We are so excited to finally let everyone know! We are going to welcome a new little boy into our family! We couldn’t be happier; I have to say that I knew from the moment Kala told me it was going to be a boy. Since we already have our 16-month-old wild man-baby (Boss Baby reference), Elliott, running around, Kala was partial to team girl. We have both sincerely never cared either way as long as they were healthy. He is due to arrive on August 5th, 2020.
Now most of you have probably noticed that over that past couple months we have reduced how much we have posted or how interactive we have been on social media—we’ve been a little distant. This isn’t us; we love what we do and connecting with the people we work with is one reason we photograph people not landscapes.
We know 2020 is going to be the best year we have ever seen, 100% because of each of our amazing clients. We will be revealing new projects and more opportunities for creative photos this year. But we wanted to let you know why we have been distant. Why we’ve had to take some extra time for ourselves. We wanted to let you know our story incase someone else is going through it, you don’t feel as isolated and secluded as we did. It is a little lengthy and to be honest I don’t know if I did that more for you or myself, but the rest is about a 12-15 minute read.
I feel as though I should start from the beginning. November of 2019 was one of our craziest months on record in our 5 years of business. We ended October with taking just under 40,000 photos in 31 days. This means a lot of late nights and long days during our peak Wedding Season.
One thing many people don’t know, is I am mostly a functioning insomniac. Throughout extremely busy times it isn’t uncommon for me sleep less than 4 or 5 hours a night. October and November were definitely one of those times. This one particular day, and unfortunately the date escapes me, I had stayed up past 3:00 am on the clock working and after waking before 8:00 am, I came down the stairs and plopped myself down on the couch. My eyes felt like sandpaper and I’m sure my hair was crazy. Kala wasn’t in the house and to be honest I didn’t even look to see where she was a first. As I stood back up to go get coffee from the kitchen, I seen her and Elliott walking down the yard back to the house. I found my seat back on the couch and grabbed my laptop as they walked in.
Kala and I have a dry erase board that sits in our living room most of the time (even though it has a place to hang in the office). We are constantly writing, erasing, and moving things up or down the list depending on priority. So, as she walked in and acknowledged that I was up she made her way over to the board and began erasing. I figured she was just rearranging tasks that her mind had made notes of this morning. I watched El run across the floor yelling something incoherent at the dogs and glanced back up to see what she had written so I could decide where to start my day.
The top line of the list read “Survive 2 Babies.”
Survive two babies?
SURVIVE TO BABIES?!?
The realization hit me and all at once. I jumped up wrapped Kala up in a big hug, followed by Elliott yelling at me and tapping my leg, because that’s his mommy and he’s jealous. Sitting back down on my middle recliner of our sectional, the excitement began to wan as the thoughts of holy cow we’re going to have two babies raced through my head. Then the thought of no not just two babies… we are going to have two little boys came next. Two under 2! At this moment I had no idea if it was going to be a little boy or not. My feeling when Kala was pregnant with Elliott was, he was going to be a girl, then the ultrasound tech popped “it’s a boy!” on the screen. So, I could have been 100% wrong in my assessment, but my gut said this one is a boy. Our conversation followed on how life would be like with two little boys and the perfect enjoyable chaos that would come with it.
Finding out a week before Thanksgiving gave us time to think of a way to surprise my parents that they would go from zero grandbabies to three grandbabies inside two years. We decided to wait until Christmas to tell them. What a great Christmas present this would be! We ordered an ornament for their tree that they would open on Christmas day saying Baby Hurst coming August 2020. I knew my mom, Nana, would probably have the best freak out!
About a week followed and Kala had complained of some pain in her lower abdomen. Everyone that has expected before knows the first trimester is the most dangerous for the fetus, so sometimes you are hypersensitive about what is going on. So, you play a delicate balance of “we are overreacting everything is okay” and “everything is not okay, we need to go to the doctor now!” But one thing that was certain was, this intense pain she never had with Elliott. Sometimes doubling her over when she would walk.
