February 26, 2014

{Homecoming & Gender Reveal} Ashleigh & Billy

Today's homecoming by Christina Z Photography, a photographer in Camp Lejeune, NC is a very special homecoming for a few reasons! Christina is originally from Bradenton, FL, and loves to do photo sessions when she goes to visit. In fact, she will be available for more Florida sessions since they are moving back to Florida this year. I hope you are comfortable and have time to read this post since it's gonna be a long one.....This post is about deployments, infertility, and yes an exciting gender reveal (if you sneaked down already and saw the photos). I myself was honored to share this post since my husband and I are beginning the adventure of baby making (which is really weird to be telling everyone about our private business). For some it's not something that just happens like a switch of a light. It's really stressful if you don't get pregnant right away, the pressure doesn't help either, and some have the terrible experience of miscarriages. If you want a little more of my story, I'm 34 and I've been married for 3 1/2 years, we've never had kids and we are now starting, so instead of just waiting for it to happen I'm taking initiative and getting doctors to help us. So it could be months from now, it could be years, or never, but fingers crossed I will be able to announce our pregnancy :)

Enough about me here is Ashleigh's story! Christina is best friends with Ashleigh so it was very exciting for her to capture these photos. Ashleigh's husband returned from a long and emotional deployment in Afghanistan. They were dealing with infertility for some time. Ashleigh wants to share her very honest story to bring awareness to others about the hard times one faces during the infertility journey. It just so happens that her story has a happy ending, but she wanted to speak out for those that are still dealing with it. There was a bit of added excitement at this homecoming, to top it all off, Ashleigh decided to do a gender reveal to her husband at the homecoming. So after the initial welcome home smooches, she had a big black bag of balloons for him to release to reveal the gender. Christina was able to capture his reaction to having a GIRL!

(to read more about this story make sure you click on the link)

For the first 7 years of our relationship we tried our hardest to prevent pregnancy, and for the past 2 we have done things many wouldn't dream of having to go through to conceive. 1 in 8 couples suffer infertility. These past 2 years have provided real lessons to the way in which we live our lives and our speech. I hope that our story provides you a different set of glasses to help you look at life much differently, if you will. I hope what you take besides shock from our story, is the ability find the joy in your life experiences, even if that experience seems more negative than positive. Our unfortunate events in this journey have provided many things, but the most revealing has been humility and the ability to laugh even when we want to cry.

If my husband hasn't left me yet, it’s pretty unlikely he never will. I’d like to think for the past 2 years I haven’t really been myself. This idea was confirmed when after a year of trying to conceive, we finally revealed to our family what we were up against. It was in this moment my family confirmed my suspicions, I was so moody and they couldn't understand what my malfunction was. Fertility drugs were my malfunction. Then add in the emotions and side-effects that come along with infertility and its crew of drugs, and I was a "20 car pile-up". My life consisted of calendars, peeing on sticks, taking medications, some of which came in the form of shots to give myself, and avoiding ignorant people. People wondered why I didn't have a job, my answer for you now, infertility is a job. It consumes your entire life! In one week, I put 800 miles on my car driving to doctors to be poked and prodded by every tool imaginable, by strangers who have the title doctor. When we tell people what our malfunction was during the conceiving process, they feel sorry for my husband. I’m sure it’s a hard pill to swallow that your swimmers don’t move, but he has pretty much skated through this entire process without tools shoved up his privates by strangers. Here’s a funny story, yes I am able to laugh and so is he. The most medically invasive part of his process in this came from him having to make love to a cup. Big deal! But to him, this was a HUGE deal!  As he was having his first moment making love to a cup the only thing I could do is laugh hysterically, internally, while I waited for him in the car. Ever hear that Usher song, “I want to make love in this club?” I finagled it a bit, “I want to make love in this cup!” I laughed myself stupid. When you enter into a relationship, I’m sure the possibility of these real life moments never cross your mind. I never in our 9 years imagined we were the 1 in 8 couples who are faced with infertility. But here we are!

