The Journey of Rhett Anderson Portnoy
posted by Kelly
We all know how a baby is made and by now I imagine you know where babies come from (wink)….but the journey a husband and wife takes in choosing to bring life into their home…well that’s an intensely personal and intimate story. This is a rare post from the heart, from the raw places in life and in marriage; One of healing and great joy in watching “The Giver of Life” have his way in our home. This is the story of Rhett Anderson. Buckle up…it’s bound to be a long and winding written road peppered with tons of photos.
Ryan and I got married on August 7, 2005. It was hot that day…but we didn’t care. We were in love, we were surrounded by amazing family and friends. We walked down the aisle to The Turtles “So Happy Together”. It was a great day. I married my BEST friend and the father of our SOON to be children.
I am a rare statistic. I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I am one of the few women that do not fit the profile of a woman with PCOS. The long and short of this diagnosis is that you ovulate at weird times, if at all and your ovaries tend to create little pockets that turn into scar tissue making it extremely hard for an egg to implant. I was 23 years old when I found out I had it and when I was told I may never have children. I was 29 when I got married and a little nervous about any future having children with Ryan.
God is bigger than any diagnosis.
We decided after 5 months of marriage we would pull the plug on birth control methods and see what would happen. Could I ovulate, could we have a baby, what will this almost 30 year old body do?
Yup…first month with our guard down the Lord saw it fit to bless our family with one of the most endearing, clever, smart, imaginative little girls we could have ever prayed for.
Now I had a plan…a very good plan. Have two more children about three years apart. That way I could spend time with each child for a few years without interruption. I thought this was a good plan but the Lord had a better plan. He thought it would be better for us to open our hearts up to a passionate, energetic, hilarious, athletic, and compassionate little boy. Yes…while Chloe was just 9 months old I found out I was pregnant again. We had just celebrated our 2nd anniversary and now we are preparing for a second miracle to enter our lives and hearts and change us forever.
Now before I go any further in our reproduction journey…haha…that sounds funny. Let me just share some insight into our marriage and business.
There are countless times in our little six year marriage that I thank the Lord on high that Ryan and I were friends for many years way before we crossed into Loversville. When push comes to shove…and let me tell you…we’ve been SHOVED….we have never lost the ability to laugh with one another. I think that has been the glue…that and heartfelt prayer. Anyone who has one child can tell you that the baby becomes the center of your time and attention. As a mother especially you are on duty 24-7. What little time, energy and affection you have at the end of the day you hold precious and dear and selfishly hold on to. It’s hard to ration it out to your spouse.
We started Kellan in March of 2006…the same month we found out about Chloe. The same month the realization that we would no longer have my teaching income after the fall. It was born out of a hobby of photography and a financial need. We had no idea what was going to come of it and I assure you…we never dreamed as big as what has fallen into our laps.
With any small business it requires a LOT. Type-A, business-minded Kelly snapped into gear to get us legally set up and run our customer service front while Ryan established our public front. Together we created what has evolved into our “signature” Kellan style. It sounds so simple when you type it out in one sentence. What you can’t see are the years and years of strain on our marriage. Ryan working full time, me a full time mom of two little ones working a full time job out of our home office. The year Bennett was born we shot 25 weddings and 20 personal sessions. YUP…..that’s almost half a years weekends out the door while breastfeeding. How did we do it?
Well we survived…we did not thrive.
What took the biggest hit was our marriage. We thought we wanted full time photography. We thought this is what the Lord was leading us to…after all we were starting to blow up…wasn’t that a sign. NOPE. That was just good business sense…but it wasn’t a fit for our family. We were growing so far apart after just three years of marriage. My partner, my best friend, my husband. We co-existed under one roof….laughter and prayer barely holding us together.
Then the final straw.
November 21, 2008….just six months after Bennett was born. I thought I was having the worst menstrual cycle of my life. For hours I writhed around on my bed in some of the worst pain of my life. I kept telling Ryan “I feel like I am in labor”. I won’t tell you the awfulness that came out of me. I can only thank the Lord for my utter ignorance of what was truly happening. I was miscarrying our third child. A child we didn’t even know existed. One that was conceived while we were shooting 25 weddings, raising and infant and toddler and barely holding on. A baby we will only ever know in the heavenlies. It was over before we even knew he existed. We named the baby Jory Lee “God will uplift and heal”.
It was at that point we knew what we needed to do. Trust the Lord with our finances and back off Kellan. Stop letting this business run us and start to run it! We cut back on our bookings, said no, changed our marketing strategy and got marriage counseling from our beloved pastor. I can only tell you that 2009 was a year of great healing for us. Ryan and I found one another again. God also blessed our SOCKS off by giving Ryan one of the coolest jobs on the planet. He became the full time commercial photographer for the prestigious leather company, Moore and Giles Inc. He gets to use his camera every day. He gets to create AND he gets a paycheck and insurance…SCORE for family!
