Our Infertility Journey

Mommyhood

It's something I wasn't prepared for. My eyes opened. It was a short birth, but it was only the beginning. That night I came to realize that this thing that I had been waiting for my entire life was something that I could never be prepared for. There's no way I could begin to know what to expect. I knew from the million and one people who had told me that it was worth it. In my mind I would roll my eyes because, well...I knew it was worth it. I also knew it would change my life. Those two things were told to me over and over again, but that night I realized those statements were so small compared to what they actually meant. That night, while staring at this miracle, stumbling my way into becoming a mom, and listening to the man I love tell our son our story, I was overwhelmed. I'll admit that it was a sickening feeling. I was literally sick to my stomach and felt like my heart would pop out of my chest. Part of me wondered what we had done. I didn't know how overwhelming the love and the sense of responsibility would be. It makes me think about people who choose to shy away from love out of fear of what they could lose. I get it now. The love I have for Steff is so great that it consumes me. It overwhelms me. It humbles me. That night, and the weeks to come, it, quite frankly, scared the hell out of me. I just kept asking my best friend, Andrea, why she didn't warn me about this and she just said that there was no way to do that. There's simply no way to explain it. It was probably the most surprising feeling. I knew I would love him, but I didn't know what that intense love would feel like. In the beginning, I often wondered if we could do this. Could we fill those roles that God had given us. I also thought to myself that anyone who did this more than once was a little insane and those who do this alone were super heros in disguise.

It's amazing how God designed us. Overtime he softens the memories of the hard parts and brings to light all the beauty that you seem to miss at the time. I'm convinced this is to ensure that the human race keeps on going. During those first few weeks, I would sometimes find myself crying just because I was scared we were focusing on the hard parts and not appreciating the beautiful parts. I thought we would surely regret that. I didn't know how we were "suppose" to be, but I just knew that wasn't it. I was too hard on us. If I could, I would go back and tell myself that it's okay that you're having a hard time. It's normal. You won't feel like a zombie forever. Yes...again...it IS normal. Let yourself feel this way. You're doing the right things and you are a wonderful mom. There's no wrong way and yes you will eventually learn how to listen to your motherly instincts...you do have them. You can do this.

So, 9 months later, we have managed to not only keep him alive and well, but are raising a pretty awesome kid...not that we are biased or anything. He is the perfect combination of sweet and wild. My heart bursts each and every time he takes his tiny hands and places them on my cheeks (or in my hair...whichever is most convenient) and pulls me in for a slobbery, messy, kiss. I know, in that moment, that he loves me. Or when he sees me walk into a room and his face lights up. He crawls to me as fast as he can. I pick him up and he gives me another one of those slobbery kisses. Or when he cries in the night and I go to get him and he places his head on my shoulder, his thumb in his mouth, and plays with my hair with the other hand. I know he needs me. He wants me there. I am thankful for him. I am thankful that God answered our prayers. All those years we struggled to bring him into our lives, I couldn't imagine being without him. That was even before we knew him. I am not only thankful for him, but I am thankful for those struggles. I thought all those struggles would just disappear out of sight once we had him. They haven't. They are a part of us. A part of him. A part of our family. A part of our story. I don't want to forget them. Instead I will embrace them. They will forever be etched into my soul, as his love is. Daily I think to myself and often say it out loud that I just can't believe we're parents. I can't believe I am finally a momma. I feel so blessed to celebrate this Mothers day in a way I never have before.

I want to say a big happy Mother's day to all you mommas...those who have already been blessed with their babies, those who see a baby in their future, and those who are currently fighting the battle to becoming a momma. I see each of you in a way I never did before. I hold your ups, downs, giggles, sloppy kisses, happy tears, sad tears, struggles, and battle scars close to my heart. I know you. I feel you. I celebrate you. I thank you. I love you.

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Steffen's Birth Story | Happy 7 Months

Okay...I'm finally sharing this. It's long, but I wanted to include everything. It's been finished for 4 months now. Here we go...

