The time has come to start down the path to a hopeful baby #3.  When we decided to postpone the transfer in September, it was based on the fact that we just weren’t quite ready to go through all of this again.  The emotional roller coaster it puts you through wouldn’t be worth it for anything else than the possibility of being able to hold another baby in our arms.  We just weren’t ready.

The extra few months have been a God send, and exactly what we needed!  Being able to celebrate the holidays, spend time as a family of 4, and just “let go” of everything else was amazing.  The months have flown by, and here we are!  The difference is that I am having no second thoughts about timing.  Yes, if it works I will be pregnant during a ridiculously hot Nashville summer, but I don’t care.  I am ready to go after baby #3 at full force!!  And we are SO excited about the possibility of adding to our family!

Here’s what’s to come:  I had some routine blood work done last week to check my Vitamin D and TSH levels. (waiting on the results) On Wednesday, I need to have a small procedure done as a follow up to my last surgery.  Not a big deal at all except for the IV that I despise!  Not to worry, I will be armed with my lidocaine cream!!  Ha!  If all goes well, I will start on birth control pills (hysterical to me that you take BCPs while trying to GET pregnant) and then my Lupron injections will begin in about 2 weeks.  **I will apologize now for anything I say/do while on Lupron.  It’s a CRAZY drug, and I take NO responsibility for the way I act during the month I’m on it!!!**  Please pray for Brandon during this time as he’s going to need it while putting up with me!  I have been known to knock an entire box of Cheerios out of his hand (and then walk away w/o cleaning it up) simply because he didn’t like what I had planned for dinner!  Funny now, but not so funny when it happened.

Anyway, then comes Lovenox injections (which I will have to continue throughout my pregnancy, as I did with the twins, due to a blood clotting factor that I have) Progesterone injections or patches, lining checks, blood draws, and then FINALLY a transfer!  Wow!  I had almost forgotten how involved this was!! If all goes as planned, we will be looking at a mid March transfer in Denver!!!

Please keep our family in your prayers during our journey!   I will continue to update as we go!

 

http://www.epsbaby.com/?p=2307

http://www.epsbaby.com/?p=1666

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Meet Miss Savannah Mackenzie….

She is the sweet newborn of a friend and of course we had a blast with her and her big sister Sophia.  These two beautiful girls are going to be heartbreakers! Savannah is already learning how to grin at the camera and knows how to model her accessories well!  🙂

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I can’t tell you how much fun we had in this session.  It hardly feels like work when we get to share the happiest moments in our clients’ lives and photograph sweet angels all day.  Throw in a hilarious big brother and it just makes our day!  Join me in welcoming Miss Landry Hazel into the world!  She is going to be a lucky little sister to have Emerson taking care of her….she will laugh A LOT….his giggle is contagious.  Enjoy the highlights from this beautiful family’s photo session!…IMG_4242 copyIMG_4253 copyIMG_4259 copyIMG_4298 copyIMG_4301 copyIMG_4387 copyIMG_4398 copyIMG_4475 copyIMG_4502 copyIMG_4588 copyIMG_4612 copy

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Meet Mr. Grant William….what a sweet pea!  He was one of our holiday babies and what a precious gift!  He not only has amazing parents, but a special guard dog as well…Lanie and Grant are going to be best buds you can tell!  Enjoy the highlights from Grant’s newborn session!….

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Taking the time to catch up on a few blogs from the holidays!  I can’t say it enough how much we love to see our baby clients come back during their first year!  It’s always mixed emotions…sad to see them growing so fast but so sweet to see how adorable their personalities are!  Little Miss Emma has brought us many smiles!  We celebrated her 1 year birthday over the holidays and had so much fun!  Her big brother was a big help of course!  We even decided on a little post birthday bubble bath!  Enjoy the highlights from Emma’s 1st birthday photo session!…

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When I reflect on what I’m thankful for, my mind is overwhelmed with all the Blessings I have in my life. My babies and husband are, of course, the top of my list, but family, friends, and a career that I love are there as well. But there is another group that I am thankful for. I call them my “IVF Mafia” or “my girls” as many of you have heard me refer to them. I truly wish I could put into words what they mean to me, but nothing I come up with could ever suffice.

Meet my mafia…..