To ease the worries, she called her doctor and explained what it was. The nurse scheduled a time for her to come in, stating that it could be round ligament pain or implantation. These aren’t cause for concern, just standard pregnancy discomfort, but that they would do an ultrasound and blood work just to take a look. Before hanging up the nurse was sure to mention nonchalantly that if we didn’t hear a heartbeat during the ultrasound not to freak out, because they didn’t expect one this early. Overall the nurse didn’t seem alarmed she behaved as this just seemed more like standard procedure than anything else.
For those of you that know us well, you may know that I am louder, more outgoing, and the type A personality in our relationship. Kala is reserved thus making her less likely to freak out over little things. I’m not saying she doesn’t get anxious or worry, she does, but she is a planner so when she finds something out, she plans until it is to her satisfaction then releases her stress about the situation. I am more like a duck. I try my best to look and be very even kill or steady on the outside, but below the surface my feet are pedaling 1000 miles an hour, jumping all over the place, going from one scenario to the next, on what could happen, or what may happen, and what I need to do to fix each situation, even though there isn’t anything to fix yet since nothing has happened because it is all happening inside my head. (Did that make sense?) If you didn’t know this about us, this is important for the next part of our story.
So, we arrived later that day and made the rounds through the circular office. Height and weight, blood work, and ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the sonographer, was placed in a stressful position. In a routine visit, the sonographer will tell you what all the baby is doing, assuring you that it is growing normally and is 100% inside what they expect to see at that point in the pregnancy. If there is a cause for concern, they don’t really talk a ton about what they are seeing. The sonographer would discuss it with the doctor and the doctor will explain what is going on.
But this time was different, there was nothing displaying on the screen. No gestational sac, which is the first thing formed during pregnancy, no yolk sac which the fetus would grow in, no baby on the screen. The sonographer relayed what she saw in the best way she could trying to avoid panic. I’m not sure if Kala figured it out at this point what all was going on, or if she was just waiting for all the information so she could start her planning, but my stomach had hit the floor. I don’t pretend to be super smart about anything. I am never the smartest guy in the room about any one topic, I can learn more about everything on earth. But I have always prided myself on having a good amount of knowledge in just about everything. The knowledge that I did have was sending alarms and red flags up everywhere. This just isn’t we can’t hear a heartbeat because this is too early, there isn’t anything there. My ears are ringing because my blood pressure has shot up, and I don’t know if Elliott had a sixth sense as to what was going on, but he began getting very upset (like scream crying) so I had to take him out of the room so that the tech could finish her job working with Kala.
Once Elliott was calmed down, I walked back into the building and found Kala in regular room. She told me that the sonographer had something else did catch her attention and that was the wall of the uterus appeared cystic, which isn’t normal. This is almost becoming too much to keep processed.
The OB office that Kala goes to has 7 doctors and 3 nurse practitioners. When we had Elliott, we seen and worked with each of them because you never know who will be on call when you go into labor. As our luck would have it, none of those doctors were on call that night, a partner office was, so the doctor that delivered Elliott, we met 4 hours before he was born. No big deal she was amazing. But today since we were being worked in, there wasn’t a doctor available just a new nurse practitioner or NP, that had just joined the office that we hadn’t seen before. No big deal.
As she walked into the room, it felt as though she already had decided what was going on. Not asking any questions but diving straight into the ultrasound and diagnosis.
I didn’t know what the term meant exactly, but since we weren’t at the dentist, I understood that term ‘Molar’ meant bad. She went on to explain that we didn’t know what the blood work would say, but since we couldn’t see anything on the screen then this is probably a tubular pregnancy, which isn’t viable and would mean that we would have to perform a D&C in two days after a second round of ultrasounds and blood work. The few questions that Kala and I did have were met each time with the word ‘textbook’. “Well since your pregnancy isn’t textbook, we will have to see what happens in two days.” “It’s hard to tell since this pregnancy isn’t textbook.” “Pregnancy is hard because today is just a snapshot of what is going on and we will have to compare it to what we see in two days since this isn’t textbook.” She is obviously right out of school since that was the only thing she could compare to what was going on, in addition to her severe lack of bedside manner.