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"Love is a verb. People change when they are loved. Birth is a verb. People change when they are birthed or birth. When love and birth are united, powerful movement and change are inevitable. When the wind passes over the still pond, we see ripples on the water, but we do not see wind. Love passes over us continuously. We do not see love, but we experience its effects, its movement. We cannot stop Love or the changes loving brings about any more than we can stop the wind from blowing. And we cannot stop birth or the changes birth brings about." - Deborah Allen, Spirituality and Birth

Side note: This is somewhat graphic in a couple parts. I'm putting it all out there because I'm not only doing this to share with all of you, but as a record for our family. Consider yourself warned. lol.

This was started when Steff was 6 weeks old and finished at 3 months. I couldn't find the words until now.

As I sit here looking at the monitor, with my beautiful baby boy sound asleep on the other end, I think about how blessed I am. He melts my heart. I'll admit, the time since he's been born (6 weeks in about 30 minutes) has been both the happiest and the hardest of my life. I never imagined how hard it would be. I didn't realize that I had unrealistic expectations. I thought "hey...I've got these plans and then I'll adjust for us and Steffen". Number one piece of advice, don't have expectations or plans. Love every minute for what it is and don't expect to be rock star parents from the get go.

So...that is totally not the point of this. I want to remember it all. Every single thing about his birth. It's our story and it's a beautiful one. And a long one. It took what seemed like forever for us to be blessed with this miracle. We tried and prayed for years until God's plan was revealed. I honestly wouldn't change a thing. Be sure to check out the story of how we got here...it's a pretty good one too.

It all started a few weeks before my due date of August 5th. My uterus, which had been measuring right on with my due date, had started to measure small and I really wasn't gaining much weight. Our midwife, Melissa, suggested that we have an ultrasound with her consulting OB (who just so happened to be a high risk OB that delivered my wonderful sister Macy). She was calm and didn't try to alarm us. She said he was just probably a small baby, but since we had conceived via IVF, in combo with me measuring small, it would be best to not take any chances (we felt so blessed that we had all this care, plus the amazing care we had previously with our fertility specialist/OB and IVF dr's). Our ultrasound came and we were both measuring small as well as the blood pressure in the umbilical cord was high. All these numbers were just slightly off and we were assured that it was probably nothing, but worth monitoring and possibly inducing just to be safe. We kicked "get baby out naturally and healthy" in gear. Our number one goal...healthy baby. Our number two goal...as close to a natural (for us, this meant unmedicated, without interventions) birth as we could get. I wasn't opposed to induction, but knew that it could start a roller coaster of interventions.

Melissa asked if I would like for her to "strip my membranes" to see if it would get things started. She had also checked and I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced, which apparently doesn't necessarily mean a dang thing (Side note...I had, in the past, had severe cervical stenosis, so for me to be effaced that much and to have started dilating and for the cervix to be very soft, made me extremely excited). That evening I had my first "pressure waves" (what our birth preparation course, Hypnobabies, called contractions). We were so excited. Bret was more and more excited with each one and equally disappointed when they didn't amount to anything. As was my best friend, Andrea, who we texted the entire time. They were 30 minutes apart while driving to our baby CPR class. Then they were 20 minutes apart (while we were at the CPR class, out to dinner, and on our way home). Then they were no more. The next day I began losing my "mucus plug" (I mean seriously...could they not find a better word for this?). I thought that this had to be it. Texted our doula (who also taught our Hypnobabies class), who said that they can regenerate and that it could just be from the stripping done the day before. We employed several "induction" methods just in case. Walking, squats, Evening Primrose Oil (which I had been taking since 36 weeks), bouncing on the birth ball, and eating spicy food (luckily I didn't have heart burn at all), among other things. I knew that if the ultrasound didn't look good and he didn't come along naturally, there would be a chance of induction when we went in on Tuesday. After talking with our doula, Julie, who had also talked with Melissa, who had also talked with the consulting OB (again...so blessed to get so much care and attention), we felt that things would be fine and we probably wouldn't have to be induced. Then came the ultrasound..on pins and needles. I even had my sister (who was one of the very few people I told that I was nervous because I didn't want to worry anyone else) come along just in case. Wouldn't you know it. Little man knew what was up and decided to gain a bunch of weight in one week. Things were back on track. We had an ultrasound the next week just in case. Everything looked perfect. At the end of the ultrasound I asked if I would see them again next week (I was just a few days away from my due date) and the response I got was "nope...you'll have a baby next week". Yikes! Could it be?

