My Angel’s Story – A decade later

Luca -1

When I told myself a couple months ago that I wanted to spend April 22 this year in isolation I had no idea I’d be living in quarantine. While this is not what I had in mind, I did want to be alone.

I wanted to take the day for myself. Greedy as it sounds, I wanted to sulk, grieve and remember.

Ten years have gone by since I gave birth to my angel baby. His life was far too short – shorter than I ever imagined.

I can’t believe it’s been a decade. Sometimes I have flashbacks that feel like it was just yesterday, sometimes it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

For me it happened in a different life. I was a different person back then. I categorize my life in two sections- “before Luca” and “after Luca.”

Losing him was one of my most traumatic and transforming moments.

As I reflect on the past 10 years I have seen myself cycle through grief over and over. I have had high highs and low lows. I have loved and laughed and cried and failed. I have celebrated and mourned. I have lived.

And all the while I have wished that my baby had lived too.

Ten years is a long time.

My heart cracked and a little piece chipped off the day I lost Luca.

While right now I am at peace with my life, there are still things that make my heart ache.

Originally I wanted to mope and dwell on that ache. I wanted to spend today wallowing, remembering how hard it was – how hard it is.

I don’t get to have a lot of quiet moments in my busy life to process and reflect. Luca’s birthday has traditionally been a day of remembering and acknowledging. We normally spend time celebrating his memory with close family and friends.

But today is different.

Luca’s angel day will be unlike any other.

I’m not sure what I’ll do.

But I know that I will keep my beautiful baby in my heart today, and always.

No matter how many years pass – 5, 10, or 50 – he will always be a part of me.

A part that I long for.

A part that I grieve for.

A part that I cherish.

For those of you who want to read more about Luca and his story you can read his story below. Once again I dedicate this post to him. 

My Angel’s Story

I was tired, I was huge and I was ready to have my baby boy. But not ready for the way it would all turn out. I would have happily carried him weeks beyond my due date if it meant he had a chance of being born alive.

Honestly? I wasn’t quite ready for a third child. I always wanted my kids close in age, but my two boys, ages 3 and 1, were a lot to handle. I was okay with waiting a while. But both my husband and I had strong impressions that we needed to try for another baby.

Despite those impressions, I was still extremely nervous about how I could be a good mom to three boys under the age of 3. Each day I grew, not only in circumference, but also in my confidence in being able to raise three tiny spirits.

On April 21, 2010 I had my 37-week check-up. Luca’s movement had been slowing down significantly for a while now and I was worried. I discussed my concerns with my doctor and we listened to his heartbeat, which appeared to be strong. So, my doctor and I decided that maybe little Luca was running out of room in my overcrowded womb.

The beginning of my pregnancy was a piece of cake. I felt better than I had with my other pregnancies and had virtually no morning sickness. But the end was pretty bad. I kept having sharp pains in my side and my muscles were aching.

Fearing the worst

My mother-in-law kept my other two boys while I went to my appointment so I decided to lie down and take a nap until she brought them home. That’s when I started panicking because I couldn’t remember the last time I felt Luca move.

I know what some of you are thinking? Why didn’t you rush to the hospital??? Knowing what I know now, my advice to any pregnant woman who is the least bit concerned about her baby, would be, GET TO THE HOSPITAL, NOW. Speed if you have to. What are they going to do? Tell you your baby’s fine and send you home? Hopefully. Laugh in your face about your unnecessary worries? Never. In all reality, even if I had been in labor and delivery when Luca’s heart stopped beating, they still wouldn’t have been able to save him. There wasn’t anything I could have done. I realize that now. But there are other reasons why babies stop moving. In my opinion it’s just better to get it checked out as soon as possible.

I literally worried all night about my Luca’s movement. I think the strong feelings and confirmations I had received that I was supposed to have another baby kept me waiting for his little legs to kick or his fists to punch. Luca’s pregnancy was my only pregnancy I haven’t run into problems conceiving. I thought that was a sure sign that this truly was meant to be. It was meant to be, just not in the way I hoped or expected.

I waited, and waited for him to move. Finally at about 2:30 a.m. I couldn’t take it any longer. I got up and sat in the bathtub for a long time. Travis came in and convinced me to go to the hospital. My mom came over to sit with my boys so we could run up to the hospital. When I got there, they hooked me up to a monitor and we found the baby’s heartbeat. Well, at least we thought we did — turns out the sound of my own heartbeat was reverberating back. We didn’t know that for sure until they hooked me up to a basic ultra sound machine and zoomed in on the heart. I knew immediately that my son had died. I looked at my husband and he knew it too. We had seen a number of live, beating hearts in ultrasounds. This one was still.

