OUR MATERNITY SHOOT + THOUGHTS FROM A FIRST TIME MAMA

Our pregnancy journey has taken nearly 3 years, start to finish, and as it draws to a close I feel compelled to reflect on what I've learned and decided to share these thoughts alongside our AMAZING maternity pictures. (scroll past pictures for the rest of the post)

First off, I have to sing praises to Kenzie Tibbitts (@kenziettttfor taking these beautiful images and enduring the elements with us at the sand dunes. It sounds like it would be a warm, sunny place, but actually ended up getting whipped in the face by hurricane force winds. When we left, there was sand in every crack. Totally worth it! It's also been almost 3 years since Bryan and I have taken any family pictures (I know. I'm a photographer, how embarrassing!) so getting on the other side of the camera actually made me kind of anxious, but Kenz made us feel totally comfortable and we just got to be ourselves. 

I also have to thank Alexa Kait (@alexakait ) for doing my makeup! I am hopeless when it comes to makeup and keep it super minimal on a day to day basis, so if I was getting in front of a camera, I was going to need a lot of help. I have followed Alexa on Instagram for a while (that kind of makes us friends already, right? lol) and had a feeling we would get along right away. I was totally right. We have the same inappropriate humor and I'm pretty sure after being in her house for just 20 minutes, we were talking about baby-making and I caught her husband suggestively air humping to her down the hall. Magic. But really, she's a total professional and, in my husband's words, made me look like "a perfect version of myself". I'll take it as the highest compliment. 

SHOOT DETAILS

Location: Little Sahara Sand Dunes

Photographer: Kenzie Tibbitts

Make up: Alexa Kait

Dress: Flower Maxi - Ella Bloom Boutique, Embroidered Maxi - Forever 21 

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The road to parenthood has not been particularly easy for us. For a while, the struggle was excruciating - mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - but from that pain, we have personally come to know the goodness of our Heavenly Father. If you don't know our whole story with infertility, I wrote a about it a little while ago HEREbut these are the basics: due to a pretty severe, undiagnosed hormone imbalance, Bryan and I weren't able to get pregnant for over 2 years. During that time, I struggled with fatigue, thinning hair, uncontrollable weight gain, and the pain of not understanding why we couldn't conceive and why my body felt so out of my control. We moved to Utah from Hawai'i and got connected with an infertility specialist as quickly as we could. When I look back on it now, I believe we felt so impressed to come to Utah because of the particular doctor we've been able to work with. My complaints and concerns had been so overlooked by the 3 other doctors I had visited in both Hawai'i and California, but this doctor was able to diagnose me within minutes of hearing our story! Only 4 months later, I was pregnant with our baby girl. 

Pregnancy has been one of the most joyful experiences of my life to date! I kind of believe it's Heavenly Father's way of paying me back for the grief we went through the last couple of years and I will totally take it without question! My first trimester brought nausea, lots of crying about nothing and everything, mood swings (poor Bryan), extreme fatigue (probably the most difficult part), weird cravings for soda and steak, and constantly tender boobs (TMI? *shoulder shrug*). All of that might sound horrible, and it was definitely difficult to deal with as it was all new to me, but in reality, these symptoms were mild compared to the terrible time some of my friends have been having. And really, it's only gotten easier from there! I've essentially cruised through this pregnancy with very little discomfort and have enjoyed every bit of it. Well, mostly. I have one main complaint:

When you get pregnant, people think they can say the most offensive things to you and are shocked when you react accordingly OR they just expect you to agree.

A few of the most memorable things people have said to me so far are:

- "So how much weight have you gained since you've gotten pregnant?"

- "So has your doctor put you on a special diet or anything now that you're pregnant? *as they eye me pouring myself a second bowl of Cap'n Crunch*

- Me: "I really haven't seen too many changes in my body, mostly just in my belly!"

Her: "Well, you're carrying a lot of weight in your legs..."

- *after I announce that I'm having a girl* "Well you know, they say when you have a girl, she steals all your beauty" *looks me right in my exhausted, dark circled eyes*

- *complete stranger I've never seen before in my life gets in my personal bubble and starts putting their hands all over my belly* "Is it okay if I touch your belly?"

- *girl with the most serious look on her face, as if there's been a death* "Do you have stretch marks?"

The list could go on for a while. I had previously been warned by a lot of pregnant friends about the belly thing and weird comments, but I didn't think it would happen so often and so brazenly! And, unfortunately, a lot of this is a girl-to-girl crime. To be fair, I don't think that people are intentionally being rude, but that doesn't mean that it isn't!

Here are a couple ways to avoid these kinds of debacles and show some much due respect to expecting mamas:

- Gauge your relationship with the pregnant woman before you ask any questions or enter her personal space. Are you strangers? Acquaintances? Friends, but not close? Probably best to leave the super personal questions behind and not touch without permission first. In my opinion, this especially includes condescending questions about my changing body. I am super proud of my body and what it's accomplishing! I exercise, stay active, and try to eat my vegetables, but if I'm craving pasta or a burger, I indulge. No commentary necessary! I personally love talking about my pregnancy and answering questions about my experiences, but let's keep it positive, shall we? I can feel pretty quickly when people are projecting their own insecurities onto me or when they are genuinely curious or asking because they care. 

- Scrap any comments and questions about stretch marks all together. Society has decided that they are disgusting and shameful and I say, shame on them! When your body is growing a HUMAN BEING, things have to make room and accommodate the little alien. So your skin stretches! That is it! That's all it is! Your skin stretching so that your baby can grow! Amazing!! It's a natural process of your body doing what it was biologically created to do and it is only negative if you choose to make it so. Now, I understand that it is not an easy feat to shed yourself of the insecurities that come with body image issues, especially when it is coming from all sides. I hope that one day, every woman can love and accept her body the way that it is, but I know that that day is not today. In the mean time, please try not to project your issues onto the woman that is using her body to grow a person. She has enough on her plate already!

- No, I do not want to hear about your cousin's wife's sister's best friend's horrible, traumatizing birth/breastfeeding/miscarriage story. 

- Instead of giving me a list of things that, in your opinion, I should NEVER do, ask me what I plan on doing and share some of your own experiences. I'd love to hear about them and have an awesome conversation learning from you! I'm new to this and want to hear what you have to say. Just remember to keep in mind that there is no ONE right way to raise a baby and what didn't work for you, might be the perfect fit for me!

Now, before it sounds like I'm just whining and going off about all these irritating people, I want to say that these unfortunate interactions have been nothing compared to the love, praise, and support that I've received since announcing my pregnancy and sharing our story. I mostly shared the things people said for a good laugh (because seriously, what are people thinking?!), but I also welcome the opportunity to talk about women supporting women and mamas being there for other mamas. We carry a lot of power and I want to use it for good!

Well, for those of you who stuck it out to the end of this post: bless your hearts. Thanks for indulging in foggy-brained ramblings of this excited first-time mum. Pregnancy has made me feel more beautiful and more complete than anything I've experienced in my short life thus far. I never knew that I could love a little stranger so much and I can't wait for her to join our family. It feels like she's the one that we've been waiting for all along. June 21st can't come soon enough!