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Once we got to 40 weeks, thoughts of induction filled my head again. Walking...bouncing...yada...yada. Every exam showed that I was making no progress. All the bouncing (and pelvic tilts) were keeping him in just the right position, but nothing was helping push along the birth. He just wasn't ready. Momma was ready, but body and baby were not. My due date, Friday, August 5th came...and went. But wait...what are these...these feel different than before. Late on the night of August 5th I started having for real pressure waves, but only 3 that night. They were strong enough to wake me from my sleep, which I hadn't had before. The next day is when things got interesting. The morning of Saturday August 6th, things were getting more intense. I was craving my favorite pancakes from Ramsey's, so to Lexington we went.

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We timed everything all day. Things were pretty close together and strong, but still all over the place. We were waiting for "longer, stronger, and closer together" for an hour or more and were just never sure that was happening. I had quite a bit of back pressure, which really threw me off. I wasn't sure if the back pressure was also pressure waves. Now, most of the pressure waves I knew for a fact were real. They were intense. The ones during the day I wanted to feel. I almost enjoyed them. Yep...you read that right. I wanted more than anything for this to be the real thing. I didn't even use a lot of the techniques we had learned in Hypnobabies because I wanted to feel everything at that point. We hurried through breakfast because things were getting more intense. It was pretty hilarious having a server come up to you, asking if you need anything else to drink, while you're getting ready to have a baby and timing contractions. Once home, we went for a walk and had to stop a couple times. I listened to my early birthing CD's from Hypnobabies to relax and remind me how wonderful everything was going to turn out and how my body was doing what it's meant to do and this was normal and natural. Then came the evening. We had been texting back and forth with Julie (our doula), our photographer and friend Amy, and Andrea. I just kept asking "Is this it? Is this how it feels when it's time?" No one was sure because I was apparently calm. I wasn't sure because the back pressure. I decided to take a bath to see if things would slow down. I knew if it did that it wasn't the real thing. I don't know how long I was in the tub. I listened to a CD to help clear all of my fears and relax. I'm pretty sure I actually fell asleep. I know things started getting very intense at that point. I told Bret that I really thought this was it and we needed to start making our cookies for the nurses (yep...not go to the hospital...bake cookies). This is something we had planned on doing early on to take our minds off of everything. I'm pretty sure we waited too late.

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(That was the last picture I took until leaving the hospital. Rest of the images you'll see are taken by my wonderful friend Amy of Amy Parsons Photography. Thank you Amy for what I will treasure forever.)

While baking, and right in the middle of a very intense, toe curling, pressure wave, we hear a knock at the door. I'm totally limp and leaning against Bret at this point. Bret has cookie dough covering his hands. I move over and lean against the counter. At the door, we find my uncle that raised me, and uncle Dave, who live 3 hours away. It was hilarious. They just happen to be in the area and stopped to see us. I was not very good company. Bret finished the cookies and we hung out for a while. Dave watched closely while I focused and breathed and curled my toes through each pressure wave. He would say "that was a good one wasn't it". I knew this was it at that point. This was around 8:20 PM (according to Bret). We called Julie and asked her to come work through our early birth time with us. Only thing was, we were way past that point. I laid on the couch and listened to my CD's. Bret put pressure on my shoulder and said some words of encouragement with each wave. I knew we were going to leave soon. Julie arrived and asked to time a couple waves. After the very close second pressure wave she said "Yeah...I think we should go". We quickly gathered rest of our things (most were already in the car). I wanted to get our things and get to the car before another pressure wave hit. Walking out the door, I stopped and reminded Bret this would be our last time in the house before this life changing event. This was just after 10 PM.

The drive. Oh the drive. I kept thinking about my friend Rebecca and how she said even her short drive to the hospital was not fun. Our drive would be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Speaking of time. I knew it was dark, but had no clue what time it was. I lost all concept of time. Time was measured in 5 minute increments to me. The hour didn't matter, only the time between each wave. While driving we text everyone and said we were on our way to the hospital. In our mind we had, not only the hour drive, but probably hours of birthing at the hospital. We didn't want to tell everyone too soon in case it would be a while. During the drive, with each wave, Bret would put his hand on my shoulder and try to help me work through it. Julie said she knew every time I had one because Bret would swerve a little. I felt like I was pushing my foot through the floor board. On the outside, I was apparently cool and calm, but on the inside I was a total mess. Things were getting very intense. I listened to everything I could to relax and it would work for a while, then I started to worry we wouldn't make it in time. I started playing mind games with myself.