But the nurses said nothing. They tried to remain calm as they called my doctor and asked him to come in. He arrived at about 4 a.m. to confirm my baby’s death. We all cried — nurses included. He told me I could go home and come back later to deliver my baby or he could induce me right away.

The thought of leaving the hospital knowing that I was carrying my dead child made me cringe. I knew that having a stillborn was going to be the worst thing I had ever experienced. Delaying it wouldn’t change anything. They wheeled me into a corner room and posted a grieving sign on the door.

Shortly thereafter we started calling family members to let them know they were going to have to come in sometime that day to simultaneously tell Luca “hello” and “goodbye.”

Sharing the Heart-Breaking News

My poor mother. She was the first to hear of his death. And she had to take the news while watching over my other two little ones in my quiet, lonely home. I can’t imagine how alone she must have felt. She texted me awhile after I called to tell her he had died, asking what she should tell my other boys when they woke up. That literally broke my heart. What did I want her to tell them?

We didn’t want to tell him that their brother was “sleeping” or that he was “gone.” We decided to tell them the truth. That he had died. They were sad, but their grief was expressed differently than an adult. They didn’t cry much but they did throw more tantrums and asked to be held a lot more.

Telling people and hearing their reactions was one of the hardest things for me. I could handle the pain that I was going to have to bear, but having to inflict some of that pain on others made me so sad. It still makes me sad.

Our family members started gathering at the hospital and at our home waiting for the time when they would meet Luca. I knew we would only ever have a few short hours with him and so I prepared to face my nightmare with a smile on my face. This was the only time I was going to hold my baby. The only time I could take pictures of his beautiful face. I wasn’t going to let my grief overcome my ability to make the moments meaningful.

I don’t know if it’s all in my head, but I don’t think I had the full power of my epidural during his delivery. It was by far my most painful delivery. Not only emotionally, but physically. Maybe that’s because I didn’t have the anticipation of meeting my healthy baby to pull me through. With each painful push, I knew I was a step closer to meeting a baby I wouldn’t take home. I’ll never forget the shock in my doctor and nurses voices and faces as Luca was born. They all gasped in unison. He had suffered a cord accident that was visible the moment he was delivered. The cord was wrapped around his neck several times and it contained a true knot. Umbilical cord knots are extremely rare and knots resulting in a baby’s death are even more rare. Although I will never be grateful for what happened to my son, there is something I am extremely grateful for: The fact that we found out why he died.

He was born at 5:13 p.m. and weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces. He was beautiful with curly reddish brown hair and rosy red cheeks. We each took turns holding him and taking pictures. Utah Share came and casted molds of his hands and feet. Pat Wimpee came and took dozens of priceless photos of him and our family. I don’t know what I’d do without those photos. I think I would forget the details of his face. The wrinkles of his toes. The size of his tiny fingers. At times I stared at his little body, waiting for his chest to rise or his eyes to open. He literally was perfect.

We had Luca in our hospital room for five short hours. My legs were still numb from my epidural, so I was forced to watch everyone’s encounters with him from the comfort of my hospital bed. That was really hard for me. I wanted to hug and comfort everyone and yet I was stuck on the sidelines. I am sure that those who came to the hospital to meet him will forever be changed. There was such a special spirit in the room. It was a terribly sad, yet wonderfully peaceful experience.

The next several days were a blur. I left the hospital on a Friday morning. That afternoon I sat in the mortuary office preparing a funeral. We had a very small service on Monday, just four days after I delivered. Thank heavens for pain medications. Without those my traditional delivery pains coupled with the pain of my milk coming in, would have been unbearable. I buried my baby and part of my heart on April 26, 2010.

How am I dealing with his death?

I believe, as my religion teaches, that I will raise little Luca someday. Sometimes that thought brings great comfort, other times it is little solace for a grieving mother who longs to hold her angel infant now. Although he is in a better place, free from sorrow and sin, I wanted the challenge of raising him in this crazy world. Wanted to see him wrestle with his older brothers or hear him giggle as the four of them cooked up mischief. I hate that we don’t get to have him now.

I have experienced all of the traditional grief stages at least once. I have felt depressed, angry, honored, jealous, comforted, tired, rude, bitter, overwhelmed, out of control, anxious, stressed and unmotivated. There have been times I have sat on my couch, not wanting to do anything. Then other times that I feel an urgency to give back to others in honor of my son’s memory.

