Wow.  It's so hard to believe that it's been over a solid year since I last posted.  I'm so sorry to have neglected y'all!  In one of my last personal posts, I gave y'all a little insight into the rollercoaster of a year that 2011 was.  Everything from the high of finally bringing our son home via adoption from Ethiopia to the low of finding out that my husband had cancer and all of the treatments that go with that.  I'd love to say that 2012 was smooth sailing after that.  Unfortunately, the ride wasn't even close to being done. In February/March of last year, my husband and I separated after 8 years of marriage.  There were a lot of reasons, but it was still a hard thing.  We ended up having to continue living together for several months, which was the icing on a really crappy cake.  He moved out and the kids and I started to find our new normal.  I met someone special in August and we ended up getting pretty serious a couple short months later, which was a TOTAL surprise for me!  I had been absolutely convinced I wasn't going to get into another relationship ANY time soon.  Things were really looking up.  Finally!

Then my absolute worst nightmare came true.  In the fall of 2012, my beautiful six-year-old son, Nimora, passed away in his sleep.  It was totally unexpected.  Not that you can ever be prepared, but he was a healthy, happy little boy.  He came home sick from school with a 99.5 temperature and had what we call a "resty" day.  He went to bed that evening and never woke up.  It took months and months before the medical examiner could even definitively figure out why he had died.  The very short of it (as I understand it) is that he had a normal virus, just like kids get all the time.  But due to a freak stroke of bad luck, it invaded his heart and caused it to stop.  There was no way to predict that it would happen (he didn't have heart issues) and there's nothing anyone could have done to prevent it.  In some ways, that's comforting.  But ultimately, it's terrifying.  I do take some comfort in that he died peacefully in his sleep.  He actually looked so peaceful that when I peeked my head in his room that morning, I thought he was sleeping in because of being sick.  I took my daughter to school (my mom was off work that day and stayed home with him), came home, peeked again, and called to make an appointment with his pediatrician before waking him.  I figured if he was still asleep, he must need the sleep as he was normally such an early riser.  It wasn't until all of that was done that I went in to wake him and couldn't.  May you never, ever, ever know the feeling of touching your beloved child and not feel their sweet breath and their warm skin.

My other tiny bit of comfort is that the very last things I said to him were, "Goodnight, baby.  I love you."  Of all the times I've been so frustrated with him, not been as kind as I could have been, put him to bed with a warning that he better not get up and wander around in the middle of the night, I will never stop being grateful that our last words were that of love.  If you take one thing from all of this, let it be to ALWAYS hug your kids and tell them you love them, even when you're so mad at them that you could spit.  The sad truth is that you never know if the last thing you said to someone could be the very last thing you ever get to say to them.

My plan had been to throw myself back into work, but I ended up not being able to pull it together.  I would try to get back into things and then fall apart again.  I found myself staying in bed for entire days except on the weeks when I had my daughter (her dad and I split custody by the week).  On those weeks, I'd get up, get her ready for school and promptly go back to bed.  I'd get up just in time to be dressed (on a good day) when she got home from school and would spend the rest of the evening with a fake smile a lot of the time.  Anything to give her a little bit of normal back.

Even with all of the misery and heartbreak, there was still a bit of good in my life.  When Nimora died, my boyfriend, Scott, and I had literally only known each other two months.  The day after he died, I told Scott that I knew he hadn't signed up for this and I would totally understand if he wanted to back away.  He not only didn't back away, he stepped up and kept me sane.  He made me laugh when I thought I'd never, ever find enough joy to be able to laugh again.  He held me when I went from laughing to becoming suddenly enraged and angry and then hysterically crying.  When I was scared to death that I was going to fall apart into a thousand pieces, he told me that I COULD fall apart...that it was okay and that he'd help put me back together.  Scott loved me through the absolute worst thing that I ever could have imagined and helped me come out on the other side in one piece.  He'll never, ever know how grateful I am and how much I love him for that.  Not many could have done that, much less would have volunteered for it.  He's pretty amazing and I'm so very lucky that he's mine.

Even then, with all of that, the rollercoaster wasn't done with me still!  In January of this year, we found out that I am pregnant.  Considering that I had been told that I would need medical intervention in order to get pregnant ever again, this came as a HUGE shock!!  Both my boyfriend and I now have eight-year-olds (born on the SAME DAY, if you can believe that!!!!), so we thought we were on the 10-years-to-an-empty-nest plan!  Yeah....hit the reset button on that.  18+ to go!

It's been a very rough pregnancy, but not in a physical way.  I have experienced more anxiety this year than I ever have in my life.  I spent MONTHS absolutely convinced that something was wrong with the baby.  I literally went to bed every single night thinking, "Well, if the baby was already dead, I'd probably have symptoms of a miscarriage by now, so that's good."  EVERY. NIGHT.  I cried almost every day.  I wouldn't let myself get too excited about anything related to the baby as I was sure that there was no way I would be able to carry this baby to term.  I thought to myself that if I wasn't capable of keeping a perfectly healthy little boy alive, there's no way I'd be able to grow a healthy baby.  I wasn't a good enough mother.  I didn't deserve this baby.  I was ready for my body to turn on me just as it felt much of life had turned on me.  I told only the people closest to us and only if they swore they would tell no one.  Not even others in our family.  While most couples count down to when they can tell their friends and family, I was dreading it.  I didn't want anyone to know I was pregnant because it would just make it THAT much harder when (not if) I lost the baby.  I lived in fear of anyone finding out because I KNEW I would never be able to carry this baby to term and I just couldn't handle one more bit of sympathy and pity from anyone.

Well, just a few weeks ago, we had our 20 week ultrasound.  Much to my amazement and joy, we discovered that Scott and I have a healthy baby boy waiting to make his appearance in August.  My fears have so far been unfounded and he growing perfectly.  I'm so very grateful.  One of my best friends told me early on that she thought I was having a boy and that she thought it was Nimora's way of letting us know that he was fine and that he loves us.  I don't know if that's true, but it's comforting and sweet just the same.

So dear friends, sweet clients and random internet stalkers, that's why I haven't been posting.  Even after I got back to work regularly, I couldn't bring myself to write this.  To put it out there publicly ON THE INTERNET how broken I've been.  How broken I still am, honestly.  I don't know that I'll ever be the person I was before.  But that's okay.  I've learned so much about myself and what I'm capable of surviving.  It's still so hard to write this and incredibly scary to post.  But I'm in the process of not only pulling my life together, but creating a new life, literally with our new son and figuratively with our new family-of-(soon-to-be)-five.  I've been back to work shooting regularly for the past couple of months (and shooting more than I ever have!), but hope to be back to blogging regularly as well.  By clicking "publish" on this post, I'll have done the thing that I've been dreading for a year now and the thing that's been keeping me from moving forward with my business full steam.  I'm proud of myself for writing it and, though I'm nervous about posting it, I'm doing it anyway.  Good or bad, life moves on and we have to keep moving with it.

I look forward to having an active website presence again and can't wait to share some of my favorite work with the most gorgeous clients ever.  Thanks for waiting.  =)