34 pregnancy tests, 100′s of ovulation tests, 2 sperm analysis, 5-6 cycles of fertility medications,  1 round of IUI, 6 vials of frozen sperm, 1 round of IVF with injectable medications, 1 HSG,  2 transferred embryos, thousands of miles traveled, $13,000 out of pocket medical costs, and we are pregnant! Oh what fun it is to ride, the crazy infertility journey!

"Why don’t you have children yet?” I hope you realize the question you ask, you may be asking to a couple who is now fighting the urge to cry while they answer your ridiculous question. And should this couple eventually reveal they may be suffering from infertility, please refrain yourself from making pointless statements. If I heard, “just relax it will happen” one more time, I think I would have voluntarily checked myself into a mental facility. No part of relaxation would have given my husband’s swimmers a boost. So please refrain from saying useless things. For those inquisitive minds who wondered how it was possible for me to get pregnant in October even though my husband deployed in July, your assumptions were right. I cheated on him, with a needle shoved up me, by a stranger called a doctor. 

Wow, so now that you've heard Ashleigh's candid story you can now see her happy homecoming and gender reveal. Thank you Ashleigh for sharing your story and Christina for these photos. Please be more careful when asking couples why they don't have children yet and also feel free to share this post with anyone you know going through this situation.

February 21, 2014

Dedicated to Alton and Family

It's very sad and tragic and I know that sometimes it's hard to share the bad news on my blog and f.b. since people don't want to think that will happen to them, but at the same time maybe this story will give solace to others who are going through loss. I went back and forth on if I should share this and so if it's too much for you please don't read this.........

Angelita Ballada Esparar Photography was previous on A Military Story with {Engagement} Britney& Chris if you missed it. Today she has a very personal photo session she had the privilege of photographing. "I had a soldier, his name is Alton, contact me about 6 months ago interested in photographer. I agreed to meet with him over coffee. He was really sincere and interested in the photography world. He wanted to pursue it after leaving the army. I agreed to tag him along to some of my weddings, to observe, and learn. He is quite a funny guy. Always made fun of the worst possible situations. He shot primarily in film--which I never got. Just the long tedious process of developing it and having to wait to view the photos made me irk. Nevertheless, he was probably one of the nicest persons I've met on this earth. He valued honesty, truth, and respect. He talked to all my clients nicely, and treated my brides and grooms well. He has a wife, and 3 children (2 are from his wife's last marriage/relationship). 

Anyways, last year he asked me to book a photo session for January 17 to surprise his wife for their anniversary. Such a nice thing to do, right? He changed the session to a December holiday surprise instead. She came to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, surprised. I am so glad that he was able to do this session, because when I first stepped in their home, I did not notice a family photo with all of them together.

What I didn't know, is that would be the last time I saw him. He died 4 days ago after going into cardiac arrest after a jump injury about a week and a half ago. What luck to have rescheduled that session earlier, and such a tragedy to make that situation lucky. It just shows how important it is to have at least that one family picture together--because in the end, you won't know how long you'll be around.
He was just so influential to many people. Although I brought him along with me to learn from what I do, I have learned so much more from him."  

These photos and the memories will keep Alton in everyone's heart forever. Thank you Angelita for sharing these images and his story. I know the family is still probably grieving but I would like to dedicate this to him and their family. I too lost my father suddenly back in 2007, my father was only 56 years old and I miss him dearly. Please send your prayers to them!! <3

February 19, 2014

{Homecoming} Noelle & Jay

Christy Nicole Photography is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Central New Jersey. She is a Navy wife that absolutely loves military homecomings. "Capturing these special moments for military families is something that’s very dear to my heart." Christy shares.

"On January 20th 2014 I got to capture a Seabee military homecoming for a Noelle and her husband Jay. Noelle & Jay are high school sweethearts from Louisiana and are currently stationed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Jay is a part of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eleven and Noelle really wanted to capture his homecoming since Jay was deployed for 6 months over seas.