We get to the hospital and Bret pulls to the front door. We get out, I get in a wheel chair (I had thought I would walk up, but was over that by this point). I won't let Bret leave to get our stuff until Julie is by my side. Julie arrives within the minute and Bret gets rest of our stuff from the car. I order...um ask nicely...for Bret to forget the car - he leaves it parked right at the front door of the hospital (where it stayed until after Steff was born and a friend asked if we wanted them to move it). They both help me through a very intense wave (I don't know what I would do without either one). I give the okay and we make our way to check in.

This whole time I feel like I'm looking and acting like a mess, but no one knew because I was so calm on the outside. This still amazes me because I really thought I was a mess. I broke out of my tranquil, calm, self, to let the lady at check in know that I was serious and needed to get back immediately. FYI...if you let them know this, they will hurry. She asked if I was in a lot of pain. I wanted to stay positive, but also knew that I needed to get back quickly. "Yes...yes...I'm in pain" made it's way out of my mouth. Then I kept telling myself "pressure, not pain. Pressure, not pain." Then...I closed my eyes. Everything was a blur. I left my eyes closed pretty much until Steff was on my belly. I opened them to see the room and to look Julie and Bret in the eyes when I thought I couldn't do it.

Once in the room, I was hooked up to the monitor to check on Steffen's heart rate. A cervical exam was also done to see how far I had come and how much I had to go. You can imagine my dismay when I was only dilated to 3 cm's. 3!!! I knew I had a while, but jeeze. The worse part though, Steff was not digging the pressure waves. I listened as my baby's heart beat would drop so far down that I thought it was going to stop completely. I was only 3 cm and I had to get my baby out. I had asked to not be hooked up to an IV and to only be hooked to the monitors for a short bit, but with this, everything changed. Whatever they said they needed to do, I said ok. Bret and Julie would, thankfully, ask all questions for me. I was so lost because all I could think about was that heart beat. I'll never forget that sound. I couldn't focus through the pressure waves at this point. They were too close together and too hard. I was shivering and couldn't stop. I had to pee so bad that I couldn't stand it and wasn't able to get off the monitor. Truly the worst part for me was the shivering and the pee. I couldn't concentrate. I laid there thinking I couldn't do this and I needed an epidural. I thought there was no way I could do this for hours. Everything was happening too fast. I had no time in between to refocus. (Side note...I definitely do not think there's anything wrong with epidurals, it's just not what I wanted. Everything had been so clinical for us. I wanted something to be as natural as possible. And I knew that, although my body was screwed up and it took forever to get pregnant, that didn't mean anything was wrong with me pregnant. Also note that the only reason I asked for an epidural was because I thought the long, strong, and close together waves were going to go on for hours. Just in case you're someone who's thinking "I knew she would ask for an epidural".)

I looked at Bret and Julie and calmly said "I can't do this. I want an epidural." Everything was back to back at this point. Almost constant. The nurses and Bret gave Melissa an update. Everyone thought it would be a while, but with Steff's heart beat dropping, she thought it best to come on. Once there, she checked and said "have you been feeling pushy?" I said that I had, but thought it was too soon and was holding back. Julie asked how far I was and she said "10. You're complete. He's here. Once I break your water, he's here." For the first time, I cried (this was tears of relief) and said "He's here?" She asked if I was sure I wanted the epidural right as the antistesiologist walked in. I said if he was here I didn't need it. Looking back, I should've known I was already in transition. Shivering from the hormones, pressure waves so close together. Julie always said that we don't birth by numbers and just hearing the numbers (dilation, etc) can be discouraging. It really messed with my mind that's for sure. I should've just trusted my body.

