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My Maternity Photos by the one and only Tanja Lippert

Last summer I spent the day with my good friends, photographer Tanja Lippert and stylist Tia Reagan for one of their workshops. Maria and I had ended up staying a while after the workshop and we all got to talking. Days prior I had suffered my 3rd loss and that quickly became the topic of discussion. After pouring my heart out and leaning on everyone for ways to cope, the ladies suggested we all unite in prayer. While I am not an avid church goer, I do have faith and have to admit that I had often questioned God for my recent misfortunes. We gathered in a circle, held hands, bowed our heads and prayed while I wept. I have to say that this was a very emotional experience for me and all I could think about is fortunate I am to have this circle of friends in my life. I will forever remember the moment we all shared and know that my tears were heard.

A little over a month later Scott and I were pregnant again with the help of IUI, an amazing doctor and lots of faith. This time it actually stuck and seven and a half month later I'm ready to debut the belly we had worked so hard for. I am a huge fan of Tanja's work and who better than her and Tia to do my maternity shoot?

I have wanted to be a mother since I was a young child, but it's because of the journey that I have been on to get here that has given me a better appreciation for what a miracle life truly is. I can't believe how lucky I am to have such a supportive and caring set of family, friends and the most amazing husband I could have ever asked for. With just a week left until our due date, I can't express what a joy this experience has been. While yes, I'm uncomfortable, my back aches, I can hardly sleep or bend over, I wouldn't trade this feeling for anything. Feeling this little one move around inside me brings a smile to my face and I can't believe I am so close to meeting her! A huge thank you to Tanja and Tia for not just documenting the most incredible time in my life but also for your friendship, I am forever grateful for this gift. These images may show more than some would post, but I think they are amazing and celebrate the beauty and excitement of a very proud and thankful mother to be. I hope you enjoy!

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Jennifer Skog | Bump Watch?!

When I was a little girl I would go to bed at night and believe that if I held onto my baby doll Renee all night long without letting her go, that I would wake up in the morning and she would become a real baby. It was quite the disappointment in the morning when reality struck and Renee was still just a doll.

I still remember the day when my very first dream came true. My mom and dad had called my brother and I into the opening of their bedroom at the end of the hallway. Mom was lying on her side with her head propped up on her arm, she had a look of happiness on her face and something to tell us. Rob and I just 4 and 6 years old, sat there on the floor, bouncing around, anxiously awaiting what they had to say. Mom was pregnant. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, I was finally going to have my own real baby. To this day, she still is my little baby.

I've always dreamt of falling in love and becoming a mother. A couple more dreams came true and I met and fell in love with my husband, Scott. While I was eager to get started with a family, we both wanted to make sure that we were financially ready. Once we had purchased our first home and felt "secure", it was time to start planning. Of course, I needed to plan this around my work schedule, the majority of my business is in the summer and my couples book me over a year in advance, I couldn't imagine having to disappoint my clients by canceling a wedding. I worried that when the time was right, that it wouldn't happen right away, which is why I was blown away when it did. I was beyond ecstatic at the thought of finally becoming a mother.

I wasted no time in purchasing several pregnancy books, bought a mini Jen outfit and a mini Scott outfit, and pretty much told everyone close to me. Several weeks passed, I called my doctor to get my blood tested and everything came up positive. I was told I needed to come back in 2 days to confirm my levels were doubling. For the next three weeks I went in to get my blood drawn every other day, and anxiously waited for the 5 hours to pass for my doctor to call me with the results. Had my hopes up and down, then up again, then down. Eventually, I miscarried. I've had my heart broken before, but this was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me. My doctor assured me that miscarriages are very common and that we will be able to try again after a few months pass.

"If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again" All I could hear was Beyonce's voice in my ear, it was on my mind with every breath I took and of course being my incredibly impatient self, I didn't want to wait. We tried again several months later and once again, miscarried.

I became incredibly depressed, reclusive and bitter. Constantly questioning what I had done to deserve such devastation and pain. Meanwhile, it seemed as though everyone else around me was celebrating their pregnancy. At one point I was at a baby shower sitting at a table where every single girl except one (who wasn't pregnant by choice) was pregnant or had a new baby at home. I felt alone and defeated. I seemed that everywhere I looked, there was a pregnant lady walking across the street or an ultrasound image on a facebook profile. I've worked very hard for everything I've ever wanted, this was one thing that I just couldn't control. I'm not used to not getting what I want. I've been so fortunate to have supportive people in my life, a job that I'm passionate about and things that I love, that maybe I have become too greedy to expect to get one more great thing. I have a very tough exterior and tried my hardest not crack. I've cried more times than I would like to admit, and this has haunted me every second of the day. My poor husband had no clue what to do, but was always positive and gave me his shoulder to cry on. It's a pain that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

We took a break and tried again this past April. We got farther than we ever had and when it was time to see the heartbeat at 8 weeks, the doctor couldn't find one. I think I was more pissed off this time around. I had all the symptoms for 2 weeks afterwards, and finally had to go through with a D & C (which, by the way, is a terrifying experience). My doctor had wanted me to wait until after we got the results back before he recommended a specialist. I on the other hand, wanted answers now.

