Tara is probably a familiar face around here, and that's because we've been best friends since I was 16, so I basically can't not take photos of her! When I found out she was expecting I was naturally thrilled, and have been not-so-patiently-waiting to take maternity photos for them for about 30 weeks now. I absolutely love how these all turned out and almost did two blog posts last week just so I could share them sooner! Enjoy xx
Hey, there! Another week, another post, and this week it's Bryce and Emily on the blog! It has been raining quite a bit so we were crossing our fingers the weather would hold for at least a few hours, and it did! And a good thing too, because I think the moody weather set the tone for these photos, and I kind of love how they all turned out. I know I say it all the time, but there were just too many good ones to choose from! Bryce and Emily and I have all known each other for years, but it was nice to get to spend some time getting to know them before their wedding. Emily and I got to bond over our love of plants (Bryce called them weeds, but he's wrong. Sorry, Bryce!), and I'm telling ya, their decorations at the wedding are going to be on point! Bryce and Emily, you guys are too cute! I can't wait for your day!
At the time of this post, Abel is now three weeks old, and Kristi is actually on her way over now so I can get some snuggles in with him! When I found out Chris and Kristi were expecting I was thrilled, and when they asked me to document it I was ecstatic. I don't think any of us knew what we were in for, but Chris and especially Kristi were total troopers throughout the entire birth. If I've learned anything about birth, it's that it will alway bring surprises. Kristi, I'm so very proud of you. You showed incredible strength and watching you labor for hours and hours was one of the hardest things I've ever done, so I can't imagine what it was like for you. You've already made a fantastic mother, and I can't wait to see your little tugboat grow!
Kristi very sweetly agreed to let me share her birth story here, so what happened in her words are below.
Chris and I had planned to birth at home from day one. Not only had one of my best friends just had a beautiful homebirth, but after much research, we knew that it was the very best thing for our family. The entirety of my pregnancy was a breeze, and we had a joyful expectation that his birth would be no different. However, plans do change. Here is our story:
On Thursday, July 20th, I started having weak contractions. They were about 45 minutes apart. They felt mostly like period cramps, so I wasn’t getting my hopes up since I still had over a week until my due date, but I was so anxious to know if labor might actually be starting soon. I took two baths that night, to try and relax, before finally going to sleep late in the morning. I woke up the next day and the contractions were gone. I went to grab coffee with friends that morning and didn’t think much of it again. Around 11pm on Friday evening, I woke up to contractions, a bit stronger this time. They still weren’t terribly painful, but they were consistently 12-15 minutes apart. I kept hearing my Midwife’s voice in my head telling me to “GO TO BED,” but instead I did the dishes, the laundry, took a bath, and paced the house timing the contractions until almost 6am. At that point, I woke up Chris and asked him to help me set the pool up, and texted my midwife to let her know what was going on, but then went about my day. Contractions continued throughout the day, even getting as close as 7-8 minutes apart while I was at a family reunion. By the time Chris got home around 4pm, my contractions were hard and about 4-6 minutes apart. I texted Anna (my midwife) for her to come down, and about an hour later she arrived with our doula, Ellie. They checked me and I was still completely closed. I was a mixture of disappointed and embarrassed for having them drive over an hour for nothing. They left to go home, and I honestly forget what all I did the rest of the day.
Around 12:30am we called Anna to come back down, and she arrived within an hour. I had been laboring in the pool for most of the evening, and when I got out to be checked, she said I was 9cm!! To say I was thrilled, would be an understatement. I had been so afraid to be told that no progress had been made again, and instead, I was told that baby will be coming very soon!! Or, so we all thought. Over the course of the next 20 hours, I labored in the pool, in the shower, while walking, while squatting, while on hands and knees, while on my back..etc. Basically anything we could try, we did, and yet my labor still seemed to be taking two steps back for every one step forward. I even had Anna rupture my water in hopes to speed things back up, but it didn’t make any difference. By this time, exhaustion that had set in, and I know everyone was feeling it, but anytime I was asked to try and sleep I just wanted to cry. Not only did I want my baby out ASAP, but due to Abel being in a posterior position, anytime I was laying on my back or side, the contractions were intensified greatly. So, at this point I was really wishing I had gotten those extra hours of sleep before true labor set it.
