Life’s been super busy after having a baby and I only have ONE baby! I can not imagine what moms of two or three must go through each day and I bow my head to them because they are amazing! Having a little family of my own has truly made me appreciate how great, fun, and important family photos are. Our kids are only small for such a short amount of time. How important it is to capture these times. I grew up in China so there’s not a lot of photos of me as a kid. The few I do have, I cherish so much. I wish I had more! So when Kathy+Angelo+Andre wanted to take photos, I couldn’t wait to help them capture this little fleeting moment of time for them. This was taking back during the fall still and I just had enough time to post. Andre is such an adorable kid and he’s lucky enough to have the most amazing, loving parents. We photographed Kathy+Angelo’s wedding about 3 years ago so we know what a great couple these two are. Now that we’ve seen them become parents, that same type of love they share with each other has spread and grown a million-fold for their little guy. I loved spending the afternoon with them and hope to see Andre grow into a handsome (and much loved) little man.
Fall is all about family portraits! It’s my favorite time to take photos because of the beautiful changing leaves. The Masuda Family took advantage of the very last good weekends in Seattle to get a set of photos taken. The newest member of the family, Leo looks like he had a great time! A beautiful setting for a beautiful family!!!
I’ve always wanted to take advantage of Woodinville’s lavender farm because it’s close to where I live and it’s just so beautiful. Although we caught the lavender harvest towards the end of the year, it was still a wonderful shoot. Mainly because Jennifer and her family brought the best props! Props like these are like a photographer’s dream. Better than a kid at a candy store. More like me in a Chanel boutique, in the midst of Paris, and you told me I can pick all the Chanel bags till my heart’s content. Yeah…it’s THAT good. And I think the photos prove it…don’t you?
We’re back from a short hiatus after having our wonderful baby son, Matthew. I’ll introduce him onto this blog soon enough when the time is right.
Speaking of timing, isn’t it one of the most important aspects of whether something will work out in life? Morgan+Tyson knew each other in college but never dated one another at the time because the timing wasn’t right. They both were in different relationships and it wasn’t until a little after both of them graduated, when they were both single, they decided to give it a try. Try they did and it all worked out because next year around this time, they’ll be married!
Morgan+Tyson really wanted an engagement shoot that spoke to their fun and quirky relationship. Morgan is a local kickboxing instructor. Now, I’m not talking about some fru fru dancing kickboxing here. I’m talking about all out, punching a boxing bag type of a work out. She really wanted to incorporate that aspect of her life into this shoot and we had a lot of fun doing it! From the sounds of it, their wedding is going to be a riot and I just can not wait until these two tie the knot.
There’s more photos in Morgan+Tyson’s slideshow below.
I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Years Eve and that you were all able to ring in 2015 with your loved ones all around you. We’ve been pretty quiet on this blog recently and some of you already know why. But for those that don’t, my husband and I, after a long road to get here, are expecting our first child. Thus, for our first post in 2015, I’d like to get a little personal and talk about our journey to pregnancy. This type of post doesn’t happen very often on this blog, but I know 2015 will be a year of personal triumphs and adventures so I thought it would be a great fit to kick this year off with this particular topic.
First let me preface this by saying that I think the issue of infertility is something that’s not talked about a lot and for good reason. It’s a very private matter and for my husband and me, we pretty much only shared our experience with our closest friends and immediate family. However, at least for me, when I was going through my ups and downs that naturally come with infertility, I felt a lot of times I was alone. Even though I know a lot of women go through this, but because I didn’t talk about it in person with a lot of women, I felt like no one understood what I was going through. That was until I started to find support from online women going through the same thing I was. Some of these women, whether it was on personal blogs or on YouTube vlogs, have been going through it for longer than I have. It made me feel just that more included when I was feeling like I was in the middle of a vast desert. And this is why I’m writing about this. With the hope that someone will read this and feel the same way I did when I first read about other women’s experiences. Let me tell ya, there’s a whole community of women out there dealing with infertility that are more than happy to talk and discuss their experience and heartbreak. There is also a whole Trying to Conceive (TTC) vocabulary out there that I had to learn. And I’ve made great friends along the way with some wonderful, supportive women that I’ve never even met in real life. With that said, here’s our story.
