Project TEN | September-December 2017

This post is proof that having an infant puts most personal projects on the back burner when attempting to return back to client work and meet deadlines for Christmas cards. This is also proof that I picked up my camera just as much as I used to and made sure the first few months of our baby boy's life was well documented (you can see more of my personal work on my personal instagram @katiehall). September - the start of school and daily homework. It was also the month I realized Theo is growing before my eyes so I had to capture even his sweet naptime.

October - festive fall events and LOTS of leaves in our new backyard. Made for lots of leaf blowing for Matt but LOTS of fun for the girls.

November - the start of the holidays and Theo's first overnight stay in the hospital for upper respiratory issues.

December - such a magical time with a new baby. The girls have adored having Theo in the house and Christmas morning was no exception. So thankful for these sweet times with my little family as well as a visit from my grandparents to meet all the latest additions to our extended family!

I am already working on January's Project TEN post so be on the lookout for more consistent posts in the new year!

Project TEN | August 2017

Introducing, the newest addition to Project Ten - our son, Theodore Matthew Hall. We welcomed 10 pound 12 ounce (yes, you read that correctly) Theo on July 21st and have loved every ounce of him ever since. The little face that we only imagine we would see, after a long road of infertility and pregnancy loss, has stolen our hearts and our attention day in and day out. You can see more of the birth of Theo here by our amazing birth photographer and friend, Cait Jensen. Welcoming this little boy into our family has been wonderful and difficult all at the same time. Sleepless nights and adjusting to the new pace of life with a newborn while still occupying two little girls during the hot summer months before school begins has proved difficult. Things like showering and sometimes eating (and definitely taking photos) fall to the wayside and nursing and rocking and shooshing take over. I mostly sit on the couch cuddling our sweet boy while texting the other mamas (6 of my friends, to be exact, who delivered babies in a 3 week time period) about nursing habits and how much sleep they got the night before. It's all been a little bit of a blur but I've already reached the 3 week mark and thought "it's going too fast."

I will always be thankful for this project for pushing me to look for and capture moments of the mundane that will one day make my heart ache to remember the little sounds of a newborn, the R sounds that sound like W's of my middle child, and the cackle laugh of my oldest when she plays with her sister.

Sweet moments in the early hours of the morning and the early hours of new life.

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Our little man with alllllll the hair.

Big sister who protects her brother and soothes him with a sweet, soft voice when he's crying. And when I ask her to do me a favor and "go get mommy a few more diapers" she runs away and says "Super cat speed!"

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Forgoing another bite of breakfast to love on her little brother.

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Tiny baby parts.

If you could hear the sounds of this photo you'd hear the softest and sweetest version of "I See the Moon" being sung.

Rae Barnes (web|IG) | Kaylene Bain (web|fb) | Laura Burkholder (web) | Erin Gregerson (web) | Cait Jensen (web|fb) | Kelly Lapp (web|fb) | Parker Slaton (web) | Carolyn Woods (web|fb) |

The Bahgat Family

In my line of work, I encounter families and kids of all types! Some kids cooperate and smile nicely during a session. And, although rare, some hate the entire thing and we pretty much have to hope we catch a moment of connection with parent and that child to make a photo fantastic. Some kids start off very cold and don't want much to do with the camera, and after about 18 seconds of me making a fool of myself or layin' it on thick with my gummy bear bribery, they warm right up and become THE MOST COOPERATIVE CHILDREN EVER! That was Lyla. Photo number one, as you see below, she wasn't amused by all my noises and tricks. But in the blink of an eye she pulled out this ahhhhhmmmaaaazing smile that stuck around for the entire session! Enjoy this "belly" portion of this Belly & Baby Bundle from last fall of the Bahgat family (still just the three of them). And stay tuned for more from the "baby" portion of the bundle that took place over the winter!

Project Ten | May 2017

Within the last month, I escaped to the beach for two nights with my girls during their spring break. It's the first time I've gone away with just them and no one else...maybe ever! Matt stayed home to work on some ongoing house projects so I took advantage of the time I had with just them and no agenda. The weather wasn't great but it didn't keep these two from soaking up some beach time together before the rain started and I, of course, just spent my time documenting their interactions. It's photos like these that will hopefully remind them one day of the very special bond they have as sisters. A bond they will literally have with no other person in their lives. I am so thankful for my sisters and I am so thankful that these two have each other.

