Virginia Beach portrait and lifestyle photographer specializing in comfortable portraits and candids
Guess what?! We are expecting a baby! We’re overjoyed over this absolute miracle we’ve prayed so hard for. It’s been a long road to get pregnant, and we are not taking this for granted. There are also complications, so we still have a long way to go before we hold a healthy baby in our arms. Without dramatics, we received the most earth shaking news we’ve received in our lives with this pregnancy.
I wanted to write this blog post to restore some normalcy, addressing the joy and the needs of this baby’s life. I love reading and hearing about people’s stories, even before I was pregnant, about how they were feeling, what they were craving, and all of the fun little details of their pregnancy. So, I polled instagram for questions. I gathered them, added some of my own, and decided to put them in a blog post! I would love to update this post as I go along, so if you have any questions I didn’t answer, please add yours in the comments! As best I can be, I’m an open book.
How did you find out you were pregnant?
Chad and I have had a nearly 5 year long journey to get to where we are today. To keep things short, we tried naturally for a year, went through months of clomid, 9 IUIs, 2 miscarriages, 1 “chemical pregnancy,” and 2 rounds of IVF. Our story has many chapters. So, we have been very aware of where we were in the process each month and each time we try. One of the things infertility steals is the element of joyous surprise. You know exactly when each “event” happens, and there is a cool factor there, but there’s also less mystery. We knew we were pregnant towards the end of September after a scheduled blood test!
Our official due date is June 2, 2021. I love this because my birthday is June 3! I used to have opinions of less desirable due dates, but soon after we realized we were in a struggle to get pregnant, all of that went out the window. I’m STOKED no matter when baby comes, and because of her diagnosis, it really could be April, May or June!
Boy or girl?
We found out at 13 weeks through a blood test that we are having a girl! I could have waited until birth, but now that we know, it’s been very fun to use pronouns, and really allow ourselves to dream. We were keeping it secret until we told our parents at Christmas, and then we didn’t care who knew! We decided not to do a gender reveal party because that’s not really us, but we did have a mini reveal with our friends for their kids. Really, I think it was just an excuse to get together and eat cake. I had a sweet friend take these photos so we could have the memories.
How are you feeling physically?
Up until 8 weeks, I felt relatively normal with very minimal symptoms. Weeks 8-18, I had nausea that came mainly in the late morning and worsened into the evening. I never threw up, but my gag reflex was primed and I smelled EVERYthing. Even still, I can’t use scented laundry detergent.
Pregnancy hasn’t been comfortable. I’m not experiencing bliss or magic, and I don’t want to be pregnant forever as I’ve heard some women say. But it also has been very manageable, especially after finding some key wardrobe pieces that made my growing and changing body feel less, well, fat. I only felt exhausted a few days, and that was due to the nausea. I felt great when I’d wake up and I’d try to do all of the things but as soon as I started feeling sick, I retired to the couch.
As far as taking care of my body, IVF makes it hard to maintain a strenuous activity level. I like to workout, but I’m willing to put that aside of the doctor says to take it easy… and with IVF, they say that for at least 4 weeks. And then when we found out we were pregnant, I was so nervous to do much that I stayed pretty inactive. It’s a good day when I go for a walk or do some squats while I brush my teeth. I do feel my body craving movement, so I’m trying to be better about that, knowing that it is good for me!
Have you had any weird food cravings?
Maybe Mike & Ikes? I didn’t really crave anything, otherwise. It was more, “What doesn’t make me sick?” And carbs were it. Pasta and sauce, bread, rice dishes, pizza… I lost an appetite for my usual love of chocolate/sweets, and I didn’t want ice cream or cookies or anything. I couldn’t eat very much, either. My meals were small, but very unhealthy haha. On days where I woke up feeling good, I’d try to make a green smoothie to get in as much nutrition as possible before I felt bad.
At this point, I’m back to my normal appetite. I’m doing my best to eat healthy now that it doesn’t turn my stomach, but I think I developed a carb addiction and that has been hard to break! Thank goodness for pre-natal vitamins.
Did you have to cancel weddings?
Unfortunately, I did! One! I was very nervous writing and sending the email, yet it was the best for both me and the couple. Thankfully, the bride and groom were so excited for us and the process was very smooth. I’m grateful for the women in this industry who are very supportive and step up in times of need!
Have you thought about names?
We were planning on announcing our baby’s name with birth, but with the unexpected turn our pregnancy took [see below], we decided to share the name we chose: Hana, pronounced Hahh-Nahh. It’s the name of our favorite town in Maui, a place that is dear to me and Chad. It’s a small town, hard to get to, but where we’ve spent some of our most favorite days together.
