Sunday, February 18, 2018

Beauty in Ashes

I'm a little overwhelmed this morning. I look around and see the remnants of my friends and family celebrating my sweet unborn child. The, "It's a boy!" balloons in the corner and the ultrasound picture of him on the mantel. Last night Alex and I had a "date night in." We ate cheese and crackers and had our wine substitutes, pomegranate green tea for me and sparkling water for him. I couldn't help but end the night in tears. Probably for multiple reasons. My out of control hormones, Tom Cruise reciting poetry to Elizabeth Shue at the end of Cocktail on the TV, my baby boy kicking his dad's hand on my belly, and the snapshots I had tucked away from my day of celebrating new life.

Since my miscarriage it has been nearly impossible to separate my grief from my joy for this second baby of mine. I feel both simultaneously and they each multiply the other. I feel such deep appreciation for my body's ability to carry a pregnancy again, and this time to full term. And yet I still feel such deep grief now knowing more than ever what I have lost. A baby I will never know.

I've wrestled so much with what to share on social media. Do I share my overwhelming joy or my grief? If I only share my joy will other women mourning their own loss resent me?

In the beginning I felt a lot of guilt for being pregnant so soon after my miscarriage. So many women wait years or longer, or maybe never conceive again. Or they conceive and are faced with loss again. It felt unfair that my friends had lost multiple babies and waited countless years, and here I was pregnant again after four months. I still don't think it's fair. But I also had to come to terms with the fact that, even though these women had suffered longer and probably harder, I had to celebrate the precious life growing in my belly. I've tried hard to be sensitive on social media, remembering the life of my first while honoring the life of my second. And it's been a constant battle within me to try not to feel like others may think I'm seeking attention for my grief.

I know that many people don't like to share the hard stuff online. It's personal. And it's vulnerable to share those things, or some may even think inappropriate. But something I've come to learn about myself is that I can't help but be honest about who I really am. I'm a broken beat up mess most of the time. I don't want it to look like my life is put together, because it's not. Sometimes I have terrible fights with my husband. Sometimes (or, let's be real, probably most times) I am selfish and self centered and want what is most convenient and comfortable for me. I'm a brat on Valentine's Day. Not the kind that expects presents, but the kind that scoffs at those that do.

 I say all this, not to take pity on myself or beat myself down, but to be real. I cannot accept my strengths without knowing that I have flaws. Big gaping flaws. But here's the deal... I think that is the joy of life. Suffering and sharing our suffering, then coming together to support each other in those moments. My grief is not for me alone. I know that others are out there saying, "Yeah, me too. I'm suffering and there is no one that could possibly understand this pain."

That's why I share my story and am honest with my grief, even during this time of celebration. Because there may only be one person out there who is going through something similar, and if sharing my story helps in any way, then that is more than worth it to be vulnerable with perfect strangers on the internet.

My point is, me and my life are not perfect, and that is what makes my life so beautiful.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Question, Pt. 2

I've been thinking and planning and trying to figure out exactly the right words for this post for some time. Back in September of 2013 I wrote this post about how I didn't want to have kids. Or at least what I was trying to say was that I couldn't see myself having them, but knew that it did not necessarily mean that I wouldn't.

For the last 9 weeks or so I had been trying to figure out how to tell my story since then, how to say that, while I hadn't originally planned to have a baby that one was on the way anyway. But before I had a chance to write a single word, the whole story changed. And now I have a different story to tell, one of loss rather than life.

I want to preface by asking that people please stop asking this question. The, "So, when are you going to have kids??!!" question. I get it, I know it's innocent. But you have no idea the personal battles that people are facing. Battles with infertility, miscarriage, depression, anxiety, relational issues, etc... And to be honest, it just isn't any of your business.

I'm sharing this story for me. Because I need closure and because there are a lot of people that we had shared our good news with, and I can't bare the thought of facing them in public and having to share the bad.

So this is how we got from never having kids to losing our first baby.