When we began our journey into creating our family, I researched every single thing I could get my hands on. I mean EVERYTHING. I logged every medication I ever took, follicle counts, E2 levels, etc. If it had to do with infertility, I knew it backwards and forwards.

However, I was still searching. Searching for someone/anyone who understood what I was going through. Not in the “everything happens for a reason” understanding, but a wholehearted understanding of the guilt, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, and frustration that comes along with it.

I reached out to some online forums, and found a bit of solace with other women, but it wasn’t what I needed. These people were strangers behind a screen name. I knew nothing of their lives. Then one day there was a post asking if anyone wanted to join a secret Facebook group in order to truly get to know each other and actually share our LIVES with one another. As soon as I read it, I asked to join. I could never have known then how this small group of women would change my life.

As the group formed, we began sharing….not just stories of our IF struggles, but about our LIVES.  If you would have told me I would create a bond like this over the internet, I would have told you to get a life, and get some “real” friends.

The thing is, they have become so much more than “real” friends. They are my family. These women know more about me than almost anyone. They are my Mafia. (Just an FYI… I wouldn’t mess with any of us unless you want to take on the entire group – I have proof! Ha!) We have celebrated some amazing highs, and supported each other through some terrible lows. They have prayed with me and for me through the years, and I truly don’t know what I would have done without them!

We met in May of this year, and the bond was solidified.  We put together a little video of what pulled us together, and the struggles we had been through. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9BTUgISKHU

To my Mafia girls – you are the most incredibly strong women I know. You have persevered through some of the toughest struggles, while continuing to support and rejoice for others.    You have given me such a safe place to just “be” through my IF journey, and through my life in general. I love you girls so much, and am extremely THANKFUL to have you in my life. Your friendships have blessed me far beyond measure, and for that I will always be grateful.  I am so blessed to call you my sisters.

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For the past couple of months quite a few people have asked if our final embryo transfer was successful.  Most have assumed it was not since I had yet to post an update.  (http://www.epsbaby.com/?p=1666) For that, I’m sorry!

Our original plan was to transfer our 3rd (and final) embryo in August or September.  As time passed (which seems to happen much more quickly now with toddlers running around) and August was staring us in the face, we “reevaluated” our plan.  As much as we wanted our children to be closer in age (and to be honest I was trying to avoid the ridiculous “I had a baby in my 40s” stigma) we realized that our lives were so completely full that a few extra months would be perfect for us!

As of now, we are looking to Denver in February/March of 2015!  Not to worry, I will be sure to update everyone as the transfer approaches. If you haven’t seen it on the blog, we haven’t done it!

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers for our family!  The twins have been such an amazing blessing to us, and we are enjoying every minute with them!  Yes, it can be completely exhausting and challenging at times, but my life is amazing!

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Sitting in the hotel in Denver (waiting on dinner) and it dawned on me that I never updated my last blog from a month ago.  When I was here last, it was for the initial testing for our 3rd (and final) embryo.  I had hoped that everything would go as planned, and they would clear us for transfer, but that wasn’t quite the way it worked out.  Apparently I have some scar tissue and some sort of “mass” that needs to be “cleaned out” in order to give our little ice baby the best chance, so here I am.

Surgery has been scheduled for tomorrow morning at 7:45am, but should be very short and simple.  I’m having a harder time dealing with the fact that I have to get an IV tomorrow than I am with the procedure itself!  You would think with nearly 300 injections and nearly 100 blood draws under my belt I would be rockstar with needles, but not even close!  I still don’t go near a needle without at least an hour under a bandaid with lidocaine cream!  However, I’m not the one who needed apple juice this morning during some routine blood work that Brandon and I had to update.  hahahahaha!!  Truth be told – I almost passed out from a simple finger prick that I wasn’t expecting!  (yes, I would have covered my finger tip with lidocaine cream had I known!!)

They require a 6 week recovery time before allowing for a transfer, which is perfectly fine since we hadn’t planned on doing it until August/September.

Anyway – there’s the update!  Say a little prayer that they get everything, and we get to go home Wednesday!  I already miss my babies terribly!!

