Baby Three

Two days before Easter, we found out we would be expecting our third child! To be honest, it was in the wake of an extremely stressful time. Our little Hannah had fallen a couple days prior at Target and had to get four stitches in her forehead. I was already feeling overwhelmed and incapable of taking care of two very active little ones - that my immediate thought when I found out I was pregnant again was, How am I going to do this?!

But then I remembered my sweet boy, Micah, coming into the kitchen earlier that month, looking at me inquisitively and asking, "Mommy, how do we get another baby in your tummy?" I smiled at the thought of him wanting another little sibling, without knowing that his daddy and I had been "working" on it for a few months already. But so far, there were only negative tests. And I wasn't sure how much hope I should hold out for considering my history with endometriosis. So I kneeled down next to him and quietly said, "Well, you could pray and ask God to give us a baby." With a defeated voice he said plainly, "But I don't think God will hear me." I lifted his chin and stared straight into his eyes, determined to defeat both his fears and mine. "That's not true, I prayed to God to give me a baby and He gave me you and your sister. God will definitely hear your prayer." Then the sweetest thing I've ever seen happened - he folded his little knuckles, bowed his head right there in the kitchen and began praying, "God would You please give mommy a baby in her tummy? Amen."

Approximately 3 weeks later, that prayer was answered. 

It was this sweet reminder that put a smile across my face and lifted the weight of the insecurities and doubts that I would be able to take care of another child. Sure, I'm weak. And weary. And often feel like I can't handle it all on my own. But the Lord, gave us this child. He has always renewed my strength, in one way or another, and by His grace we continue to survive.

I have felt His strength while taking care of two preschoolers and simultaneously battling nausea and digestion issues. I felt His peace when I had to make a scary trip to the ER last week to be catheterized. This hasn't been the easiest pregnancy so far. But again and again, I'm amazed at the miracle taking place inside me and I know the Lord has His hand on it all.

One exciting perk to this pregnancy - I get to share the experience! My little sister is expecting her first child, a baby girl, in October! I am so excited for her and looking forward to having close cousins as playmates! It's been fun sharing this little secret with my sister for the last few months. And, though I'm not quite sure how she did it, she was able to keep her pregnancy under wraps for 20 weeks and just had a big gender reveal party last week to surprise her friends! I'm not sure whether they were more excited about the gender or the pregnancy, but I'm glad the secret is finally out! I was having a harder time keeping her pregnancy a secret than my own, ha!

Not that I would have ever been able to hide this bump for long. Third babies don't like to hide.

Josh and I had a fun getaway last week for our anniversary in the mountains. It was my first time being away from the kids since they were born, and as nervous as I was anticipating it to be - it was definitely a much needed and relaxing time! We may look all serene and serious in these photos, but it was quite the comedy trying to capture them! We set up the self-timer on my camera - and I was hopping over rocks and hills (in heels!) to try and make it back next to him in 10 seconds. It was worth it though. These views were breathtaking and priceless. I am so glad we were able to spend this time together... just the three of us. And I guess I still technically can't say I've spent a night away from my babies, seeing as how I'm currently carrying another one. :)  

Natalie | Maternity

DSC_0058 _SnapseedOne of my dearest friends, Natalie Carter, is expecting a baby boy in early September. Her original due date was actually September 4th - our little Micah's birthday (I'm crossing my fingers for them to be birthday buddies!) A couple weeks ago she came to visit and we went out on the lake to take some maternity photos. It had been raining all day that day, but thankfully it subsided as soon as we pulled up! She is one beautiful mama-to-be, which made choosing just a few favorite photos to share nearly impossible. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but her heart and love for Jesus is infectious! And I just love being around her. I know she and her husband, Nick, are going to be such wonderful parents! It makes my heart so happy to know these two are going to raise up a mighty warrior for Christ. Ezra, you are one blessed little boy.

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The sunset blew me away. It was my first time at this spot on the lake at night, and it definitely did not disappoint!

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If you live in the Central Florida area and would like to have me as your photographer, please visit my photography page for more details and pricing! 

 

Hannah's Birth Story

One week ago, at 8:10am in the morning, this happened... DSC_0024

The picture is blurry and out-of-focus (a sweet nurse took it, bless her, she is not a photographer for a reason), but it's the first moment Josh and I laid eyes on our daughter. This moment, just like the one I had with my son, is the greatest feeling ever. It is what makes every pregnancy and labor pain worth it. The blessing of a child. 

But first, let me back up a little bit. Because the journey it took for us to get to this moment is worth telling.

When I was only 15 weeks pregnant with Hannah, we were told that she had two soft markers for Downs Syndrome. I was completely blindsided by the news, but also trusting that God had a perfect plan and purpose for our child. She may have been a surprise blessing for us, but she was specifically created by God for this time.

After several ultrasounds and a blood test, we were told that there was a very low chance of Hannah having any genetic defects! It was comforting to hear. But of course I knew even with all the technology we have today, we would never know for certain until Hannah was actually born.

Fast-forward to my 35 week doctor check-up. We went in not expecting the news we received - I was already 1cm dilated and her head was really low! In my mind I still had over a month left to prepare. Josh and I laughed walking out of there, because we were so not ready at that point.