Almost immediately after I wrote that post in the fall of 2013, my heart started to change. People told me that I would change my mind, but that is not what happened. In my mind I knew what I wanted, but my heart was conflicted. After being married for about 5 years, everything being wrapped up in just the two of us started to make me feel almost a little sick. Everything was about us, and I didn't like it. I started to entertain the idea of having children, but still very much unsure of that possibility.

The thing is, I could not for the life of me imagine my life with a baby. Or a toddler. Or a teenager. I couldn't see it. And as time went on, I also realized I couldn't imagine my future without them. I couldn't imagine being old and not also being a grandma. And that is kind of when everything changed. I started to see babies and feel a longing for one of my own, which I had never had before.

About a year and a half ago Alex and I decided that we were going to start trying to conceive. As much as I had not wanted a baby before, I became obsessed with the idea of becoming pregnant. And month after month the tests came up negative. It wasn't long before I decided that I couldn't handle that and we stopped trying. We moved on to the not preventing stage, but I secretly still hoped I'd see a positive sign soon. 

During this time my desire for a baby ebbed and flowed. One day I would decide for sure that I did not want to have children and we would discuss long term prevention. The very next day I would say that I did want them, and maybe we should talk to the doctor and see if everything was alright. And we did this whole roller coaster, month after month. I do. I don't. I'm not.

We stopped buying pregnancy tests. I was pretty regular, but every once in awhile I would have a weird cycle. We would hope and then be let down. And then I had just had it. In November of this last year, I had made up my mind. I was ready to decide that I did not want to have kids and I was going to schedule an appointment with my doctor to discuss birth control.

And then it happened. We waited for over a week before we took a test. I knew my body was doing something weird but I still thought for sure the test would be negative. And right away that plus sign showed up and I didn't even know how to feel or what to say, I just cried. And for the first time I felt peace knowing that all these years I've agonized over this question, and here was my answer as clear as day. 

We were excited, but I was certainly not naive about the risks and the likelihood of miscarriage. I knew all the statistics and read all the things. I have countless friends who have lost their babies, some I probably don't even know about. But I promised myself that I would not allow myself to live in fear of the unknown. About 2 weeks after the positive test all the morning sickness started, and it hit me hard. I could hardly eat anything, everything smelled awful. And I knew that this was a good sign that things were progressing properly.

You are always always told (by friends, family, or the internet) that you should wait until after your first trimester to share the news, but then it happens to you and the weeks feel like years. We told three of our closest friends right away as well as those that work in my office (it's a small office), but didn't share with anyone else for several more weeks. As the holidays approached I knew I didn't have much of a choice and after our first ultrasound we decided it was safe to tell our immediate family, but asked that they keep this between us. 

Looking back I see the warning signs. From the moment I called the doctor's office to set up my first appointments, I let them know about the abdominal pain I was having. They did some tests and everything came back mostly normal other than a minor infection, which they prescribed antibiotics for. They scheduled an early ultrasound at what we thought was 7 weeks and 4 days. During the ultrasound the baby measured only measured 6 weeks and 5 days, but we saw the heartbeat and they said we probably just had the calculation wrong. Even then I knew this wasn't right. I knew that it wasn't possible to be a week behind. This would have meant we took our test so early that there was no way we would have gotten a positive result yet.

But there was a heartbeat, and so I just tried to let it go.

That weekend was Christmas and we told our families. Partially because it was the best present we could have given, and partially because I was so sick I couldn't eat any of the delicious food and knew this would draw suspicion. At 10 weeks we were feeling rather confident as we were getting close to the end of our first trimester and we told our friends then our Grandparents and said it was ok to share with extended family.

When my morning sickness first started to taper right around 9 weeks deep down I was a little worried. It's hard not to be when the sign that, although I hated, told me everything was okay faded. But I just tried to see this as a blessing. I know dozens of people who didn't have any morning sickness so I just tried to let it go.

At 12 weeks we were feeling great. My morning sickness had gone away, almost completely, and we were just about to finish the first trimester which gave me such relief. All I could focus on was getting through the first trimester so the fear in my chest could subside.

