A New Start

In August, we found out we could try again for IVF. I began the stimulation injections toward the middle of August. The injections consisted of numerous shots daily I would take in my stomach. These medications were to grow numerous follicles at one time, hopefully growing eggs in them! The first couple of days I felt rather normal. By the middle of the week I was feeling very bloated and uncomfortable. Overall the injections weren't terrible and I knew it was worth it for the end goal. My stomach had a ton of black and blue bruises and knots from the injections. I learned a couple tricks on the way. Putting a pack of ice on the injection site about 10 minutes before helps. Also, pinching the skin made a big difference! When doing the injection, fast is best, so like a dart versus slow. 

Throughout the week I went to see our doctor several times to check on things. Everything was progressing the right way, and all the follicles were growing nice and even!

My egg retrieval surgery was scheduled for August 29th. I was put under anesthesia so I couldn't eat the night before or morning of. Dale and I got to the surgery center first thing in the morning. we live about 50 minutes from the center, about half way there my low tire air light came on! Once we made it to the center the tire was flat! What a morning!

The retrieval itself wasn't awful. I was nervous going into the surgery room because they had me awake and walking into the room. I was still awake when they put bands around my legs and all the big bright lights were on. Finally, they administered a medication to help with my anxiety. Within seconds, I was out. I woke up back in the room with Dale and was immediately in pain. They were able to give me something for that, a heating pad, and I even got up to pee!

The doctor came in and talked to us about how it went. Most woman may have 5-7 mature eggs that are sent to the lab. I had 29 eggs! No wonder I was hurting! Out of those 29 eggs, 25 were mature. So, 25 eggs measured large enough to be fertilized. The eggs had been sent to the lab and the next week would be a lot of waiting and wondering. We would find out the next day how many of the 25 eggs were fertilized. Then after 6 days we would find out how many of the fertilized eggs grew to be a certain size blastocyst. Those are what would be transferred back in hopes of becoming pregnant down the road.

 Before I knew it we were on our way back home. After we had the tire fixed that is.

Recovery was a bit worse than I anticipated. I had fluid build up causing pain and prolonging my recovery time since I responded so hard to the drugs. It was several weeks before I was feeling back to normal. It is so crazy to us what science is able to achieve these days. We are so lucky to live in a time that we have options, ones that didn't exists years ago.

 

Samantha + John | Washington DC LDS Temple Sealing | The Via Club at Pebble Creek

I spent a wonderful morning with Samantha and John at the Washington DC LDS Temple. They were sealed for all time and eternity to each other. We had our eyes on the radar all morning hoping the rain would hold off. Guess what? IT DID! It was beautiful as they had a first look before going into the temple. It rained while they were in the temple and right before they walked out the skies parted. It was perfect! We spent some time around the beautiful grounds of the temple as well.

Everyone headed to The Via Club at Pebble Creek for their ring ceremony and reception. This venue was gorgeous. Everything from the stone fireplace to the gazebo out back. I could have spent all evening out there!

Before the ring ceremony, we went to the cemetery to visit her daddy’s grave. Samantha had an extra bouquet made for him. John held the back of her dress as they walked across the grass to lay the flowers down. I am so honored I could capture those moments.

During the ring ceremony, they exchanged vows. Samantha’s vows revolved around Disney as they both love Disney, their first date was even Beauty and the Beast! She had John’s ring engraved to say “Tale as Old as Time”. When they exchanged vows they were smiling and looking into each other’s eyes, so in love!

All day they were by each other's side, holding hands, kissing, just soaking in every second of their big day! The way John's lips fall onto Samantha's forehead, like a fairy tale!

Before the first dances Samantha had a slideshow of pictures of her Daddy playing. Her brother danced with her, it was the most heartwarming moment.

The whole day was filled with laughter, smiles, and LOTS of love! I am so happy for Samantha and John!

IVF with ICSI!

 
 

In June we officially started our IVF part of the journey! It was very hard to hear in 2016 that was the best and very possibly only way we would conceive. I remember that day like it was yesterday, as soon as IVF came out of the doctors mouth the lump in my throat formed, I was frozen and my eyes couldn't even cry. I'd always known this could be a possibility, but it was the first time I was told it was likely the only way.  It was a long, silent ride home. I am very lucky to have someone by my side who knows the type of support I need when I am in shock and allows me to grieve in my own ways. For someone who has wanted nothing more than to be a mama since I was a small child, it was heartbreaking. We've always dreamed of at least 6 sets of little feet running through the house, a big family was always part of it!