Among talking to friends around me who had experienced similar losses or difficulties, the consensus was to not let anyone waste your time in your journey to become a mother. It was comforting to have people who genuinely cared and I could talk openly to, if it weren't for them I don't know how I would have gotten through. About a couple of weeks after my third miscarriage, I was speaking to a friend of mine who had heard many great things about a Dr. Eyvazzadeh. I mentioned to her that I really wanted a female doctor to speak to, someone who might have little more compassion and can share my desire for becoming a mother. It was like a light bulb went on in her head and she said "Dr. Eyvazzadeh has a daughter who is a fertility specialist! You must call her!!!" I went home that afternoon and looked online to see if I could find anything on this Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh. Turns out she has great reviews and a blog. A blog! Someone with as busy schedule as she does is committed to having an online resource for families looking for answers. I, of all people, know how hard it is to keep up a blog, so I immediately had a good feeling about her. As soon as I got the courage up to call her I looked at my computer to realize it was 5:12 on a Friday afternoon. I went ahead with the call anyway, hoping to leave a message when much to my surprise someone answered. I was a bit taken back and jumbled up what I had prepared to say and the person on the other line said "you are speaking with Aimee right now". My jaw dropped. SHE ANSWERED HER OWN PHONE! Are you kidding me???? I told her my situation and she immediately scheduled an appointment for me and Scott to meet her.

The following week Scott and I met with her at her office, she asked us about our entire medical history, took notes and went over the next steps to take. She went through an entire list of things that could potentially be the problem and explained each one thoroughly. Once we were finished, Scott and I were sent in to get more blood work done. A week later she had us in for the results. As I'm sure you could imagine, I was nervous. She greeted us with a smile and before I even sat down she said: " I found out why your cycles are irregular and we CAN get you pregnant". I let out a huge sigh of relief and waited for her to go over all of the documentation with me. As it turns out, I have a form of Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. Fortunately for me, I don't suffer from all of the symptoms, however women with PCOS have a greater risk of miscarriage 45% - 50%.

Next step: Operation Get Knocked Up! She wrote up a plan for us as soon as it was time to try again. Her goal, as sad as it sounds, was to get me pregnant with twins so that the odds of having one survive would be greater. Therefore, a little bit of fertility drugs were involved. To monitor everything, she had me come in for an ultrasound to see how my eggs, ovaries and uterus were doing. After 12 days of "The Plan" it was time to decide whether or not this was going to be a natural conception or IUI. With going through everything, we decided not to take a chance on natural conception and go for the IUI. It was a weird experience, but two weeks later we had two little embryos in there!

Scott and I went in for weekly visits to see the progress of everything. We had one really big one ('Gigantor' or as Scott would say 'Mini Jen') and one little one (that Scott called 'Stumpy'). While we were ecstatic about the thought of having twins, we knew there was a chance of losing one. Seeing 2 little heartbeats was the most magical thing I've ever seen. Turns out, little Stumpy didn't make it between week 8 and 9. We were sad, but relieved to get to focus all of our attention and care on just one fetus. As you can see, we try to find some sort of humor in the experiences we are going through, it's been a long hard road and sometimes the only thing that can make you smile is a stupid joke.

I am now so happy to say that Scott and I are 16 weeks pregnant - 4 months!!!! While we are still a little hesitant to celebrate, it's really hard not to be extremely excited! This has been such a heartbreaking journey, but the feeling that I have right now has made everything worth it. I could not have done this without the support of my husband, my family and my friends. I will never be able to thank Aimee enough for the gift that she has given us, however we are forever grateful.

As long as this is, I thank you for taking the time to read my story. I've shared this because I know that there are so many people out there that have, are or will go through something like this and there is nothing better than knowing that there is hope! Life is not always fair, but it sure is a wonderful thing.
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I'm leavin' on a jet plane...

At 9:30 tomorrow morning I will be on a flight with two of my dearest friends, Maria Chang and Augie Chang {not related or married!} to photograph 4 days of Jen & Karl's wedding celebration in the Riviera Maya. I can't even tell you how excited I am for this - except for I could do without the 5 hour flight :) This will be my first wedding of 2010 and I can't wait to get there! Congrats Jen and Karl, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your BIG DAY!!!!

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Blu Domain Photographer of the year Nomination

As some of you may know, BluDomain is the source for all of my websites. I love the customizability they offer and the edge they have seemed to give my business image. Well this year, I'm super stoked to announce that along with 7 other fabulous photographers, I have been nominated for photographer f the year! Voting will begin September 23rd, so I will need all of your help to get me there! Thank you to everyone tat has supported me and followed my work, I'm living my dream and wouldn't be able to do it without you! Check out Blu's blog for interviews of all the nominees!

Congrats to my fellow nominees, I'm honored to be nominated with you!
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Jen in Action

My good friend and incredible wedding videographer, Andrew from Studio MSV, approached about shooting a promo video to loop at the Promises and Pearls Bridal Soiree in March. My initial reaction was NO WAY!!! For as much as I talk, you would think that I really enjoyed the sound of my voice, but I actually really can't stand it. AND I can't help but cringe at the way I look on film - you know that saying about film adding 10 pounds on you - well, in my case, it's definitely true! With that said, Andrew finally convinced me to do so and promised to make me look good.

The first time I watched the show, my hands were completely covering my face in disbelief. Peaking through my fingers watching every moment, I had a permanent grin on my face. He did an unbelievable job, I really could not be more impressed. Brides - if you are looking for a stud of a videographer... give him a call!

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