What do I do when the grief is too much to bear?

I take long soaks in the bathtub where I blast Pandora and cry until my eyes are strawberry red.

I watch movies like Tangled and sob when I see Rapunzel reunited with her parents. I wish I only had to wait 18 years to meet my “lost” baby.

I take my boys fishing. Fresh air and the beauty of nature clear my head and remind me of my place in the world.

I lay by my other kids while they are sleeping. I put my hand on their chest to feel their heart beating and their lungs filling with air. That reminds me of the beautiful children I do get to raise on Earth. I can’t let myself take them for granted.

I start finding something I can do for others. I know it sounds cheesy, but sometimes serving others has been my saving grace. I understand the need to be still and internalize my grief and emotions, but sometimes it’s overwhelming. I have to find a productive way to patch over my grief until my emotions settle and I’m able to digest them.

Finally, I write through my heartache. Writing has always been a way for me to work through life’s problems. I imagine I’ll write through this problem my entire life.

I just have to keep reminding myself that life is hard, life is good and life is necessary.

ACTUALLY missing out

93140480_10158250632807889_2315330858258530304_oThey say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, someone lassoed me and my village, sprinkled some of us with a deadly virus then set us free to fend for ourselves – alone.

In isolation.

I’m in a funk. A “the-world-is-fighting-a-deadly virus” funk. A funk I can’t easily shake.

Basically over night I turned into teacher, janitor, lunch lady, ground duty, principal, clergy and best friend/sole entertainment provider to each of my five kids all at once.

I’m exhausted and failing – big time. 

Our family decided early on that in order to help “flatten the curve” we would be extremely restrictive in our activities. My kids basically don’t go anywhere and I don’t really go anywhere – unless you count Winco.

We don’t visit family and we don’t play with friends.

While this may be all right for some people like my introverted husband, my extroverted self is depressed.

I keep asking myself why this is so hard. I have everything I could possibly need – food, money, family, housing, Netflix and a yard I can work in.

Why am I struggling?

I see other people doing just fine. Which makes the mom guilt incredible for me.

I see amazing parents doing amazing things with their littles and saying how they are so grateful for this extra time with their babies.

Yet all I can think about is how I have absolutely no time alone and no where to go and no one to see.

Then it dawned on me – rather than experiencing a FEAR of missing out, I’m ACTUALLY MISSING OUT. I am missing out on all of the wonderful things I had planned and then some.

I’m grieving the life I wanted to live. The life I was supposed to live the past month. 

I haven’t volunteered at the school, seen my kids’ end-of-year programs or watched my 6th grader kill it in the district spelling bee.

I didn’t get to take dinner to my grandma after her recent surgery.

My mom took a really bad spill and went in for X-rays and I couldn’t give her a hug.

I didn’t watch my oldest on the main stage in his big performance of Music Man last month and I didn’t hear the results of my 11-year-old’s Newsies audition.

I haven’t shot any of the photo shoots I had on the calendar.

I miss walking with my friends at 6 a.m.

My nephew turns one this week and I will miss the big party – we all will.

I can’t tell you how many google calendar reminders I have had to dismiss – each time crying a little inside.

My life, all our lives, has been put on hold.

And while I have absolutely everything I could possibly need, my heart is grieving for these missed opportunities.

And I don’t know when the missing will stop. None of us do.

My 5-year-old asked how old she would be when the Coronavirus was gone.

Who knows baby girl but I swear I just turned 97.

The past month has lasted an eternity.

I am fine. My family is fine. We are healthy and taken care of. We have good moments where we play games together and start new family traditions. I have had times I have laughed so hard I wanted to cry. And then I have times I have actually cried.

I’ve decided that’s all right.

It’s all right for me to grieve. It’s all right for me to be scared and anxious and nervous. It’s all right for me to panic about having enough hand sanitizer, flour and toilet paper – which we have plenty of by the way.

It’s all right to give myself some slack.

Who knows how long this virus will circle the planet. Who knows how long I will sit in my current funk. Who knows if I will wake up one day ready to finally clean my house again or if I’ll sit in my pjs until dinner and not only ignore but contribute to the mess at our place.

No one said watching the world shut down due to a deadly pandemic would be easy.

And while I have a truly blessed life filled with so many wonderful things, I am going to let myself be sad about the missed opportunities – sad when I think about the life I should be living.

The world I have always known has been flipped upside down. I’m going to give myself time to grieve and heal. We all should.

