Family | Maternity | Jackson, Tennessee
My sweet friend Krista of Krista Joy Photography took our maternity and family lifestyle photography session and I couldn’t be more in love with these images! They captured such a unique chapter in our lives and I am so excited to share them! We started a tradition while I was pregnant of pancakes on Sunday morning. I had such bad food aversions that carbs and sweets were about the only things I could eat so pancakes became a staple. I wanted to capture this season of our loves so making pancakes during our session seemed like the perfect choice!
I didn’t share as much about my pregnancy and there was a reason for that, I didn’t have an easy one. I didn’t know what the outcome would finally be and it was hard for me to share that, so I didn’t share the hard stuff, only the good stuff. But now that Emory is here I’m ready to share so here is a letter I wrote to my sweet baby girl about her pregnancy.
Dear Emory Willow,
I could never quite bring myself to write this while I was pregnant. Your pregnancy was not an easy one for me, especially when compared to your brother’s pregnancy. It was like night and day. Almost as soon as we found out we were expecting I was sick and not vomiting sick but feeling like I might almost 24/7. From 6 weeks until the day you were born at 41 weeks 2 days, I felt sick and that was rough. I didn’t have the normal pregnancy cravings and insatiable need for food, instead I had food and smell aversions and never wanted to eat but that’s not healthy when you’re growing a baby.I spent a good portion of your pregnancy on the couch just trying to make it through one more day, one day closer to meeting you. It was hard to equate these awful feelings with growing something so good inside me.
I had always wanted a surprise gender pregnancy and since we found out with your brother I knew this pregnancy I wanted to be surprised. Dad was not fond of the idea but he is also not good at keeping secrets so he reluctantly agreed and by the end he was on board with the surprise. Not knowing your gender was a very different experience during the pregnancy. I wasn’t attached to the idea of boy or girl and I didn’t even have a strong feeling either way. I think partially because I didn’t want to get attached to one idea or another and be disappointed. You were just baby, a seemingly third option of a gender-neutral baby. I only ventured guesses on your gender based on similarities and differences between Grayson’s pregnancy which pointed toward a girl. Not knowing your gender, I often felt detached from this pregnancy, more like it was happening to me than with me. But in the end I am so glad we waited those long 10 months to find out who you were.
Your pregnancy was a lesson in waiting, waiting to feel better, waiting to find out your gender and waiting for the status of your health. After our 21 week anatomy scan we received a call that you had an echogenic bowel, a bright spot on the ultrasound on the bowel where it shouldn’t be bright, and we were being referred to a high risk specialist. A long two week wait to see the specialist gave us no new information that Google hadn’t already given us. An echogenic bowel is in 1-2% of pregnancies and in majority of cases is a normal variant but it is also a soft marker for a list of conditions. Best case scenario (besides being a normal variant) is baby swallowed blood from an intra-amniotic hemorrhage but I had never had any spotting or bleeding so that was ruled out. An echogenic bowel is a soft marker for cystic fibrosis, chromosomal anomaly like down’s syndrome, obstructed or twisted bowel or a viral infection. Our doctor said it was a 50/50 chance of being nothing or being something, all pretty scary things to think about as a parent, especially not knowing what it could be, if anything. Everything else in the scan was normal but ultrasound can only see so much. Our options were further testing of my blood, which only gave percentage chances of some of these things and not conclusive diagnosis’, or an amniocentesis, a large needle collects amniotic fluid samples for testing. While amniocentesis can reveal a great deal, it still would not give us 100% certainty of your health and our doctor said there was a risk of 1 in 250 of miscarriage. Since we didn’t want to risk a miscarriage and the results weren’t going to change the outcome of the pregnancy we chose to not do any of the testing and instead monitor for the remainder of the pregnancy.
The following months were a transition of waiting for each new appointment and trying not to think about the what ifs. But that was difficult, especially for me. Every time you moved in my stomach it made me wonder, are you healthy? Are you moving because you’re healthy or because something is wrong? Every time you didn’t move for a period of time I thought is everything ok in there? Or are you not moving because you’re sleeping and not because something is wrong? I really tried my best to push it out of my mind and not dwell on it and some days I succeeded and others I did not. Sometimes I would catch myself staring out my office windows at the trees in the wind and the bugs and birds flying about and run through all the scenarios, the what ifs, the contingency plans. We couldn’t make any concrete plans for the months after your birth because what if you were too sick or in a hospital.
Each visit to the specialist was different. One visit you would be just fine and the next you didn’t grow how they wanted you to or you had a pronounced belly. Every visit would change the odds of one outcome to another outcome. Basically we had no idea what it could be for the majority of the pregnancy. I had this weird feeling that you would come early, like not healthy early (boy did you show me!), and every week I would be so excited we had made it one more week and at every appointment I would secretly be waiting for the talk of we need to deliver right now. I don’t know why I had this feeling, it wasn’t ever warranted, there were no signs of pre-term labor, I just had this fear and coupled with the unknown health I was worried. Finally at the check at 38 weeks the doctor felt optimistic you would be healthy and we didn’t need to come back for any more checks. And then it was waiting for those last few weeks to find out not only your gender but your health.
I felt emotionally heavy and drained throughout your pregnancy and I was sad that was how I felt. Everyone wants to have the joyful, glowing pregnancy free from worry and anxiety, but I didn’t and I really didn’t like that it was that way. I had periods of depression and anxiety, overwhelming sadness and hated that I wasn’t having a happy pregnancy. I felt so happy with the least amount of depression when I was pregnant with Grayson and I wanted that feeling again. I already suffer from depression and anxiety and doing so while pregnant with all the extra hormones made pregnancy seem even worse. It often felt like everything that could go wrong was. It was so emotionally hard to have a rough feeling pregnancy and potential health concerns on top of depression and anxiety and it often felt like your birth couldn’t come soon enough.
Your entrance into this world was so fast and inconceivable, I din’t even have time to worry about or process your gender, at first, and your health. I was so shocked and stunned after your birth, by how you and I brought you into this world, that I wasn’t worried about what health issues you may have, I was consumed with your face and the fact that you were actually in my arms. Everything just washed away when I held you in my arms, all the detachment, the pain of not feeling well, the worry, everything. It didn’t matter anymore because you were here, right where you were meant to be. You were given a clean bill of health and all that burden was lifted. There is a very small possibility of a rare viral infection that may not show up until later but we will keep an eye on your development and milestones and hope for the best outcome.
The memory and pain, emotionally and physically, from your pregnancy has already begun to fade and every time I look at your face I’m not reminded of how sick I was or the gut wrenching worry, I’m reminded of how strong you are, how resilient you are, how brave you are. I think about your incredible birth and how your entrance captures so much of who you are and I can only imagine who you will become.
In the end it doesn’t matter what we went through in order to meet you, it matters that you are here, where you are meant to be. I love you Emory Willow, always and forever!
THIS. Sergio’s face is the BEST HAHA
Photography | Krista Joy Photography
Dress | PinkBlush