We took a very conscious and cautious break from getting pregnant in order to continue healing and gaining back precious ground that was stolen in our family. It was a good season. In spring of 2010 we started discussing finishing off our family. We’ve always wanted three children and heck…might as well tackle it sooner than later. Well as God’s sense of humor would have it…..the month we started tossing around the idea…..you guessed it….little Rhett was firmly implanted in his little 9 month incubator. I can’t tell you the sheer joy and peace we felt at the timing of this little wonder. After such a season of stress and great grief…this was our season of celebration and joy. The Giver of Life had blessed us yet again. Let me take you on a little belly journey. At 5’2” you can only look not pregnant for so long.
19 weeks (Photo by the wonderful Adam Barnes)
28 week (photoshoot by the incredible Sara Ernst )
So if you are still hanging in on this journey then we are getting to the part where I get Rhett OUT of me. This pregnancy was a doozy. I mean puking every day 1st trimester only to be revisited by it again 3rd trimester, a trip to the ER with a kidney stone, and just for kicks and giggles…the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy I had pre-term labor. For those ignorant of that little gem, that means you are contracting daily….so much so I had not one, but TWO false alarms to the hospital because the contractions were 2 mins. apart; an emotional and physical roller coaster. Because I was over 4 cm. dilated and 80% effaced by 39 weeks I was a great candidate to be induced a few days early and not have to sweat it out any longer. I’ve never been induced so I can only tell you my story….and I LOVED IT!
I’ve always been a wait and see kinda girl about labor. I’m not looking to win a trophy by going natural but I also never hopped right on meds either. I was all about going as far as I wanted to naturally and then waving my white flag when I was done “laboring”. With both Chloe and Bennett I got to 7 cm and then threw in the towel. Two great experiences. Being induced I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is I was sick of LABORING for 5 weeks.
I made my decision pretty quickly after I was checked and was already 5cm. when I entered the hospital. I was going to get my pitocin and my epidural at the same time. Everyone who sees my hospital pictures comments about how I am smiling and laughing the whole time. You’re darn skippy I was! I didn’t feel a darn thing. NOT. ONE. CONTRACTION. I had a blast with Ryan, my mom, my friend Amy Martin who came to photograph the birth, and our AWESOME L&D nurse, Amber. It was the party room for sure.
After 4.5 hours I was 10 cm. dilated and ready to push. I could not believe how fast things progressed. We were just minutes away from meeting this precious boy. When I say minutes I mean minutes. I actually crowned on my FIRST push. They literally had to hold him in so the doctor could run down the hall and get in just in time to deliver me.
On my second push I was able to reach down and pull the most perfect baby out and up onto my chest. I am pretty sure I heard trumpets sound and angels applaud. It was the most PEACEFUL, easy labor and delivery. There staring me in the face with his GIGANTIC eyes (all of our babies have huge eyeballs!) was our little Rhett Anderson.
He cried for a few seconds and then he literally smiled at me and showed us who he was. A little messenger of peace. He has the most calm and sweet demeanor. Literally everyone in the room could not get over how alert and placid his disposition was.
8lbs. and 4 oz. of perfect boy.
To truly understand how amazing this experience was…you have to watch this 2-minute video. These photos were taken by our dear friend Amy Martin who came to document the completion of our family. She did an incredible job capturing the mood of the day. Video HERE. All births are miracles. Words fall short to explain the surreal and mind blowing process God carved out for a woman to sustain and deliver life into the world. I am very privileged to do this three times and I will never forget how blessed I am as I have so many friends that struggle greatly with fertility.
So here we are. A family of five figuring things out. We aren’t in any semblance of a rhythm. I am insanely sleep deprived. The older two are driving me nuts with their fighting and whining. But man…what a life we have. Ryan and I marvel at our journey to this point. Where our marriage has dipped and then set back on a high place. We are far from perfect…but we are so aware of all that God has redeemed over the last few years and we sit with grateful hearts in this little cottage we live in.
Rhett is holding steady at 7.5 weeks of barely crying and being the easiest baby in the world to read. I literally forget he is around most of the day because he is so non-demanding of me.
We are blessed. Enjoy a few more photos of his first 7 weeks on this earth starting with his 5 day old photoshoot by Sara Ernst.
one week old
two weeks old
three weeks old
7 weeks old- all smiles and awesomeness
Thanks for reading, thanks for caring.
To God be the Glory.