We had our first appointment with our OB at 12 weeks 1 day and I will never forget the fear I felt as I waited patiently to hear that everything was alright. She couldn't find the heartbeat with the fetal doppler, which is normal (she assured us that only about half the time the heartbeat can be heard externally that early). She brought in a mobile ultrasound machine and did an ultrasound. Finally, after what felt like forever she said something, and I was so expectant I almost didn't understand what she was telling me. That the baby had stopped growing at 8 and a half weeks. And there was no heartbeat. 

I laid in shock for awhile. I was just trying to understand. I knew what this meant, but still felt confused if it really meant it was all over. A few tears later she left the room and allowed me to dress. She came back soon after to talk about the rest of the process. When she started to let me know what my options were and how everything else was going to go, I cried more. No one tells you these things. I knew that it wasn't just done and that's it and you move on with your life. But no one tells you about the process. 

This last week has been one of the hardest we have ever had to face, both physically and emotionally. But even in the midst of our loss we have felt extremely blessed by our family and friends. We've watched the church be the church, first hand. When I couldn't imagine having to break the news to one more person, we had people who told them for us. When I was desperately scared about what my body was about to go through, I had someone to talk to about their own experience. During the toughest and hardest days we knew that many people were praying for us. And all of that is what got us through the thick of it.

Many have asked how they can help and unfortunately there just isn't a lot that can be done or said. People have offered to bring us meals and we of course will accept them, but please be sensitive to the fact that we are not up for entertaining. Even sitting and crying with someone else is too hard right now. Text messages are okay but we aren't ready for phone calls.

We don't know what happens from here. We don't know if or when we might try again. We don't know specifically why this happened, and we especially don't know why this happens to some and not to others.

We do know that we will never be the same, and we desperately miss someone we never got to meet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Senior Photos

This fall I will be booking sessions for senior photos and portraits!

I'm offering a referral program as well, if you refer a friend you will receive $15 and your friend receives $5 off their session!

Contact me for more information.

(At this time I will only be offering single or couple sessions.)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Robinson Family sneak peak + some transparency

I had a lot of fun chasing around this little family today. Literally, I think I ran for the entire hour. But it was an honor.

Here is where things get real... I've been so hesitant to call myself a photographer for fear of seeming like a fraud.

There are so many talented photographers out there, I couldn't possibly measure up to their experience or expertise. One of my best friend's parents saw a few pictures I took of her daughter and from there work has sort of fallen into my lap. She hired me to take her son's senior pictures, then prom pictures, then gave away photo sessions with me as a gift to some of her friends. I have often wondered if this is where this little adventure is going to end, just being one family's personal photographer. I don't think that would be half bad. I've never set a price or even asked for money. In fact, I'm often prompt to say, "Sure, I'll take some pictures, but I'm not a professional." I always feel inadequate, but I do it anyway.

Then this week a stranger called me. She had gotten my number from a friend (one of the girls who got the baby shower gift), she had seen my work and wanted to book a session. I realized that I can either continue to say, "No, I'm not good enough" and try to talk people out of believing in me, or I can just accept that maybe there is something here. What that something is, I'm not sure, but I feel like this is an avenue worth exploring.

All this to say, this spring I will officially be launching a part time photography business. I feel like the part-time is an important part of that, since I have no plans on leaving my day job. I'm excited to see where this goes. Look for a new website soon. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Navy Blue and Natural Wood

Our bedroom has always been the most neglected room in our house. We have never taken the time to decorate or put up photos. But since we have moved (incase you didn't know, we moved back in May into a beautiful townhouse. We are loving it!) the rest of our house didn't really need a lot of attention. So I'm making it a priority to have a bedroom that I enjoy being in. Maybe that will help me keep up with the laundry?

We have been looking for a new dresser for awhile. Every time we visit ikea we consider buying one, but I am never able to bring myself to spend $350 on a dresser. Perhaps it is a completely reasonable price, but I am cheap. Insert this beauty:

A month or so ago Alex and I were on our way home when we spotted one of our neighbors having a garage sale. Long story short, we walked away with a dresser, painting, milk glass fruit bowl, and a golf club for 50 bucks. Such a steal!

