This past September Andrew and I had the amazing opportunity to fly to Tuscany, Italy to style and provide florals for a really beautiful wedding (our final one of 2015 at that!) The opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without our friends Shay and Drew helping to introduce us to this respective bride and groom and we are incredibly grateful. To have been able to fly at 24 weeks pregnant to Milan, Italy with my husband, drive all over the country for a week (it felt like that at least; so much driving!) and overcome a new set of wedding planning challenges in a country oversees was really humbling and memorable. I’ll share more on the wedding and our trip adventures soon but today is a personal post full of love and anticipation.

When Shay and I were talking about our trip plans over the summer, she mentioned doing a maternity session for us in Italy. I was so flattered she would bring it up and jumped at the opportunity to be in front of Shay’s lens with this growing baby bump. I met Shay a little over three years ago at the first MTH conference I attended when we decided to be roommates together in Chicago. We’ve grown incredibly close since then and also shared this Kate Spade inspired wedding in Texas last year. True friendship knows no boundaries, especially geographical ones, and to witness Shay’s growth personally and professional over the past three years has been nothing short of remarkable. To have her capture this special time in our lives will forever be cherished.

The plan was to pick a day when we were in Italy to take some photos wherever proved to be best at that given time. And given how stunning the Italian landscape is you would think this would be easy! But since we worked almost straight from the day we arrived and didn’t get to Cinque Terre together with the Nelsons until two days before we left, our session was left until the night before our 4:00 am departure. I told Shay just a few photos would suffice since we didn’t get a ton of time to really enjoy Italy and I certainly didn’t want to dampen their trip with more work. So nothing fancy I told her. I had only brought one dress and Andrew only brought one suit so maybe 10 photos would be good. In the interest of catching the light that evening, I quickly dry shampooed my hair, had to get Andrew, Drew AND Shay to zip me into my non maternity gown and with that we were off. A few photos turned into a whole lot and well, I’m just speechless when I look at these images.

I read once about a Mom who wishes she had physically and mentally loved herself more during her pregnancy. And not just during that phase of her life but before and after having kids too, so she could preserve her legacy for her kids and their kids and so forth. And while I’ve never been one to shy away from the camera, being pregnant has come with so many physical changes I’ve wondered if even my husband will see less of me. I have wanted to only take photos during this season when I’ve felt my best but even my best while pregnant has felt less than stellar. Shay you gave us, and more so me, the best gift I could have ever asked for as a woman going through a transformation. One day I will show these images to our son. I’ll tell him to tell his wife she’s beautiful every single day like Andrew does to me even in my worse moments. I’ll tell him to celebrate all of life’s moments even when he might feel awkward in front of a camera or his wife loses her earrings in the ocean or dozens of Italian residents watch him from the pier while he poses for photos with his wife frolicking in the ocean. Gosh, I have so much to share with this little guy one day and this is just one chapter in a really big story.

Here are some of our favorites from the special night in Cinque Terre. And a side note, I didn’t plan on going into the water. I was afraid I would run my gown or be too cold or get knocked down by the waves, but as soon as I stepped foot into just a tiny bit of water, I was all in and felt so much JOY. The water was so frothy and wonderful and warm. I stood towards the sky in that moment, backs to the Nelsons and Andrew and thanked God. The water was loud and scary and memorizing all at once. I’ll never ever forget that feeling.

Enjoy.

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Many of you have asked about my gown and it was a purchase from Lulu’s earlier this spring. When I found out I was pregnant I wanted to get one beautiful gown I could wear to either a shower, night out with Andrew or in a session like this one. I was torn between this blue number or another gown that was a blush pink. We didn’t know what we were having at the time but my heart told me to go with blue. I had a feeling I was meant to be a boy mom and well, he were are 6 weeks away from meeting our little guy! I had it altered length wise and tightened the top straps a little. I swear one day later into my pregnancy this thing would not have zipped up!

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View More: http://lovethenelsons.pass.us/baby-albie

You can also view more along with ‘What expecting means to me’ on The Fount Collective today. It’s such a sweet joy to be on a beautiful blog I’ve admired throughout this pregnancy. Happy Monday, my friends!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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Photography: Love, The Nelsons, Contax 645 / Location: Cinque Terre, Italy / Blue gown: Lulus / Bracelet: Aldo / Hair and make up: done by Rhi / Andrew’s suit: Express / Watch: Guess