I am so excited and honored that 100 Layer Cakelet is featuring my sweet baby's nursery and newborn photos today! The feature got me all sentimental--I blame those crazy hormones again--and inspired me to share our journey of becoming parents for the first time with you. We chose our friends and amazing photographers Brett & Jessica Donar (who also photographed our wedding) to share this experience with us, and they captured all of the beautiful images in this post.
Our journey to parenthood, like many others, did not start off as easily as I thought it would. Honestly, it had never occured to me that getting pregnant could be difficult or take time. I mean, plenty of people do it without even trying, right? And isn't it just what our bodies, as women, are built to do? That was my thinking, so when I didn't get pregnant right away, I was disappointed and felt like a failure. It was emotionally exhausting to get my hopes up month after month, and I was crushed each time it didn't happen. The time between finding out you "failed" and when you can try again is practically unbearable. People tell you, "Just don't think about it," but that is flatout impossible. After several months, I began to think about and look into other options, like adoption, which I have since learned is a pretty normal reaction and what most women in that situation do, and then after several more months, I was considering those options a little more seriously. I was beginning to lose hope. (Before I go any further, I want to take a second to say that in retrospect, I did not have to wait that long--it just felt like forever at the time. In fact, it really was a fairly reasonable amount of time, and I know there are many couples who have to wait much longer than we did and who had much more difficult journeys. To all of you, I have so much respect for your strength and ability to go on about your lives for, somtimes, years with this deep yearning, sadness, and disappointment in your hearts. You are amazing people.)
I should have trusted the plan that was in place for me and Thomas because just when I had decided it probably wasn't going to happen--it did! I found out I was pregnant days before Christmas in 2014. I didn't intend to find out without my husband, but I really didn't think I was pregnant, so I didn't think there was any harm in confirming what I already knew by taking a test after he had left for work. I remember watching as the first pink line appeared and then almost tossing the test in the trash because I just knew nothing else was going to happen. But then I saw the faintest pink line you could possibly imagine, and I remember thinking, "Well, I don't remember seeing that before...That's weird." I stared at the test, and even as the second line got darker, my brain denied the possibility that it could be positive. I didn't believe it until the test showed two equally dark pink lines. I started to cry and yell, "No way!" at myself in the bathroom mirror.
It was so hard not to immediately call my husband and tell him the news over the phone, but I wanted to see his reaction, so I forced myself to wait until he got home. When we first started talking about having a baby, I had a mini version of his church softball team jersey made that I planned to give him when I got pregnant. So I pulled the baby jersey out of its hiding spot in my car, wrapped it, and put it under the Christmas tree. Thomas was deadset on waiting until Christmas morning to give each other our Christmas presents, so it took some convincing and pleading to get him to open the present that night. I will never forget his reaction. It was exactly what you would want--surprise, joy, tears. I loved that moment.
The next big moment was telling our friends and family. I wanted to send out pregnancy announcements that matched my vintage style, so we found an antique baby carriage to use in our photo shoot. To tell our immediate families, I made cards using the photos that we gave them on Valentine's Day. I put a picture on the inside of the card and cut a small heart out of the front of the card that revealed only my and Thomas' faces when the card was closed, but when they opened it up, there we were with an ultrasound in our hands and a baby carriage beside us! Here are some of the photos from that shoot:
I was very fortunate to have an easy pregnancy. I had some nausea and exhaustion in the very beginning, but neither lasted very long. Watching my body change was difficult, at first, but once I clearly looked pregnant, I started to enjoy my little belly, maternity clothes, and baby kicks and hiccups. I was super lucky that I was most pregnant in the summer. I know, I know--right now you are thinking that I'm crazy, but I was teaching, so I was out of school and got to stay home in the air conditioning, sleep in, nap, and do everything I needed to get ready for Baby G. Now, don't think I slept all the time. We live in a very old house--built in the 1930s, so there was a lot that needed to be done before Baby G came. My husband and I renovated our kitchen ourselves, I powerwashed the house, painted the front door, planted new bushes in our flower beds, and did quite a bit of work on the nursery, as you will see!
Toward the end of the summer and the end of my pregnancy, we did a maternity shoot. I was nervous that I would hate how I looked because I was 6 1/2 months pregnant and it was 90 degrees outside, but these photos are some of my most favorite ever, and I feel I look more beautiful in them than I ever have before, which is not only a testament to Brett & Jessica's abilities, but proof that pregnancy is truly an amazing and beautiful thing.
When I started planning this shoot, right away I knew I wanted to go back to the farm where Thomas and I got married--the place where we began our journey together. I loved the idea of revisiting the happiest day of our lives up to that point, knowing that we were beginning a whole new journey--one that would be full of many more happy days with our sweet baby boy. I wanted to re-create some of the shots Brett & Jessica captured on our wedding day, so I picked out a beautiful white dress, and commissioned Anna at Simply Elegant Floral Designs to make a floral hairpiece that mimicked our wedding flowers. She used the same roses, greenery, and red berries that were in my bouquet. The day of the shoot, we returned to some of the same spots where we took pictures right after our wedding ceremony. We stood beneath the tree we got married under; we walked down the same drive we posed on and walked down after our ceremony; and we held each other in front of the same fence we stood in front of in our first few minutes as a married couple. Not only was it fun to go back and look through our wedding photos and recreate the same poses, but it was also a beautiful, emotional experience. Standing on my family's farm in my husband's arms almost two years from our wedding day, I remembered the love I felt for him that day. I remembered that as we took pictures, Brett & Jessica told us to hold each other as tightly as we could and to whisper to each other what we were most excited about for our new life together. Thomas whispered that he was excited for us to start a family, and here we were, about to welcome our first child. His words made me smile that day, and remembering them filled me with joy. Reliving these memories and reflecting on how our relationship had grown and how it would continue to grow with the birth of our son was a gift and a blessing. Here are some of the gorgeous photos from that shoot:
If you have looked at my blog post about our wedding, I'm sure you can pick out the pictures we recreated!
On August 28, we welcomed Baby G. You will see that from the very beginning he looked just like his daddy. There was no question that this baby was all Thomas, but that is exactly what I wanted--a little mini Thomas. He was our perfect baby.
I couldn't wait to bring him home and rock him to sleep in the nursery I had designed just for him. So many of Baby G's family members helped me bring my design to life, which made it even more special. Thomas' mom sewed the cribskirt, my mom made the curtains, and Thomas made the lightfixture. (He used an awesome tutorial you can find here!) And just look at that amazing shelving unit! Thomas made that too--I sure do have an amzingly talented husband! Thomas and my mom both took shopping trips with me and helped me pick out the perfect vintage pieces for decor. Thomas and I did quite a bit of shopping on our mini-babymoon on the coast. He picked out some old tools, books, and a baseball glove for the shelving unit. And I have to thank my great aunt, as well. Several of the pieces in the room, including that awesome ladder, are from her. It turned out so perfectly, and Graham, Thomas, and I love spending time in there. Check out the feature on 100 Layer Cakelet to see more!