Pregnant After a Stillbirth

baby-24.jpgAuthor’s note: Pregnancy is hard. You’re tired, you’re sick and you’re sore. Pregnancy after a stillbirth, for me, has been harder. On top of the physical strain there’s a mental anguish nagging at the back of my mind the entire 9 months. I can’t speak for all women who become pregnant after losing a baby, but this post is about what it’s been like for me.

“Heavenly Father, please bless that my baby brother won’t die in my mom’s tummy.” That has been the frequent prayer of my four-year-old daughter recently. She’s four years old and she has to worry about if her brother will make it here alive or not. To be honest, we all worry about that.

Because eight years ago her older brother didn’t make it here to stay. He lived 8 months in my womb. I carried him through the morning sickness, the exhaustion and the aches and pains of the last trimester. Then at 37 weeks a knot in his umbilical cord tightened too tight and he died before being born. We got to meet that precious angel and hold him for a day. But then we had to say goodbye.

Long before we were ready.

That beautiful little baby changed my life forever.

And he changed my future pregnancies.

Being pregnant after delivering a stillborn is like sitting on a fence of insanity. On one side of the fence there’s the bliss of bringing home a tiny, sweet newborn to love, cuddle and raise. On the other, there’s the dark, depressing reality that not all babies make it home from the hospital – that there’s a slim chance that this one may not either.

I know what you are thinking, that this baby I’m carrying will be fine – odds are things will end up perfect. But no one can tell that to my brain. It knows what’s it’s like when things don’t end up fine and perfect.

So in order to survive pregnancy my mind creates a protective layer that keeps me safe from the sorrow that may come. My mind doesn’t let me really believe that I’m really having a baby.

Sure my body feels it. I’ve thrown up more this year than I can count, I can only fit in a handful of items in my wardrobe and I’m getting a couple hours of sleep a night – at most.

I’m totally ready to not be pregnant anymore. But I’m not ready for a baby.

My mind won’t let me go there. I don’t have a name picked out, I haven’t packed a hospital bag and I don’t daydream about snuggling my newborn.

Instead I teeter on the top of that terrible insanity fence. Mentally tipping from side to side not letting myself land either place. I won’t let myself believe this baby is coming home, or that we’ll have to bury him near his older brother.

I am in limbo.

There have been moments in this pregnancy when I have laid in bed pleading that this baby would move. I’ve waited to feel him kick – all the while planning out what I will tell his siblings if he doesn’t.

There have been times when I’ve pushed back my fears by keeping busy – I’ve carried on with work and church and PTA trying to keep my mind from worrying. I have moved on as if I wasn’t carrying a baby – working harder and longer than I should have.

I have had random complications – spotting, blurred vision, failed glucose test – that had me convinced this was going to end badly.

The middle of the pregnancy was the worst. The time when I first felt him move until he started moving regularly was the peak of anxiety. I know that babies are too small to feel all the time at first and that their movements are irregular, I KNOW that. But still my mind played some terrible tricks on me and I was prematurely planning his funeral.

Now that he moves all the time it’s easier. This baby has probably been my most active. But even still, I will feel him one minute and then panic the next. It’s terrible.

I have fears about returning the baby clothes I have purchased. What will I do with the new binkies, diapers and stroller? I still have a box of brand-new clothes that were meant for Luca. Would I save all these ones too?

I hesitate to assemble the crib – worrying that it may jinx the whole thing. I set up the crib the day Luca died. Taking it down empty was traumatic.

I have less than four weeks left until I will deliver. In a little more than a week I’ll be 37 weeks – the same gestation that Luca was when he died.

I should be prepping freezer meals and making arrangements for my other kids.

But I’m not.

I should be setting up the nursery and finalizing a name.

But I’m not.

I’m just surviving. I’m clinging to NST test results and praises from my doctor that everything looks perfect. I’m rubbing my tummy, feeling for arms and legs happily moving inside.

I’m watching my other kids run around and I’m hoping for the best, yet dreading the worst.

It’s all out of my hands.

I may go insane the next few weeks but there’s nothing I can do about it. Except maybe pray.

Pray like my four-year-old baby girl. Pray that this baby will be all right. That he’ll make it here kicking and screaming.

And pray that I’ll be able to survive if he doesn’t.

Fingerprints

I gave myself a long break from my blog. I’ve written religiously each week for years. I couldn’t do it this year. So for the past few months I’ve been silent. 

