Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fences


If I would've written this post two days ago it would've had a completely different undertone.  I had spent part of my morning searching through adoption photo listings on various agency's websites.  I was feeling broken and unusually sarcastic but in somewhat of a dark way if that makes sense at all.  Which it probably doesn't.  Anywho - I had came across a posting for a sibling group of three children located in NC.  They are 5, 3, and 2 and for almost 24 hours I contemplated the idea of going straight from one child to four.  Isaac and I discussed our concerns which, as different as we are, turned out to be exactly the same.  By the end of this timeframe I came to the conclusion that we're just not ready to take that on.  And the heartbreak settled in like it has for the past 13 months of this.  I'm not sure what is happening but my heart is stirring and I'm not sure how much longer I can "try" for another baby.   Every single time I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed I see newly pregnant friends, friends finding out the gender of their unborn baby, newborns, babies, siblings, etc.  I "like" or comment my Congratulations and I truly am happy for those women and families.  But, if I'm completely honest I'm just as much if not more jealous.  And jealousy sucks.  I'm not a fan of it and I try to stay away from it.  We all have things that we wish we could do or we wish we had, blah blah blah.  However, if you spend more time concentrating on what you DO HAVE you'll naturally move farther away from feelings of jealousy.  So that's usually my tactic.  In this case, it just isn't working very well.  Sure, I have a son who is drop dead gorgeous, smart, hilarious, kind, loving, and respectful.  But I can't shake this human maternal instinct of desiring another pregnancy and newborn.  I will never forget how elated Isaac and I both felt when Jonah was born.  Our connection and the love we had for each other and for Jonah instantly multiplied beyond what we could've ever imagined.  The tiny life that we created changed our hearts and we would never be the same.  Never.

Adoption may be our answer but we're just not sure yet.  As my best friend and sister put it, I'm on the fence.  And for me, the fence is the absolute most frustrating place to be.  As I weeped to Trish on the phone the other day she reminded me of how worthy I am.  And how talented I am.  And how if I went from one child to four that I could totally pull it off better than most others she knows.  I mentioned to her that I've felt for a long time that I have a purpose far greater than anything I've accomplished so far and that possibly, this could be it.  She agreed and encouraged me in a way that I knew deep inside could be only One way - God was using her.  It was humbling and exactly what I needed.  I thanked her at the end of our conversation but I don't think she knows how much her words impacted me and how grateful I am for the 28 years that we've known one another.  No matter how different our lives are, no matter how many miles we're apart, no matter how many disagreements we have or how many times we hurt each other's feelings, I know that we will never stop being friends.

If you're reading this you probably read the previous post back in June.  Lots has happened since then.  We started our journey with REACH (Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte) after a client reached out to me and shared her own story of infertility.  On our first visit the Dr. we saw was "90%" sure that I had a blockage in one or both Fallopian tubes due to a D & C I had a couple of weeks after Jonah was born.  He said I needed to schedule an HSG (Hysterosalpingogram) which involves placing an iodine-based dye through the cervix and taking x-rays to help evaluate the shape of the uterus and whether or not the fallopian tubes are open or blocked. It has to be done between days 10 and 12 of your cycle.  He left the room and I broke down.  I wanted answers but I didn't expect to hear that.  I quickly made the appointment because I was approaching the specific timeframe.  The x-ray (which was a total blast by the way) revealed no blockage.  None.  It was a relief but again, not what I expected.  That day I realized that I shouldn't put all of my eggs into one basket.  No pun intended.  He said 90% and to me, that meant 100%.  I should've listened better.  The only negative aspect was that it was more of a "mystery" as he put it.  The next step was semen analysis for Isaac which revealed completely normal results too.  Our last appointment was several weeks ago and the Dr. said we could do nothing and keep trying or we could do one last test.  The last test will determine how many "good" eggs I have left.  This test has to be performed during an even smaller window of time, which I have not reached yet.  We will be having this test done because it will determine our next steps.  If the percentage is low, we'll be much more aggressive with treatment.  If the percentage is normal we will either keep trying the old fashioned way or still do IUI, that is, if I don't hop down off this fence onto the Adoption side.  

