Welcome to the launch of my new photo project: “This Is – A Portrait Series”
Back when I shared my “This is Me” post, I NEVER expected the overwhelming response I would get. SO. MANY. WOMEN reached out to me to say they were going through the same thing, and some even asked for help. I learned quickly that the biggest lie we tell ourselves during times of darkness is that we are alone. The truth is, none of us are even close to alone. If we stopped living in fear of judgement and were honest with ourselves and others, I believe we could get through the tough shit in half the time. I wrote “This is Me” towards the end of what I refer to as my dark place. It was all of you – my friends and even strangers, who encouraged me to keep moving forward and climb my way out of the dark place. I hope this portrait series does the same for someone else.
I am partnering with the ladies of Backwoods Beauty Salon (who will be donating free hair and makeup for these portraits) and photographing real women with stories of struggle, hope, accomplishment, grief, achievement, success, failure, and more.
I take the photos, and you tell the stories.
This is Infertility – Lauren’s Story.
“One in seven couples struggle with infertility, and one in four couples will experience a miscarriage. October is pregnancy and infant awareness month, so I have decided to share our story.
My husband and I are pretty private, but with the recent birth of my nephew and being married three and half years, the question of when we want kids seems to be any every week occurrence. People even feel the need to make remarks behind our backs and say, “don’t you think they should start trying to have kids soon”. Not that we owe them an explanation, but I thought I’d finally share what we have been going through for the last two years. I also hope that this can help other couples facing the same struggles we are. I hope they can talk about their journey with friends and family because you should never have to face this nightmare alone!
My whole life I’ve wanted to be a mom, I always dreamed about having four kids (four girls) and everyone thought I was crazy! I wanted to get married to an amazing man and travel the world before I even thought about having kids. After two years of traveling and enjoying each other as husband and wife, Chris and I felt like it was time to start a family! We started trying to conceive in December of 2016, and each month that went by with no positive pregnancy test got harder and harder. We couldn’t understand why it wasn’t happening because it seemed so easy for everyone else. Every time I got on Facebook there was a new pregnancy announcement or I was getting inviting to another baby shower. It was starting to get very discouraging.
They say you should see a fertility specialist after trying to conceive for a year, so we did just that. We began going to CNY fertility in Syracuse in January of 2018. The amount of information they gave was overwhelming and terrifying. They ran some tests and found out that I had polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS. I also had two uterine fibroids and had to add male factor infertility to the list. It was a lot to take in but we were hopeful for what they had planned for us. The first thing they recommended was for me to take a medication called Letrozole, which is to help you produce one or two normal size follicles. My body reacted really well to this medication but unfortunately I did not get pregnant with just Letrozole. A few months later I continued with Letrozole and we also added Metformin and Prednisone, both help with inflammation (they also make you gain weight and breakout like crazy, super fun). Once I had a mature follicle which they can see with an internal ultrasound ( which you have to get every time you go to CNY, as well as blood work, also super fun) I was ready to do a HCG trigger shot in my stomach and the following day do an IUI ( inter uterine insemination) very uncomfortable!
Then the waiting game began. The two weeks we had to wait was the longest two weeks of my life. It felt like two years. My anxiety (that has been brought on by my infertility) was through the roof and nothing I did could calm me down. The day finally came to go get my blood drawn, to see if I was pregnant. They called about two hours later while I was at work. I was very nervous to answer the phone. They said unfortunately the IUI did not work. You are not pregnant, I’m sorry! My heart dropped and tears roll down my face. I had to get it together because I had a client waiting for me. I finished with her and then I left work early, I was so upset and felt so defeated.
The next month, which was June, we decided to do all the same things we did previously, but instead of doing one IUI, we did two. The waiting game began again. The day finally came for my blood work, it was June 22nd. I wasn’t feeling to positive about it and wasn’t in the best mood. We left and about four hours later I was outside cleaning the boat and I had left my phone in with Chris. I look up to Chris running down our rock driveway barefoot screaming “Lauren, you’re pregnant!! “. I just stared at him and was wondering why he was saying that to me. He climbed up on the boat and said it again and gave me a big hug. Tears of joy streamed down both of our faces. The joy I felt in that moment is something I will never be able to explain. I felt like I had won the mega millions. Chris and I had smiles on our faces all night. Our wait was finally over, after a year and seven months we were going to be parents! We went back on Monday to make sure my levels were rising. Of course the wait for them to call with my blood work results took forever! All my levels were rising! We were ecstatic! They wanted to see me again that Friday, everything looked good! I was six weeks at our next appointment and it was the first appointment where we could see our little baby on the ultrasound machine. Of course I cried! On July 13th we went in for my 7 week ultrasound, for some reason I was really nervous and just felt off. During the ultrasound I saw the little sac and I knew something was wrong, it was the same size as it was the last week. The nurse said it doesn’t look like sac has grown much but I’m going to go grab another nurse, maybe she can see something I don’t. My heart sank and I tried so hard to hold back the tears. The other nurse did the ultrasound and said unfortunately the baby isn’t growing and your levels aren’t rising like they should, you will be miscarrying within the next week.
The pain I felt was indescribable, Chris came over and grabbed my hand and we just cried… I couldn’t believe this was happening.. All the blood draws(30), internal ultrasounds(23), shots(3), painful procedures(2), IUIs(5), tons and tons of pills(100+), acupuncture (5), special diets, trips back and forth to Syracuse(30), hour waits in the waiting room (almost every visit), money spent on treatments, was all for nothing.
This was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, second to losing my dog Emmie (she was like my baby) this same year.. Chris and I knew we couldn’t give up, So we did it all again. The pills, the shot, back to back IUIs, trips to Syracuse weekly, and of course the waiting game. I wanted this to be a positive more than ever because we decided if this didn’t work we would be starting IVF, which would begin after I had surgery to remove my fibroids and check for endometriosis. We went in on September 7th and found out we were not pregnant. Once again feeling defeated and heartbroken.
Chris and I had no idea that we would be on this infertility journey but here we are two years later fighting the hardest battle we have ever had to face. Every month we are grieving for a little baby that was never actually ours. Every month we go from our highest to our lowest. Every month we have to make a decision to keep going and not give up. Although every month is devastating we have faith that some day we will be parents. The struggle with infertility is so painful, heartbreaking, expensive, it’s physically, emotionally, and mentally draining, and it just doesn’t seem fair. I tell myself life’s not fair and you’re doing the best you can. Some times it’s hard to wait around for something that might never be, but it’s even harder to let go when it is everything you have ever wanted.
These next two months are going to terrifying but I know it’s what I need to do to get our miracle baby. I am grateful that IVF is an option and that we are able to afford it as our insurance does not cover more than 15k for life for infertility, and we used all 15k on the 5 IUIs, all the monitoring and blood work . I am hopeful that IVF and my surgery will work and we can put this all behind us and wake up from this nightmare we have been in for two years. I couldn’t have gotten through all this without Chris, he has been by my side every step of the way. I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with (we will blame that on all the hormones) and he’s still there to wipe my tears and just listen when I’m frustrated or scared. I am the luckiest girl to have such an amazing ,caring man in my life. I also have the most amazing friends and I can’t thank you all enough for all you have done for me. They all text or call me weekly to check in and see what the latest news is. When I need someone to vent to, to cry too, or just need advice, there isn’t one of them that’s not there. I feel so lucky to have you all in life especially at a time like this. You’ll never know how truly grateful I am for every single one of you! Of course my family has been so amazing and understanding and I am thankful for all you have done. To have so many amazing people in our lives to support us during this challenging time in our life, is truly the greatest gift we could ask for.”