As everyone was scurrying around, I looked at Julie and said I didn't think I could do this. She said "You've done it. Open your eyes. Look at everyone running around. That means he's here." With another pressure wave, I said I couldn't hold my pee any more and that I was just going to do it. I peed everywhere and felt like a million dollars. This is what was holding me back. With this, I lost rest of my "mucus plug" (gross). I also started to be much louder (I was afraid I had scared all the other women on the floor) and said with a growl "peace" as I would breath through each wave (and eventually breath out during the pushes). Melissa broke my water and the party really got started. Bret was to the right of me. Julie was to the left. Bret held my head and my right leg. Julie held my left. I had no idea how to push. It wasn't like what I had read (probably because Steff was so small and there was less pressure from him). It didn't feel like my body was taking over and pushing. I had to make it happen. Melissa said to hold my legs and curl my body around Steff and push him out. I couldn't hold my legs, instead I held Bret and Julie and almost broke their arms. Bret said he couldn't believe how strong I was and that it took all his strength to hold me. They were each reminding me to breath and giving me cues to relax. I truly thought that there was no way I was going to push him out. With each push I thought if he wasn't out, he wasn't coming out. Bret said he could see everything and it was amazing. It was like what was going on "down there" was completely separate from me.

While pushing, Steff's heart rate continued to drop each time. Our midwife said that he didn't like the pressure waves and I had to get him out now. That with the next push I needed to push as hard as I could. She turned around, a pressure wave came at the same time. I decided that was it and he was coming out now. I screamed and pushed with everything inside me. This is what God made me to do. This was it. I didn't care what happened to me. God gave me the power and he was out. She literally turned around with my scream and caught him. There was no moment of his head coming out and then me pushing again to get his body out. He was out. Bret said Melissa calmly unwrapped the tiny cord from his body and laid him on my belly. I later found out that it was not only wrapped around his neck, but up under and around his arms, his body...everything.

I opened my eyes. He was here. On my belly...not inside it. I ripped my gown open and asked for him to be on my chest. He went to my chest and everyone started to dry him off. He started to cry and I shushed him to calm him as I had so many other babies. I was finally calming my own. They asked Bret if he wanted to cut the cord and he asked if that was okay for him to do (I thought that was so cute). He cut the cord and we were in pure bliss.

Here's my most prized possession. A quick video Julie thought to get with my phone. I edited it to remove all nipple shots. :) For those reading this through email, you will have to watch it at 

http://vimeo.com/38135861

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Our photographer, Amy, arrived just after his first cries, which was about the same time that we had thought to get my camera. She says she had never seen someone so calm and that I handled the stitches with just a flinch (the only reason those were even needed was because of my last crazy push).

We arrived at the hospital around 11 PM. He was born at 12:32 AM. I couldn't believe it was August 7th. I pushed for maybe 20 minutes (which is suppose to be fast for a first time momma).

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I asked if I could start nursing him. This came much more natural for him than it did for me. It felt a little more awkward than I thought it would. He wasn't quite interested yet, but pretended for a bit.

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During this time Bret went to let everyone know he was here. Andrea had stopped in the room at some point and I had yelled that no one was allowed in. She thought for sure this was going to go on forever and that I was going to be in that much "pain" for that long. They were all in complete shock that he was already here.

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My sister and aunt were on their way from my home town. I talked to them on the phone after Bret came back and cried for the first time since Steff was born. They arrived just in time to come back when everyone else got to.

After realizing Steff was much more interested in the world than nursing at this moment, I asked Bret if he wanted to hold him. His heart swelled with pride. It was beautiful.

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They took him to the warmer (which was in our room) and did the initial tests.

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Bret took his shirt off for some skin to skin with Daddy. I couldn't get over how excited he was to do this (for anyone who knows Bret, he acted like he does when he's getting pumped up for a football game, with a little bounce...not quite a hop...and a clap...I was waiting for a "woo" to bust out).

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We attempted breastfeeding again and he latched right on like a champ (within 30 minutes of being born).

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Steffen nursed for 30 minutes and we had wanted to wait for him to finish before having everyone come in (he also cut our visit short with everyone because he wanted to nurse some more and he continues to be an awesome eater to this day). Watching him being passed around between some of the people who love him the most still makes my heart smile.

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My sister Myca got to hold him first and then Bret's sister Chasity. Everyone talked about how tiny and perfect he was.