Friends, thank you for your prayers.  I feel them and I appreciate it more than you could ever fathom.  If you don't mind, please continue.  Isaac, Jonah, and I will be forever grateful.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New Day

Most people don't know this but I've been sort of a mess lately.  Up and down, up and down.  Isaac and I have been actively trying for 10 months to get pregnant with our second child.  10 months may sound like such a short time for some couples and I totally understand that there are lots of couples with way worse issues when it comes to infertility.  However, I still feel utterly defeated at this point.  Knowing that other people have it so much harder makes me feel guilty for feeling this way but I'm just being honest here.  It took four months for us to get pregnant with Jonah so I think that's part of our negative feelings.  We know we can conceive, we know it didn't take too long the first time, so what's the problem now?  I had it all planned out, we would conceive at the end of last year and the new baby would be born just in time for me to walk Jonah to Kindergarten pushing his new baby brother/sister in the stroller.  Ok, so I totally agree that was a little unrealistic but that's what I wanted so that's what we tried for.  Obviously, that didn't happen and I've accepted that.  Fast forward 6 months and here we are today.  On Friday I received the proof that once again, we are not pregnant.  Leading up to those last cycle days I told myself, "it's ok if I'm not pregnant, I'm not going to be sad this time, we'll try again and eventually we'll succeed."  But as soon as I got that proof I burst into tears (at work nonetheless) and cried off and on for two days.  If you've ever had your heart broken, that's exactly what it felt like.

I have one person to talk to about this because she is experiencing the exact same thing.  Of course, she lives in TN, much like most of the ladies I'm the closest with.  And, we weren't friends before this experience so this is a new friendship and connection.  My other friends who know what I'm going through simply do not understand for the most part.  I can't tell you enough how sick I am of hearing the following: "stop trying and it will happen, stop stressing and it will happen, it will happen when it's supposed to, you just need to relax" and other similar statements.  I understand they're trying to be helpful but can I please just say it here, IT'S NOT HELPING ME.  If anything, it's extremely frustrating because I feel like I have to defend Isaac's and my current way of doing things.  When I'm ready to stop trying and just see what happens is exactly when we'll try that approach.  I am not trying to offend anyone and I am extremely grateful for my friends and sisters who care but what I need is prayer and listening ears.  I've kept so much of this to myself because I feel very few people can empathize and even if they can they still tell me the same things.  I feel all alone.

In addition to the sadness I'm experiencing because of this I'm also finding myself more and more angry with God.  I wish that weren't a true statement because I feel guilty for feeling and saying that here.  My faith is being rattled.  It doesn't last long but with each cycle the anger lasts a little bit longer.  I heard something on K-Love, the radio station I listen to about 98% of the time, that I needed to be praying about something more than talking about it.  I realized I definitely wasn't doing that.  I talk about it a lot, I even joke about it some, which a lot of times is my reaction when I'm actually feeling extremely sad, but I wasn't praying about it very much.  So, this time I fervently prayed.  Every chance I got.  "God, please let me be pregnant.  I know you want to grant me the desires of my heart.  I know you love me."  Then, on Friday it was back to, "really God, really?  WHY?  AGAIN?  I am only asking for one thing."  Then the feelings that followed were so much worse.  The Devil was lying to me left and right and here's what he had to say: "You're not good enough.  Your own father doesn't even love you and has no desire to have a relationship with you or your family.  You have made no close friends here. You're not good enough.  You're not good enough to even get pregnant- the most natural human act - procreation.  You're alone."  That was yesterday and I have to admit, it was by far the worst day I've had emotionally in a very long time.

Today is a new day though.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and I'm feeling a little more hopeful.  That durn Devil has been banished because I know he's all lies.  I'm rebuilding the faith that was torn down by focusing on God's promises for my life.  I did a pre-application for an adoption agency the other day but it made me more sad than anything else.  Isaac and I have both always had hearts for adoption but we're just not ready to go that route yet.  If we reach that point then we'll pursue that with our whole hearts but we're not there yet.

If you could, would you add us to your prayer list?  I will be forever grateful.  If you need prayer, please let me know and I'll be praying for you too.  If you don't feel comfortable commenting here, email me at cara.justus@yahoo.com.

Thanks for reading, love and hugs to all of you!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Squishy & 6 months old: Charlotte Family Photographer

Last weekend I got to see Charlotte and her awesome parents for her second session.  She had recently turned 6 months old and boy, I just love that age!  She was so sweet and was so good during our entire session.  There are so many of these images that I love!

Derek & Sarah, thanks again for having me over to play.  :)  I can't wait to see all of you again!  I'm looking forward to seeing you guys at our next session!














Sunday, January 6, 2013

For Sarah....

I just started editing tonight, it's been a busy kind of weekend!  Here's one little sneak peek for you and Derek!  :)  


2013: The Year of Change

I'm going to be 30 on the 24th of this month and while I'm honestly looking forward to my thirties I've also realized that now is the time to make some pretty substantial changes in my life.  You see, I always have good intentions (which I've heard is the path to Hell... I hope that's not true), but I never live up to them because I'm too busy, lazy, tired, or I need to wash my hair.  The things I consistently and constantly want to accomplish are: lose weight/get in shape, eat healthier, read and study my Bible more, journal more, pray more, be a better friend, stop yelling so much, get comfortable in my own skin both inside and out, volunteer more, relax more, have more quiet time, and I'm pretty sure I'm leaving something out like save the world or something.  I've recently realized that my time is simply stretched too thin to be able to accomplish all, or even most of these goals.

