Filling in the Gap | August '15 to June '17 | Personal Post
I really believe in the saying, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans." His plan for David and I have been so much better and bigger than anything we could have imagined! The last two years have had many twists and turns, and all sorts of changes (career, state of residence, number of people in our household!). If you've been following Dallas Arthur Photography since its launch in 2012, you may have wondered, what happened in the last two years? Here is a little summary to fill the gap! Enjoy!
Our last month in the Chicago area. I photographed the last session of a "Watch Me Grow" package for a sweet 1 year old, and an awesome wedding (pigs in bow ties roaming the reception, need I say more?).
Then, David's parents and my parents came up and over to help us pack up our apartment. We loaded up into our two cars, my dad's Yukon, and a Uhaul trailer, and off we went for the 1,091 mile move from Illinois to Florida. It was (thankfully) a relatively uneventful drive!
Marco "helping" me pack. Boxes and cats, man. There's just something alluring there that we'll never understand!
Our last picture in our empty apartment. I broke down sobbing after we took this; it was such a bittersweet moment to leave the first place we called home as a married couple!
September to October
We hung out in Jacksonville for a few short days, and then got right back in the car and drove all the way back up north to Michigan. We had made arrangements to spend two months working at a Lutheran camp in northern Michigan called Camp Arcadia.
Our time there was so special and something we won't ever forget. As "fall camp staff," David and I had so many different responsibilities. We worked in the kitchen, served in the dining hall, ran audio-visual equipment, help with beer and wine tastings, led a photography class, ran middle school youth retreats, helped with administrative tasks in the main office, and planned kids' ministry programming. In between our "work" days, we got to explore Michigan; travelling to Mackinac Island, tasting all things cherry in Traverse City, and kayaking on Lake Michigan. We saw sunset after amazing sunset. As soon as the snowflakes started falling, the season ended and we headed to our new home in Florida, for good.
When we arrived back in Florida, David started looking for work and I started a part-time, work from home position. My plan was to spend a few months revamping my business and then relaunching in the early spring. I photographed a friend's wedding (we had a blast!) and visited my grandparents in Lake Worth for Thanksgiving.
All through November, I found myself feeling sick. I was EXHAUSTED (I took a 5 hour nap before we even ate Thanksgiving turkey!), emotional, feeling queasy, and had no appetite. But I pushed through and we started to unpack and make a home for ourselves.
On December 14th, I finally did the math and realized I hadn't had a period in 57 days. That wasn't at all unusual for me (I've got a super fun condition called PCOS), but given all of the weird symptoms, I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a pregnancy test. Boom! Pregnant. We were floored. We weren't supposed to be able to get pregnant naturally (you can read about it in another blog post here), and we weren't even trying, but we had a pile of positive pregnancy tests in front of us telling us otherwise. We were so nervous about what the future held (nothing like having a miracle baby when you're unemployed, uninsured, and newly moved to the state!) but we were so grateful and excited! We knew that God would work everything out for us, and He absolutely did.
Over the next few weeks, we told our family and close friends the news, and spent Christmas in Michigan with David's family. Every opportunity to tell people that we were pregnant was so much fun!
Unfortunately, the drive back home from Michigan was really difficult for me. I couldn't get comfortable and I was so queasy. I wanted to get home as fast as we could, so we didn't stop often and I was too nauseous to eat or drink much. We arrived home and I immediately went right to bed, grateful that the trip was over.
The next morning, I woke up feeling absolutely terrible. I had some of the most severe abdominal cramping I had ever had. It spread to my lower back and I was in agony, curled up in bed. I was so convinced that something was terribly wrong and I was so afraid that something was wrong with the baby. We headed to the emergency room.
I was quickly diagnosed as being severely dehydrated, and I was put on an IV. We had to wait for an ultrasound, and I was told that David wouldn't be allowed to come in with me. I absolutely lost it. I sobbed and hyperventilated, pleading with the nurse to allow him to be there with me. I feel like every woman who wants to have babies someday pictures that first ultrasound where you get to see your baby, hear the heartbeat, and look excitedly into the eyes of the man who would raise that baby with you. But here I was, shaking from the IV, not sure if my baby was okay, and about to be wheeled into a room by myself to do an emergency ultrasound.