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My sister Keisha and our best friend John stuck around til the wee hours that morning. We talked. We laughed. We celebrated what we had all waited for so long. We kept Steff with us until around 8 am when they took him to bathe and see the pediatrician. I am forever grateful to St. Joes East for this special time with our baby. I remember Bret saying that he was so happy he felt like his chest was going to explode. That it was a different kind of happiness than our wedding day. I remember waking up to him telling Steff about "sleepy town" and rocking in the chair while telling him all about who we are and who his family is.

It was beautiful. It wasn't what I imagined...I didn't know what to imagine. It was perfect. I got exactly what I wanted. A perfect healthy baby, with the least amount of intervention possible. Later Melissa said that if the birth had gone on longer (which if I had an epidural and things slowed down, it probably would have), I would have had to have a C-section (which, of course, isn't the end of the world, just not what I had wanted) because of the cord and his heart rate. It's just another reminder that everything happens for a reason. I wouldn't change our journey. It's ours. He's ours. He's. Ours. I can't believe it. I will end this with a full heart and the knowledge that all things are possible with the love of God. Thank you.

And I just want to specifically thank our family for making this possible, Peggy...Read...Mikie...Erica...Grandma Dot. Also, thank you to Keisha and Andrea for listening to me talk about...everything. Thank you to all those who received my mucus plug text messages. Thank you to Julie for teaching us everything we needed to know, supporting us through the pregnancy, the birth, and every day since. Thank you to Dr. Veloudis for discovering what was wrong and fixing it, preparing my body for this beautiful miracle, as well as being so wonderfully understanding when we decided to work with a midwife for the birth. Thank you Dr. Homm and staff for everything through our IVF journey. Thank you to Melissa, Stacey, and Julie at Woman Kind Midwives of Lexington for the amazing care you gave us. Thank you Melissa for being our advocate. Thank you Dr. Barry Campbell and staff for taking care of us when things seemed a little off. Thank you to everyone at St. Joseph's East Women's Hospital for your fantastic care...being respectful of what we wanted and making sure we had a healthy baby. AND...thank you to everyone who prayed and prayed and prayed, especially our dear friend Dawn who rallied so many others to pray for us. Without each and every one of you, I know this wouldn't have been possible. God worked his plan through each of you. I am eternally grateful.

So so so so so much love,

Cilla and Bret :)

Thank you, Steffen. | Priscilla Baierlein Photography {Mommy}

Dear Steffen, I'm almost in tears just thinking of what I'll write to you. Today, October 7, 2011, is your 2 month birthday. I'm sitting here watching you sleep in your swing (trying to decide if I want to move you to the crib now or the next time you eat). Your Daddy and I love to watch you sleep. There's absolutely nothing more peaceful. You don't know how many times in a day one of us can be caught saying "oh he's so cute". The best is when you're sleeping in my arms. I'm in Heaven and your Daddy always comes over and just stares at both of us and talks about how perfect you are. Happiness is written all over his face. I can feel it so strongly that my heart wants to jump out of my chest.

I'm sure you'll hear the story many times growing up, but we tried so very hard for you. There were times when I wanted to give up and Daddy was always right there to pick me up and remind me of how much we had dreamed of you. Even then, we couldn't imagine our lives without you. Now that you're here, on one hand it feels like we've always had you, on the other it feels like just yesterday we were at the hospital. I still pinch myself and think "wow, we actually have a baby". In just 2 short months you completely flipped our lives around. Saying that we love you more than life itself feels so small compared to how we actually feel. The love I had for you from the beginning was so overwhelming that it almost made me sick to my stomach.

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You have even managed to strengthen the love I have for your Daddy. Now, there are times (like those middle of the night diaper changes that he sleeps through) when I've wanted to choke him. But gosh...seeing him with you, it melts me. In the hospital he would sit and rock you and tell you stories about who we are, who your family is, and make up stories about sleepy town. You fell asleep on his chest and he was so proud of how he hadn't seen you sleep so hard. He said he was so happy that he felt like he was going to burst and he was tingly all over. He said it was the happiest he had ever been. Steff, let me tell you, you were created out of nothing but pure love. We knew, from the beginning, that we wanted nothing more but to share the love we had of each other with a baby.