 Since I work full time, have a husband, son, two dogs, and a cat to take care of, grocery shopping to do, a house to keep clean (thankfully Isaac pretty much does this one), photo shoots to do, pictures to edit, and babies to hold at church, I've pretty much put a lot of other things on the back burner especially this past year.  I just feel like things are not balanced.  This is incredibly hard to write, I hope you know that.  Admitting that I'm having a difficult time juggling everything literally makes me feel like a failure and honestly, I have never felt like more of a failure than I do right now.  I've let myself down by not succeeding at any of the changes I've consistently wanted to make.  I compare myself to everyone else on the planet and this year I am going to STOP.  But in order to get things where they need to be, I'm going to take a break from photography for at least six months, if not longer, possibly indefinitely.  I will still shoot my own family and personal things but I will not be available to hire until I decide I'm ready again.  I have two weddings in the first 3 months of this year and a sweet baby girl who I get to photograph two more times since her parents purchased all of her sessions up front for her first year of life.  Other than that, I will not be shooting.  I worry that this may ruin my chance of returning to this "business" if I decide to since I may lose clients, but it's a chance I must take.

Since the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, I've been rocked to the core.  Nothing in history has ever affected me to this degree or for this long.  Obviously, there have been a lot of other tragedies and they always break my heart but it's just not the same.  The unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook really hit close to home since I'm a mother of an almost kindergartener.  Whenever I'm upset over something essentially meaningless, I remember those parents who are missing their child and the children who are missing their teacher, and anyone else that lost a loved one during such an evil act.  I'm sure others have shared these feelings.  It's sickening.  In response to all of this craziness going on inside my head, I feel an overwhelming urge to truly discover what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  In an almost radical way, I am willing to lose something I hold dear to my heart in order to grow the kingdom of God.  What does that mean?  How do I do that?  I don't know yet but I'm going to ask Him to show me the way.  What I do know is that I need more time to focus on these things.

To all of my clients who have trusted me, supported me and encouraged me over the last 4 years, I am truly grateful.  If I decide I can make room for photography again, I hope you'll allow me the privilege of photographing your lives once again.

Love,
CJ

P.S. Advice is welcome... please comment.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Love

Our family has thoroughly enjoyed Christmas this year!  We traveled back home to TN two different times for different festivities and loved every busy minute of it.  Alf, our Elf on a Shelf, made his big debut but as it turned out, he was nowhere near as busy as a lot of other elves.  He was sort of lazy.  Jonah didn't really pay him much attention, I'm almost certain that's why.  Maybe next year he'll be a little busier.  Here's a recap of our festivities... I hope you had a joyous Christmas in light of all of the tragedy and sadness that we've all experienced recently.  


Isaac's Mom rents a cabin every year for her and her kids and grandkids to stay in to celebrate Christmas...  It's always a blast, we laugh our bums off, love on each other, goof off, play Bingo (for prizes), eat, and just enjoy our time together!



Siblings at their finest!  Haha!

Isaac's Brother and his pretty girls :)

Jonah & Jayda... cousins who look more like sibings!  They had a BLAST with each other!



My beautiful sister in law!

The Grands :)




Had to sneak in one of just us :)

During this particular trip, we were also celebrating Isaac's Nannie's 80th Birthday!





And, we had to get in some time with my mom (Nana) as well...






My nephew, Lane

And my niece, Destinee :)  

After we got back home we (I) took our Christmas card photos... This is the day that I almost lost my mind... 










THEN, the weekend before Christmas we went home again to go to Dollywood!  I wish I would've taken more pictures but it was FREEEEEZING!  Plus, I just had my little digital.  











We also went and visited my friend Stacy, who moved away to OH around the same time we moved.  She and her family were visiting her TN family for Christmas and we hadn't seen each other in over 2 years!  Here's Jonah and her oldest daughter, Hannah, playing the organ.  :)



And finally.... Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning....


Jonah's Christmas Eve Gift



Later Christmas Eve night with his new jammies on

Santa came...

And finally, his sweet, priceless reaction...

Can you believe I didn't take a single photo of any of us actually opening gifts on Christmas morning? Not even of Jonah.   I usually do but this year, I was just soaking it all in...  It was magical and Jesus was on my heart and mind.  What a miracle his birth was!  I have also been struggling a lot with the tragedy in CT.  The parents of those sweet children and the other families who were missing loved ones were heavy on my heart.  Words cannot express the weight of how this has affected me, and so many others.  I'm so grateful I get to laugh and love with Jonah every day.  We're beyond blessed.