Welcome Riggins Samuel

Our second son was born on November 21, 2017. To recap a little bit about my first born, he was born via emergency C-section.  I actually had labored 13 hours naturally and had dilated to 9 centimeters, but within seconds, everything changed and I was being wheeled away from my husband and had to be completely put under. Nick wasn’t able to be there for the delivery until they knew everything was okay and I wasn’t able to see McCoy until three hours after I had delivered him.  He then was admitted into the NICU and we ended up staying in the hospital for six days until he was cleared to go home. I was extremely hard on myself with the birth of McCoy. I had every intention of delivering him naturally and every intention of going home the following day to begin my life as a new mother. I was tired and hurting and trying to heal, and I was sad. Looking back, I have realized that I learned so much during that time. I relied heavily on my faith during that hospital stay and long afterwards. My husband and I grew very strong as new parents.  And now, I fully embrace that experience and realize how much the human body is truly capable of enduring. 

Fasting forward to the present, I really didn’t know what to expect for the delivery of Riggins. I knew it would be a scheduled C-section and I knew my body had done it all before, but I wasn’t awake for any of it so I was actually quite nervous for the surgery. It didn’t hit me until about three weeks before his birth that I started losing sleep over the fact that I would once again be sliced open and once again be put in a situation where our hospital stay could be much longer than expected. I was doubting having a second child and became really hard on myself that McCoy would no longer be my everything.

I was assured by many, however, that this time around would be much much different (and that McCoy could and would still be my everything).

I was awake from midnight until we had to check in at the hospital at 5:15 the morning of his delivery. We pretty much just laid in bed and talked about how weird it was knowing the exact moment our baby was going to enter our life. I was five days overdue with  McCoy so my pregnancy with him felt extremely long. But with this pregnancy, the date had been on my calendar for months, so the anticipation was sort of killing me by November 20th, even though I was able to deliver him at 39 weeks.  I got out of bed around 4 AM, packed our bags, and showered. I remember looking at my belly one last time  and thinking, ‘this could be it, this could be our last pregnancy.’  All of a sudden the extremely hard moments in pregnancy disappeared andI truly felt beautiful. I realized that this is what my body was made to do. So let’s go have a baby!

We checked in, changed into our gowns, and settled into our room very quickly. The nurses had me prepped extremely fast. They were so casual, like prepping a lady to be cut open was an easy task and like handling needles and little tools was something they could pretty much do blind folded. Nick sat next to me, drinking his Holiday coffee, telling me I was doing great (as if I was in labor). There was music playing on the television sound system and then I was given two new nurses - the one’s who would be there during my delivery.  An emergency C-Section had come in that morning so we received news that we had to wait until she had delivered, so my 7 AM start time was pushed back a bit. I was so at peace with it all I didn’t mind. I also was quite fascinated just watching my nurses. If you are a nurse by the way- you are AMAZING and should be rewarded on a daily basis with coffee and cookies and do NOT get enough credit for the work you do, xo.

Before we knew it, it was time to walk down to the operating room. I held hands with Nick, got on the table, received my spinal, and literally 10 minutes later Riggins was born. It happened so fast, so peaceful, and with such ease, I truly could not believe it.

He was born at 8:54 AM weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. 

Pregnancy is amazing. Giving birth is amazing. No matter what situation you are put in.  Riggins is an extremely content baby and we were sent home a day earlier than expected (on Thanksgiving). We picked up McCoy, had a wonderful time with family, and quickly entered the world of parenting two. 

And it is so so wonderful.

What I’ve learned through all of this is infinite. Childbirth goes deeper than the tiny humans we create. Both deliveries have taught me that God is certain, He has a plan for your future, and he will take you to places in which you would not be able to go on your own, and for Him, I am so grateful.

Time

Elizabeth Donelson Collective

My phone buzzed. Its little vibration on the counter reminded me that today I turned 27 weeks pregnant. The beginning of my third trimester. The home stretch as my husband so graciously offered me. The clock read 9 AM. I’d been awake since 6, editing photos and responding to client e-mails, changing the laundry, and feeding my two year old Costco fruit and a yogurt pouch with Pooh Bear on its packaging. I hadn’t eaten, looked in the mirror, or brushed my teeth, and yet I had managed to use the bathroom six times already. I downed a protein shake and like every morning around that time, laced up my shoes for a walk. The sun was bright, my lab was bouncing up and down as I leashed her to the stroller, and McCoy had all of his digger toys piled on top of him in the jogger. His shoes were on the wrong feet and I debated if skipping sunscreen on his sweet little face would be okay, just this once. They say that showing up to your workout is the hardest part, and in my case lately, every single morning it is. We made it down the steep hill near our house and immediately I had two concerns. I had to pee and I had a side ache. Feeling the need to pee was a common occurrence so that didn’t worry me. The side ache, however, paralyzed me. all I realized that I could not keep going and I would in fact, have to walk all the way back up that horrifying hill.

Thoughts ran through my mind: You can do this. You can keep going. Just keep to your usual route. You run endless miles when there’s no baby in your belly. You take hot yoga, too. And you do HIIT training. YOU CAN WALK FOUR MILES. And up until that point in this pregnancy, I did just that. I walked like my life depended on it because out of everything that happens in pregnancy that was out of my control, those 4 miles were not. They were mine and mine to keep.

I apologized to my smiling toddler that the park would have to wait and I slowly waddled myself and everything else up that hill. I got everything and everyone back inside and I went to the bathroom. Feeling better, I went downstairs and decided that maybe I’d try a slow walk on the treadmill. They say that even a little something is better than nothing, right? Thirty seconds in I was once again struck in pain by a side cramp. “What is going on?,” I thought to myself. “You can do this. What is wrong with you?”

