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 I believe the things we go through, whether good or bad, are to help others know God more. Unfortunately, when it’s “the bad” you have to go through, it sucks…big time.  I’ve been wanting to share a bit of my story with you for awhile, but didn’t quite know how. As I thought about it, what better way is there to show emotion and provoke thought than through photography?

I’m pretty sure every woman on this earth has struggled with her body image…but to some, body image is a demon that sucks the life right out of them. That was me….and unfortunately, it still has it’s dirty claws in my mind to this day.  I don’t really know what triggered my body issues, but I started dieting in 7th grade and it escalated to bulimia (or as I referred to myself, a “lazy anorexic”) in college. Although, I have a relatively “healthy” relationship with food now, I still have a daily battle with my mirror. Some days I win, some days the mirror wins. Anyone who struggles with an eating disorder or body image issues (or any issue for that matter), knows that it can feel like there are heavy chains binding you. You feel so lonely..and tired…tired of fighting the same thoughts over and over again. You know God’s truth about you in your heart, but it can’t seem to make it’s way to your mind.

….you feel like a prisoner to your own thoughts.

You can only see lies in the mirror. Lies that say you are useless,  pathetic, and fat… one will ever really love you. 
But you have the power, through God, to change the words that stare back at you in the mirror…
You are God’s child and it’s your choice to ignore the demons that are filling your head with rubbish
God sees you differently than you see yourself. If you spend time with Him, you will start to see yourself in a different way too. 
 Don’t let your chains bind you. Pray daily that God will give you the strength to see how amazingly, beautiful you are. 
model: Chelsea Miller
Sometimes when the mirror is winning, I think of this song and start doing some fist pumps at the mirror….yeah, that’s right, I’m the boss.
(video from you tube…)

It was October 23rd, I was going in for what I hoped would be my last o.b. appointment.  I had a feeling my body wasn’t showing any signs of going into labor, so I wasn’t too surprised when the nurse practitioner said I was only 1cm dilated.  I figured I would come back in a few more days and see if there was any progress, but my doctor informed me that she would be going out of town and  she wanted me to be induced…that night!   My third son was a cesarean (because he turned sideways at the last minute and wouldn’t budge), so I had my hopes set on doing a v-bac (a vaginal birth after a cesarean).  Because of the risk of uterine rupture during a v-back, it’s not the best thing to induce, so I started to freak out. Would the pitocin be too much for my uterus? What if I died or my baby died? Was it worth it, just because I didn’t want to have another c-section?? Ahhh, I was so conflicted. The nurse called the hospital to arrange my induction and they told her they were ready for me right then…..right then! Unprepared and alone, I drove across the street to Dupont Hospital and went up to the birthing center. I called Ricky at his work and told him what was going on and asked him if this was the right thing to do. The nurses assured me they would take good care of me and I gave the situation over to God.  Ricky came as soon as he could (after stopping at home and getting the hosptial bags…and some of my makeup of course).  I started pitocin around noon and went through about six hours of contractions before I got an epidural.  Let me just say, I’m all for moms who go natural, but I love me a good epidural! I was progressing, but very slowly; I thought it would be sometime the next day before I met my precious baby boy or girl. I called my photographer (the talented Janelle from Happinest Photography) to let her know that it would most likely be awhile and I’d keep her updated. It wasn’t too long before I felt like I should be checked and sure enough, I went from a 4 to an 8 in just a few hours…I called Janelle and she came as fast as she could.  Once Janelle was in the room, I gave two small pushes and the baby was out (11:45 p.m.)!!  I couldn’t wait to see what the sex of the baby was (since I have three boys, of course I wanted a girl, but the most important thing to me was a healthy baby).  The expression of the nurse told me it was a girl before I even saw her!  As soon as they said, “it’s a girl!”,  the tears started pouring…I couldn’t believe it, it was like a dream. A baby girl…A GIRL!!  Adley Rose is perfect in every way, I’m so blessed. I feel great, and am beyond happy that I had a successful v-bac.  Now I just have to keep reminding myself it took me nine months to gain fifty pounds and it’s going to take more than two weeks to lose it!!

my momma taking a pic of her granddaughter..

My lovely friend Lindsay came over today and snapped a few pics of Adley with me and the family….

and of course I had to take some pics of my baby girl!!

I’m so very blessed and grateful to be pregnant with my fourth child (most likely another boy, but we are waiting to find out the sex until he/she is here). With all of the wonderful things a pregnancy brings, such as laying in bed and watching my belly move…there are some not so great things that happen to me….