As we left, complete defeat. We live in Benson, but Kala decided to keep the same office and hospital that we had when we first moved to Raleigh, because to how great they were, and UNC Rex was amazing during the delivery of Elliott. Giving us about a 45-minute commute home. Up until about 10 minutes before we got home, we both were silent—trying to make sense of it all. Then we began talking, what we were going to do. How it didn’t make sense.
The numbers didn’t make sense, the test didn’t make sense, and the explanation didn’t make sense. This isn’t what we planned on when we wanted to grow our family. Now this is what we are having to deal with? As we pulled into the driveway, we decided to put it to the back of our minds until the appointment two days later which happened to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The reason we agreed to this was because there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. Honestly looking back all we did was not talk about it, since all of the information and everything the NP said was the only thing on both of our minds for the next 48 hours.
We rescheduled an engagement session we had planned for that Wednesday and asked my mom to watch Elliott since we didn’t know what was going to happen. We came up with some lie because we didn’t want them to worry as to why our schedule changed so suddenly.
Wednesday morning came, and we dropped El off early. The plan was the same. Blood work, ultrasound, doctor. As we walked into the building and hit the button for the floor of the office, I looked at Kala and knowingly lied again and said, “No matter what, we will be okay.” I can’t remember if she responded or not. I knew that if everything was perfectly fine, we would never be the same as we were two days beforehand, and if everything wasn’t ideal, we wouldn’t be the same when we left the building.
Sitting in the dark room just before the sonographer started the ultrasound there was a moment of sheer volatile emotion. Dread that everything would be wrong and hope that everything would be fine. The screen turned on and as she rolled the instrument around, the live feed that appeared on screen showed the familiar view as the Monday scan. Nothing. When she was finished with her search, she ushered us to one of the doctor’s offices.
After reviewing the scans, noting the blood work, and reading the notes from our visit with the NP. Dr. D then went on to explain what all was going on. He was careful to ask what we had been told and what we understood. I’ll bypass some of the very technical jargon, but what it came down to was it began to look more and more like that afternoon Kala would have to undergo a D&C since this pregnancy didn’t appear viable. The reason for not performing it immediately was to wait on the round of blood work that was just drawn to see what it produced. The decision to go forward or wait was based on one number. The HCG. HCG is the hormone created by only a woman during pregnancy. Kala’s HCG number on Monday was 441. This number should double every two days during the first few weeks of pregnancy. If the number came back less than double or extremely high (i.e. 578 or 2,214) we would know for sure something went wrong and the procedure would be carried out. Unfortunately, we had to wait…hours as in 4 or 5.
During our hours of waiting Kala wasn’t allowed to eat. Since they were preparing for her to have an operation later that day, she wouldn’t be allowed to eat until afterwards. Y’all, not feeding your pregnant wife sucks, there is no better way to put that. We ran some errands and picked up some Christmas gifts.
We ended up waiting in a parking lot when Kala’s phone rang. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but from the context clues of what Kala was responding with it seemed indifferent. Neither good nor bad. When she hung up the phone all that she said was, “it doubled.” Tears. She then pointed out the closest Chick-fil-a. 949, a little more than double was the number that was delivered. Dr. D while on the phone with Kala apologized; he said he didn’t give enough reason to hope earlier and for that he was sorry.
Still not out of the woods, since nothing had appeared on the ultrasound, that still gave reason to worry. Being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving we would have to wait until Monday to take another look.
Thankfully some of the holiday events kept our minds slightly consumed with other things. Kala and I always watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that morning. Football comes on afterwards and stays on all day. My favorite part of Thanksgiving is watching the Dallas Cowboys lose, this year was no different. The cooking and eating, and eating assisted in the distraction, but every chance of a wondering thought your mind, or at least ours naturally raced to what was going on.
The next day we decided to fill my parents in on what was happening since we were running out of fibs for them to unexpectedly need to watch Elliott at random and unscheduled photography times. Not as grand of a gesture and as an exciting of an announcement as we had hoped, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.
