Monday, February 27, 2012

My New Passion

I've always had a passion for photography but never had time to really explore it, and five years ago when I bought a new camera, I thought that was time. I loved my new Canon SLR and I full intentions to buy a better lens and get practicing. Well, work and family life put that on hold and it wasn't until this past December that I finally made the lens purchase. I bought a 50mm 1.4 and it was great...but even then I wasn't brave enough to start shooting in manual.

So while I've been on bed rest I have had plenty of time to read blogs and watch video tutorials to get a better understanding on how to shoot RAW. Now I am addicted - poor Mike. ;-) But, the downfall to bed rest is that I can't get up much to experiment.

Now that I was able to keep Baby D inside for a little longer, I was yearning to do a maternity photo shoot with Wyatt. The problem was I was supposed to be resting so I couldn't really go anywhere and I couldn't take my own photos.

But my mom came through with shining colors. She volunteered to come over and snap some photos - even though she had never shot in Manual Mode...but we decided to gave it a whirl. I started brainstorming on where in the house we could get the best lighting and have a decent backdrop. I then worked to get the best camera settings and angles possible and then turned the camera over to her. We had some hiccups-I forgot to charge my camera battery, Wy-man is 3 and wasn't too interested in taking photos, I was supposed to be laying down or sitting for most of the session, and my mom wasn't familiar with my camera...but she captured some great moments regardless. Then I was able to take some of the images and turn them into something really great during post production.

While some photographers can get amazing images straight out of the camera (SOOC), I am not to that caliber yet so I had to rely on my Photoshop skills to turn these into brilliant images. And since I learned so much from other's blogs, I thought I would show you a couple of the before and afters to help people see the transitions made. I am really pleased with how they turned out!
Wy-man and I had a great time (even though our session required a few bribes), and it is so wonderful to see the anticipation in his eyes for his baby brother to arrive.
Even though most of the session took place either laying down or sitting, we did get an image or two standing. I can't believe we have made it to 35 weeks and still holding on strong!
Thanks for letting me share this journey with all of you. If anyone is interested in letting me photograph you, your children or your family, I would love to get more practice (although it will have to wait until after this baby is born). ;-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning the Hard Way...

We've all heard the saying "Everything happens for a reason" which I have always believed in, but it wasn't until this past week that the true meaning fully sank in. I am hardheaded (so my family and hubby says) and as much as I am ashamed to say it, it took the risk of this baby to make me realize I needed to change my ways.

I had been having contractions but in my mind they were "just Braxton-Hicks" so they were nothing to worry about. I continued to push through them keeping up my crazy work life and working at home in the evenings/weekends to get ready for Baby D. There wasn't time for rest. I could rest once he got here.

When I went in for my weekly check-up last Tuesday (they see me every 4 days since I'm already considered 'high-risk' being an IVF patient - maybe that should have been my first clue), Mike came with me to be sure I was telling the doc the truth about my 'episodes.' Long story short, at only 32 weeks, I was already dilated to a 1 with a shortened cervix and was in per-term labor. I was to be admitted to the hospital immediately.
I spent 2 1/2 days admitted at Sanford giving me plenty of time to reflect. I came away with many serious lessons learned and maybe this post will help others learn too.

- No matter how much of a planner you are, you can't plan everything!
Because...this hiccup definitely WASN'T in MY plan!

- I have a caring, loving husband willing to give up his "to-do" list to take care of me!
Mike has always been SO caring but he showed me once again how strong our love is. He sat with me the entire time I was in the hospital unless he was playing single dad fulfilling all of the Wyatt responsibilities. This bed rest thing is probably more wearing on him but yet he hasn't once complained. Not only does he has his full time job to manage, he has to take care of me, cook dinner, clean the house, care of Wyatt, etc. etc. I sure do love him!

