The Worst Part of Pregnancy

I woke up one morning about 5:30 to the wonderful sound of our husky throwing up in his kennel. This is a fairly frequent occurrence around our house, but no matter how many times it happens, I will never wake up joyfully to that sound. It just can't be done.
So I dragged myself out of bed, let him outside, and carried the kennel and base out front to spray off with the hose. The entire time I was seething: it was cold and windy, and the water from the hose kept catching in the wind and coming back to spray me. It smelled. Actually, it smelled a lot. Then, I went back inside and noticed there was throw up on the wall. (I'm sorry if this is too much information, but I need you to understand my pain.) So I got a sponge and some bleach and got to scrubbing, trying to tell myself I'd still be able to fall back asleep for awhile before I had to get ready for work.
Finally it was done. The living room was noticably vomit-free, Dega was happily recovering, and all I had to do was wash my hands and go back to bed. I was holding it together pretty well, until it happened: I opened the drawer in the bathroom to grab a washcloth, reached in without thinking, and touched a spider. Not just any spider, the Spider King. He made those spiders from Harry Potter look like babies. (Actually, no. I don't want to talk about those. *shiver*)
I lost it. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I tried to kill it, but he hid in the corner like the highly intellectually evolved creature that he is, and I couldn't get him. I just cried harder. I remember thinking, "Well, this is a slight overreaction." but I didn't care. After a minute Caleb woke up, patted me awkwardly, and killed the spider with ease. Once he had calmed me down, he went back to bed, and I went to the store to buy a pregnancy test. And that's how this little guy came crashing into our lives.
My point being, from then on out, pregnancy has not been my friend. I learned early on that there's no such thing as "the glow". It also doesn't matter how badly you wanted a baby, or how prepared you thought you were: you are not going to enjoy morning sickness. And you're going to have a hard time being grateful for any pregnancy woes, no matter how much you love the little stranger.
I won't lie to you, this pregnancy has been anything but easy. I went from wanting a big family, to thinking, "Maybe just one kid wouldn't be so bad..." But the hardest part of pregnancy, for me, hasn't been sharing my body with this little baby. It's been sharing my body with the rest of the world.
You see, this strange phenomenon happens when you become pregnant, where suddenly you aren't your own person anymore. Everyone touches your stomach, all out rubs your stomach, or stares awkwardly at your stomach like they can't imagine what you could be hiding in there. Suddenly, you are a vessel for this child that they are all eager to meet, and the fact that your stomach is still your stomach does not occur to them.
And forget about having any privacy. Suddenly, the changes your body is going through are public information. Stretch marks? Diarrhea? Constipation? They need to hear it all. But that doesn't stop them from cringing when you actually tell them.
My favorite so far has been the unwanted opinions on baby names. Here's the thing: of course I have been thinking about baby names. I've been thinking about baby names since I was a kid. I've had names I like picked out for years. It would be impossible to wake up every morning to this kid's foot lodged in my ribs and not think about what his name is going to be. I've watched him grow on ultrasounds. I've played him music, talked to him, and felt him kick like he's a soccer star. How could I not think about his name?
That being said, what makes everyone think they get an opinion? To the few people who knew some of the names I liked way before I got pregnant, I heard a lot of negative remarks. I like different, unique names. You don't need to recommend the name Matthew to me because, believe it or not, I've heard it before.
Caleb and I decided early on not to announce our baby's name once we decided, because I knew all it would take is a few weird looks, a few negative comments, and I would let them change my mind. I made the mistake of letting a few people get it out of me, and I can tell you that with the next baby, I am not saying ONE WORD.
(On that note, we really don't know for sure what his name will be yet. We've got a few choices, and one in particular that we are leaning towards, but we are waiting to meet him first to see if it fits. So don't worry. The day will come when you will all know, I promise.)
Until then, I just have one request: no more comments on how I "just keep getting bigger." No telling me to sleep now while I still can, because trust me, I'm trying my best. No horror stories about your own births, or the birth of a friend of a friend of a friend. I know it takes it a village, and I'm grateful for all the people who already love this little boy.
But for now, I am going to cry when a spider touches me, so it might be best if you don't touch me either. 

In the name of Progress

In High School, I took 3 years of Photography classes. I spent countless hours learning how ISO affects aperture, what things like "shutter speed" and "f-stop" meant. I loved it, but I still ended up taking pictures that were due for assignments the night before. I turned in several pictures of random things from my room I had thrown together to look artistic. Oh, and I still shot on Auto and thought my teachers wouldn't notice.
I certainly didn't see a difference.
I bought my first DSLR in 2009 and was introduced to the wonderful world of Photoshop... via Picnik. For those of you who weren't a teenage girl in 2009, let me tell you about Picnik. It was a very simple online photo editor, that included tools to help you whiten teeth, smooth skin, even tan yourself. It was heaven-sent. At first my friends and I took pictures of each other and enjoyed editing ourselves into perfection. Then, I went rogue and started taking pictures for other people. I even had the gall to charge them for it!
Let me pause for a minute here and just say I very strongly believe we (in the Photography community) have to be careful about Photographer-shaming. At the time, I remember thinking I was great. I was loving the pictures that I was cranking out, and honestly didn't see much of a difference between the pictures I was taking, and the pictures people were paying hundreds for. At the same time, there were photographers who were much more advanced than me who let me know that my work was no good. I brushed it off as "differences in artistic taste" and went on with my total massacre of the entire photography profession.
Actually, that's a little harsh, and completely the opposite of the point I'm trying to make. But just so you can understand, let's take a little walk through time here and see what I'm talking about...
This one has a cute background, but the subjects are so dark you can barely see their faces! Did I care? No. I probably made them look more tan, because I'm such a nice photographer.

Ah, my beloved zoom effect. I used this a LOT. It's making me a little motion sick now.

My poor, beautiful friend who I offered a free photoshoot to because I was so proud of my skills. And what do I do to her? I whiten her teeth until they can blind you from a mile away. But it's not obvious, right?

I can't figure out what I was thinking in this one. He dropped the flower on the ground, so I use it as the focal point of the picture? And I used selective coloring (well, the Picnik version of selective coloring, which clearly leaves a "cloud" around the object)... I might as well have taken these at the train tracks and called it a day. (As a side note, their other location was, in fact, at the train tracks. So I rest my case.)

It pains me to look at them now, but at the time I was so sure of my skills, I knew I'd go far in this business.
And you know what? I'm glad. I'm glad that I was naive enough to push through those tough times. I'm glad that I had enough faith in my skills to keep going. I'm glad I ignored those who did see my flaws, and kept pressing forward. If I hadn't, I never would have progressed past the point of shooting on Auto and completely ignoring lighting.
I heard an awesome quote a few months ago that of course I can't find now, but it said something along the lines of "Every artist has that point where they know what they are creating is not as good as what is in their head. They don't have the skills or experience to create what they so badly want. But that is when you keep trying, keep growing, keep learning, until you can reach that point."
Somewhere along the line, I did start to grow. It was gradual at first, then started exploding. I learned that shooting on Auto is never our friend, and that lighting will make or break your session. I learned what poses I like, what locations are best, and I finally understood what my poor photography teachers were trying to teach me about ISO and aperture.
The problem is, I didn't realize how far I'd come. I still let myself feel down about my Photography sometime, because I still have such a long way to go. 
Here is my point (finally): We all have the potential in us to do whatever we want to do. So whatever you are doing, do your best at it. Work at it every day. Be proud of it. Someday, you will look back and think, "Wow. My first draft was awful." And then you will finally appreciate where you are.