Just as a heads up, this is obviously a personal blog post instead of my traditional posts of photographs from one of my sessions or weddings. Also, it’s a long one, so yeah. But it was so therapeutic to write it all out. Read if you’re interested. <3
When I first moved to Canada, I wasn’t able to work in a traditional employment role due to my immigration status as a “visitor”. After a month or so of living in Canada, a local mom in my neighbourhood asked if I’d be willing/available to babysit their 18 month old little boy when she headed back to work. I agreed (likely somewhat hesitantly), and my new identity as a babysitter was born. Oddly enough, at the age of 27, I learned to change a diaper! However, that experience really shaped me and helped me to realize that I definitely did want to be a mother someday (though again, due to my immigration status, I did not have provincial health coverage for about the first 1.5 years of my life in Canada, which meant no babies yet).
Fast forward to me becoming a permanent resident of Canada, and Clement & I decided we wanted to become a little more financially stable prior to starting a family. I also wanted to get good use out of my bachelor’s degree that I spent so much money in order to attain (oh, Juniata… you are so expensive, but worth every penny!), so I set off to find a full-time job in my field of social work. Obviously, I also wanted that full year maternity leave that is available in Canada!
We decided to start trying to have kids more than three years ago, never imagining it would be a long process for us. We had heard of people getting pregnant on their honeymoon, people who apparently “weren’t even trying” who ended up pregnant very quickly after getting married, etc., and honestly hadn’t heard much about others struggling with infertility. Everyone seemed to be having babies, sooooo our uneducated selves thought it would be simple for us, as well!
We tried for more than a year before reaching out to a local doctor for some support. And thus began the consults and lab work and uncomfortable procedures (hello, hysterosalpingogram - or HSG - test and invasive ultrasound… ugh!). Since we live in a small and remote town, we worked with a specialist via TeleMedicine, which meant our consults were essentially via a secure FaceTime type thing that was set up through the hospital in our own town.
In this past winter, we were officially diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”, which accounts for 15% of all diagnosed infertility, as Clement likes to point out. Essentially, there was nothing wrong with either one of our bodies that could explain why we had been trying to conceive for such a long time without any success.
Throughout this entire process, we had been given more than half a year’s worth of a prescription medication designed to increase ovulation, but with only one month of the dosage remaining, we had all but given up on its effectiveness. We were also informed that sometimes the HSG procedure results in conception for couples within the next couple of months, but no such luck for us. Several months ago, I turned to my favourite essential oils company and purchased a big bottle of clary sage, which is said to aid in fertility, and began applying it multiple times per day in hopes that something could work. All throughout, Clement & I had been praying (and incredibly hard!) that God would give us a child of our own.
The waiting was so incredibly challenging for both of us and definitely took its toll on our marriage, but I really love that we were able to rely on each other - and our faith - to trust we would get through it together, and that God had a plan, even in the waiting and hurt. Now, I can’t speak for Clement, but I know I wanted so badly to be a mother, and it was so difficult to constantly feel the gap between those who were mamas and those who were not (it definitely exists, and it is so, so painful). Plus, it seemed that every single week there was a new pregnancy announcement or birth promoted on social media, which made things extra hard.
For those of you who are experiencing or have experienced infertility, maybe you know a little of what we were feeling. We know, from our own personal experience, that keeping things like this private often seems the most comfortable, but ultimately makes it so, so difficult. We really need the support and prayers of others - it makes such a difference. Please know that our hearts break for those of you struggling with infertility, and that we’d love to try to support you through your journey as much as possible, even if it’s “only” with prayers from afar.
Well, Clement & I (and our sweet pup, Mocha) spent most of July travelling, driving through Canada in order to get to the east coast USA to visit some of our family. We had such a great time visiting friends from Sioux in southern Ontario, exploring Montreal for the first time, meeting my brand new niece at just a few days old, celebrating my one nephew’s first birthday, visiting Clement’s grandma and other family in New York City, touring the Martin Guitar Factory and Weightlifting Hall of Fame at York Barbell in my home state of Pennsylvania, and visiting three different (and beautiful) conservatories/greenhouses along the way.