- Family support is crucial.
My parents were in Mexico at the time everything took place, but immediately they rescheduled their flight plans to come home a couple days early. Since they have been back, both my mom and dad have been instrumental in prepping this house for the baby. Their love and support has once again showed me what kind of parents Mike and I want to be for our two boys as they grow older. I consider myself VERY lucky to call them 'my parents'.

- The importance of an understanding employer.
Being put on bed rest for 6 weeks before this baby is due is tough for me to swallow, but having an employer like L&S and an understanding boss that has helped lift my work burden off my shoulders so I could actually 'relax' is more than I could ever ask for. It makes me appreciate my job even more.

- Dependable co-workers are key.
With a to-do list a mile long that I could no longer complete, I had to unexpectedly turn it over to my coordinator, Erin. She and the rest of the team have been great - stepping up to take on all of my work 6-7 weeks before they expected they would have to. (Thanks guys!)

- I should have gotten a pedicure. :)
I had been neglecting my feet because, well...I couldn't reach them. So as I was sitting in my hospital bed while the nurses were checking my feet reflexes every hour, I realized I should have taken 30 minutes to have someone paint my toes. I was so embarrassed at how rough my feet actually were...But at least my legs were shaved! :)

- I am lucky to live in a place where there is wonderful healthcare service.
Sanford Health was wonderful during this experience - from the ultrasound techs that first determined my 'issues', to my OB, to the Perinatologist (high-risk baby doc) that took over my case, to the wonderful "HiROB" (High Risk OB) nurses. They made me feel so cared for even when I was beating myself up over what I had done.

- Spending time with Wyatt before this baby is born is so very precious.
The past few weeks I had been saying I felt like I was a bad mom b/c I was so busy at work and unorganized at home that I wasn't giving Wy-man the quality time he deserved before this baby came. So now I have NO EXCUSE. We are cuddling on the couch reading lots of books, watching movies and spending quality time together. This is probably one of the only things that I am 'enjoying' about bed rest.

- It's only advertising (no one's dying), but man this profession in stressful!!
I have always known my job was stressful but I guess I thought I was invincible. The pressure of deadlines is what drives me to be successful (which is why I love my job), but I did find out through this that the stress isn't something I was able to handle while being pregnant.

- The importance of listening to your body.
In hindsight, for at least a week I was having signs that I should have listened to. I thought "Oh, this isn't anything, I am only 7 months along, I will just push through it." I should have listened to my body sooner and called the doctor. Maybe I wouldn't have ended up laid up in a hospital bed. So if I could give any piece of advice (to those pregnant or not), don't be stubborn or hardheaded. If something seems 'off' , investigate it.

- Counting contractions is a BIG deal.
The docs told me as I get closer to the end of my pregnancy I need to make sure to count my contractions...but I thought that was only when they are 'painful'. The contractions I was having weren't painful per se, just annoying. Little did I know that more than 5 contractions per hour (even if they are just Braxton-Hicks) will change your for almost 5 days, I was having more than 5 an hour, and although I was tracking them, I didn't think I should call the doc since I had an appointment on Tuesday. Man was I WRONG!

- I wish my sister lived closer.
Ashley and I have always been close but this experience made me long for a hug from my sister. We might not ever live in the same town again, but knowing I have her love and support helped get me through.

- Comfy clothes, Pinterest, Girly Movies and a Good Book will be my best friend for the next couple weeks.
I am not one to sit still so this bed rest has been life changing, but I am going to embrace it since I probably won't ever have this 'me' time again. So...I am getting out all of my comfy clothes and will spend plenty of time on the couch with one of my guilty pleasures.

As I lay on the couch reflecting upon the last week (and getting mentally prepared for my check-up this afternoon), I felt it was important to take a deep dive inside this life-changing experience. It's good for me to reflect upon the lessons learn so I don't slip back into my old ways again.

Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers this week. I am very lucky to have such caring family and friends - it has been words from many of you that have helped me put things into perspective, and for that, I thank you!