These next few photos are extremely precious to me. I think it may be fairly self-explanatory as to why I will cherish these photos, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about these images and the decision I wrestled with about even sharing them. My journey through infertility and pregnancy loss is not one I've kept close to my chest. I've been fairly open about my experiences. After every loss, I've shared my heart - in almost every condition I found myself in when the pain and ugliness of miscarriage repeated itself like a recurring nightmare. It was an experience that started the moment the test read "pregnant" and I found myself riddled with anxiety about what sort of path I just found myself on. Instead of picturing my life 8 months from that point, I found myself wondering what I could expect in the 4-6 weeks to follow. When it comes to miscarriage, couples often find themselves mourning more than the loss of a child - we also mourn the loss of joy in any other pregnancy. I remember when I found out I was pregnant with baby #7, Matt looked at me and said, "Is it bad that I don't even feel excited?" What I found even harder was the personal struggle of finding joy in the pregnancies of others around me. Miscarriage has a way of isolating you from friends and family who don't battle the same infertility issues you do. It's the hardest truth to help anyone understand who has never stood in the path of miscarriage. Some will sympathize and grieve with you -  and I'll always be grateful to those that desired to share my broken heart and even try to bear whatever part of my burden they could even having never experienced loss like I had. I've never hoped for miscarriage for anyone around me, but there was really no comfort like hearing the words "I know how you feel" from a sister who had joined this group of grieving mothers long before me - and I longed to hear those words.

After five miscarriages, you'd think I'd be so overjoyed with my growing bump that I wouldn't even question sharing images like these. But the truth is, I'm surrounded by women - friends of mine - who are in a pit of infertility and pregnancy loss. Miscarriage has bonded me to several women, many of whom still find themselves with no answers and little hope. I know these women celebrate the life growing inside of me and the victory that this bump represents in my own personal journey of loss. But I also know that when they see this bump, and every growing bump around them that they can spot from a mile away, that it is also a harsh reminder of the place where they feel they may never be. My struggle in sharing these photos is out of concern for how it would make the sweet woman feel who is working to console an infant she just met that was entrusted to her through foster care - wondering if she'll ever carry her own child. My internal debate is fueled knowing the excruciating pain another woman feels who is reminded of the child that was just extracted from her body after it was discovered lifeless in her womb on a fuzzy black and white monitor in her doctor's office. The image of a growing belly can bring so much pain to others, "so why should I show these photos?" I found myself asking.

I was talking to a dear friend recently who was once again walking through the cruel, life-altering circumstance of losing a baby before she could hold him in her arms. I tried finding the most perfectly crafted words to say to encourage her when she finally said, "honestly, you're one of the only things that gives me strength and hope. I'm so sorry for everything you've been through but I honestly don't think I could feel hope without thinking of your story." It is no surprise that I found myself weeping from this comment. Eight years of sadness and discouragement, asking over and over, "why do I have to be stuck on this road?" and with one comment from someone who watched me through it all, I saw very clearly one of the many purposes of my pain. It is BECAUSE of each miscarriage and the pain they brought, that I find more joy in every kick and jump in my belly than I ever would had pregnancy come easy to me. And hopefully, its because of the long road of waiting and defeat that I can share photos like these and feel confident they represent hope and triumph. I felt so buried by the burden of hurting others with my pregnancy that I overlooked the power that God has to use it to encourage and give hope to those hurting and longing for the same thing. I'm not special. My situation is not special or unique. But my situation is an example of what God can restore and THAT should not be hidden.

I've stumbled upon a song that says it so perfectly and it's been my prayer for those women around me still in that pit:

"Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I'm still in Your hands This is my confidence, You've never failed me yet.

I've seen You move, come move the mountains And I believe, I'll see You do it again You made a way, where there was no way And I believe, I'll see You do it again."

-Do It Again Elevation Worship

Even these little girls know what a victory the birth of this little boy will be. Maelynn prays often for "Theo to still be alive so he can come out soon and we can hold him." Perhaps they don't fully understand the profound ways in which God has restored my situation but they are well aware of how this pregnancy is different from all the others and they know who to thank for this miracle.