As we prepared for our 27 hour drive back to our home in Canada, I noticed some new soreness in my body, as well as the absence of a monthly visitor. Not wanting to get too excited because it didn’t seem possible that I could be pregnant, we just went about life as normal until returning home. Later on the evening we arrived, we decided to take a pregnancy test, and it showed two bold blue lines meaning we were pregnant! Holy moly, what an incredible surprise!! We were so unbelievably grateful to God for the gift of the new life He created through us.
Fast forward several weeks (and a couple of bouts with morning sickness… ugh!), and we had our first ultrasound since finding out we were expecting. I looked at my body the morning of our appointment and said something to Clement about feeling so huge already that it would just HAVE to be a twin pregnancy. You see, I had always wanted twins (many of you know that because I was always quite vocal about it… haha!) and actually had been praying for them all along (even managed to get Clement to pray for twins once or twice!), so it was sort-of our little joke together.
We got into the ultrasound room and ended up with the same tech as previously from when we were trying to conceive and going through all the exams. I was laying down, and Clement was sitting at my legs, looking straight on at the monitor to watch for our baby. Neither one of us really knew what we were looking for, but thought the monitor looked different than what we had seen in other ultrasound photos. All of the sudden, the ultrasound tech said, “it’s a good thing you’re laying down” and gave a sort of peace sign hand motion to Clement to signify that there were actually TWO BABIES! She then confirmed we were pregnant with twins!! I started laugh crying at just the craziness of everything, and I remember Clement’s strong hand firmly on my shin, squeezing and rubbing it. There were so many intense emotions that came over both of us at the time, and after the fact we realized this was all a God thing and His perfect timing. That moment still brings tears to my eyes and feels so surreal.
So we kept things a bit of a secret for a while, and then sent a letter to my parents along with a photo from the ultrasound. When they received the letter, we FaceTimed while they opened it in order to watch their reactions to the news that they were going to have twin grandbabies. We then went to Clement’s parents’ house to tell them in person just afterward. We told them all the whole story, as they didn’t know anything about the infertility either. Their reactions were priceless.
We’ve been gradually telling other friends and family, and in the process of doing that, I’ve found out that I share an exact due date with another friend, as well as that a close family member is also due around the same time, just a few days apart. So exciting!
Like I mentioned earlier, Clement & I definitely know this is all part of God’s amazing plan for us. We’re still not really sure why we had to wait so very long, but we did grow together significantly as a couple in that journey and through the waiting. And we truly believe that God’s timing is the perfect timing, even though that was so difficult to believe when we were in the midst of the infertility.
Fun fact: So, as I mentioned previously, I had wanted twins for AGES (seriously, I was even obsessed with twins when I was a little kid - I remember specifically being so amazed by a pair of twins in elementary school). One night, years and years ago, well before Clement & I were trying to conceive, I went to a ladies’ night at a friend’s house, and somehow the conversation topic turned to babies/kids. I mentioned that I really, really wanted twins when we did decide to start a family, and one of the other women there almost immediately took her hands, placed them on my stomach, and began to pray out loud over me - praying for twins. That moment has stuck with me (I’m not even sure if she remembers it, but I certainly do!), and I think it’s just another showing of how God listens and wants so badly to bless us.
The first photo below was taken on our return from visiting my family this past summer. We spent an overnight at Indiana Dunes State Park and took on their “Three Dunes Challenge”, which is a 5K trek that summits the three highest sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan. At this point we didn’t know for sure if we were pregnant, but it was certainly something that was on our minds, as we had started to suspect that could be a possibility.
The second photo below is from the babies’ first big hike - more than 11 miles to hike to “The Head” of the sleeping giant at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. And the portion to get to the summit was seriously straight up and had us both almost crawling with our hands & feet at times! But Clement & I took it slow, and the babies handled it like champs.
Since Mocha has been mostly neglected for this entire post (poor puppy… hehe!), here’s one more photograph of our family of three plus two in the womb!! <3
Due to the expected arrival of our twins in March 2019, I’m REALLY limiting my wedding photography next summer and will be booking very limited numbers of weddings occurring in August 2019 or later (well, except for those few couples who already have reserved me for your weddings in June & July… I’ll be there for those, for sure, and I’m super excited to celebrate with you!!). Therefore, if you’re serious about having me capture your special day next summer, be sure to reach out soon! <3