Baby Craig I Our Birth Story

Today is our son’s due date. It’s also his 1 month birthday.

Let me tell you about April 26th. Well, it really starts on April 25th but I didn’t know it then. I woke up that morning when Lucas did at 5AM with contractions that were just uncomfortable. I did all the things that my midwife told me to do to stop Braxton Hicks like drink water and change positions.. nothing worked. I finally got in the bath and that made them stop so I didn’t think anything of it.

That night we decided to go through the few clothes we had and do a load of baby laundry. As I was folding the tiny clothes, I thought to myself, “there is no way a baby can fit in these clothes!”. I mean, they were tiny. Around that time, the contractions started again but I didn’t know they were contractions. I thought I had a really upset stomach or maybe they were those strong Braxton Hicks again.. We went to bed and I went to sleep.

3AM came around and there they were again.. I tried to turn over.. I tried to get up and move around… I tried to drink water.. Finally, I just laid back down. 5AM and my husbands alarm goes off and I jump out of bed and declare, “I am taking a bath..”. They did.not.stop.

We called the hospital at 6AM and my midwife (an angel from heaven) called back immediately.. She said to meet her at 8.

I was pretty calm until then. I realized I could time them and they were coming pretty quickly but not lasting long. My dogs wouldn’t leave my side and dogs know everything. I couldn’t imagine having my baby on this day. I wasn’t ready.. but I did have clean clothes for him.

We called the parental units, we packed bags and fed dogs and off we went.

When I got there, I was a one. I stayed there until 1 that afternoon and never progressed passed a one. I got sent home with orders to lay down and try to relax. My husband had to go into work since his school at the time was based on hours and he could only miss so many. Even going in for one hour was important. I laid there, still contracting and allowed fear to creep in..

The contractions came hard and fast. I was alone. I was sad. Why was it happening now.. That was only the beginning of that question.

Lucas got home and knew I was in labor. Everything had changed in that hour. I cried. I could hardly move. So we did the same thing, texted the midwife, fed the dogs, grabbed the bags, called the family and drove to the hospital (with a quick stop to get gas!).

We got there at 6 and when my midwife checked me, I was still a 1.. I almost came out of my skin.. but then 30 seconds later her words were, “oh no, now you are a 4!”. I progressed from a 1 to a 10 in 2 hours. I didn’t have time to think about the birth plan. I had my oils ready to go and was totally ready to get in the warm tub to manage the pain and didn’t get to do any of it.

If only pushing had gone the same way. 3 hours later and my little boy was in my arms.

I remember few things from all of it because I spent most of the day with my eyes closed. I remember praying a lot. I remember telling myself over and over and over (pretty much with each contraction) that I was not given a spirit of timidity. I was strong and powerful and full of love. I yearned for the baby to come in to the world and after calling on Jesus, I would beg the baby to come out of my body. I did not have one ounce of medication to get through it. Only Jesus, my husband and the best midwife and friend and girl could hope for.

Jennifer kept my calm. She never left the room. She told me exactly what to do and how to get my baby closer to being in my arms. And afterwards, she brought me a sandwich.

Little did I know that was only the beginning of some days and weeks that I would need to be strong to make it through. Nurses and doctors kept coming in our rooms for the next few days and using the word “late term premature” and telling me that my baby was different and would take extra work and it was ok but then there was this, and this and this that we had to look out for because he was “late term premature”. But, when I looked down at the baby in my arms, he was perfect and healthy and it didn’t make sense.

When we got home, all these things ran through my mind but there wasn’t a doctor to ask for clarification anymore and a lot of it was foggy because thats just how things are after you give birth. Satan saw his opening and took it.

Day 2 of being home and I fell apart. Literally. I was in the kitchen, standing over the stove trying to cook something or eating something I had just grabbed and the biggest, hardest tears I have ever cried started pouring out of my eyes.

My baby was premature and it was my fault. What had I done? Was it because I hated being pregnant? Because I was sorry and if God could just rewind the last few days, I promise to change my attitude and we could make it to the due date.

Do you hear Satan in that sentence? Do you hear the lies? The fear?

None of that was true. What was true, and still is, is that my baby was right on time. Jesus always knew the birthdate. He knew that Craig was ready when he was ready and it just worked out that I didn’t have to be pregnant anymore. Jesus was full of grace. I can already think of a few reasons why I am glad He was early just out of convenience for me, but maybe its not convenience for Jesus. I frankly, don’t believe that he cares about convenience for himself. He is Jesus and His plan is perfect and He only gives us good gifts.

My baby is small. My baby is healthy. And God is always good.

Craig has taught me so many things already. Namely to ask myself, do I really trust in God the way I say I do. During his birth, I could only think of God craig1month-10craig1month-11craig1month-12craig1month-14craig1month-15craig1month-16craig1month-17craig1month-18craig1month-19craig1month-20craig1month-21craig1month-22craig1month-23craig1month-24craig1month-25craig1month-26craig1month-27to get me through the most insane pain.. why had I thought anything would be different after?

