Rewind to May 26th, the day of my youngest sister-in-law’s high school graduation. All the family came together to celebrate this milestone. I remember getting ready (obviously had to have my hair and makeup done because lots of pictures were going to be taken later that day) and walking into the room where my other sister-in-law was staying with her husband (Caleb’s brother), Jeremy. I think I was asking for deodorant because it never fails that I always leaving something at home. As soon as I walked into her room and looked at her face…it was like I knew. She was pregnant. Finally! She was pregnant after so many obstacles trying to get there!
Her story of infertility is one that can serve as a beacon of hope for those that were once in the same season of life she was before she got that second pink line on her pregnancy test. Jeremy and Jena were wed in December of 2015. Their wedding was moved up by five months due to his last minute deployment, on which he departed just a month after their wedding. He returned after six months and they wanted to grow their family as soon as possible. Jena is a Kindergarten teacher, and anyone who has ever seen her interact with children knows she was meant to be a mother.
After nearly nine months of trying to conceive with no luck, she began to think something was wrong and looked into the process of infertility testing. After enduring multiple painful exams, countless blood draws, and a couple different professional opinions, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Essentially what this means is that she had small cysts on her ovaries that prevented her from ovulating. The doctors encouraged her to slow down exercise, which was hard for as a lifelong runner, and adjust her diet to increase the chances of conception. After a few months of these lifestyle modifications, they still didn’t have a baby on the way.
Each time they visited the doctor to have an appointment or consultation, they had to drive more than two hours to visit an infertility specialist in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. According to their doctor there, the next step was to try fertility medication and hormone treatment to help her to ovulate, which did not result in pregnancy for three cycles. Each month with a negative result weighed heavily on her mind and her heart. Despite her prayers, her love for children, and their attempts with fertility medication, nothing seemed to work. Lastly, she and Jeremy decided to intrauterine insemination (IUI). It’s a rather uncomfortable procedure, although, compared to the infertility tests she had already endured, it seemed like just another medical procedure.
Jeremy was about to deploy again when they decided to try one more cycle of the fertility medication in a last ditch effort to get pregnant before he left. Jena was discouraged…I remember the texts from April when I tried to console her, knowing exactly how she felt. I didn’t blame her…it’s devastating to feel like your body won’t do what it was made to do. Alas, the following month, she was greeted with a positive pregnancy test before having to go through with IUI.
Now that we are both on the other side of infertility, me with a three-month-old daughter and her expecting their sweet baby boy in just a few weeks, we do not forget the years of pain we have both walked through to get to this point. We know the stress of ovulation tests, taking body temperature every morning, enduring painful fertility testing, getting pricked every month, taking medication that you don’t know how it’s going to affect your body, and seeing that negative pregnancy test month after month. Please, please, please…any woman or couple that is reading this…do not take it as bragging. Please, please, please let it serve as a beacon of hope. It is a dark road, but one with such a beautiful opportunity for growth and understanding about yourself and your relationship. I encourage you to lean on your spouse and talk about your concerns. I cannot speak for Jena, but I do know that when I finally admitted to Caleb that I was ashamed of my body for it not being able to do what it was supposed to do, it was like a weight lifted off my chest. He was able to bear the weight of that burden with me, rather than me struggling with it alone.
With all that being said, it is such a blessing to have Huxley and Colton born within months of one another. I cannot wait to see their relationship develop and watch them become best friends. I am thankful that the days we have dreamed of are here. Jena and I used to talk about how we would take our kids to the beach together and babysit for one another to go out on date nights. That time is here, and I am so, so thankful for it. She and Jeremy allowed me to part of their journey as I documented this pregnancy for them. This session was kind of impromptu because we had a limited time that we were able to get the session completed since we were visiting Fluvanna (our hometown) for Christmas and it seemed like it was either raining or extremely overcast most days we were there. Thankfully we found a beautiful day that we visited a Cunningham Creek Winery in Palmyra, Virginia, which gave us the perfect backdrop for some beautiful images. We also slipped across the road to a construction site to grab a few more. Shout out to Jena for being nine months pregnant and willing to change in the backseat of Jeremy’s truck!
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