Eventually my request went through the right channels and they allowed David to come in with me, as long as neither one of us would be able to see the ultrasound screen. We agreed, and held our breath. David took a peek at the screen, but he didn't know what he was looking at, and the tech wasn't allowed to share what she saw. We had to wait for the doctor to share the results with us.
An agonizing few hours later, an emergency room doctor came bursting into our room, cheerfully saying that I was 9 weeks pregnant, the heartbeat was strong, and everything looked perfectly fine. I was simply dehydrated and after a few bags of fluid, I was released to go home and rest. I've never been more relieved and grateful in my life.
January to July
I had decided that I would put my photography plans on pause until after the baby was born. But I had already paid and made travel arrangements to go to an awesome photography convention in Atlanta, Imaging USA. So I went! It was an awesome three days of learning, being inspired by talented photographers, and getting to see some of my very favorite photographers do some great demonstrations! I spent hours and hours chatting with representatives from print labs and finding all about what great albums and print products are out there. I was SO glad that I went!
My pregnancy continued on uneventfully, and I actually really enjoyed it! I continued to work from home and briefly worked at my church for a few months, filling in for the secretary. David found work, and we started preparing for our little GIRL! I knew she was a girl the moment I found out I was pregnant, and never doubted myself. We were thrilled when the ultrasound technician confirmed my gut feeling!
We built a crib, scoured thrift shops for baby supplies, and made lists of names. We took Hypnobirthing classes, learned all about natural birth, and connected with doulas, midwives, baby photographers, pregnancy-specific chiropractors, and so many other birth workers in the area. We had a casual, fun baby shower and were blessed with everything that we needed for our little girl's arrival.
July 25, 2016
Our sweet Alexis Lucille made her appearance quickly and peacefully on July 25. She was our Christmas in July! (You can read her birth story here for all of the fun details!) She was born in water at the UF Birth Center, and everything went just beautifully.
July '16 to March '17
Parenthood has been the most wonderful and exhausting thing I've ever done. Thankfully, Alexis was and continues to be a laid-back, easy, and healthy baby. With the help of a wonderful lactation consultant, we got off to a great start and had an easy breastfeeding journey.
Even with an easy baby, I struggled to settle in as a work-from-home-mom. Alexis hit a terrible sleep regression right on time at 4 months old, and we had two long months of extreme sleep deprivation. I was emotionally charged all the time, snapping at everyone, and feeling like a failure. The most encouraging words that I heard during that time were, "Don't worry about 'bad habits' or doing things the 'right way;' just do what you have to do to keep your head above water until this ends." For us, that meant researching and implementing safe cosleeping, ordering a lot of takeout, and letting the housework slide for a while. We came out on the other side and now have a great sleeper who is in her own crib in her own room. Hallelujah!
March to June...AKA now!
As I chugged along in my new role as "mom," I began to really long for photography again. I photographed Alexis pretty much every day, but ever since my own birth, I was so eager to give birth photography a try.
I took on three birth sessions in March and April and quickly fell in love with the whole process. Documenting such a powerful, life-affirming day in a family's life is an honor. But it's also a lot of fun! I never knew what each minute would hold. I got to be a ninja, sneaking around silently to catch each moment. I got to be a friend, silently cheering on moms in the process I had just experienced a few short months ago. I was a problem solver and a creative artist, making the dim lights (and sometimes NO light!) work, and using angles to create modest, beautiful images. And best of all, I got to see three awesome new human beings enter this world.
Ever since then, I've been working diligently on my business. I've slaved over this website (I hope you like it; it's been a labor of love!), revamped my session pricing, and carefully chosen each stunning product in my print and album line. I'm so excited to serve expecting families in the Jacksonville area and live out my dream once again!