I haven't posted a single photograph since January. And if I'm being completely honest I haven't taken on as many projects and photoshoots as I would have liked to in the past year. It has been a rough year personally and I think with the emotional slump my love for photography kind of took as hit as well. Allow me to explain...
For almost two years Dave and I had been trying to start a family and it. just. wasn't. happening. Everyone and their freaking mothers, including my own mom, told me to "relax" and assured me that it would happen when I least expected it. After a series of tests, scans, doctors' appointments, and hospital visits we heard the dreaded "i" word. Infertility. It wrecked me. As Dave put it ever so gently during one of my curl-up-in-a-fetal-position-sobfests, he felt that he was losing a part of me. I felt like I was losing a part of me. Motherhood--the kind that was defined by pregnancy and labor and delivery--had defined womanhood for me. I researched barrenness in the Bible and tried to sympathize with Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah. But I quickly got frustrated because they each got their babies. I read counseling articles about God's promises and learned that God never explicitly promised me a biological child. I became increasingly bitter, angry, and sad. I didn't want to be around pregnant women or newborns. Every facebook post, instagram photo, or tweet that featured a baby announcement was difficult to bear. And I found solace in friends that could empathize with my particular experience; but soon I leaned on them as a crutch to wallow in my sorrow.
When I turned 31 in January, Dave and I decided to make a plan. Kind of. We were convicted that God wanted us to be parents but we just didn't know how. I decided to commit to eating healthy and exercising because my mind and body had taken a hit over the past year. We had an idea of when IUI would take place, when our first round of IVF would be, when we would stop all assisted reproductive technology and then pool our efforts into adoption. We had a plan. We had peace knowing that this would be our path to parenthood.
And then one random night my coworkers wanted to grab sushi and drinks and one of them suggested that we each pee on a stick "just in case." She and I both did just for laughs except I found out that my pee stick had an extra line that hers did not. That night Dave and I unexpectedly found out that we were pregnant and a few weeks later that was confirmed by an ultrasound. Since then we have been seriously surprised, anxious, and excited. It's a weird mix of emotions. I know that my story is not the norm and that two years of trying is not nearly as long as many other couples' struggles. I know that other couples have gone through hell and back with their share of disappointments and lost hope. So I feel strangely guilty that we get to enjoy this. Pregnancy.
And of course if I look back on the past two years I can see how the Lord has been guiding us so that we would be in the right place at the right time to be parents. Last summer I left my first job out of nursing school to be in the best department ever at my hospital (not kidding, RN satisfaction was highest in my unit compared to the entire hospital) with the BEST manager and coworkers with the BEST hours. In these past two years we saved more money, bought our first car, and found a financial advisor/lawyer to help us sort through taxes and plan for children and retirement. This past year I was diagnosed with PCOS which explained my sudden weight gain, inability to adequately manage my insulin, and (to some degree) infertility. That said diagnosis led me to the right medications to get my hormones back on track. The whole infertility work-up led to Dave and I finding out that our bodies are not perfect and that we need to eat well, exercise, sleep, and get check-ups more frequently than others. Every month's disappointment was shared with our church community, and our good friends who walked with us, counseled us, and fed us food and sat with us into the wee hours of the night when things got too overwhelming and sad. Over the past two years we developed a network of friends all over the country who prayed with us and for us, checked in with us, and encouraged us.
So here we are. I wish I can tell you that we faced the challenges head on and never lost faith. That I knew deep down that God had a plan and that his timing was perfect. But that would be a big, fat lie. I doubted. HARD. I didn't really pray as consistently or as fervently as I ought to have prayed. I reached a new low in terms of anger and self-pity and it took a toll on our marriage. I straight up lost my sh*t over the past year. It was weird, some days I was strangely optimistic and convicted that God was sovereign, other days my faith was more shaky and I convinced myself that infertility was my cross to bear (cue the violins). That person was definitely not the person Dave thought he was marrying and yet he got into the trenches with me day in, day out. He kept reminding me that infertility was something we as a couple would have to process and work through. He kept reminding me that even though we didn't know what God's plans were we had to trust that they were good. He kept holding me and praying over me as I continued to break down. And for that I am exceedingly grateful.
Gratitude is the one sweeping emotion that has filled my heart in reflecting on this whole experience. Looking back at everything that we have gone through in the past two years of our lives, our marriage, our careers, our ministry, our relationships, the challenge and suffering that is infertility brought out a certain rawness that forced me to see just how little my faith is. And as I reflect and repent I am once again reminded of his unending love. I have no idea how my life, our lives, will change this upcoming year with the baby but I sincerely hope that I will doubt a little less and trust him a whole lot more.
Thanks for reading my long update. I promise the next post will have more photos than words. And it won't be five months from now. Haha.