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Since you've been around our living room has transformed into Babies-R-Us, we have learned how to survive on less sleep, we always consider going home and sleeping instead of going on date nights, our dreams have become bigger, our hearts have become stronger, and our home has become complete. In the last month you have started smiling so much and it's seriously the best thing I've ever experienced. You love it when I sing to you (you seem to think it's hilarious...your Daddy thinks the same about my singing). You love kisses. You now love it when I hold you up above my head like an airplane. Your favorite place is in my arms or on my chest. A very close second would be your changing table. You have been an excellent nurser from the beginning, with a few rough patches along the way. Now, I don't know how I'll be able to give it up. We recently realized you have your Daddy's smile, chin, nose, brow, and probably temper (ha). You have my eyes...which is good to me. Your Daddy happens to be pretty handsome. Your favorite "toy" is your wubbanub. It's a paci with a blue horse attached to it. I love when hold it's legs with your tiny hands and rub it with your little fingers.

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2011SeptemberSteff6

Holding you, nursing you, smelling you, has been like a drug to me since day one. You seem to just melt into my arms. There have been days when I've felt like I was doing everything wrong, but those things, my drugs, always made me feel like everything was right. We are learning and growing together. You teach me every day. I am slowly becoming the kind of Mother I always dreamed of being. I'm not quite there, but I know that as we grow together, I will get there.

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your love. Thank you for the lessons you teach me.

I love you more than "life itself" could ever measure.

Love,

Mommy

2011SeptemberSteff3
2011SeptemberSteff3

The Tables are Turned | Priscilla Baierlein Photography....photographed

Remember in THIS post, I mentioned recently being in front of the camera and feeling the vulnerability of it all. Being a photographer, I'm so incredibly lucky to be friends with many very very talented ladies. One of my most talented friends, happens to be well known amongst all of us photographers, is from KY, use to go to the same high school I did, and currently lives in the same county Bret and I visit just about every summer. Stacey Woods of Stacey Woods Photography is truly one of a kind. I have never met an entire family that is more kind than hers. She just so happens to be sisters with another one of my very good friends, Amy Parsons of Amy Parsons Photography (who happened to photograph my sisters wedding...allowing me to actually enjoy it...and will be photographing the birth of Steffen...which I could just cry right now thinking about). I actually knew Amy first (and she is the one who helped me get started in this style of photography), but met Stacey first...all the way in FL. I talk about their family all the time. I don't think I've ever met a combo that is more generous, kind, amazing at mommyhood, calm, and just truly peaceful to be around. Stacey and I photograph each other every year and I was thrilled when I realized that I would be in just the right place in my pregnancy for her to do my maternity pictures! I prepared to photograph her and her beautiful baby bump (yep...SHE is awaiting a beautiful little girl...maybe miss C and Steffen will fall in love one day) and GORGEOUS children (you may remember them from THIS post last year) the same time she was photographing us. Well, somehow that ended up being Stacey JUST photographing us. I was blown away. "You mean it's just me today?" I honestly didn't know what to think. How did I get so lucky? All I wanted to do was cry the entire session. I. Am. Blessed. Blessed to have this amazing friend. Blessed to be where I am after our journey. Blessed to have this amazing man by my side. Blessed to feel so great. Blessed to be in one of my favorite places on Earth for my maternity pictures. Blessed. Blessed. Blessed. Blessed. I did feel vulnerable. I had forgotten that feeling. You have no idea what you look like. You are just trying to be natural and not pay attention to the person with the big camera in your face...unless they say to pay attention. But Stacey did a fabulous job making me feel comfortable. Reassuring me the entire time. Of course, when Bret was standing beside me, I automatically relaxed and just focused on him and my belly (yes...I was touching it constantly).

So...here are some of my absolute favorites from the day. I could really show all of them because I am so in love with Stacey's work and how she brought out exactly how I felt that day and have the entire pregnancy. Believe it or not, I still feel this wonderful. Everyone assumes that I'm miserable right now. I'm so not. I have my days when I'm exhausted, but that's it. Did I mention how blessed I feel!?!

Okay folks...I am normally so much more modest than this. Never imagined I would stand in the middle of a park, in a bikini, and let some one photograph me. I really never imagined I would post them on Facebook or my blog. I'm telling you though. I think there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant belly...on any one. I think it's something we should all be proud of and not hide. You should feel nothing but beautiful.

BE PROUD OF THE BABY BUMP LADIES!!!

Peace and xoxo,

Cilla