My family got to spend some time up in the mountains of California this month. THE MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA (!). So beautiful, and so refreshing. I got to photograph this sweet crew while I was there and it was divine. The light, the greens, the water, their beautifulness...it was all just, YES. So good! Loved every minute...and it didn't hurt that they're gorgeous humans.
I adore family sessions. The sweet little moments in between "poses" are some of my favorite. Picking flowers, tears, tender glances and bursts of laughter...seriously the best. Jason and Kendra's sweet little family are precious in every way.
Loss, of any kind, is a very sensitive subject and downright hard to discuss. I have a deep respect for Matt & Natalie and their willingness to talk openly. Their raw honesty is inspiring. I am privileged to share their story with you:
"The day I found out I was pregnant was one of the most exciting days of my life.
My husband Matt and I had only been married a couple months but we shared the same desire to be parents and knew the journey getting there could take time, so we decided not to wait in “trying” and believed the Lord was in control. We felt ready. A few months went by. I wouldn't let myself take a pregnancy test until I was almost certain it would be positive and sure enough, two bold lines showed up immediately on June 16. I left the test upstairs in the bathroom for Matt to find when he got home from work. He couldn't have been happier. He made a playlist of “baby-related” songs that night on Spotify and wouldn't stop singing.
The following days were exciting but seemed long- planning and talking about when and how we would share the news with our families. We didn't want to wait real long, 7-8 weeks sounded reasonable, and we managed to prop our crazy puppy Clay by a hand-lettered chalkboard I made announcing when he was going to be a big brother. He genuinely looked like he was smiling. I ordered prints online, one for each of our moms.
Twelve days later, it was a Tuesday and I started the day like any other. I got up to see Matt off to work and sat down on the couch with my Bible and our pup. Not long after that, I noticed the slightest amount of blood. I was instantly scared and texted Matt right away but tried not to panic because I heard that can happen with pregnancy. A couple hours went by and it started getting heavier. I started panicking, sobbing and reading article after article on my phone about bleeding while pregnant and having a miscarriage. I was paralyzed and couldn't get myself to do anything. We were going to meet with a potential midwife that evening so I sent her a text. I texted a few of my friends who live out of town asking them to pray. I was desperate and felt totally alone. Each one of them responded within seconds, making me feel like they were right there with me.
We traded our midwife appointment that night for a trip to the ER, which ended up taking 4.5 hours and basically involved us sitting in a room by ourselves, staring at the clock, not knowing what was going on. I would never go to the ER for a potential miscarriage again. At first, the doctor casually acted like I was probably never pregnant, with my hCG level testing lower than it should be. I gave him a blank stare as I inwardly rolled my eyes because I knew. My body could feel it. An ultrasound proved that I was, in fact, pregnant and we saw the little gestational sac on the screen, measuring at exactly 5 weeks. I thought I was 6.5 weeks along. The hospital staff sounded hopeful, telling me accounts of how bleeding happens with perfectly healthy pregnancies. I tried to hang on to a shred of hope but it was barely there. Everything just added up to a dying baby in my mind. We were finally sent home with a referral to an OB-GYN for a followup appointment in the next few days where we would get the test results and have more tests done.
I was an emotional wreck the next day. I knew I needed to let my mom know what was going on, so I stopped over to give her the photo that had arrived in the mail the day before. I burst into tears off and on all day and tried to do the smallest tasks I could muster. It was nearly impossible to focus and I had no appetite but forced myself to eat. My mom went with me to the grocery store.
Thursday morning when I woke up, I just knew. I don't know what it was, but any ounce of hope I tried to hang on to was gone. I sobbed my way through every post on Casey Leigh's Blog under the category “loss” and then somehow managed to clean myself up enough to pick up fresh peaches from the Peach Truck. And later that afternoon, I held that tiny sac in my hand. My baby. Six and a half weeks old and it was no longer in my body. In the midst of the pain, I was thankful to see it. Physically holding it brought some level of peace.
The following weeks brought aggravation along with the grief. I felt like I knew more than the doctors. We walked out on our visit to have more blood tests done after reading an article on a popular pregnancy website. I wasn't pregnant anymore and it seemed like no one believed me. We got bills in the mail from the ER when we thought our insurance would cover it and we never even got results of most of those tests. There were many times when I felt like it was all a nightmare I was waiting to wake up from, yet was continually reminded it was real.
All this time, only a handful of people knew and that was the way I wanted it. I didn't want a bunch of people around me. I wanted to be alone with my husband and my Father and a box of tissues. I feared if a lot of people knew, they would just be miserable comforters and I would be left even more hurt. Many people mean well but don't always know what to say to someone who is suffering and I was scared of what I would hear, yet the pain started to feel isolating. I wanted to be alone and yet now, I was lonely. We talked with our counselor and pastor friend and watched as he fought back tears recalling his family's miscarriage 8 years ago. He and his wife have four beautiful, healthy daughters and yet the pain of loss is still there. It doesn't go away.
We don't know what the future holds, but we have to trust. Some days it's a lot easier than others. We know there's a very good chance we will have healthy babies, yet that doesn't alleviate the pain of losing one, our first child that we loved with everything inside of us from the moment we knew of their existence. We've never experienced grief like this before, but it's made our marriage stronger.
We don't want to forget. I have several items that will always remind me of this little life- I sign in our kitchen and a ring on my finger that we hope will be stacked with more rings some day. We choose to celebrate and honor this life by talking about it and hope that others are encouraged in the process. Whatever your story is, you are not alone.
June 30, 2016. That day will be redeemed when we get to heaven, our precious baby, and we will finally meet and dance on streets of gold with you. We can't wait."