August 28th 2010 was the happiest day of my life. It was our wedding day. I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be a mother, but like a lot of women, I wanted to spend about a year of wedded bliss with my new husband. So we decided to wait a year before we started to try for a baby. I was on birth control pills and we have decided that when I ran out of my prescription (May 2011) that I would not refill. And that’s when our pregnancy journey began. I have heard numerous stories of people getting off birth control who easily fell pregnant because their hormones fluctuated which worked in their favor. So I was of course hopeful. But when it didn’t happen immediately, I chalked it up to us being the couple that needed a little bit more time.
More than a year and half of trying the old fashioned way with no results, we decided to seek help from my OB/GYN in December of 2012. We decided we’d talk to her first since she was the easiest person to talk about this with. And my OB gave us some hope. Both my husband and I did some initial blood tests (semen analysis for him) and the test results came back mostly normal. Our OB described a procedure I’ve only heard about in passing called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). For those of you who are not familiar with this, it’s basically a very quick procedure where sperm has been treated and separated from the semen before being placed in a woman’s uterus around the time of ovulation. This facilitates an easier “journey” for the sperm to fertilize the egg. My husband and I were extremely hopeful at this point because this procedure was not expensive and it sounded like it’d finally help us get pregnant.
Six months and four IUIs later, still with no results, my husband and I decided that we’d move on from my OB and seek help from a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). From my research and communications with women online, their experiences with their RE’s offered a more personal and monitored approach and it was something I felt like I was not getting with my OB. In June of 2013, we met with Dr. Lee Hickok at the Pacific Northwest Fertility Clinic. Dr. Hickok was an expert in this field and he was one of the original founders of the fertility clinic. We placed all of our trust in him and his team. And his first approach in helping us was to try two more IUIs, this time with different hormone medications to see if it’ll help. He also explained that after these additional two IUIs, we should begin thinking about next steps in terms of fertility assistance because any additional IUIs after six wouldn’t result in any higher chances of pregnancy. But because he saw nothing unusual on all of our tests (we were then officially diagnosed with unexplained infertility) he was extremely hopeful that one of the two IUIs at his office would work.
Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you hoped it would and the additional two IUIs, even with a different medication, closer monitoring of my ovulation cycles, did not result in a positive pregnancy test. At this point in time, I was feeling pretty frustrated. My days were filled with highs and lows from emotions of this need to be a mother. I felt like I had no control of anything because this was THE one thing I could not obtain no matter what I did. No amount of money, hard work, perseverance could have gotten me pregnant and it was devastating. My husband at this time was so supportive and honestly, without him there to pull me out of my sad pool of despair, I wouldn’t have known what I would have done. So hope was then restored when both of us decided that we’d see Dr. Hickok to talk about our next steps.
September/October 2013 timeframe, we met with Dr. Hickok again to talk about In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). He helped us map out a plan for the next couple of months and his IVF Coordinator, Renee (love her to death) helped me understand and order all the necessary medications I needed. Prior to starting IVF, I had done my research online about the procedure and was pretty educated on it and I was prepared for all that’s to come.
For those of you that don’t know much about IVF, let me just tell you that it’s a toll on the body. I did not know that each IVF cycle would result in me taking birth control pills for a month before I could start on my medication. So patience was something I had to practice! The medications I had were mostly daily injections. Needles scare some people but I wasn’t scared at all because like I said, I was ready and prepared for whatever to come. The injections were through the stomach area and by the end of my shots, my stomach was bruised as if I was being abused on a daily basis. It was definitely not pretty.
Throughout my IVF cycle, I was closely monitored by Dr. Hickok on the number of egg follicles I was producing. The hormone injections I was taking were supposed to over-stimulate my ovaries so I would produce multiple eggs. I would go into his office every other day or so to check on my status and I was doing extremely well until around Day 9 of my shots when I introduced an additional shot injection. This other injections made my estrogen levels plummet and right then I felt like something was off. Dr. Hickok wasn’t 100% sure what had happened but my egg follicles were still growing so he told me to continue on with all my meds until it was time to retrieve my eggs. At the time of my egg retrieval, they were able to get 18 eggs out of me. Those numbers seemed promising!