But, after my heart had time to heal I was excited again! I am forever grateful for modern medicine and the options we have in this. It's amazing to know this is not the end of our road!

Starting this new path meant redoing all bloodwork and some tests. Due to our severity and limited time the doctors worked us in and had the ball rolling! All tests revealed the same things as before. I did one new test called HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This was X-Ray based test. I was not prepared for how painful this would be. It was an outpatient procedure at the hospital. A catheter (with a balloon that inflated on the end) with was inserted into the cervix. The catheter was inflated and dye was pushed through the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test was to show if there were any blockages or an odd shaped uterus. It all came back CLEAR! One less hurdle to jump! It was a lot more painful than I was prepared for, but the pain stopped right after the procedure. Overall, it took maybe 5 minutes, and I was able to recover from home the rest of the day!

Now for IVF I needed to start birth control for a couple weeks to keep my body regulated before starting medication and retrieving eggs. Then I go back in for another ultrasound and bloodwork to make sure my hormones are low and ready to go! After 2 weeks on birth control I went in for bloodwork, my estrogen was way to high. It needed to be under 50, it was over 200. I also had a large simple cyst on one ovary that would prevent starting. I had to go back on birth control for another week to see if we could salvage doing IVF for July. We are on a tight time crunch since we don't know if the male factor may become more severe than it already is! We are super hopeful this extra week will do the trick!

Once we get the green light, I will take several injections a day to stimulate my body to create extra eggs but prevent me from ovulating. The doctor sent over my injection prescriptions to the fertility pharmacy today! I'm nervous to see all of the medications that will arrive!

 

Emma Henrico Maternity Session

I was SO excited when Emma contacted me about a maternity session! I've known Emma since high school and have loved seeing pictures of her sweet babies' faces over the years. Lilli, was so cute, between kissing on her mama's belly to holding her beautiful lace dress up in the breeze. Emma's natural beauty is unreal, her smile and laugh are so contagious! There was a beautiful glow over Emma the entire time, can you believe she gave birth only SIX days after this?!?! One of my favorites is where her little girl, Lilli, is peeking around her mama's dress with the sweetest smile!

There's a big brother and sister who welcomed their baby sister into the world this past week. I cannot wait to see her!!!

Jarred + Katie James River Engagement

I LOVE this couple, they are such rays of sunshine! Jarred had Katie laughing and smiling the entire session! There's one picture in particular, you can see both of them smirking right before a kiss, seriously my favorite EVER! The way Jarred looks at Katie, you can just tell how much he adores her. I am already so, so excited for their wedding next year!

Jarred and Katie met during high school at a church camp, kept in touch and a friendship turned into a relationship. They dated long distance throughout college and ended up back in Richmond together! A year and a half later Katie took a job in North Caroline while Jarred stayed in Richmond for his. FINALLY, after another year apart they are both in Richmond for good!! :) I LOVE relationships that work through everything and are able to make their dreams come true!!! Love conquers all!

 

Answers for Annabelle Superhero 5K Fun Run

 On Saturday July 15, 2017 I attended the First Annual Answers for Annabelle Superhero 5K Fun Run, let me say I am already excited for next year!! The Bishops had an "Annabelle Table" showing her medications, feeding equipment, hospital bands, and more. It was truly incredible to see all of Annabelle's medical stuff right in front of you. Her mom, Ashley, has a blog following their medical journey for Annabelle and diagnosis. I highly recommend reading this blog, it goes into so much detail on their daily lives.  The day was spent celebrating and fundraising for Annabelle. There was the 5K run itself, so much food, a live band, tons of vendors, RVA rock painting, t-shirts, a bounce house, a fire truck with firefighters, cornhole tournament and even Olympic games! Every child there was smiling throughout the day! I am so thankful the community got together to support and love on this sweet family!!!!

Here is the link to download the images (the link expires in one week, note there are more images available for download than included in this post)

Anwsers for Annabelle Superhero 5K Fun Run

   Saturday, July 15 2017, I will be photographing an event hosted for a local family fighting an illness with their youngest daughter, Annabelle. Recently they found out this sweet girl has Mitochondrial Disease. She has been fighting Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) since birth. Belle has gone into surgery 29 times, she's only just finished Kindergarten! Strong doesn't even begin to describe her. The family has a blog that has followed their journey over the years, I highly recommend reading it! I am barely scrapping the top in this blog, I've been reading their blog for a couple years. Her mom, Ashley, keeps it very real on there. She has brought so much awareness through this! There is also a Facebook page for the event. Annabelle has come so close to leaving this world, and she's fought back EVERY time. She is the true definition of a superhero! I can't wait to see her in all her superhero gear Saturday. Many events will be going on Saturday, there is a live band, auctions, the walk itself, a cornhole tournament, and much more! There will be plenty for all ages! I will be photographing the events throughout the day and also taking quick family pictures for anyone who wants them! Please register and join us this weekend to help this family and show them the team standing behind them! All images on this blog were provided by the family.