Monday came, and we were all on edge. We added the numbers up and knew that Kala’s blood work needed to show a number somewhere in the ballpark of 4000. We also knew that we had to see something on the monitor during the sonogram. Blood work at 7:30 at UNC Rex since they have a lab in the hospital and can deliver results in about an hour. We went for coffee and then made our way up to the second floor of the office and waited on the comfy peach chairs in the waiting room.
Kala’s name was called and here we go. The ultrasound tech was obviously invested in us at this point. As she placed the gel on Kala’s stomach before grabbing the tool to scan, she told us how her and the doctor had talked about us all morning. She turned on the monitor and started to look. The air stood still, and I could feel the blood rush to my feet as the grey waves on the monitor moved back and forth.
As she rolled the instrument back and turned it at different angles, we were all silent. Waiting. A black circle flashed across the screen and disappeared. The sonographer traced her way back to where she just was and stopped, and zoomed in. There is was, the little gestational and yolk sacs. Sitting in the bull’s eye in the middle like a target ring was a 6-week-old baby. The pressure on my chest was relieved. Finally, a good visit.
Christmas was fantastic, we told some of our close relatives before. Including Elliott’s Great-Great Grandma (5 generations) who will be 90 this year. She told us the baby was a girl, but for us to be completely sure of the gender we had to put our order in with her before! Our next appointment was what is typically the first appointment in a normal pregnancy.
Here we go again, making the rounds through the office like it was our first time. Today they will measure the baby and let us know our due date! After showing us little things like the baby’s head, a lose hand, the heart beating, Doctor D said, “Now you guys know that you can’t come into the office without us having something to talk about.” Pointing to a still image on the monitor to the back of the baby’s neck he explained that the dark area was fluid buildup, more specifically a cystic hygroma. He went on to explain that this usually meant some sort of chromosomal issue. We would need to see a specialist that week. Cold sweat. I checked my watch and seen my heartrate as I sat in this uncomfortable office chair raise 40 beats per minute almost instantly.
Our appointment at Duke was stressful. Another ultrasound. I’ve pretty much lost count at this point. Enough for 2 pregnancies I’m sure. The doctor came in briefly and gave us the itinerary of the visit. Which included the geneticist next. She sat with us for an extended period. Quizzing and asking a ton of questions ranging from ages, family history, and even if we were related. She educated and informed us until we understood everything and what the possible outcomes, procedures, and test were. Basically, what we were looking at with a cystic hygroma was an extremely high probability of Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, or Major Heart defect which are the mild conditions. Miscarriage, and trisomy 13 or 18 were the more severe conditions (90% of children die before their first birthday).
We opted to start with the least invasive test and if we needed more testing to gradually increase. 3 rather large vials blood were taken from Kala’s right arm. Testing for the particles of the placenta that are floating around, and the number of chromosomes that the baby had including the 23 pair, the gender, XX or XY. This test takes about 2 weeks to hear back on.
Day of appointment. Duke office waiting room. Name called. Ultrasound. Specialist Doctor opens the door. Before she is even in the room, she all but screams for the entire office to hear, “I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER WITH THIS BABY!” Following with “The [intricate blood work] tests indicated no genetic issues, the ultrasound revealed that the cystic hygroma has started resolving itself.” Where it measured a 3.6 two weeks ago, it now measured a 2.4! Emotions all around, doctor included. We were much more hopeful when we went to the receptionist to schedule the next follow up visit for a month later.
I am happy to say that today, February 20th, we had a follow up visit at the specialist and they couldn’t see the cystic hygroma! We are so thankful that everything is measuring correctly and that we are now looking at a healthy baby boy this summer!
So, if you stayed around for this lengthy blog. THANK YOU! You can expect to see us back like our normal selves, be sure to say hi or comment on a photo. We are so happy for what this year has in store with all of the clients (old and new), our brides and grooms, our vendor friends, and our new boy. Happy Thursday!