16 Weeks

I've been bad about taking pictures
How far along: 16 weeks today

Current size: avocado (4-5in, 3-5oz)

Due Date: February 7, 2016    

Symptoms: I still have morning sickness. I thought it was leaving me when I had a two day break, but it came back. I don't care though. I'm pregnant and baby is doing well so that's all that matters. 

Gender: our ultrasound is scheduled for September 24th. I can't wait. 

Gender predictions: We did the baking soda pee test. It says boy. Mark and Amelia think we are having a boy, but I still have no feeling one way or another. 

What are you hoping for: A healthy baby. I have reasons for wanting a boy and reasons for wanting a girl. 

Names: we have them picked out and have told family, but are going to share them when we announce the gender.

Movement: I've been getting stronger movements. There were a few days when I didn't feel anything, but one night I felt a little flutter toward my right side. I assumed it wasn't the baby since I hadn't felt anything for a while, but then I rolled over to that side and got a strong little kick. I can't wait for movement to be more regular and strong enough for Amelia and Mark to feel. 

Clothes: leggings and maternity tops. 

Sleep: I can't seem to sleep much lately. I eventually doze off between 1&2am, but I am awake at 5:30-6. I'm exhausted but my mind goes crazy and I can't turn it off. Hopefully once school starts I will be able to get myself on a better schedule. 

Cravings/Aversions: Cravings- tomato soup and anything dipped in ketchup. Aversions- nothing specifically. I don't think I can eat skinny pop anymore though, both times I had it recently I got sick. Thankfully I am able to eat much healthier than in the first trimester when all I could keep down was carbs. Right this second I could go for a raspberry popsicle or something along those lines.  

What are you doing to prepare: I have been researching cloth diapers non-stop and think I have decided what we are going to buy. I've picked out a diaper bag and stroller and am just waiting until after our ultrasound to start buying stuff. Amelia and I went shopping last weekend and we had to browse all of the baby stuff. She thought the baby needed so many cute things and she picked out so many more "must have" items than I did. She's so excited. I did buy some fabric and will start slowly picking away at sewing for the little one. I think I will be able to get a lot more done once school starts. Right now I just want to focus my time on Amelia. 

Mood: I think I've been pleasant. I haven't had any meltdowns and Mark doesn't seem to be avoiding me for fear I'll bite his head off. 

Looking forward to: Hearing baby's heartbeat on Wednesday at my 16 week check-up. I'm also SOOOOOO EXCITED for our anatomy scan. I want to see that baby is healthy and doing well... and find out what we are having. I'm dying to start shopping and sewing. I have a boy and girl nursery theme picked out and either one will be amazing!!!
Ashley Elizabeth

A girl in glasses

I don't believe I've talked about this much on the blog before. When Amelia was very little, two or so, we started working on the alphabet with her. She picked up a few letters here and there, mainly the ones in her name, but she just didn't "get it". Obviously I wasn't too concerned when she was that little, but as she got a bit older and closer to kindergarten I began to worry. We would play alphabet games, watch alphabet shows and used alphabet flashcards. She would sit with me for just a short time before losing all interest. It didn't make any sense to me. She had been doing math problems in her head since she was three. We could say "Amelia, what's 5+3" and in a matter of seconds she'd say 8. No fingers. No looking at the numbers. Just in her head. I did not want her to start kindergarten without at least knowing her alphabet (I had given up hope on her knowing the letter sounds prior to her first day of school), but I was at a loss about what to do. Mark reassured me that she'd get it once she was in the school setting. Something in me just felt there was something preventing her from learning them, but I had no clue what it was.

The April after her fifth birthday she went into her annual check up. The doctor checked her over and, as usual, said she was as healthy as could be. They did their little vision test and said she might have a slight issue with one of her eyes and recommended we see our optometrist. I went home and scheduled her an appointment. I really didn't think there was a major issue. I never saw her squint to try and see something and she never sat too close to the television or held stuff up close to her eyes. She had never complained about her vision and seemed to be just fine. Ha... was I ever wrong! 