After that check-up, things started progressing weekly. I began having some painful contractions here and there, along with back cramps that woke me up in the middle of the night. Every week I went to the doctor, I was dilated another centimeter. And every week, they told me that it could be "any time now." This is when patience really became a virtue.

At my 38 week appointment, I was 5 centimeters, 90% effaced, and baby's head was at -1 station. If you haven't been pregnant before, that's code for... I should have been in labor. That week I walked and walked and then slept, because I was too exhausted to walk anymore and obviously that wasn't working.

photo-4I was told by the doctors that they would induce me at 39 weeks if I didn't go into labor on my own before then. Because my labor was only 5 hours with my first and I had already progressed so much, they didn't want to risk me having an even faster second labor and delivering at home. I didn't want that either, but I also didn't want to be induced again. I prayed continuously that God would allow my body to go into labor on it's own.

Last Thursday, I went into my 39 week appointment and left with the papers for an induction at 7am the next morning.

I walked out with mixed emotions. Relieved that we would FINALLY be meeting our little girl, but also a little convicted that I may not be making the right decision in going along with an induction. I didn't want to rush something that wasn't ready.

But after that appointment, I began having painful cramps. She told me to expect a little of that because she had tried to "move things along" during my exam, so I tried not to get my hopes up too much. But all night the cramps continued to come, until finally around 11pm I knew I needed to get some rest. I had an induction scheduled in the morning after all, I needed to conserve some energy for labor!

I slept for a whole... two hours. At 1am I awoke suddenly with stronger, painful cramps. I noticed those cramps started coming and going in intervals, so I began timing them. They were about 10 minutes apart. I knew they needed to be 5 minutes apart for me to go to the hospital, so I tried to sleep. I laid there, basically - eyes wide, curled up in the fetal position, trying to handle the pains.

At 3:30am, I was moaning through the contractions. I knew I couldn't wait any longer. I woke up Josh. It took one contraction to hit for him to be convinced I was in labor and he was up and getting ready. I called the hospital to let them know I was coming early. And then I took a shower. I thought it may help ease the pain and the contractions were still coming 5-7 minutes apart, so I figured I had a little bit of time.

I tried blow-drying my hair, but quickly gave up after having to stop several times to grab the counter and wince through the pain. I put my hair in a frazzled braid and we headed out the door to leave. Thanks to having an induction scheduled, we already had everything we needed in the car.

The car ride was... bumpy. And painful. But even through the pain, I was thankful. I told Josh over and over, "I'm so glad God answered our prayers! And now... owwwww... I'm in labor!" :)

We got to the hospital around 5am, and they all found it funny that I was scheduled for an induction two hours later. The same midwife I had seen just 12 hours earlier for my checkup walked in our hospital room and said, "So you just wanted to come see me early, huh?!" She checked me and I was 6cm. I told the nurses I would be needing that epidural ASAP. Josh stayed close to me the whole time and held my hand. Going through labor, twice now, has helped me learn how I handle pain. I like to be touched. There is something amazing in the contrast of a loving stroke of the arm and a painful contraction. It was such natural pain medicine, that I almost regretted getting the epidural... almost. :)

After the epidural (in which I sat there smiling and laughing with the nurses and Josh because I was finally PAIN FREE!) I dilated to 10cm pretty quickly and was ready to push. This was the hardest part with Micah and I was not looking forward to it. But thankfully, this time was a breeze! 20 minutes later and she was in my arms.

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This perfect, beautiful miracle was born at sunrise weighing 8lbs 5oz and 20.25 inches long. I remember being surprised at how big she was and how much she looked like her brother. :)

After checking her over and cleaning her up, they noticed she was having some labored breathing and wanted to keep her in the nursery for a couple hours to monitor her. I was sad, because I was looking forward to holding and snuggling with her some more.

But almost as soon as they took her away, I started having painful cramping and heavy bleeding. I remembered that some of that was normal after just delivering a baby, but this seemed... extreme. The nurses kept checking on me every half hour, and would end up needing to clean me up because I was covered in blood. I began to worry when, after a few hours, the pain didn't go away but almost intensified to the feeling of being in labor again!

It finally got to the point where I felt extreme pressure and the urge to push. I was screaming in pain and tons of nurses ran into the room and began pushing on my abdomen. I had hemorrhaged.

This was probably one of the scariest moments of my life. I remember feeling like I was going to die.

Thankfully, the nurses were able to hook me up to IV's and give me some medicine to slow down the bleeding. Once they had everything under control on my end, we got word that Hannah's breathing had normalized and she was ready to come back to our room! It was 2:30pm by this time. Six hours after the birth of our daughter, we were finally together as a family.

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When I look at the story of our Hannah, from conception to delivery, there were worries. We have had to lean on God in every moment of this journey. But our faith and love has increased.

One of the nurses made a comment to me quietly after Hannah was born. She had read our chart and saw that she had soft markers for Downs Syndrome and was high risk for a heart defect because of her brother. She asked me when it was that we found out about her "soft markers."  I told her at 15 weeks at our anatomy scan. She looked down at Hannah with tears in her eyes and said, "How crazy is it that some people choose to abort because of things like that, and here you are with a perfectly healthy baby?"

I had never even thought about that.

But I will forever share her story, because I believe it was all part of God's plan. He wants to show that ultimately He is the one in control. He is above any medical diagnosis. And every baby has a purpose.