But I would be lying to myself if I said that writing hasn’t been therapeutic for me. It’s been a way for me to work through my stress, my struggles, my sorrow. 

So here I am again. Writing. I don’t know if it will be weekly again – I’m not going to decide right now – but I know I’m going to write when I need to. Like right now.

Fingerprints.

I can’t stop thinking about fingerprints.

It’s been eight years since I was pregnant with my third son. Eight years since I was looking forward to bringing him home.

But he died on April 22, 2010, just a few weeks before his due date, and I delivered him still – never to bring him home.

Eight years is a long time to miss someone.

I remember immediately after his death everything hurt so much. There were moments I didn’t know how I could live and breathe. How could something so perfect be gone? How could a tiny baby die?

Much of my life from that time is a blur. I don’t know what I did day-to-day and I don’t know how I took care of my other two living children. It was a dark, dark time.

A time when I couldn’t imagine my life without my aching sorrow.

Fast forward 8 years and my grief has changed. There are moments when it hits and I am terribly sad at my loss – the loss of the life I couldn’t wait to get to know. Anniversaries are hard. Holidays are harder. And the days leading up to his birth/death date seem to be the hardest.

But overall my life is good. There are times I am so happy with how my life is that it’s hard to remember how sad it once was.

Then there are times when I wonder if it all really happened. Did I really survive burying my baby?  Did I live through that nightmare? Those times bother me most.

That’s when I think of fingerprints.

My 9-year-old told me that fingerprints are formed when a baby touches things in the womb.

I didn’t believe him. So we asked Google.

Sure enough, fingerprints develop in the womb when pressure comes to a baby’s hand through touch. That’s when tiny ridges are formed which become fingerprints. The markings are completely formed by the time a fetus is 6 months old – three months before it’s due date.

Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve seen Luca’s handprint. I’ve looked at those fingerprint ridge lines. After hearing how they were formed, they mean more to me than ever. They are proof that he lived inside me. Proof that he was a part of me.

Proof that he touched me.

Proof that that sweet little baby with chubby cheeks and strawberry-blonde hair was real – and really mine.

In a time of my life where things are busy and crazy, a time when I don’t have many moments to sit and reflect on life, I need that kind of proof. Because although the hurt doesn’t sting like it used to, it will always be there. And it hurts more when I try to ignore it.

I will always mourn the little boy I didn’t get to raise with his siblings. I will always tell friends and family about him. I will always wish he came home with me from the hospital.

But from now on, when I’m feeling down, I’m going to think about fingerprints. Think about those tiny markings on my angel baby that immortalize our bond. They show how connected we were and how he literally touched my life.

It’s amazing how something so tiny – like ridges in the skin – can make such an imprint on my life today.

But I guess that’s another reason why I like fingerprints. They remind me of Luca.

Luca’s life changed me forever. Just like his tiny finger markings reflect the short time he was here on earth, I too will forever be marked my his brief time in my womb.

My tiny boy has made a huge imprint on me.

Raising a Girl

Ruby's 3-year-old photos-76

After having four boys I was resigned to the fact that I may never raise a daughter. And I was all right with that. I love my boys. Honestly after Luca died I didn’t care either way. As long as they made it here safely, I’d take anything!

So when I got the results back from my round of genetics testing with my fifth baby I was in complete shock when the chromosomes read girl. Girl!?!?!? What?

Honestly I was terrified.

I had been raising ninjas for so many years I had forgotten all about princesses.

But these past three years have been magical. They’ve been filled with unicorns, baby dolls and pink.

I count myself lucky to be raising a daughter – I know there are women out there who are never given the chance.

All of my kids are different but I didn’t realize how different boys and girls were until our little princess arrived.

She truly is a caretaker. She loves to help me around the house and she loves to care for her dolls and stuffed animals. Her favorite thing to play right now is “house.” She’s the mom and I’m the kid. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll let me lay in her toddler bed while she serenades me with piano playing and lullabies.

This contrasts the warrior/hunting games my boys and I played at her same age. Of course we still had animals and friends we took care of, but instead of peaceful music, our games usually ended up with something scary trying to kill us and us having to fight for our lives.

She is definitely a fashionista. From the moment she could talk she started dictating her fashion sense.  “Not that shirt!” “I want those tights!” While my boys couldn’t care less what they wear, she has to be in a dress that “twirls” – and no matter how fancy the dress, she usually tops of the ensemble with a pair of pink and grey tennis shoes.

She gets embarrassed. Normally when my boys do something wrong they have an excuse or a reason for it. Instead of feeling bad or guilty they shout out the reasons why whoever or whatever deserved what was coming to them.

