Category Archives: Personal

This weekend our family, along with 125 other blessed souls, participated in a Teaching Conference held at Fresno City College (in the beautifully remolded Old Administration Building) about empowering individuals to rise up and serve their communities. Initially I was worried about how we were going to handle Justice and his naps at the college for two entire days, but to my delight he did pretty well.  He is a social guy after all, and was having a blast exploring and interacting with new people. His naps took place in his stroller, which was a relief. And with Grandma, both big sisters and other willing participants at the Conference, we had plenty of hands to entertain of our active boy.

I volunteered to photograph the weekend long event which kept me pretty busy. It was fun capturing candid moments of all the bright faces that were there. Here are some images that were caught with our family participating in this joyous Teaching Conference.

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Baby Justice received a special gift from his grandparents in Japan.  A handmade blanket, originally gifted to Daddy when he was an infant, has now been passed down to our son.  I love that it not only has been around for 41 years, but that there is a photo of it in use when Daddy was just 4 months old (below).

At 10 days old, and on Daddy’s 41st birthday, I got him a awesome flash light and we photographed baby Justice with his special blanket.  I even turned the camera over to Daddy who captured a few photos of me holding our little guy. I think they are some of Dad’s favorite photos thus far!  Take a look at his beautiful blue eyes, do you think he is going to keep them?

Sources-
dadstoolshack.com

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When I was pregnant with baby Justice the song “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon played repeatedly in my head for weeks. Sometimes I would get present to the fact I was about to have a baby in the near future and the song would prompt tears. When I was finally able to hold him, the first thing I noticed were his lips. I love those squishy lips of his!  Then I realized what a amazingly beautiful baby he is.  Granted, I may be looking at him through partial eyes because he is my own, but I have also seen many many babies. Frankly, I was surprised on how beautiful he is, and each and every day, though the exhaustion, fussing, and difficulties of parenting a new baby, I am in just pure adoration of him. I kiss him all over, and tell dad how amazing it is that we created this special little being.

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A strong desire for motherhood first overcame me when I was 25.  Over time after struggling to conceive for many years with my previous marriage I came to the conclusion that I would not be given the gift of bearing a child of my own.  I eventually decided that I can embrace motherhood as a foster/adoptive parent, and fulfilled that desire in 2013 with my teenage daughter Marissa.   Only a few months later I met a wonderful man I now have the honor to call my husband.  I was in conversations with him right before getting married about expanding our family. I was certain of being infertile and told him that it would be the “Will of God” if I were to get pregnant. Well, as God would have it, I did indeed conceive within two weeks of our marriage. It was a true miracle in my eyes and a huge confirmation for our marriage.

Once we found out we were expecting a boy we called him “Will” and knew we would somehow include it in his given name.  After much discussion we came up with a name that resonated with both of us but kept it a secret from everyone else.  We wanted to meet our son before deciding his name.  But the moment father and son first met he knew the name we had chosen so many months ago would fit. Meet our miracle baby, Justice William Reign Higgins.  He was exactly one week old when we took these first photos. These are all in daddy’s loving hands. His personality is beginning to show through already.

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Journeys can have unexpected twists and turns.  My path into motherhood had plenty of those and was one of patience, endurance, and finally relinquishing.  We did follow doctor’s orders and finally came in to be induced after 3 weeks of delay.  We were trying to allow my body to go into labor on its own, to have the natural birth we spent so long preparing for.  But as we found, forcing a flower to bloom does not work if it is not ready, and so this was the case with my body. The doctors gave us two days of a more gentle induction to get things going, and it started, although very slowly… That is where the patience came in.

The beginning of the third day proved to be a turning point. The pressure was on by the ‘authorities’ of labor and delivery to break my water artificially.  We felt uneasy about it as the baby was still pretty high up, but finally allowed this to happen for a few various reasons.  I was allowed to labor out of bed, moving around and finding my rhythm. When the pain started to become unbearable, as contractions came on stronger and more frequent, my husband and mother were there to help me through the pain. Yet, my body was still resisting opening, I was hardly budging. I only progressed to 5cm after more than 48 hours of labor, it was so discouraging. I wanted to do this on my own, but induced contractions can be quite intense, this was my endurance phase. I was doing pretty good dealing with the waves of pain, but after so many hours, it was clear I needed help, and a bit of rest.