Let me just talk a little about the egg retrieval process here. Boy did no one warn me about the recovery process. The retrieval itself was fine because I was put under and slept through the 30 minute procedure. When I woke up, it was the start of the horrible recovery. I did not expect so much pain in my abdomen area, which lasted for two weeks after the procedure. Going to the rest room (especially number two…sorry TMI) was extremely difficult. But I digress.
After my egg retrieval, I would get almost daily reports from Renee, my IVF Coordinator on how my eggs were doing. It would take 5 days for me to get a final result of how many of the 18 eggs would then turn into viable embryos to place back into my uterus. I won’t go into too much detail here of the technicalities, but long story short, by Day 5, Renee called me with my final report. And it turned out that out of the 18 eggs, I had ONE viable embryo.
Again, my husband and I were devastated. I was extremely hopeful that out of 18 eggs, I’d at least have 4 or 5 viable embryos by Day 5. And speaking with Dr. Hickok, he had said that women my age with that many eggs retrieved usually resulted in a handful number of embryos. However, when I heard I had only one, we were again at a frustrating point. With this one embryo, it would not guarantee 100% that I would have a full term pregnancy. Because at my age, 25-40% of pregnancies ended in miscarriage. And because my husband and I thought we would have more embryos, we were going to perform genetic testing on them to eliminate the embryos that had problems and would possibly result in miscarriage/preterm birth. But having one embryo was just too little.
From here on we were ready to do another round of IVF to gather more embryos. And so the whole cycle started again. Birth control pills, medication injections, office ultrasound visits, egg retrieval, pain from recovery, and on and on. Our second IVF, with the help of Dr. Hickok changing a little bit of my medication cocktail so that my estrogen levels wouldn’t plummet, also resulted in 18 eggs retrieved. I guess 18 was my lucky number! By end of Day 5, Renee called me with the news that I had two fully viable embryos.
Now with three embryos total from two IVF cycles, my husband and I felt that was a good number to send off to the genetic testing company for testing. So we froze our three little babies and waited for the test results. The test results took about two weeks to come back and it turned out that out of the three, two of them were full healthy embryos that would have a decreased miscarriage rate. The two that were healthy were from the second round of IVF. If we would have put the first embryo in me after our first round of IVF (which we considered for a short amount of time) that pregnancy would have probably resulted in a miscarriage. It was a blessing in disguise that we had to go through a second round of IVF and now we know it was totally worth it.
We were at this point so excited with our two healthy embryos and were ready to put one of them in. I never thought I’d get to this point and it was so hard to believe that we were finally here. But remember when I said before sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you want it? Well, the hurdles that were there through this whole process weren’t quite gone. When it was time for the transfer of my embryo, Dr. Hickok wanted to make sure that my uterine lining was at a good thickness for that embryo to implant. The number they wanted to measure and see was 9mm by day 14 of my cycle. And my lining was 7mm at best. Again, I felt that sense of cloudiness I felt all through the last three years of my life. I started to feel that cloud getting lower and lower and that dreaded feeling I was getting where I felt like I was never going to be a mom started creeping back up. Month after month, with different types of medications, my uterine lining would not cooperate. And it was such a hard time for us. We were SO close. Our baby was waiting in the freezer for us and my body just would not cooperate. Finally, after five more months of monitoring and with the help of estrogen patches, I was able to get a good lining. Dr. Hickok, bless his heart, would not implant an embryo if he wasn’t 100% certain it would result in a good viable pregnancy. And I could tell he was perplexed with my situation during these five months. But on the fifth month when he finally measured a good thick lining, I saw his face and knew it was time.
I prepped my body for my transfer with additional estrogen patches and suppositories and on August 21st of this year, we transferred our little baby embryo that resulted in my current healthy pregnancy.
Oh my, that was long. Let me just apologize if you’ve stuck with me until this point. I’m almost done! Before I end this post, I just wanted to say that when we first started our road to becoming pregnant, I never thought we would go through IVF. I think no women out there automatically think they’ll have problems and jump to the conclusion that they’ll have IVF. For me, each roadblock we experienced meant that I had to go through an influx of emotions to get to the point where I saw hope on the horizon. From the IUIs with the OB, to seeking help from an RE, to finally deciding to go through IVF, we’ve had to slowly come to terms with the situation we were facing. That things weren’t going to go the way we originally planned or wanted but the end result would be a healthy baby that we’d love and have been wanting and longing for the last 3.5 years of our lives. And that is what’s important.