Our baby’s health needs.
At our 20 week ultrasound, we found out that our baby has a very rare tumor growing off of her tail bone. It’s called a sacrococcygeal teratoma, or SCT. This news changed EVERYTHING: our perspective on the future, our prayer life, our conversations. We went from planning nursery ideas to not being sure if our girl will even survive pregnancy. As I write this only three weeks later, it is still week to week.
If you’re interested in all of the details, we’ve set up this website to be able to update friends and family. As of now, our appointments are on Thursdays at Johns Hopkins Hospital and we invite you to pray with us!
What scripture are you feeling drawn to in this season?
I have been drawn to different things over the past 5 years of struggling through infertility, and mainly it’s been so wild to see how much there is in the bible about suffering. My eyes truly were opened to that as we walked through waiting for a baby and being unsure of what the future held and now this season of uncertainty surrounding our baby’s health needs. It seems that God makes his biggest moves during seasons of suffering. For example, the book of Exodus. It’s not only a great telling of the power of God, the glory of God, and the sovereignty of God, but of the Hebrew people’s daily sufferings and learning to be daily dependent on God. Even if you’re not a bible reader, you can be encouraged by the patience of a loving God devoted to his fickle and downtrodden people.
But also: Psalm 62 [And the song by the same name by Paul Zach] as an encouragement to wait on the Lord; Romans 12:15 as an encouragement that it’s possible to both be sad and joyful at the same time.
How are you finding joy?
The concept of joy in suffering can become a mysterious, lofty goal that can float away like a balloon. But simply put, here are a few places we find joy:
Music: it’s amazing how a good songwriter can express things for you, and make you feel things you didn’t know how to express. Chad and I have found joy and comfort in music that both relates to our troubles as well as lifts us up out of them.
Friendships: we have felt the hands of God through people’s kindness and sacrifices. Even if it’s just as simple as a gas card or a box of brownies on our porch. To experience friendships acted out has been a blessing and has brought us joy.
Laughter: This sounds silly, but we watch New Girl often, and it just feels good to laugh, y’all! Friends who can joke with us and not be so somber have been a blessing.
The Gospel of Jesus: If you are a Christian and the Gospel does not bring you joy in your suffering, I would challenge you to spend time digging in. Obviously, we have good days and bad, and we’re far from a state of euphoria. We have days where we just cry and ask God WHY. But centering our lives on the life-saving, eternal impact of Jesus is really important for our mental stability and perspective. If you are not a Christian and this makes you uncomfortable or confused, feel free to ask for a better explanation – I’d be happy to chat.
What advice would you give to other women waiting for their miracle baby?
Before I begin, I just want to say that I don’t have a prescription to formula to make this road easy, or to make it so you’ll have a baby by next year. Women who wait all experience it differently with different worries and roadblocks. Here’s what helped me:
Acknowledge the miracle: For us, we had “unexplained infertility.” This meant there was no medical explanation for why we couldn’t get pregnant or stay pregnant. I spent my fair share of dark, sleepless nights looking for a solution on google, grasping at anything. And there are people who will suggest all kinds of crazy things to you on the internet [and in person]. But a common mantra I said to myself was, “God is bigger than ____” and I’d fill in the blank with whatever I was stressing about: God is bigger than gluten. God is bigger than bleach products. God is bigger than special diets. God is bigger than whatever thing I decided was the “answer” to my problems. I needed to acknowledge and rest in the fact that it was all out of my hands. That can be frustrating for a while, but it ultimately became comforting knowing that I’m not responsible and that we were waiting for a miracle.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” It was important to me for my friends to weep with me. It was equally important for me to be a friend who could rejoice with my friends and their “successes.” Whether that was celebrating a pregnancy or dropping a meal off for a new mom, or a 1st birthday party, or a baby shower, I needed and wanted to show up and be present for them. And I did NOT want to be disgruntled. This is my life. I only get one. I didn’t want to spend mine not showing up for my friends and their kids whose lives I wanted to be a part of. And when we experienced a loss – be it a miscarriage or unsuccessful treatment, they showed up. They sent flowers and they visited me [without their kids]. They asked me what was helpful and they cried with me and were intercessors, praying with and for me. I understand that not everyone can do this – I know we’re all different, but for me, pursing joy was VERY important.
When is your next appointment? We want to be praying!
For now, our appointments are on Thursdays. We will keep our updates coming over on our Caring Bridge website.