Seven or so hours after rupturing my water, pain relief had arrived. The exhaustion set in and I was ready to rest for a bit. But little did I know only a couple of hours of rest was on the agenda for me.  Baby’s heart rate dropped twice while I was sleeping. I was moved to correct it.  Although, just a matter of minutes after that move, it dropped again and would not came back up. I was woken up by my favorite nurse telling me, “we’re taking the baby.”  I was so disoriented and confused. She clarified, “You are going in for an emergency c-section now.” I got one last glimpse of my worried husband before being swiftly taken away into the operating room.  Within minutes baby was out and crying. My beloved husband was not allowed to be in the room at the moment of our sons birth. I felt so alone, confused, violated, and heartbroken. Baby was not even shown to me. He was moved to the corner of the room and all I could hear was his screams.

After the surgery my husband was allowed in and able to see our precious son.  The drugs coursing through my blood kept me disoriented and unable to move much.  There was no way I could hold our baby safely.  That first golden hour after birth to bond skin to skin with my boy would be missed, like so many other things for my son and I that evening. The birth I had worked so hard towards was taken away from us without consent. The last step of relinquishing to the birth I received is still an inner struggle…  It’s not an easy journey, yet I know so many other women share my experience. One of disappointment mixed with the love we have for our newly born child.  Questions are still fresh in my mind, ‘what if’ we did this or avoided that… I feel the choices we made at the moment were right for us under the circumstances. Some things I just have to admit are out of our control.

Our son had arrived in the late hours of July 15th, 2015. He was a healthy 7 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches long. He was perfect in every way. No indication as to why the heart rate drops. He surprised the whole operating team with his instant cries on arrival. He was so alert, curious and had wisdom in his eyes according to his father. My husband looked at the boy we called “Will” for the first time and realized that the name we had chosen for him months before, and had kept a secret, was indeed the right one for him.  Justice William Reign.

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As month 9 drew to a close, anticipating the birth of my first born is way more filled with nerves and difficult than I ever expected.   Mind constantly thinking about questions and worrying about baby, body with limited movement and increased discomfort, and pressure from doctors as a series of diagnosis were thrust upon me, limiting my natural birth options.  I was first asked to induce at 37 weeks along. Ultimately baby and I were doing well as proven by tests done bi-weekly on us, these allowed us to delay an induction for another 3 weeks, and I was even able to get rid of one of my diagnosis to my surprise!?  This was certainly an emotional time filled with difficult decisions. I am happy we delayed for so long and grateful for the extra time baby was able to develop while in the protection of my womb.

I was also fortunate enough to have a kind neighbor allow me to swim in her pool a few times towards the end, what a relief the water was.  One evening my husband and I played around with his little point and shoot underwater camera and he captured these magical images of me swimming. I think I have a budding photographer on my hands!

 

 

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I have worked with expecting moms and newborn babies for over 8 years now, and although I always wanted to experience the joy of carrying a child of my own, I came to terms it was not in the cards for me.  The dream of becoming a mother in the “traditional” sense had long but disappeared after my divorce 5 years ago.  I never conceived in that marriage, even after trying for years, and was convinced that I was infertile.

I did not let the dream of motherhood disappear entirely. I took on the joy and challenge of parenthood through being a foster parent in 2011.  The ups and downs can be heartbreaking as parenting children with difficult pasts challenge even the most resilient of parents.  My daughter Marissa came into my life through foster care, and at 15 years old, one can imagine that the challenges and bounties have not stopped. But the story gets so much sweeter, because now I have a new partner in life to help me through this rocky road.

Last year I married the most precious man I’ve ever met.  His spirit shines for me each day, he is so gentle, loving and compassionate to each member in our household.  He accepts Marissa with all his heart and parents her like the father I wish I had.  I cannot thank God enough for the bounty of having him in my life.  But, the blessings do not stop with him, for after our recent marriage in September, it did not take long before we found out the news that we were expecting a child!