Not my baby girl. She accidentally tossed a ball at a baby at playgroup yesterday and she cried and cried that she just wanted to go home. She was so embarrassed. Even when she fell in downtown Salt Lake City and cut her head open she was more worried about people “seeing her” than the pain from the cut. She cried into my husband’s shoulder because she was nervous. Bless my heart. It was the saddest, cutest thing.

She loves her daddy. My boys were mamas boys. They followed me around the house and wanted to be with me all … the… time… It has been so fun to see the relationship between my husband and daughter. She prefers her dad. While sometimes I feel sad that she mostly wants her dad, I can’t blame her. After all, I married him, right? I love that she loves him like that.

She loves lipstick – so much that I had to hide it because she was using it as body paint.

She loves to dance and sing. You should see her hula! It’s completely different than the wild, run around, head banging, sword swinging her brothers did. It’s calm, it’s full of hip sway and it’s only performed on a “stage” of pillows.

I could go on and on about why she is different than my boys. She fills my life with ponies, blushes and twirls – things I thought I’d never care about as an adult.

I love everything about her. I am so grateful I get to raise a girl!

Ruby's 3-year-old photos-10 copy

Newborn Studio Makeover

Studio remodel-1

It’s finished!!!

All I wanted for Christmas this year was a makeover in my mini studio. My husband and I finished it up last weekend and I am thrilled.

Merry Christmas!!!

The studio space in my home is small and cozy – perfect for newborns, babies or toddlers.

A year ago it was our home’s office – an office that no one really used. Slowly, over the past 12 months, I have transformed it into a studio space.

Studio remodel-19

Here’s what things looked like a month ago. 

I’ve used it several times for newborn photos before the makeover and it has worked well, but I wanted something more clean, more fresh and more modern.

So we ditched the bookshelves, put up paneling and trim on the walls and I transformed the bifold closet doors into french doors.

Thank heavens for Pinterest. I couldn’t have done it without tutorials from a handful of online’s creative geniuses.

For the paneling we used this tutorial. My kids helped for a little while, but let’s be honest, they hate family projects. If I were to do it again I would space the boards farther apart. It was a nightmare trying to paint between the slats.

Studio remodel-8

For the square wall I used this tutorial. This wall was a lot easier than the faux shiplap wall.

Studio remodel-9

There were a bunch of door designs I thought about using for the closet, but I decided to use up all my scraps in this design. I used this blogpost as a guide for turning them into french doors. I still have to add handles to them, but I love how the doors turned out.

Studio remodel-12

I put down a couple of vinyl flooring remnants that I picked up from the local carpet store. I can move them around and use the different colors depending on what shot I’m doing.

It was more work than I think we imagined but I am so happy with how everything turned out. I still need to mount my backdrop roller but other than that it’s finished. Now I’m ready for all the babies!!!

If you know anyone who is expecting, I am giving away a free newborn session to celebrate my new space. Check out my Instagram this week for more information: https://www.instagram.com/neverland.photo/

Here are a few more pics of the space.

Here’s to 2018

It’s almost 2018. The thought of a new year just blows my mind.

2017 was really good to me and my family.

It was a year I finally started to adjust the balance in my life and add some “me” weights to the scale. I started figuring out how to be myself again while still loving motherhood.

I decided to get some professional help and have finally been able to chill out lol.

My family rallied around me this spring while I studied hard and took a million photos during photography school – OK maybe not a million, but this year I’ve snapped about 50,000.

I launched my photography business in May and absolutely love having it.

This year we’ve celebrated Luca despite disapproval from local authorities. I sat in a field surrounded by thousands of floating lanterns as I dreamed of my baby boy. I told stories about him to my youngest two kids and I held him close to my heart when he felt too far away.

We visited another country in 2017 and spent a week on a golden-sand beach in Mexico. Sometimes I dream my toes are still in the sand.

And we bought another home in 2017. My husband’s grandpa’s farm house in a quiet, peaceful city in northern Utah. It’s a place where my kids can run around and explore. A place where I can sit still.

As 2017 comes to a close I am happy. Happy for the things I have learned this year. Happy for the fun I’ve had. Happy for those I get to spend my life with.

Here’s to 2018. Here’s to finding more balance, more peace. Here’s to more outdoor adventures and less backyard drama. Here’s to enjoying the little things. Here’s to doing more of what I love while surrounded by those that I love. And here’s to snapping more pictures of it all along the way.

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