Our eye doctor told me that her vision is very very poor. The reason she couldn't focus on the letters was because she couldn't see them. He told me that with vision as bad as hers she would have more than likely ended up with a lazy eye. One of her eyes is quite a bit worse than the other, and the compensating the good eye has to do has put so much strain on it. I am so glad we took her in! Her glasses are thick. Really thick. They even ordered a special lens to make them thinner, but she rocks the magnified eye look. It took a while for Amelia to get used to her new glasses and watching her realize she could see things she couldn't before was amazing. She is now on her second pair of glasses. Her prescription changed quite a bit from last year to this year, but the eye doctor said it's no better or worse... just different. If she were to try and go without her glasses now, she is basically blind. She says she can't see a thing.
Her newest pair of glasses. So cute!!!!!
and this was her very first pair...
Amelia was slightly behind going into kindergarten because up until three months before she started she couldn't see. Thankfully she was able to catch up rather quickly and will be starting first grade right on track in two weeks from today! 
Ashley Elizabeth

Our journey through trying to conceive

This week we hit a pretty big milestone. I'm 14 weeks and officially in my second trimester. Our journey to get to this pregnancy was a fairly long one.  If you've been reading my blog for a while you might have seen my post last fall about my ectopic "unknown location" miscarriage. I don't want to go back into all that happened then, but if you are interested in reading about our experience you can find it by clicking here. Other than that one post, I haven't really shared much of our struggle to get pregnant. It's something that I have often found difficult to talk about because it has been such an emotional thing for me. Mark and I both grew up knowing that we wanted children, multiple children. In fact when I was younger, probably close to Amelia's age, I would say I wanted 88 kids. Mark and I got married when Amelia was 2&1/2, but prior to saying "I do" we had what I consider to be the most important discussion we've ever had... how big we wanted our family to be. I've heard of couples separating because there wasn't a clear understanding of what one another wanted. For me, the fact that I knew from such a young age that I wanted a big family, not having more kids would have been a deal breaker. I said I wanted four children, Mark said at least two... we agreed that we would have three kids, and any more beyond that would be decided based on where we were in life. I have to say I am so thankful we had that talk.

Fast forward to the decision to start trying for a baby. There was some concern that the timing wasn't perfect, but really... is the timing ever perfect? We had many long talks and eventually agreed that we were ready for another baby. Amelia was getting older and we really wanted her to have a sibling. In November 2013 I went in to have the good ol' Paragard IUD removed. Since that IUD doesn't have hormones I was told that we could get pregnant as early as that month. I was both nervous and excited, but never imagined it would be such a long journey. Each new month that came brought hope that it would be the lucky one. My cycle was slightly irregular so we had months where we were sure it had happened, but were always disappointed. I had started to lose hope when we got a positive in July of 2014. Unfortunately we lost that baby at around 6 weeks. That whole experience lasted from July through September. The doctor said we needed to take the month of October off from trying, but could start again after that... so we did.

As the months went by I started to lose hope. People would say things that just brought me down even further. "When are you going to have another baby" "Amelia is getting pretty old, don't you think it's time you give her a sibling" "Come on, have another baby already". Most of the people making such comments knew about our loss and still thought it was okay to say such things. I stopped buying pregnancy tests even when my cycle was late. I was done being disappointed.

In April Mark and I decided that we would start the process of fertility testing. I just needed to know if there was something medically wrong that was preventing us from having another baby. I went to my gynecologist and Mark went to the andrology clinic. The only thing that was found was that my progesterone level was a little lower than it should be for my age. That could have contributed to our loss last summer. My doctor put me on a low dose of progesterone and told me to take it until we got pregnant, and then continue until 12 weeks. She said if I was still unable to get pregnant after a couple of months we could look into fertility treatments. Since fertility testing and treatments aren't covered by our insurance I was really hoping that resolving my low hormone level would be the solution. I prayed every single night.