 I could not believe it at first. Even when two tests confirmed the pregnancy, I had a hard time accepting that I could carry a child.  Yet, I have gladly been proven wrong. Now six months later, I am carrying a healthy miracle baby boy. He is active and makes his presence known every day through my growing figure as well as his stronger and stronger kicks.  I never thought I would be given the opportunity to carry a precious soul inside my body, and as difficult as some days are, I know I am blessed with such a beautiful gift each and every day. As our little boy gets bigger, my emotions grow and the reality of a new soul becoming part of our life becomes more and more real. Time has passed so quickly, and I know a new beginning is closer than I realize.

My dreams of becoming a birth mother are now a growing reality. We are expecting our little miracle in July, and with his birthdate approaching in the next few months, it means that I will be taking some necessary time off from my business. And I’m going to shop for a diaper bag that suits me. I anticipate May being the last month I can take clients until the end of summer. If things go well, and I can still bend and work with my littlest clients, I will try to extend my photography time.  But I anticipate a return in the fall, and of course many pictures of our little guy in the meantime.

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My blog may have been quiet for the last few months, but my life certainly has not been!   I am happy to announce that last month I got married to a true “angel” and the love that I had been looking for much of my life, Mr. Bryn Higgins.  We have been brought together by God, I am certain of that! I am so happy to have him as a father to my chosen children, and with him, he adds to our family two more beautiful children that I will cherish.   I am excited to see what future we create together, as it is wide open for us!

Here are some images that capture our special day together.  It was a handmade wedding, put together with the help of both of our wonderful communities, we could not have done it without them. What a beautiful experience to have such loving individuals help us do everything from folding hundreds of paper cranes, making tea sandwiches, creating our special cupcakes, designing giant paper flowers, performing beautiful songs in honor of us and capturing our day with their talent.  We are so blessed.

 

 

 

 

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Motherhood is a role I have wanted since I was young.  My mother did such a beautiful job with me that I have always wanted to pay it forward to another precious soul.  Working with babies and children in my career has made me want it more and more each time I hold a newly born child in my arms.  Although, life does not always happen the way we plan it in our heads. I never birthed a biological child of my own, yet I have not let that stop me in pursuing my dream of being a mother.

In 2011 I became a foster parent, and in the past two years have welcomed 3 girls into my home, 2 of which I’ve had to say goodbye to. I have learned over these past 2 years that caring for children whom have had a difficult past adds another layer of challenge to the task of parenthood.  I have definitely had my highs and lows in this process, and sometimes it seems they come at me on a daily basis. But looking back at the precious memories I have created with the girls, the lessons I have taught them, and the love we shared, makes it worth these daily struggles.

Today I am so excited to announce one of my highest of highs.  It is official, one of the special children God has brought into my life is here to stay. Meet my beautiful 13 year old daughter Marissa.  She has been with me for 14 months and today I am now her forever Mommy!  She has been in the system for over five years and I am her sixth and now final home. In that time she has had some lovely people take on the role of foster parents for her, to them I am grateful.  Although she is older, I still have so much to teach her. I know our ups and downs will continue daily, but now she can rest soundly that she is loved, safe and secure. Please help me welcome Miss Marissa into the family!  You will be seeing much more of her in the years to come.

Marissa just 2 weeks after she arrived into my life.

The photo below was taken this past spring when we took a trip up to Yosemite.

Here is Marissa now, growing and blossoming into a beautiful young lady. She will be turning 14 soon.

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Nearly 3 months ago two biological sisters came into my home and heart.  They are only 11 months apart, but it seems that there are several years between them.  The oldest has a real silly side, she is polite, respectful, beautiful, artistic, and a great help around the house.  The youngest has ringlet curls which I love, she has a beautiful singing voice, a cute little giggle, can draw very well, and plays on her own when I need her to. My youngest has been looking forward to today for a very long time as it is her 13th birthday!

Life is so much different with teenagers in my home.  With this age range I am quickly discovering unique challenges and triumphs that are not only present because they are in puberty, but also because of the life they have led before arriving in my arms.  I am hopeful for their future, and their sweetness is quickly capturing everyone’s heart. I wish I could show you their beautiful faces, but alas, at this time I cannot.  The girls like to give group hugs, so this is a fitting image of the three of us.

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