Tears filled up my lashes and I realized two things.

One: I could not do this.
And two: There were many things that felt wrong.

You see, I spent months after my first child was born knowing that I would at some point in time have another baby. I also told myself that when that time came, I would embrace it, every single week. But 27 weeks in and I was heaved over on the treadmill realizing that I was far from embracing anything that had to do with it. In fact, I was doing way more than what my body could handle. Mixed in with everything else that life threw at me as a mother, I was forcing my tired body to walk four miles every day, trying so desperately to avoid gaining too much weight this time around, all because I thought I was disciplined enough to do so.

Healthy people stay skinny when they’re pregnant. The words would run through my brain as each week passed, as each mile added up to some sort of total that made me value my worth as a pregnant woman. The truth was, I hurt. I was tired and angry and frustrated. And I so badly hurt.

What people don’t tell you when you become pregnant with your first born is that pregnancy is hard. They also don’t mention it when it comes time for number two, because well, you’ve experienced it before. Let me be the first to tell you, pregnancy is HARD. And it has every right to be. There is a living person inside of you, every single day, for 40 weeks. Let me also be the one to mention that healthy people gain weight in pregnancy. And so do the short people and the tall and the muscular builds and the thin and frail. If you are a woman you will gain weight when you provide a physical home for your baby.

There I sat, wide legs sprawled on my treadmill because there is no way in Jesus’ name that I could pull them into my chest and hide like I normally would if tears ever appeared. Failure beat itself against my brain. I looked down at my chest and cried harder when I realized that I had literally gone up almost 4 cup sizes and there I was, trying to fit into a size small sports bra. Ugly, I thought to myself. Ruined. Then a little voice appeared from behind the unframed wall of our basement. He was pushing his old infant walker, trying to tell me that his baby brother would sit in this too, just as he did. He is just over two, mind you, so the sentence wasn’t all that clear. But the words brother, sit, and there were all tumbling out of his mouth followed by one final word: cute.

Cute.

My heart lifted for what felt like the first time in weeks. I walked over to him, held his hand and took him over to the box labeled Infant Toys stacked against the wall. We pulled out teethers, soft animals, squishy balls, and toys that sang lullaby songs about Jesus and how he loves us so. He lined them all in a straight line across the floor. The last toy he laid was a Fisher Price clock. He again, said, ‘cute,’ and laid it amongst the others.

The tiny clock was staring at me. Big numbers, a blue and yellow second hand that I could spin around until it clicked to move steadily on its own. I paused for a moment and used that spinning hand to erase those terrible words I had said about myself from my mind. I erased them completely. I realized in that moment that motherhood, along with all of the other defining words about this job, could easily be summed up into one: Time. Being a mama is giving your time, losing your time, getting lost in time. It’s carrying your babies time after time, both inside and out of the womb. It’s bedtimes and story times and lunch times and nap times. It’s a clock that keeps going and going and then one day your first baby becomes your second baby and the two of them might become your last babies forever and ever. It is then that you realize that maybe the hardest part about this job, is never getting all of theses magical times back.

I thought about my side ache and the fact that I could not go on my precious walk. I thought long and hard about the pressure I put on myself as both a mother and a pregnant one at that. And then I looked down at my boobies and my 27 week mass of a bump, and I smiled.

Cute, I whispered.

First Blog Post

Elizabeth Donelson Collective

It’s here! Six years of blogging later and I have officially created a permanent space for my thoughts [and my business]. It may seem unexciting to some that six years of working my way through multiple blog and website platforms has me dancing in praise, but here I am, feeling so incredibly thankful for the music. For quite some time, there was a large part of my heart that felt empty and I am so proud to say that it feels like I’ve made it. Welcome to this space. To my thoughts, photos, and dreams. To my collective.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Leesa Dykstra for this website and it’s redesign. Leesa, you were a dream to work with. I’ve only been in contact with you through e-mail and my heart reaches out to you like a true friend and I know that you are going to do amazing things.

The launch of this new design has been such a breath of fresh air for me. It’s crisp and minimal and it’s the start of something that feels so new and extremely settling at the same time. The entire process has taught me a lot about myself as a creative. It has set in stone some of the ideas that have rested in my soul for years and it has also opened up a whole new world for me and where I see my dreams unfolding in the future. As you can see, this website is a place for me to display my photography work. I thought for a very long time on the possibility of combining my showcase of images and information with another one of my passions – my blog. I came up with a dozen excuses on why the two should remain separate but decided in the end to combine them anyway.

I can still hear the voice in my head contemplating whether or not my potential photography clients would want to click on a blog tab and get a whole lot more than galleries of my recent work. Did I really want them to know me and the fact that words might even hold a more sacred space in my heart than my camera lens? Did I want them to hear my deepest thoughts and dreams? I realized shortly after these awkward conversations with myself that maybe it wasn’t about whether I wanted people to know me or not and maybe it’s not about critiquing the logic behind combining my website with my words either. Maybe it’s because capturing images and scribbling paragraphs is who I am. In both of them, together, I find freedom and a state of unconditional peace.

This is why I photograph. This is why I blog. And this is why the two of them bring about this space as a whole.

To end the first post within this new dream, I would like to say welcome. Feel free to get lost in these pages as it is my hope you may also find freedom and happiness in your day. I do not post into categories for the sole fact that I strongly believe God will guide your eyes to the words he would like you to read. I do, however, consistently write about my photo shoots, minimalist living, wellness, faith and Jesus, releasing stress and anxiety, and my life and the people that make up my family. If you would like to collaborate, be sponsored, guest post, inquire about photography services, or just say hello, please do not hesitate to contact me directly through e-mail. I would love to hear your story. !

xo - elizabeth.