Here are the details!!

Register here!

Saturday July 15, 2017

Cold Harbor Ruritan Park

8145 Walnut Grove Road

Mechanicsville, VA 23111

7:00am-2:00pm

Wedding at The Mansion at Double R Ranch in Suffolk, Virginia

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Brandee and Dylan's wedding!!! All of the details were so heartfelt, the bride's mother actually made a lot of them! You could feel the love everywhere that day. Dylan and his groomsmen were a blast to be around, they kept everyone laughing. They even had a food truck come at the end of the night, it was a HUGE hit (delicious too!)! I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to second shoot this with Elizabeth Henson Photos. Check out her post to see a full list of vendors!

Elgert Family Announcement

I always love seeing this family! I've been so grateful and honored that they have allowed me to capture their family photos, Nick's First Birthday, and now a special announcement. We found a cute little park in West Point, VA in the fall for this session. They are expecting a sweet bundle of joy in July! Nick is going to be an amazing big brother!! I cannot wait to see this family become a family of four!!!

Zoey's 1st Birthday!

Zoey is a big ball of fun! I was luckily enough to get her, her sweet mama and granddad in front of my camera recently to celebrate her first birthday! Zoey had the cutest outfits to match her glowing personality! Even though I had her up well past her bedtime to get the beautiful sunset lighting, she was so sweet. She'd just look right at me and smile so big, how lucky am I?! I loved spending my evening with her for this special occasion.

Nick's 1st Birthday Cake Smash!

I had the privilege of taking this sweet family's picture this past winter, so when they reached out about Nick's first birthday, I couldn't wait! This age is SO SO much fun! Their little personalities are starting to show and they are so curious. Nick LOVES baseballs and balloons, he even brought along his snuggly panda stuffed animal. By the end of the session he had chocolate cake and sprinkles between his little fingers and toes and was throwing his head back laughing! I could spend all my time capturing those precious moments!!!

Miss Raegan

Last week I was so lucky to spend time with David and Karley's little girl, Raegan. She made the cutest faces for me the entire time! She has the greatest parents in the world, that adore her to pieces!

Seriously, she will give you baby fever!!!!!

The Sheldon Family- Jackson

I asked friends and family to nominate anyone who has gone through a hardship and could use some uplifting by a gift of a photo session. When I had several people nominate Jessica and Chris for a photoshoot, there was no doubt in my mind they would absolutely receive a session! I’ve known Jessica since elementary school, but I didn’t know the extent of their family situation. After reading their story, my heart ached for them.

Their son, Jackson, was diagnosed during pregnancy with an atrial septal defect and a ventricular septal defect. This meant he had holes in the upper and lower chambers of his heart. It was allowing blood to be regurgitated the opposite direction in his heart. Chris and Jessica had doctor’s tell them to terminate the pregnancy because of the defects and that children with these defects commonly have Down syndrome. They decided not to terminate the pregnancy.

May 2014 Jackson was born, free from any chromosomal defects! A little over a year later he went in for open heart surgery. If they waited too long for the surgery Jackson would have died from drowning in his own blood in his lungs. The open heart surgery took 7 hours and there was a 2% chance he wouldn’t make it through! I cannot imagine the anxiety the entire family had during that time! Baby Jackson made it through the surgery and is now stronger than ever!

Jackson has so many people who care deeply for him. His mom and dad love him like crazy! He also has a sweet older sister, Cassidy, who adores him! After spending the evening with them it is easy to see why they are such an easy going and loveable family!

He will continue to see a cardiologist once a year for a checkup. His heart still leaks blood, so they have to keep a close eye on it. If the leak grows or begins to leak heavier he will have another open heart surgery to keep him healthy.

I am SO lucky to have been able to spend the evening photographing this family and watching little Jackson exert his energy! Thank you to those who nominated this family, they are AMAZING examples of courageous human beings! Jackson is an amazing little trooper!! He has endured SO much during his life already and is still full of joy and happiness! Cassidy and Jackson are incredibly blessed to have such strong role models to look up to!!