We let it sit in our garage for awhile, trying to decide what we wanted to do. We were about to head to the store to buy white paint when I decided to Pinterest navy blue dressers. I came across this gorgeous piece of furniture art at Please go look at her page, the transformation she did on this dresser is just phenomenal. Obviously ours is a completely different style, but I loved the color scheme.

 I'm not very good at distressing, nor do I think it would look well in our house. Not really our style. But I did want the natural wood look. So this is what we came up with.

I'm in love! We stripped the paint off the top two drawers and stained them with a dark dark walnut. It turned out just as good as I had hoped. We don't usually go with dark colors but this added such a great dynamic to the scheme of our room.

Here is one more before and after picture for good measure.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Automatic Focus

It's funny how much life changes. How a year ago I was one person and today I am someone new. The other day I spent a some time reading back through my old posts. It was fun to see what my thoughts were like at different times in my life. How passionate I was about some subject. The things I thought were funny. The things I felt inclined to share and those I didn't.

It really brought to light how much I have changed over time, and especially made me feel like I'm becoming a grown up. My thoughts and feelings have matured. I am less emotional about things and more logical (for the most part).

A few months ago I got a job, a grown up job. A career beginning job. I have a regular schedule. I am usually in bed by 9 or 9:30, and if I'm not I really pay for it the next day. I've started to make grown up choices, like paying my bills instead of buying new clothes. Every morning I get up, get ready, and head to work. After a solid 8 hours of working, I come home, head to the gym, eat dinner, and go to bed just to have it all begin again the next morning.

Twenty year old me hates who I have become. She hates the lack of adventure. The same thing day in and day out. She hates that I sold out for a career, in a field I never saw myself in. And the only thing I have to say to twenty year old me is that she was wrong. That along the way life changes, and having a life you never thought you wanted can be better than the one you imagined. It may look boring, but its actually peaceful. And peace is something I have definitely been missing in my life.

For the first time I think I know what contentment looks like. It doesn't mean my life is perfect, it means that I can rest for a little while. I can stop striving for something more than I have been given. There are certainly things I would change if I could. Relationships I would mend. Circumstances I would erase. But in this moment I don't have control over those things and I'm letting them go.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

An itch...

It has been quite awhile since I've blogged. So long in fact that I'm not even sure how or where to begin. This post doesn't necessarily mean that I'm back to blogging. It means, I've missed writing. And the strangest part is that I've missed writing for an audience, even if that is only an audience of one or two family members. Every time something happens in my life, big or small, I want to write about it.

After several months of not posting I started to feel like it might be time to close that chapter of my life. To let my domain names expire and officially delete my blog. The primary reason why I haven't deleted it is basically just because it took effort.

There are so many things I don't miss about blogging. Like the pressure I put on myself to make it "successful", to have a lot of followers and dozens of page views every day. And after quitting my job almost 3 years ago, the goal was to try to make some money. It killed writing for me. I felt so anxious about it. When all I really ever wanted was a place to write sometimes and document pictures when and if I felt like posting them. My life became consumed with how good my outfits looked and whether we had a project going on. Every encounter became about how I could turn this into a compelling blog post. Once I got too busy for my blog I realized how silly and petty all of that was. I started to live my life based on what I enjoy and not based on what would make the best posts. After I stepped away I saw that shift from people reading blogs to people reading instagram feeds. I aaw all the comments about how they are annoyed when their favorite bloggers became advertisers in order to make a living from their blog. I saw bloggers switch from one platform to another to maintain their following. And I didn't miss it.

What I did miss was having a place to write when I have something to say. A place to share the very minimal projects that I still work on. Insta-blogging is not for me. Long winded facebook posts? No thanks. That is where blogging differs. People go to facebook and instagram to zone out, when people click on my blog they want to read what I have to say, and if they get bored, they leave. And what I'm left with is a place where I get to share what I want without being an annoying post they have to scroll past. If people want to read they can, and if they don't they won't.

That is why I have missed this, and that is why this blog still exists. Even with that desire to delete it, there is still some part of me that wants a place to write. And so, I might be back, and I might not. We'll see if I have more things to say.