I cried those big, fat tears for weeks until I saw Jennifer again. And then we sat for an hour and both cried to each other about pain we felt. And it was perfect and provided healing and pushed away fear and made space for peace.

Now, just look at this boy and see the joy. Because thats all I can seem to do these days.

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Rethinking Resolutions

The beginning of a new year is typified by two things- a review of both highs and lows from the previous 12 months and a firm resolution to make next year better by some new pattern of action. Social media makes it relatively easy to review the past year in a few minutes, using algorithms and code to tell you exactly how your life played out within the last 12 months. Unfortunately, the resolution and determination of our future path remains a task only we can accomplish, and we usually do quite poorly in this.

I want to address two things about resolutions and why I view them as an unnecessary burden on our hopes and plans for another year. The first is that from a practicality standpoint, our resolutions are often too vague and therefore easily compromised. The number one resolution always seems to be an increased level of fitness, or more simply “getting into shape,” although saving more money, reading more books, more places visited, and living more life are popular themes in social media right now. This is expected because of the Christmas-induced binge of the past few weeks. I met one person who had no problem eating far more than normal for all of December, because he would just “resolve it all away” come January 1st. But what does getting in shape over the course of an entire year look like? Running a mile every once in a while? Eating a salad instead of a burger for lunch? The slightly more specific plan of losing weight still falls short of what we want, because a loss of one pound from January to December is still technically a success. What all this means is that unless you have a specific plan such as losing twenty-five pounds or reading five books, you will be devoured by ambiguity and always set up for disappointment. By not clearly defining our goals we leave them open to interpretation of success and therefore run the risk of letting our plan slip or be downgraded when it proves more difficult than originally thought.

While my first critique of resolutions are more related to form, what follows is more about their purpose. From the list of popular resolutions in the previous paragraph a common theme can be determined, and that is the fallacy that engorging ourselves on a specific action will determine a successful life over the next year. If I lose weight I will better meet the world’s standards of beauty, or saving money will make me rich and therefore increase my standing among peers. Reading more will make me smarter than those around me, and traveling will make me a more interesting person so that people will be more drawn to me and my experiences. The only problem with this line of thought is that it takes you in the opposite direction of where you want to be. The concept of resolutions fall right in line with the deeds-based ideology so popular in today’s world, that our actions are our salvation, while faith is what merely guides our hands in action. To adhere to such a plan runs against the entire concept of grace and what it means for how we live our lives. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul tells of a thorn placed in his side and how he begged with the Lord to have it removed. And yet he was told that the grace given freely to all Christians was sufficient for him, and that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (Verse 9) Think about that radical concept for a second- God’s power and right-ness is perfected when we are at our worst in the eyes of the world. Paul goes on to write that he is even more glad in his weaknesses, as well as the ” insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” (v. 10) that come with living in man’s broken world. Not only should we not run away from what the world tells us is wrong with ourselves, we should rejoice in what faults the world finds in us, as it makes us celebrate and hope for even more in the grace that is otherworldly. How ironic that less than a week after celebrating the arrival of the only option for true salvation, Christians join the rest of society in pursuing deeds that will hopefully provide comfort and salvation. Oh, how quickly we can forget even the most important of things.

My goal is not to reduce the hopes for a year which is only a few hours old, but to redirect them. 2017 and the years beyond it can be the best period we have ever known, but no amount of money gained or weight lost can accomplish this. Rather, our only route to see contentment and eventual joy comes in rejoicing at the gift given us earlier this month at no cost to us- the saving grace of Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. Until we begin to comprehend this, all other resolutions, regardless of their ambiguity or concrete definition, will leave us unfulfilled and wanting.

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Infertility Sucks.

Wow, its been since July since I have posted anything..

I have a lot to tell. And quite the story to go along with it.

First, let me get the big one out of the way. I am currently not working this little business right now and don’t plan to for a little bit.

This year has been a year. Actually it starts a couple years back.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in August of 2009. I had a major surgery to remove the  scar tissue then, went on the worst medication for 6 months and then managed in ever since then. Well, 2 years ago, Lucas and I started trying to have a baby. So, I had to come off of the medicine I was on to make that happen. It was horrible. Every month that we didn’t come away pregnant, I laid in physical pain for a week. And then the emotional pain hit. Living 2 weeks at a time is horrendous.

Let me back up even more.

October 2011, I was sobbing on my living room floor asking for God to send me an angel. I needed saving in the worst way. And God showed up. The very next day is the first day that I spoke to Lucas (we had known of each other but never had any reason to talk). My camera is what did it. I had to shoot an event that I knew he would be at and I needed some details. He gave them to me and we moved on. December of 2011, the same thing happened. But this time he was sure to have my number for more conversations. I knew I liked him after a couple of dates but I could not get into a relationship without having told him who I really was.

A terrible sinner that ran from Jesus in the worst way, a forgiven daughter of Christ. Wholly loved. And I trusted that God had led me to him.

