I’m a Charleston based wedding photographer but I absolutely love to travel! I create timeless, joyful & tangible memories for my clients.
Hi, I'm Emma
The other day I posted to Instagram about having mom guilt and mentioning that I had gone through fertility treatments to have my son Noah. To my surprise my inbox was full of DM’s from other women who struggle to conceive, have also gone through the emotional rollercoaster of fertility treatments, and women who have given up on having children. My heart immediately hurt for all of these women as I know it is an incredibly painful struggle to have fertility issues. I wanted to share my story in hopes to encourage others to be more open with their efforts and support one another.
When I was struggling with infertility my husband, and I was reticent about it we did not tell anyone really, I told my Dad and my brother, but my husband never even spoke of it to his family. We were alone, and I felt alone, I felt that everyone around me was getting pregnant and I was angry and jealous. As the years have gone by and I have become more open about my experience the more I find that I was never alone, there are countless amounts of couples who go through this, but for some reason its something that people just don’t talk about.
Our story began on June 24, 2009, the night I met my husband Luke and the beginning of our love story. I was just about to turn twenty-one, and he had just turned twenty-two. We fell in love fast, and our relationship moved quickly a few months later he and I were already living together. Fast forward three years we were newly engaged and planning a wedding, we had talked about wanting kids since we first got together. I personally had known in my heart that this was not going to be something that would come easy. As since I was a teenager I had always been irregular, and I mean super irregular, as it was not unusual for me to go up to a year without having a cycle. I am not an expert in anatomy, but I did know that this was a pretty vital part of having a baby.
We married in September 2012, and the discussion of having kids became the center of the conversation. I knew I had to figure out what was wrong with me so I started visiting my OBGYN and insisting on tests and for years it went nowhere as they were basing my diagnosis on just my blood work and never did a secondary examination. I was told I had to have a year of documented not using any method of birth control to get pregnant before I could start seeing a fertility doctor.
December 2013 after over a year of working with my OBGYN, I insisted that the doctor run additional tests. She did an ultrasound and was diagnosed with PCOS, and finally received a referral to a fertility doctor. It took me almost 6 months to get an appointment. We finally met with Dr. Albrecht, and he went over all of the information and options that we would have to have a baby. He immediately scheduled a few tests to determine the best method of treatments to start, my husband was tested first as the test I would endure was much more invasive, and we had to eliminate that my husband was not the issue. Over the next several weeks I went through numerous tests and then we met with the Dr again and went over our treatment plan. I remember leaving the office with my prescriptions and list of what felt like 200 vitamins that we needed to buy and everything that I should not do that could make it harder to conceive. Feeling completely overwhelmed.
So we started the treatment, and it was less than fun having to be giving shots by my husband, endless counting to keep track of my cycle like I had never before, ultrasound after ultrasound, medications, and the list of everything I couldn’t do. We had our first IUI in August, and I was so hopeful, but the day before I was able to test if it worked my period started. I was devastated. I cried and cried and cried some more, and it felt that every day someone would announce they were expecting. We did another one in September, and again the day before I could test my period started, I was still so upset. We decided that we would try one more time and then we would start the process to do IVF.
We had our second-anniversary photos, in September and I had decided I would take the approach of putting it out in the universe and take our pregnancy announcement photo. My husband was hesitant as he felt that it could make it even harder on me to have the visual if we continued to be unsuccessful, but he went along with it anyway. Our photographer must have thought I was nuts when I told him I wanted the photo and he immediately congratulated us and I had to say to him, that we weren’t actually pregnant yet.
September was a crazy month for us as we sold our townhome and we were in the process of buying our house, temporarily living in a tiny study for a few weeks with our three crazy dogs it was chaotic. Work was stressful as it was the budget season as well, I remember coming into the beginning of October and forgetting what day of the cycle I was on, and I felt cramps, but I knew it was too soon to have a period. I called the Dr., and they told me to come in they would do an ultrasound. This was the day before we were set to close on our house. He said to me that I was either currently ovulating or I had just ovulated and told me we should do an IUI the next day.
October 9, 2014, was a crazy busy day we barely had time, so my husband went in earlier in the morning before work, and I went later that morning right before heading to our closing. My husband could not join as we had a mandatory meeting at work. I left the office that day not hopeful at all as I had done everything I wasn’t supposed to this cycle, I drank like a fish, ate horrible food, didn’t track my cycle, missed shots and more so I was fully prepared to start IVF the next month.
October 25, 2014, was the day I was supposed to test, and I had not started my cycle, so I went to pee on the stick that only ever had one line telling me again I am not pregnant. This time though I was shocked to see two lines, I was convinced it was a false positive and I had to take the test too early and still had the HCG shots in my system. I did not get excited. I just said I would go to the doctor on Monday to have the blood test done. So that is what I did October 27th that Monday the nurse called me and said: “Congratulations you’re definitely pregnant!” The only thing I could say was “not twin pregnant right?” She also let me know that my level of progestogen was low and this could cause a miscarriage that I would need to come in with my husband to practice doing the progesterone shots to help reduce my risk of miscarriage.
I had a pretty rough pregnancy throwing up non-stop and terrible swelling and migraines. Fast forward to June 24, 2015, six years to the day of meeting my husband, Noah Thomas Allen was born. We were on cloud nine that we were finally holding our bundle of joy that we wanted so badly.
Now nearly four years later I want so badly to have another baby, and again I know that this may be something that might not be possible. I think about starting the process, and I am overwhelmed by the thought that I have a crazy toddler and can I handle the emotional rollercoaster all over again? So in this stage of our life, we are in the process of deciding whether we want to pay for expensive fertility treatments or start the process of possibly adopting.
I have learned through this whole process a few things. One I was never alone. I just was too ashamed and embarrassed to allow myself to find support. I do not have any reason to feel ashamed or less of a woman, because having a baby is not easy for me. I see my blessing of having Noah and know that I am beyond lucky if I only ever have him and I am ok with that. It is ok to be a little sad if I don’t have another baby, it is not selfish, or something I have to hide, because someone out there may never have a baby. And lastly, if having children is not a struggle for someone it is not something to be angry about.
So if you’re a woman who has struggled, or is going through this now, know you are not alone, give yourself grace, and know that whatever the outcome is that there are another woman and couple who have been in your shoes and by just sharing our stories we can help provide support to one another.
Here are a few photos that tell our story.