When Anna checked me Sunday evening around 7:45pm, I was down to 6cm and very swollen. I told her I was done; that I did not want to keep doing this. We had this same conversation several hours before, and I remember telling Anna and Chris that all I wanted and needed was for someone to cut this baby out of me. They encouraged me to keep going, but this time, I truly felt at the end of my rope. I can’t remember the exact conversation; all I know is that we all agreed to make the transfer to the hospital. Sheila, one of my very best friends, helped me pack a bag for the baby and myself, while I just sat on the floor of the nursery. I felt defeated, but anxious to finally be getting some relief and rest.
Within 15 minutes, we were on the way to Mercy hospital and checking into Labor and Delivery. I received an epidural and pitocin, and within seconds I was asleep. They woke me up at 3am, and I was still not progressing. More pitocin. At 6:30am I had progressed to almost 7cm, and the doctor gave me his recommendation, which was to opt for the cesarean. Chris and I were both so surprised that even though he was firm in his recommendation, he wasn’t pushy. I was allowed to labor longer if I chose to, but was told that there were possible consequences to me and the baby. We called our midwife to come up, and she agreed with the doctors recommendation. By 7am we were getting ready for surgery and at 7:35am on July 24th, our sweet baby, Abel Declan, was born. I heard his cry and knew that it was all worth it.
Chris and I are so very thankful for everyone involved in our birth. Each person, from our home birth team to the hospital staff, was so incredibly kind and encouraging. Without them all, I can’t imagine how different our story would be.
These past weeks have been so beautifully blessed, but I can be so cruel to myself - thinking about all the what-ifs. What if I would have slept more the few days before? What if I would have done more exercises to help him turn? What if I would have just labored one more hour, or one more day even? Could I have gotten the birth experience that I wanted for my family? There is only one answer, and that’s a maybe. I will never know, but none of that matters. I’m holding him now, feeling him breathe, and smelling his sweet newborn smell, and it trumps all the questions, the embarrassment, and the disappointment. God was with me through it all, and He brought Abel safely into our arms; the rest is history.
Duncan and Jessica's wedding was a total dream. I mean, I'm not saying this has anything to do with it, but they're both engineers and every detail was carefully planned and went so. dang. smoothly. It probably helped that most of their friends were engineers too and helped the day go just perfect. Even the rain after the ceremony didn't phase them, and the party continued as planned! Jessica and Duncan, thank you so much for having me!! Scroll on for a lovely bride, funny guys, a moody storm cloud covered ceremony, and some killer dance moves.
When I first met with Saxon and Abby and she casually mentioned traveling abroad for 10 months, I was immediately intrigued. As we talked more and the story of how they met unfolded, I thought it was so incredibly cool how two people that had been traveling for months ended up meeting each other in another state and realizing they were both from the same area. When we went to do their engagement photos I asked Abby if she would want to write for the blog post how they met, and she happily agreed, so below is the story of how they met!
Hi, this is Abby! By no means am I a writer but mine and Saxon's love story kind of wrote itself. I’m excited to share it just as excited as I am about the pictures she has captured for us!
So, I was backpacking Australia, Bali, Singapore, and Thailand when I felt the Lord call me to Hawaii. It all worked itself out and I ended up in Hawaii in the end of June 2016.
Saxon had been roadtripping around the US for 4 months when He also felt like the Lord was calling him to Hawaii. He arrived beginning of June 2016.
We were both in Hawaii with Youth with a Mission to volunteer and work on the base. One of the first work days for me, we had to introduce ourselves in front of the group, I began with “I am Abby from Arkansas” and moments later I heard a deep voice beside me say “Where are you from in Arkansas?” I looked up to a tan, man bunned, Arkansas hat and shirt wearing man. We quickly found out we were both from Fort Smith, went to the same school at different times and had sooo many friends in common. We were kind of shocked that we had never met before seeing we had both grown up in the same town for 20+ years and being just streets away most all that time.
We both just hit it off, had the same sense of humor and became quick friends.
Not long later we went to watch the sunset one night and as the sun set, Saxon asked me on our first date. We went on that date and the rest is kind of history.
We survived 9 months of long distance as Saxon went to a 9 month school in California. We finally reunited for good in May and got engaged days later. :)
We are so so so excited for our big day and for the rest of our lives together.