I met with Noelle at 5:00am on base not knowing the exact time that all of the det’s would arrive. When some unexpected fog rolled in, it caused a 3-hour delay so there was a lot of disappointed faces in the air. Luckily after the weather cleared up the plane was able to land and everyone was able to reunited with their loved ones." Thank you Christy for sharing this joyous homecoming!

February 7, 2014

{Sponsored Post} Keeping You Connected With Vonage


Are you currently separated with your military overseas boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, husband, wife etc. and wish you could talk to them more often? Are you wondering how to stay in touch with them? Sometimes all you want to do is pick up the phone and call someone, but not pay an outrageous amount for it. That’s where Vonage comes in. Communication in the military world can be a tricky thing, however modern technology is continually making things easier and easier! Crazy how fast technology changes, isn't it?

I'm sure you've seen commercials for Vonage. You know, unlimited long distance calling in the U.S. and to over 60 countries for one low rate. Did you know it worked from the other way too? You can live abroad and still call all those places for one low rate.

Here’s how:
For those of you who aren't familiar with Vonage it is an internet phone service. You attach the Vonage Box to your modem or router, plug your phone cord into it as well and you're all set. It makes and receives calls just like like a landline phone service but it uses your high speed internet connection instead of a phone line.

Vonage boxes can be ordered and sent to 34 different countries. If you are military, they’ll gladly send your box to an APO/FPO address. Once you start your service, you get a stateside phone number. Then friends and family can call you anytime and it’s just like you are still in the States. When you PCS, take your Vonage box with you and your number stays the same. The box can also be taken along on deployments. As long as you have an internet connection and a touchtone phone, you are good.  This just gives you one less thing to worry about when PCS season rolls around.

Vonage is also making sure you never miss another call by extending the reach of the phone, straight to your cell phone. They even now have an app available for smartphones. The app allows you to make calls from you cell for the same low price, while still using your Vonage number. This is perfect if you are stationed overseas!  

There are definitely other options out there. Most of us have used Skype, and there's Google Chat. If you have an Iphone you've got facetime. There are also other internet compatible phone services out there like MagicJack. What they don't have is the reliability and customer service. Granted you might not be able to see each other’s faces like on some of the other products I mentioned; but sometimes a simple and reliable phone call is exactly what you need to breathe a sigh of relief. 

We’ve used MagicJack while my husband was deployed to Iraq and then continued to use it when we moved to rural New York as a house phone, BUT I can say that MagicJack has a very static connection and not always reliable. It cuts out too. Plus I’ve also used Google Chat with multiple people being connected and it’s still needs more development. You can’t all talk at the same time and if you do you don’t hear what the other person is saying. Also with Google Chat your video freezes, sound gets distorted and lines dropped. When you have that precious time with your service member, you want to actually hear your loved one!

Want more information about how Vonage is helping military families stay contacted click here 

Also other military blogs who are participating and using Vonage?  Check out what these bloggers have had to say too:

Hearth and Homefront 

Thinking that Vonage would be a wonderful asset to your family?  Follow along for a giveaway over the next few weeks where you will have a chance to win a Vonage Box and 12 months of service to get you connecting with your loved ones again! 

More videos on how to use Vonage:
How It Vonage Works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmXNuCoSqiY&feature=player_detailpage Vonage How-to: Set Up Vonage Box Without Router:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qr7rxkKpt0&feature=player_detailpage Vonage How-to: Set Up Vonage Box With Router: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAmC09IwmMs&feature=player_detailpage

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I’ve been provided a free Vonage Box and 12 months of free Vonage service in exchange for this and future Vonage posts.

February 5, 2014

{Homecoming} Reese

We have a treat today on the blog! This is the first homecoming video to watch on A Military Story. Grace-Marie Photography has shared the video that she took during this happy reunion and some photos too! Grace-Marie will be relocating to Tyler, Tx in March from Miramar and Pendleton area!

Reese Homecoming from Gracie Brunken on Vimeo.