I didn't take maternity pictures when I was pregnant with Avery. I didn't think it would matter, but I regretted it. I only have a few dim snapshots from the entire pregnancy and wish that I had documented it a little better, mostly for Avery's sake in the future. So this time around we booked with Shari for maternity pictures. I was nervous. So nervous. Any woman cares what she looks like when taking pictures. What do I wear? How to do my hair? Do I even want to see them after they're taken?
Add 20 pounds, an ever growing belly, and a few (okay a lot) of hormones in the mix and I personally ended up feeling like I didn't even want my picture taken anymore. I'm thankful for a wonderful friend like Shari who listened to my foolish complaining, didn't make me feel bad for worrying, and reminded me how glad I'd be that we took them anyway. Also thankful for her camera and wonderful eye:) It's like magic, people.
We got the pictures back and I teared up. Partly knowing how superficial it was to be worried about how I was going to look, and partly because I loved how they turned out. They have captured such a special and exciting time in our lives so perfectly.
It's mind boggling to look at this picture of the three of us knowing that in a few weeks we will be taking pictures as a family of four...
Avery says, "Hi, Baby Emmie." That is, when/if she's interested at all in the creature that she is starting to understand will be living with us at some point in the near future. What is going on in her little head when we bring up baby sister? She's a sharp girl, but she's also two, so I in turn wonder if she thinks Mommy and Daddy have some weird imaginary friend they've been talking about for the past few months.
I look at her all the time and try to figure out how we could have made something so beautiful, so precious. And then the answer comes- we didn't make her at all. She is a creation of our Heavenly Father. We ask her, "Avery, who made you?" We've taught her to reply, "Dod (God) made me."
She continues to insist, however, that she made the birdies and the horses...
Even though you don't always feel beautiful when your belly is 10 times its normal size, you really do have to take a step back and marvel at the beauty of pregnancy. The mystery and miracle of it. I think this is why strangers are so freakishly attracted to pregnant women. But that's another discussion altogether...
I swing back and forth between joyful anticipation and worry at introducing Avery to her new little baby sister. I have a sister and she is my best friend. I adore her and can't imagine my life without her. I pray for that kind of relationship between Avery and Emilia Kate.
I keep picturing the moment we introduce them, and that's when I begin to worry. Will she be excited? Will she cry? Will she feel like we've betrayed her? I know that these are normal Mommy fears, and also that she will be just fine. I can tend to put a lot of pressure on moments like these, thinking about them for weeks in advance, imagining every possible scenario, even romanticizing the event. That's when I have to trust God and his plan for our family. Feel secure in His love. Pray for patience. Remind myself of what He has done already.
This is probably my favorite picture from the entire shoot. It captures Avery's silliness, as well as the absolute joy Taylor derives from it. I think it is absolutely perfect. This picture captures completely those moments when Avery does something or says something that just has Taylor and I looking at each other, laughing, shaking our heads, and silently asking each other, "How can she be so awesome?".
I take Taylor for granted sometimes- his strength, his care, his help, and his love. It's easy to just expect those things from the people who are supposed to give them. When I really reflect on how much he does for us, thinks of us, and cares for us it is overwhelming. I am so thankful for him and I don't deserve his patience. In marriage, especially with children, it can be so easy to forget those special things about your spouse and feel like you can be as unthankful and ugly as you want to be. We realize more all the time that without God's grace and forgiveness which shows us our own sin, it's impossible to love each other they way we are intended to.
So I didn't cringe when I saw pictures of myself, especially this one. Here I look exactly like the late twenty-something pictures I've seen of my mother and I think that's special. It's funny the moments that take you off guard when you see something like that.
I am learning all the time that my mom really rocked (most recently with the issue of potty- training). I mean, I've been doing this motherhood thing for a couple of years now, reading, researching, making decisions about what to feed her, how to discipline her, when to potty train, etc. and then something my mom or Taylor's mom says makes me feel infinitely better about what I'm doing or not doing. I'm a huge proponent for finding what works for you individually when you become a mother, but there really is so much value in talking to those more experienced mothers about things you are struggling with.
I am thankful for a mother and mother-in-law that love Avery as much as we do, that can listen to my fears when I voice them and can reassure me that all will be well when we bring another one home from the hospital. They have been there, done that. They didn't fall apart and neither will we. They can offer funny stories of our first sibling encounters, be sincerely reassuring, and thankfully baby-sit or feed us when we need them most in the upcoming weeks:)
I am thankful for those friends who have just so newly been through this and have already figured out the rough waters of adjusting to life with more than one child. Of a nursing schedule for a newborn while simultaneously keeping their toddler alive. Of being okay with throwing their hands in the air, shedding a few tears, and drinking a glass of wine. Those who have lent me their maternity clothes so I can "mix it up". Those who have gone right ahead of me that I can text in the middle of the night because I know they will be up to nurse soon and they can listen to my complaints about being so hot that I can't sleep, or help me determine if my water has broken or not.
I am thankful also for those friends expecting their first babies- that I can experience it again right alongside them. That I can answer their questions and calm their fears and pray for them and their little ones.
And I am thankful for those friends of mine with no children, who are not expecting. The ones who love my children and anticipate Emilia Kate's arrival with as much love and excitement as I do. They don't have the experience of motherhood, but they are just as valuable because of their encouragement, their support, and their help getting physically ready for this time.
I am thankful for the life growing inside me. I look at my belly and then try to imagine what she looks like and of course that is fruitless, but the mystery of it all is just so cool. Life is such a miracle. God is so amazing in how He brings it about. Even through the pain and fatigue and worry, He can create such beauty and love and blessing. And as I get older I'm learning at every turn, in every kind of situation large or small, that's just what He does best. From The Fall to The Resurrection, His story is reflected in everything...
This third trimester has been a lot different than with Avery. More aches and pains. More emotions. More hormones. More worry. I am thankful more than ever for a husband, family, and friends that remind me seemingly everyday how wonderful this time is, how precious of a gift we've been given, and how insignificant my fears are compared to what's really going on.
If the house isn't completely ready, or if Avery isn't potty- trained, or if I go into labor early, it will be okay. Really, it will. At the end of this time, we will have another little girl. We will be a family of four. We will be sleep- deprived and stressed and we will be okay. We will get chances to look up and look around at the love we are blessed to have from our family, our neighbors, and our church community. We will eat good food and figure out what the heck we are doing, and although it will be hard, it will be beautiful.