Our little baby, a true gift, has an estimated arrival date of May 9th, 2015. Mother’s Day weekend…which seems appropriate because it’ll be the gift of a lifetime for me. The gift that allowed me to become a mother…finally!
Today I turn 35. Boy…doesn’t that sound like a big number? It sure look like it is as I’m typing this out. I remember when I was in elementary school, there was this city day camp I used to participate in during summer. And we had counselors that were around 16 or 17 years old. At that time, I used to think that 16 or 17 was SOOOO old. But before the blink of an eye, I’m now double that age I used to think was old and then some.
I am not one of those astonishing people that’s accomplished note worthy, life changing things in my short 35 years of life. I know I still have tons to learn and living life itself is a never ending string of lessons one needs to learn. But I do have a few things I’ve picked up on so far in life. This is a list of things I felt I’ve personally experienced and I’m by no means telling you to agree or disagree with me. So if you’d like to partake in my wisdom sharing, continue reading!
- Fear The Sun – I am a huge opponent of the sun. I guess that’s why I love living in Seattle, where 3/4 of the year is cloudy. I whole heartedly believe that one of the keys to stay looking young is to stay out of the sun. Now, I love a good summer day. And during a summer like the one we just had this year, when I know I’ll be in the sun (and that means even being out for a 15 minute dog walk) I slab on the sun screen. You’ll never find me sunbathing and I also drink plenty of water to make sure I stay hydrated. When I go out without sun screen, I literally fear of melting my skin off…is that bad? Maybe I’m a little obsessed but hey…I feel like it’s working so far!
- A Few Good Friends – I was never a popular person in high school and I never wanted to be. Throughout high school and college, I’ve always had the same handful of friends beside me who have walked through the ups and downs of life with me. And some time in my late 20′s, I realized that having a few good friends is more important than having a ton of acquaintances. We all live busy lives, some have kids, but we never let our individual lives compromise our friendship of almost 20 years. We make sure to take time out to hang out, just us girls, away from our kids and husbands, at least once a month. It takes dedication to maintain good friendships and I’m glad that my group of friends as a whole values it as much as I do.
- I Love Drama – Don’t we all love drama? I used to go about relationships in the wrong way I think, especially in my 20′s. I used to think that drama in a relationship is necessary and back then, I used to think drama usually equaled to fights that ended in tears. And true, sometimes fights are healthy for a relationship. But when I met my husband, Chris, I wanted that drama! What I didn’t realize was drama, to me, is an act of overwhelming emotion. And that emotion didn’t need to be anger that resulted in tears. After meeting Chris, that emotion usually manifested itself in the form of ROTF laughter. And this ROTF laughter happens on a daily basis. When girls usually say their ideal trait in a partner is sense of humor, I always think they are also innately searching for that “drama” in their life. And this type of drama is OH SO HEALTHY!