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embryoIn the beginning of our infertility struggle, I was an open book.  I told anyone and everyone what we were going through.  Why?  I guess because I was naive enough to think that it would be a short struggle, and we would have our perfect little family on the first try.  In the years that followed, I began building walls and shutting people out from what was going on.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want people to know, it was that every time I “failed” it got harder and more debilitating to face the questions when I didn’t really have any answers.  With each passing “sorry it didn’t work” phone call I received, the feelings of embarrassment and disappointment mounted.  I mean, women have babies.  That’s what they DO!  There were VERY few people who knew what we were going through, and even fewer who REALLY knew.

Lucky for us, our blessings finally came in the form of Bexleigh and Braxton!!  I have never felt more grateful or more humbled than the day I first held them.  Most people don’t know, but the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy were rough.  With every doctor appt, there seemed to be an issue.  For weeks we were told not to tell people we were pregnant, and that if we DID choose to talk about it, we should not announce we were having twins.  Ugh!  Obviously, everything turned out perfect!

I had always known that once we announced the pregnancy I would put out a video of what we had gone through to get there.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09NOIn3rCVM)   What I didn’t know was that it would leave me flooded with calls/texts/emails from people who had been through (or were going through) some sort of infertility struggle of their own.  I realized that I had a wealth of knowledge to share, especially since I had tracked everything.  Every shot, every medication dosage, every level of every blood test.  EVERYTHING.  I became an “open book” again, and nothing has ever been off limits since.

I say all of this for one reason…we still have an “ice baby” waiting for us in Denver, and we’re ready to go get him/her!  I’ve thought long and hard about sharing this with everyone because once it’s “out there” it can’t be taken back.  The thing is, we are so ridiculously blessed with what we have been given that I just don’t feel the pressure like I did before.  If letting people walk the path with us helps someone who’s going through it, or helps others be more supportive of it, then it’s worth it.

So here goes!!!  I have just landed in Denver to update my required testing for transfer.  If everything looks good we plan to transfer our final embryo around the end of August/beginning of September!  Wish us luck!!!

P.S. – if you have questions about infertility PLEASE do NOT hesitate to call/email/FBook me!!!

 

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I have worked with Amber’s mom (Dena) for most of the last 12 years, so I have been able to follow along with the amazing life of her daughter and family.

When Dena told me Amber and Nathan were about to begin another adoption process, it did and didn’t  surprise me.  Three of their 4 children are adopted, and I know how big their hearts are, and how strong their faith is.  However; I had followed along with their most recent adoption of Anna Gray from the Ukraine and watched how long, strenuous, and expensive it was.  Which led me to  ask….”Really? Another one? China?” 

Dena then told me that Amber’s response to that had been “Mom, I put leftovers in the refrigerator every night.”

Leftovers.  It was that simple.

I truly believe most people have a desire to make a difference in the world, but it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to do, who to do it for, etc.  and simply helping one child doesn’t seem like much.  Think about it, though.  Giving this one boy a chance at a loving family changes HIS world.  Totally.  Completely.

Angelynn and I are on a mission to bring Nicholas home, and we need your help.  How?

1. Book a newborn session through us!  We will donate $100 for every newborn session booked in April, regardless of your due date.

2. Not expecting?  Consider a simple donation here:  http://reecesrainbow.org/71798/sponsorwest-2

3. Pass this along to an expectant friend

4. Share it on your own Facebook, etc.

Please join us in this journey!  Let’s help the West family do something amazing with their leftovers!

http://growingwests.blogspot.com/2014/01/answers-to-most-popular-questions.htm

(photos from Amber West)

 

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As I look back on the past year, I realize my life has never changed so dramatically.

2013 will forever be known as… THE YEAR I FORGOT.

 

Over the past 12 months, I have forgotten….

What it’s like to sleep through the night

What it’s like to have on clean clothes for longer than 10 minutes

What it’s like to be spontaneous

What it’s like to wash my hair more than 2x per week

What it’s like to eat a hot meal

What it’s like to watch an entire movie, or have an uninterrupted phone conversation

What it’s like to have the laundry completely done

What it’s like to run a quick errand, or grab lunch with a friend.

What it’s like to have “me” time.

 

Although you may think it sounds like nothing but a year of complaints, you couldn’t be more wrong.  You see, in forgetting all of the above, I also forgot about…

 

The little voice that filled my head before each of our cycles saying “maybe this is our time,” only to be followed by the overwhelming disappointment each time we were told to  “try again.”