In May I decided to start a strict paleo diet. I lost 25 pounds in that month alone. I didn't know at the time, but paleo is considered by some to be the "fertility diet". I started paleo in hopes of eliminating my daily headaches and had planned to continue with it indefinitely. The morning of May 26th I woke up and just had a feeling that I needed to take a pregnancy test. I was still a week out from my period, but I couldn't shake the feeling. I threw on some shoes and headed to the store. The two lines showed up right away. I was pregnant.

early ultrasound for high risk
Because of the ectopic pregnancy I was considered high risk and had to go in to have my hcg levels checked every 48 hours until they reached a point where we could do an ultrasound. This is something we will have to do with all pregnancies we have from this point on. It's a stressful situation, but it was nice to see that number going up as it should every two days. I was so incredibly nervous going to our ultrasound. What a relief it was to see our little baby and that sweet heartbeat on the screen at 7 weeks. It was definitely a moment that brought tears to my eyes. We tried to conceive for 19 months, which to me felt like an eternity. I feel so blessed that we were able to get pregnant without having to go through fertility treatments. I know so many couples aren't as fortunate and my heart goes out to them. I have prayed so hard for this baby for so long and words can't describe how thankful I am that we are having another child. I'm not sure if it was the progesterone, the change in diet or a mixture of both, but I do know that God answered my prayers and my family and I are so lucky.

Ashley Elizabeth

Weekly Highlights

We've had a really laid back week and I loved it. Monday we had to go to the doctor's office to have something checked out. It was nice to hear our sweet little baby again. Mark took his lunch break during my appointment (he works at the hospital next to the clinic) and came with Amelia and I. That was his first time hearing baby's heartbeat. Sweet moment.

Amelia and I decided we needed a trip to the park. We've had a lot of really hot days here this summer, but this week is quite a bit cooler and much more enjoyable. I don't like 105 degrees. Isn't her shirt awesome!! We got that for her to wear when we announced our news to Mark's family. It suits her perfectly.

Amelia started Irish dancing in April and we are getting ready for her first competition over Labor Day weekend. We will be going out of town for it and my family all wanted to join us, so we rented a beach house and I'm so excited for the fun weekend it will surely be. She really loves Irish and I think that's what she plans to focus her energy on. I have to say she's picking it up a lot faster than I thought she would and it's so cute to watch. 

Yesterday Mark and I celebrated four years of marriage. We've had our ups and downs like most couples, but I love that man so much and love that I get to spend the rest of my life with him. He does so much to provide for our family and works so hard to make sure I get to be a stay at home mom and pursue my passion for photography. If it weren't for that I wouldn't be able to volunteer so much at Amelia's school or go and visit my grandma as often. I couldn't have asked for a better father for my children... and I have to say I can't wait to see that man with a tiny baby in his arms again. Swoon. I'm so excited for all of the years we have ahead of us.

Today on the agenda... cleaning house. I know, such an awesome way to spend a Friday. Really though, this place needs it! We've got rain in the forecast for the weekend. I'm praying it holds off until after my photo shoot on Saturday so we don't have to reschedule again, but then I want it to pour!! I love summer rain. 
Ashley Elizabeth

Liam Alexander

A lot happened during the months that I was away from my blog. July was big for my family. My sister Grace and brother in-law Chris had their baby. My first nephew on my side of the family. My sister was a gorgeous pregnant woman. Really, she looked amazing.

My newphew, Liam Alexander, was born on July 8th. He weighed 6lbs 15oz was 20.75 inches long and is the cutest little thing. I'm so glad I got to capture this incredibly special time in their lives. I cant wait to share his newborn photos. Unfortunately the downside of having your photographer sister take your photos is that they get pushed to the back of the line when other (non-family) clients have photos that need love. Soon though!

Ashley Elizabeth