Amanda’s beachside maternity and newborn photos by Annie McElwain
Hello! Amanda popping in here again, to share some beachside maternity (and newborn!) photos beautifully photographed by my friend Annie McElwain. The sunset was particularly pastel-y and ethereal this evening when we shot down at the beach near our home.. such a perfect time to photograph this big ol’ belly, at 35 weeks.
I really loved being pregnant. (Well, the last couple of months were particularly uncomfortable of course, but I loved it nonetheless). My pregnancy was relatively an easy one.. not a lot of morning sickness or swelling. I got real lucky! It felt so beautiful to have a belly and a round body, and I truly I savored this privilege of growing a life inside.
I haven’t talked a whole lot about our journey to get here though. It was a difficult one. My husband and I tried to conceive naturally for over a year, had a couple of chemical pregnancies, and then realized things weren’t going as we hoped. After many tests, the doctors ruled out everything and gave us a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility”, which is something no one wants to hear. People are so used to knowing the cause of a particular medical situation, and to hear that no one knows why we weren’t getting pregnant was a difficult pill to swallow. So we started the process of getting assistance medically.. fertility drugs, IUI’s, and eventually IVF, over a 3-year timespan. Our first IVF resulted in a miscarriage and a possible ectopic pregnancy at 7 weeks and we were devastated. I began to think that I would never get pregnant. Meanwhile, it seemed that everyone around me was popping out babies, which made a difficult situation even harder.
I really fought the idea of doing IVF for quite awhile. I never pictured myself needing to do it.. I was healthy and never had any female medical issues, after all. I was 35/36 years old when we started trying, so age couldn’t be the reason. I quickly learned through this process that although I have always had the urge to control situations to a get a particular outcome, this was something that was purely out of my control. We finally felt that we had to give in and get the help of science to conceive.
Anyone that has been through IVF or knows someone who has, knows that it’s a very involved process. Lots of shots. LOTS. Lots of doctors appointments. Lots of waiting on pins and needles. And very weighty decisions that have to be made throughout the delicate process. It wasn’t physically that painful for me, but the emotional toll was heavy. I remember my husband giving me my shots on a particular day while tears streamed down my face. The doctor’s appointments were very involved…monitoring how many eggs were growing and talking everything through with the doctor. Then later, seeing how many embryos fertilized and grew. It felt like a big science experiment, but we had to put all of our trust in the doctors and believe that we’d meet our baby.
Sometimes I’m surprised I didn’t go down a dark hole for months. There were definitely many dark days, but I kept pulling myself together over and over, week after week. And although my mind was telling me that I might not ever have a baby, my heart was telling me yes. Yes I will. It was the only thing that got me through those few years. A woman’s intuition knows. It always does.
After our IVF transfer in January, we waited about a week and my husband wanted me to take an early pregnancy test which I was very hesitant about. I went back and forth one early morning, and finally took the test. Then I told myself I wasn’t going to look at it because I couldn’t bear to see another negative result. Something told me to look down and low and behold, it was POSITIVE! I could hardly believe it. I stood there crying in the bathroom and then went to wake my husband. I was shaking and crying and he immediately thought it was a negative test so he started consoling me, when he looked down at the test, bewildered, and said.. “but.. it’s positive!!” We just sat there hugging and crying together.
And 9 months later…. here he is! Our perfect baby boy, Brooks Harrison. Our light, our joy, our love. Truly worth all of the waiting, the emotions, the financial strain, the heartache, the uncertainty. He has made our lives feel complete, and each day with him is a gift. I never tire of looking at his fingers, his toes, his cheeks. He is just the sweetest boy.
I’ve heard from so many of you on Instagram, with well wishes and gratitude for sharing bits of our story from women going through the process of fertility treatments hoping to conceive. My wish is that our story can give you a little hope, ease fears and help you trust your intuition. Things will work out the way they were supposed to. It might not be your ideal scenario, but you will be parents, however your story unfolds.
I still can’t believe he’s ours. Even after 6 weeks. It all seems like a really amazing dream and I’m about to wake up. I’ll never know why I had to go through so much to get him here, but now that he is, all I can do is look down at that sweet face and know that I’d do it all over again for a chance to kiss and nuzzle him, and smell his sweet baby scent.
Photography: Annie McElwain