consistency…which is way harder than I ever imagined! This, is my life now…working on a new dream and identity! Thank you for sharing your story! I am officially a fan!!

  37. Megan reply

    Ahhhh Katelyn!! This entire post spoke right into my heart!!! As a new nurse, a full time photographer/business owner, and someone who likes to just pick up and go whenever I want, the thought of having a baby SCARES me!!! But as my husband and I continue the “trying for a baby” talk, my heart goes back and forth between imaging life as a mom and reminiscing on how much I love my freedom! Thank you SO much for the reassurance that everything is going to be okay!! This is just what my heart needed! <3

  38. Daniel reply

    Thanks Katelyn for the post. It’s a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing your faith.
    God bless

  39. Melissa Alagon reply

    My journey is different, but your still resonated with me and brought tears to my eyes. I have a thriving photog business, but I now have a vision for teaching it, and encouraging entrepreneurs in other fields. I fell into business coaching this year. All the while, I don’t want my Homeschooling and my connection with my 3 kids (8, 4, 2) to EVER suffer bc of it. The conclusion is the same: my kids are the legacy that matters most and will last the longest, potentially. Thank you for sharing your heart. Yours is one of the few blogs in my feed that really gets it: mom + business is a sweet combo when mixed with love and grace.

  40. Nikki Santerre reply

    You know how much I love this post. <3 It's been a joy to see you become Evy's mama! Can't wait to see y'all again in January (and for you to meet Mason)!

  41. Sheri Berke reply

    This is such a beautiful post about life, love and cgange. Thank you.

  42. Jeannette Warren reply

    This is my first-ever comment on a blog of someone I’ve never met. I’m nervous!
    I know the Bible tells us “there’s nothing new under the sun” but sometimes it still surprises me how many of us deal with our own personal struggles, that are actually the exact same struggles as so many others! Your story is very much mine, except that my husband and I started our business together, we still haven’t reached that point of feeling “successful” in business, and I was so scared, we waited 13 years after marriage to have our son! But, 4 years later, he (and now his sister as well) mean more to me and my purpose than anything in business ever could. The Lord has cared for us through it all and what really matters, is happening! Thanks for this post and all the inspiration you have given me in the last year of reading your content and courses!

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