Did you know one in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy?
Infertility can challenge anyone regardless of a person’s background and status. Infertility does not care about economic status, race and religion or if you have children already or not. Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third is attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or in many cases is unexplained infertility (ReproductiveFacts.org).
National Infertility Awareness Week is April 22 – 28 and this is a topic that is personal to me and to many of the beautiful families I photograph.
With 7.3 Americans affected by infertility either you or someone (or more than likely a few people) you know is struggling or has struggled with infertility. Infertility is a journey that is unique to each person and no two stories are identical. Some stories end in heartache but many result in beautiful souls. The journeys we infertiles take are complex and layered with reaction and feeling. I could write a book on cracking the emotions yoked in the infertile egg. But instead, I’m sharing a few short stories of my clients who celebrated their pregnancies after infertility issues. Oh, and one story of disappointment – because not all infertiles get their golden egg, and that’s ok too. I hope these stories will bring peace and courage to others who are struggling…or are celebrating.
Here are four stories from my mama-clients – and one from me – celebrating the hope and heartbreak of infertility.
Like I said, not all stories result in warm fuzzies. And I am one of those women. My husband and I successfully conceived our son naturally with no issues. We were pregnant within six months of trying which was normal for our age. Shortly after our son’s first birthday we decided we wanted to expand our family again. But our journey did not go down the path we had hoped for. After months of trying we sought out medical intervention. That is when our journey became an emotional roller coaster of anticipation, hope, shame, and failure. First we started tracking ovulation. When we weren’t successful after months of ovulation tracking I took four rounds of a fertility drug. Still, no success despite my doctor touting the fact that 80% of her clients got pregnant within the first two months of taking this fertility pill. Shortly after that I went to a fertility acupuncturist but still no success. After two years of trying my husband and I saw a reproductive specialist to explore our options for IVF or other methods. But a week after our consultation we didn’t feel it was a fit for us after all. There was a lot of heartache and emotional complexities we had to work through when we realized that having a second baby wasn’t going to happen for us. Even as I write this I still think, well, maybe, just maybe. But I’m a 37-year-old photographer and mom with a son and husband I’m in love with. And since the universe has decided one child is all we get, well, I feel blessed to have my one who also happens to be the brightest star in the galaxy. It still perplexes and makes me ache that we don’t have another baby but I am at peace and have worked through the darkest of those emotions.
Sew Baby In Tight.
A client of mine who had an older 7-year-old daughter struggled with sustaining a second pregnancy. She had had multiple full-term stillborn babies over the course of a few years. But finally, her pregnancy was successful and she was able to carry baby to full-term. But it wasn’t without complications. Her healthy baby boy, who she was pregnant with when I photographed her, had to be sewn inside her belly. That’s right, her doctor sewed her uterus shut to keep baby boy in so he could develop and thrive to full-term. I don’t know the exact medial explanations for this but that was how she so casually explained it. And here I thought sewing was only good for making clothes.
10 Years Later.
A beautiful client of mine shared her journey with me during her newborn session. I had already taken their maternity photos but the subject never broached. She shared that ten years earlier she was diagnosed with endometriosis. Her doctor advised her to try conceiving ASAP if she and her husband wanted to start a family. And so they did – ten years ago. Her journey was long and they tried many different types of treatment to get pregnant. And then, like a miracle, a new doctor figured out what the issue was. She only ovulated for six hours. That means, she has an extremely small window to conceive. Once this was unearthed a plan was hatched and a few months later she was successfully pregnant. It’s hard to imagine their journey starting in their early 20s and then finally succeeding a decade later. I’m so grateful they held on to their hope and tenacity because they are truly such beautiful parents.
Pregnancy Over 40.
One of the moms I worked with in my “Pregnancy After 40 Project,” that empowers and celebrates women who conceive later in life, shared her infertility story with me. She met her husband later in life after establishing a successful career and traveling. She and her husband started a family and conceived two boys. When she was in her early 40s she and her husband decided they wanted to grow their family with another baby. Her dad was an older dad having children at 40 years old himself and her mother was very supportive and pushing her to try to conceive. Initially, she suffered a miscarriage and was heartbroken. Putting her faith in God she continued her journey. She went to a fertility acupuncturist who guided her through the conception of her third baby at age 43.
I have so much gratitude for the mamas I photograph who have had to overcome their own infertility challenges. It’s allowed me to celebrate with them and say, I understand. I’ve been at that same starting line.
Are you celebrating a pregnancy after infertility hardships? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Drop me a comment or shoot me an email.