The hundreds of phone calls I made crying to my sister because I didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t want to give up. (Thanks Angela!)

I forgot what it was like to revolve our lives around injection schedules, doctor appointments, and procedures.

I forgot about the anxiety of the almost daily heart beat checks (with my home monitor) and the terror I felt when I couldn’t find one, after we were finally pregnant.

Most importantly…

I forgot what it was like to walk around with a hole in my heart that I was certain was meant to be filled by children.

 

So yes, I forgot a LOT in 2013, but in doing so have been blessed beyond measure.

Sleep is overrated anyway, right???

Wishing you all an incredible 2014!!!

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Arriving home from our very first “family of four” vacation, I find myself looking back on the past year of my life.

One year ago today, Brandon and I were in Denver (CCRM)anticipating the transfer of 2 embryos to me from our 4th ivf cycle.  Before the transfer could take place, blood work had to confirm that all of my “levels” were where they should be, and the embryos had to be thawed and reviewed for viability.  After my levels came back perfect, we waited for the embryologist.  Did they thaw successfully?  One or both?  Were they expanding?  And of course, the most important question….were we moving forward with the transfer?

Even as I type this, a year later, and knowing the outcome, I can feel my blood pressure rising, as the anxiety courses through me anew.

Nearly 4 years of struggle, surgeries, hundreds of needles, disappointment after disappointment, all came down to this….

As the embryologist rolled the incubator into the room,  I held my breath….

Much of what he said was a blur, but for one phrase….”they couldn’t look any better.”

“THEY!!”  That meant that had BOTH made it, and were to be transferred!!

 

 

At 12:30pm, embryo #6 and #7 (who we would later name Bexleigh and Braxton) were transferred to me.  Six days later we saw our first ever positive pregnancy test.  And at 38 weeks and 1 day, I delivered a healthy 7lb8oz baby girl, and a healthy 6lb4oz baby boy.

 

It amazes me how different life can look in a mere 365 days.

We celebrate our tremendous blessings, pray for those who continue to struggle, and look forward to our future – full of hopes and dreams for these miracles that God so graciously entrusted to us.

 

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When Angelynn and I started on our photography journey a few years ago, we photographed anything/everything we could get our hands on.  We thought that in order to be successful, we needed to be everything to everybody.  The majority of our work was family photography, and we only occasionally had a newborn session.

It wasn’t until a good friend of mine Brittany (Britttany Lynn Handmade)  had her first son that we realized newborns were our true calling.  We decided that instead of trying to be good at everything, we would focus on becoming GREAT at what we loved…maternity and babies!

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Workshop after workshop, an AMAZING mentorship with Laura Brett Photography, and countless photography classes, we learned from the best!  Our maternity/newborn business exploded, and we slowly refrained from booking anything else.

We have been extremely blessed in our business, and truly love what we do.  There’s only one problem… we miss our families!  While the first year is amazing, filled with sessions every few months where we are able to catch up, check in, etc.  the following months everyone “disappears” until baby #2 (or 3 or 4) come along!  We still managed to fit in a few every year, but it just wasn’t the same.  We miss you!!

We thought long and hard about getting back into family photography, but we just didn’t think we could find adequate time.  So……we did the next best thing!  We found an AMAZING photographer Ashlee Vallett of Ashlee V Photography to partner up with!  Not only are her photos stunning, her work ethic, customer service, and quality are perfectly in line with ours! (and it doesn’t hurt that she’s the sweetest person EVER!)

What does this mean for YOU?  Simple!!  Edwards Photography Studios can now be your “one stop shop” when it comes to photography!  And I don’t mean in the “we shoot everything, but we’re not really great at anything” kind of way.  I mean in the “you now get a photographer who actually SPECIALIZES in their field of photography” from maternity on up!  How amazing is THAT?!?!?

We are going to partner up to run special family sessions EXCLUSIVE to our EPS families, put together some great packages, and double the excitement with fantastic giveaways!

This has been a long time coming, but we wanted to be sure we found the “right” person for us and you!  We wanted to know that the families we love so much were in the very best hands!  Let me just say, we have never been more confident in a decision!

Please welcome Ashlee to our EPS family!  You will absolutely adore her!!!  (Stay tuned for our first exciting giveaway!!)

Here’s just a taste of her work….

Ashlee

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