- Whole Foods – No not the market, but real whole, organic foods (and it also can be from Whole Foods!!!). In the last year or so, I’ve slowly moved to an all organic, grass fed, pastured meats and eggs , low carb and no added sugar diet. I’ve had certain health issues all my life, from dairy allergies to yo yo weight changes and I’ve never really focused on health until I was in my 30′s. In my teens and 20′s, weight was the key thing. It was never an issue of health. Changing my diet has vastly improved my muscle aches, skin, mood, and energy levels that I’ll never go back to an average American diet again. I will definitely have “treat” meals here and there, especially when we’re out with friends. But in my normal day to day life, I say no to processed, packaged, and fast foods and it has made me a happier person and have accepted my weight as long as I’m healthy. Which brings me to my next point:
- Weight No More – I’ve fought weight issues all of my life. And my problems started at the age of 8 or 9 years old when my parents and I moved to the US where I indulged in processed foods and moved less because I didn’t understand English and had very few friend from the move. I’ve had minor eating issues in college where I maintained a very low calorie diet and ran 5 miles per day to get to my magic number of 110 lbs. I don’t really know when the coin flipped, but all of a sudden in my 30′s, I wasn’t concerned about weight anymore. I think somewhere along the way, I learned self acceptance and self love. Being in a loving relationship where my husband saw my true self, a self I didn’t even see, helped me realize that I needed to live life healthily, love and nourish myself with good whole foods and the acceptance eventually came. This is one of the most important key things I’ve learned about myself which also brings me to my next point:
- Boudoir For All – If you follow my photography blog, you know that I LOVE doing boudoir photography for other girls. These photo shoots help empower women and I truly believe that. All women are beautiful, in all shapes and sizes and I think everyone should take an opportunity to do one. We always complain about how we’re never skinny enough but we’re only 25, 35, 37, 40 once. And 10 years from 25, 35, 37, or 40, you’ll look back at your regular photos and realize how great you did look. Which was why I decided to do a boudoir shoot with my husband. I am not perfect by any means and of course I have areas of my body that I’d love to hide. But doing this and experiencing something like this was something I wanted and needed. Maybe at the age of 45 I’ll look back and realize that at the age of 45, I feel even better than when I was at 35. But there’s no doubting the fact that on the day that I did this shoot, I felt totally accepted of myself and 100% beautiful. And that’s something priceless.
I’ve never done anything like this before because I am not one to really post that many photos of myself on this blog. It is for my clients after all! So today, I bring you a few photos of me taken by my husband in the comfort of our own home. Thanks for staying for this long as I rambled on and enjoy!
And because this is the cutest thing…I leave you with Chewy!
Leavenworth Washington is known for it’s German town. In the winter, the downtown is lit up in Christmas lights and the surrounding mountains are filled with snow. It truly feels like you’re in the middle of old Germany. But just two weeks before Amanda+Nathan’s big day, Leavenworth was still smoke filled. The Central Washington forest fires threatened this beautiful couple’s big day, but luckily the fires were contained and the smoke was mostly cleared out of the town itself. It was however, 95 degrees that day and poor Amanda was in a thick, yet beautiful dress and she was such a great sport walking around in dried pine needles in the midst of a heat wave. Take a look at their wedding sneak peek photos. This wedding was small and intimate. It was truly a fairy tale wonderland type of nuptial. And I LOVE shooting weddings like this. Enjoy!
There’s more photos in Amanda+Nathan’s slideshow below. If you are on an iPhone or an iPhone, click HERE.
A girl’s wedding day is a day she usually looks and feels her best. But when you happen to catch the stomach flu the night before your big day, that’s definitely a bummer. In this case, the bride has every right to go bridezilla on everyone and cry her heart out. Get as emotional as she can because it’s her day and it’s about to be ruined. But…this bride wasn’t Brooke. Poor Brooke felt horrible the whole day and not only did it not stop her from having a day of her life, she was the one apologizing to everyone that she was sick! Even when she needed to be rushed to the Emergency Room after a fresh face of make up, she still had a smile on her face so that everyone around her didn’t stress out over her. I admire her for being such a strong woman and she’s seriously one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. Check out her and Corey’s lovely wedding day below and wish them a wonderful life without stomach flus!!!
There’s more photos in Brooke+Corey’s slideshow below. If you are on an iPhone or an iPhone, click HERE.
I don’t know what it is about Bothell…but I love it! Not just because I live here (ok so I’m a little biased) but it’s because it’s so interesting! Nestled a little Northeast from Seattle, it’s close to Kirkland and Bellevue, close enough to drive to Seattle on a regular basis, and also extremely convenient to Snohomish and a variety of farms where you can get fresh organic produce and meats. But what I really love about Bothell and it’s surrounding areas is that it’s full of families! It’s a great place to raise kids because of it’s wonderful school districts and communities with parks and other little kiddos running around. Lucy, Stella, Grayson and their families live within a 5 mile radius from Chris and I so we decided to hang out one HOT HOT morning at the Bothell Country Village. This place is a little unique to say the least (there’s a two story chicken sculpture near the entrance) but it’s one of the best places to bring kids. And boy did we have a blast!
“Step Away from the Mean Girls…
…and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks.
Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.
This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”