"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"
I rarely do this... you know, have an opportunity to put my two passions together. One, the therapeutic component where I get to be a part of people's intimate lives, and the other part... capturing the light, fun, exciting, and joyous moments in which I shoot. But this session, well it was different...
Katya contacted me about 18 months ago inquiring about a session for her and her husband, Josh. Katya vulnerably told me how they had struggled for over a year with infertility, and how she had a dream about doing a couples session of surprising her husband with the news that they were pregnant. At this point, they were doing their first round of IUI, and after so much heartache, capturing his reaction would be especially special. We kept in touch throughout her first round of IUI and the time in which they waited for their first pregnancy blood test. A session date was set! About one month later, I received an optimistic but solemn message from her telling me that their first procedure did not take, and that we would have to wait until the next IUI cycle. A year and a half later, I received a new message in my inbox. (I have received an OK from Katya to share this. So thank you!)
"Ana, it has been so long but I can't believe I finally get to email you and say... "we are pregnant and finally ready to take our photos. After two years of fertility treatment and so many failed cycles we are finally here which is insane! I know my prior idea was to surprise session with my husband but since he already knows...we would like to do a session where we reveal our gender together. So many surprises were robbed from you with fertility treatment so we just envision finally being a special moment we can celebrate. We want to use this also as an opportunity to take a picture to commemorate our journey. Every time I share what we went through so many people share their own personal experiences but infertility comes with such stigma and shame so I want to take a picture celebrating the journey. I'd like to incorporate all of our empty med bottles and needles (all capped or fixed so no sharps concern). We have close to 500 or more bottles/needles which all equal us being survivors of infertility. I would love to incorporate that but have no idea how or what would be cute or creative. Would you be willing to do a session with us...?"
Yes. Yes. & Yes.
I was so excited about this session. I had already bought in to Katya & Josh's story of dedication & resiliency. The topic of infertility is so taboo that as women we unfortunately feel shame and stigma to share our struggles. Additionally, for women, I have seen the judgment and pressure from others towards women who choose IVF. "The expense, the kids already born who need families, the foster kids who need a home"... etc. But if there is anything I have learned as a therapist, human being, and as a proud woman is this... We all deserve a right to choose if we do or do not bring life into this world...and how.
So here is to you Katya & Josh, congratulations. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey. Sharing those memories with you was truly an honor! As for my readers, this blog will follow the story of the evening... from the gender reveal to how Katya and Josh put out all of their needles, pill bottles, and pregnancy tests in the middle of a pitcher of lemons. Thank you for showing me how love, support, and dedication can make lemonade from lemons. I encourage all women to continue to be open about their journey's of trials we experience as women. Let's join together. Let's love each other.