And then I told him that if we were to have a future, he had to know that children would not come easily. I had a terrible disease and the word “impossible” was thrown around.

I was sure Lucas would walk out of my house after my story. I had prayed for days that wouldn’t be the case. Instead, he took me to a movie and then asked me to be his girlfriend.

We knew that the challenge would be real and that we had to trust in God’s timing. We knew we wanted to be parents. I finally worked my way through the Tricare system and got to a doctor at a civilian hospital who cared and wanted to make the endometriosis better for me, which means.. baby. A baby is the best way to stop the disease. We worked together for a year. I had another surgery in February to remove more of the scar tissue that had grown back in just a year’s worth of being off medicine. We tried so many fertility medication rounds. I initially responded well and we were so hopeful. And yet each month, it wouldn’t happen and I just knew the disease was growing minute by minute. The pain was only increasing.

Finally this summer, we took a break and decided that if we came back, we were doing IVF.

Do you have any idea how hard that decision is to make? If you are both influenced by the Christian faith and struggling with infertility, IVF forces you to make some tough choices. What if you get pregnant on the first try? What happens to those little fertilized eggs?  Don’t tell me those aren’t alive. Regardless of your politics, I defy you to tell a struggling couple that there isn’t life in there when they see a positive test. It was the hardest and took us months. My doctor was incredible and offered us the option of a mini-IVF so you don’t have to take 20 eggs at a time and have the hard moral decisions of what to do if any are left over.

The first try was in August. I took the medicine, went in for an ultrasound and was devastated. I didn’t respond AT ALL. Nothing. I had zero eggs. So we said, 1 more month. We aren’t doing this again. September is it and then we are done.

You see, we are moving to Virginia in November and we have the best friends here. We wanted to spend some time with them and not be distracted for our last few months.

So September came around, we changed the medication and I actually responded. Everything looked perfect! We were so excited. And then my doctor said, “No IVF this month. The embryologist is on vacation”. Uhh, what?

Again devastated.

Our last month and we can’t even do the IVF.

But then God stepped in.

And gave us a baby.

Incredible. Miracle. Something only God can do.

We are humbled beyond belief and so grateful to see how much he loves and cares for us.

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Baby Turner is due at the end of May 2017. Conveniently the same time that we are supposed to move again. But, God knows what He is doing! This whole story is a reminder of His faithfulness, and his character doesn’t change.

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They are home! I Ft. Hood TX Homecoming Photographer

These are our friends. Lucas’ first company here in Texas. We have made relationships that will last a lifetime and we have missed these guys dearly. They came home on Wednesday and while we wouldn’t have missed it for anything, it was an incredible joy on my end to capture the sweet moments that I did (these things happen in an instant which is why everyone has a phone in their hands too.. I wish I could get it all guys!).

There is nothing else like it.

The heaviness of each moment is felt before they ever walk in. The weight of waiting.. And then once you put eyes on them its like you can finally breathe again.. You know that in just a few minutes you will get to wrap your arms around them and everyone is safe. All is right in the world..

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Belen and Dave are Engaged I College Station, TX Proposal Photographer

You have seen these two before.

I have told you about their love and how it crosses continents and oceans and time. I have told you of their loyalty and joy.. And now I get to tell they are spending their whole lives together.

Let me tell you about their family.

It is strong and close and supportive and loving. It is not judgmental or closed off. They met me once and gave me a big hug when.. They work hard. They would move mountains for each other. They love each other just as fiercely so it is no surprise to see that played out with Belen and Dave. And they tease.. even in spanish I could tell that they teased each other.. They have been one of my biggest joys and I always do what I can to say YES to them.

So of course, when Belen’s younger sister told me of her upcoming engagement, I had to make it work. Lo and behold, Belen messaged me for family photos! She didn’t know she was arranging her own proposal photographer! Smart family.. Did I mention they are smart?!

We planned this whole shoot to celebrate her brothers graduation and slowly worked our way to the Century Tree on campus. And then Dave took it from there..

It was perfect.

Enjoy!

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Guess Family I Texas Bluebonnet Photographer

This sweet family of 3 are..something special. We met them through our small group at church and they have been such an encouragement to Lucas and I.

Their son, Noah, is a joy. Like really.. he is one of the easiest kids to be around and to photograph because of how stinking fun he is! He loves his mom and dad and they love him so much. It flows through the photos and is impossible to avoid.

They walk with us on hard roads. They laugh and cry and pray with us. We count ourselves lucky to be friends with them.

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Allison I Dallas Bridal Photographer

She’s my best friend. And now she is married to the love of her life. I can’t be happier for her!

She called me one Sunday afternoon, woke me from a nap and asked me to take her bridal portraits. I screamed “YES!”. She had previously told me that she had a wild idea to keep her dress a secret from EVERYONE until her wedding day! Not cool sister.. Not cool.

And then we did these, she loved them and showed everyone! Good plan, Al. 😉

 

I love these.. They were such a joy to take.

Enjoy Mrs (Dr.).Mckee!

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