I’ve never been a skinny pregnant person, you know, the ones that just have a cute belly and don’t gain weight anywhere else…I gained 65 pounds my first pregnancy and around 45-55 for my next two. I’m short, I have about 9 pound babies, my body likes to get fat….(sure, my addiction to fast food, iced coffee, and twix candy bars doesn’t help, but that’s beside the point)…. I struggle with my reflection in the mirror, especially now that cellulite is encrouching my legs and butt this time around. I’m really trying to love my growing figure, but I can’t stand it when my thighs rub against each other, I swear, in this heat I will need to put some vaseline between my legs to prevent chaffing. My husband reassures me that I’m beautiful, so I am really trying to look at each new dimple as a gift…(hopefully a gift that stops giving, but a gift none the less)
If I would have known what my body (specifically my upper two women parts) would like now, I would have seriously enjoyed them much more before I had children. I went from a perky B-cup to a wapping G after giving birth, I could have fed a neighborhood with my milk supply. I had over 250 4oz bags of milk stored in two months, aside from nursing! And after a year or more of nursing, my ladies didn’t go back to their perky B….they were more like skin folds wadded into an A cup. Right now, I’m embracing their once again fullness, but am sure they will not stay this way long. I guess I will have to invest in some great bras that make them look halfway normal.
And sorry if this is too personal….l need to address the H word…that’s right “hemmies” otherwise known as hemmorhoids. It’s pretty embarrassing when you are walking like a duck in meijer because your rear end itches and you are trying to relieve the itch without drawing attention to yourself. What’s worse is when it comes to a point you have to stop pushing your cart and go buy some tucks pads and run to the bathroom before you can continue shopping!!

Along with my changing body is my changing mood…I am a walking ball of emotions. It seems like if I’m not crying, I’m yelling…why? I have no idea..but I just snap, so I’m sorry if you have been at the end of my emotional flare ups, they are not intended and I’m hoping I return to a more stable emotional state soon.
I’m not intending to scare anyone away from having children, I just wanted to share the things that people don’t generally tend to talk about and hopefully draw some humor from them…I can honestly say, I wouldn’t change anything… the result of my suffering on the outside, is a beautiful, wonderful life. A gift God formed in my womb, a gift He knew before I did. If I have to endure saggy boobs and nine months of constipation for my children, then by all means, bring on the victoria secret and miralax…it’s worth all of it.

First, if you haven’t watched this video…please do!!

(please mute the music player on your right before hitting play)
you can also watch it here.

So…technically, Portraits by Nicole is not expanding, but I am!! Every night I pray that all will go according to God’s plan and this new life growing inside of me will be healthy and strong. We are not going to find out the sex of the baby until he/she arrives (yes, I know, it’s going to kill me…besides, I’m sure it will be another boy!)

What does this mean for my business?? I have been slowing down to enjoy my family more and having another child is definitely something I need to sit back and enjoy!!….so, I will be slowing down even more later this year. I will not be taking anymore appointments starting in August, aside from those I’ve talked with already. I have five weddings that month and I want to be able to stay caught up and not be so overwhelmed… I hope you all understand. I will be officially taking off the month of October (aside from a wedding) through January possibly February. If you are a part of the baby plan and your appointment would fall during this time, please contact me and we will arrange your session.
I’m so thankful to all of you who support me and what I do, I’m so blessed to have you in my life!

Remember last year when I wrote that long post about slowing down and spending more time with my family??.. (here’s the link). Well as many of my close family and friends know, I actually let myself become even more busy than I already was! So, as my crazy year is winding down, God has revealed some things to me that I need to share.

1) Success is not measured by money or the number of “wow, that’s amazing” comments I get on facebook.
I’ve struggled with this for some time. What does it truly mean to be successful? How far do I want to take my business? What do I want to acheive? To the world, I believe success is measured in monetary value and praises…but God is showing me that success is completely different. What if success isn’t making a $100 k a year, but rather it’s teaching your children how to say “please” and “thankyou”? What if success isn’t getting 5000 likes on facebook, but rather making dinner when you’ve had the roughest day? What if success is reading a story to your kids at night, or dropping off dinner to a family going through hardship? I’ve been so busy trying to be “successful” from the world’s standpoint, that I have failed to realize…..I already have achieved many successes! And everyday is a new opportunity to succeed even more.
2) No is not a bad word.
For the longest time, those two little letters never came out of my mouth (except when talking to my children!). I felt I had an obligation to complete strangers to make them happy, to let people walk over me and take advantage of me. Not with just my business, but in all aspects of life. If someone needed something and I really didn’t want to do it, I still said yes, because I was afraid they would be upset with me, or that I would somehow get struck by lightning for saying no. But, God is showing me that I can say no, and I will say no…and it’s completely FREEING!!
3) God is the only thing that will truly fulfill me.
I think I struggle with the meaning of success and saying no to people, because I try to fulfill myself with all of the wrong things. I get obsessed with trying to acheive perfection in many things…with my work (not to be confused with house work…definitely not striving for perfection there!!), and I seriously struggle with my body image….buying products that say they will “lift this” and “tone that” when all they do is deflate my pocketbook. When will I see that it’s not about me being perfect, but it’s about knowing the ONE who is perfect, Jesus Christ.
So with these truths being revealed to me, I will be slowing down my business next year (really, I mean it!!) I have made some changes in the way I do things and how sessions will be booked (you can find most of the changes on my website under the FAQ tab at the top). But, most of all with this post, I just want to encourage you! You are wonderful, you are beautiful (or handsome), you are successful, and most importantly, you are a child of God.

Listen to this wonderful reminder! (don’t forget to mute the blog music player to your right before clicking play)