"accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be..."
We're expecting! It's been a challenging journey, and at longlast it has happened. But before I get too far ahead of myself, I'll start from the beginning.
When Justin and I got married it was March 2014. Shortly after, we learned we were pregnant. Although it wasn't planned, we were of course thrilled at the idea of becoming parents, and I a mother. Unfortunately, I miscarried six weeks later.
Subsequently after that, the following year, I had to endure yet another loss. It was now early 2015 and this feeling felt all too familiar. All of a sudden you're having talks with your doctor about the possibility of "alternative options". After our second loss, we decided to take a break and shelve the whole baby subject for awhile and just enjoy each other's company and live life.
Fast forward to December of that year, 2015. We were preparing for a holiday getaway to Asheville, North Carolina. Even though it was going to be over the holidays, we decided we needed a break away from it all. We were on our way to Publix to pick up some last minute items for our pre-Christmas dinner that we decided to celebrate just us at the house, when I received a phone call from my Grandmother telling me that my father had died suddenly. It was December 23rd. My parents were having the entire family over for Christmas that year so my Dad was out in the yard taking care of some last-minute tasks. My mom went out to check on him and found him facedown in the dirt. She tried to revive him while the ambulance arrived, but it was too late...he was gone.
Of course 2016 was already off to a very difficult start. I tried as best I could to be there for my Mom, and to take care of myself. Luckily, I find so much joy in what I do so keeping busy helped. A few months later, in May, I noticed that my 8-year-old Golden Retriever, Scout, was having health issues. I immediately took him to the vet and they couldn't figure out what was going on, so I took him to a specialist. They ran a series of scans and informed me that Scout had tumors that had spread throughout his body. Further discovery revealed that he had hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive cancer of the blood found almost exclusively in Golden Retrievers. They gave him a week to live.
I was devastated. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't bear the idea of having such little control. Here was my little love, my best friend, my companion I'd raised since he was just 8 weeks old. I mean I'd known him longer than I'd known my husband. Scout was my one and only animal, my first little buddy, and one of the things that had been getting me through all of this loss and losing a parent suddenly, what was I going to do without him?
With our help, Scout was able to live a couple of months longer than the doctors had given him. We were able to celebrate his 8th birthday together, just me and him, at our favorite little secret spot on the beach. I documented our time together that day and made a video, and a very special portrait (below). Looking back, I am so grateful for the opportunity of knowing that it was coming so that I could create this very special moment.
After that, time went quick and before I knew it was time for me to make the most difficult decision of choosing Scout's comfort over the thought of being without him. With the help of an in-home veterinarian, I curled up with Scout on the kitchen floor and stroked his little head while we administratered an aid to help him to sleep. When it was over, I sat on kitchen floor, his head in my lap, and whispered my goodbyes. It was so difficult because it's more peaceful than you imagine it will be. He looked normal, as if he had drifted off to sleep on his favorite spot on the cool kitchen tile, like he had a hundred times before while watching me cook.
Once the veterinarian left with Scout, I walked back into the empty house and began to gather his things- his toys, his bed, his bowl...It was more than I could bear. I fell to my knees and cried and prayed, and cried and prayed. I felt so alone. I felt so heartbroken. All of the loss, all of the disappointment, it all just came down on me at once. I thought to myself this is it. This is how it's going to be. Things just don't work out for some people and I have to be OK with that.
Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep the faith. It will all be worth it in the end.
Since I document first year milestones for a living, I am in a unique situation in which my profession centers around new life and new beginnings. It's what I experience every day. I have the extraordinary honor of being a part of the most intimate moments of people's lives and in some cases, I've been able to witness the birth and growth of all children in a family.
Nearly two years since the last miscarriage, with no luck in-between, I had almost given up on the idea that I might actually become a mother. That I might someday get to experience what I've had the opportunity to document for so many others. For so long I've documented other people's miracles, other people's milestones. I still have to pinch myself so I know that this isn't a dream.
The irony is, that after all of this struggle, after all of this heartache and loss in succession, it has only helped my understanding of my profession. My experiences have given me a higher appreciation for what I do.
It's as if He planned it this way.
It's not just the length of time and constant disappointment that is surprising, it's the way that it happened. The day after I took the test, I immediately rushed over to a specialist. In speaking with the doctor, I learned just how slight a chance things could work out this way. From the timing of it all to the last detail. I kept thinking to myself, how could this not be divine intervention? What are the chances of this happening, after all this time, by "accident"? "Well, the chance was 10%", the doctor said. Ten percent?... there is something bigger at play. We are not alone.
"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning."
So today, I close the door to the past, open the door to the future, take a deep breath, step on through and start a new chapter in my life.
It is with great pleasure that today, on Mother's Day 2017, I am able to share that our little miracle will be coming into the world just before Christmas and the anniversary of my father's death.