Infertility + Parenthood // The story behind the photos

August 26, 2019  •  2 Comments

Infertility + Parenthood // The story behind the photos

Often times I post the photos, with a short, happy caption "welcome to the world little one." It's vague, it's simple, it's...easy. I don't often get the chance to tell the greater story. But, because of Becky's openness in conversation over the last year, I asked if I could share their story of infertility and their journey to pregnancy and parenthood. 

Keep reading to find out more on the backstory of this photo! 


I can't recall when I first met Becky, but I do know that in 2010, she was one of my first volunteers for my senior portrait project during my last semester at St. Kate's (it also happened to be my first photography class). We had kept in touch over the years and reconnected when I took family + newborn photos for their son Luke. Here he is in one of my favorite newborn photos - ever. 

Go Wild!

There was something Becky and I had never really talked about until this year - 2019 - their road to to parenthood through PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and primary infertility. (In 'simple terms' PCOS can be characterized by a myriad of symptoms ranging from irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal hair growth, obesity, acne/oily skin and depression. And since it is believed to be a hereditary issue - Becky knew from an early age that there was a good chance she had it.)

In 2016, Becky and Jon started trying to have a second child. They knew it might not happen right away, but wanted to try. She met with her infertility doctor and they worked on the same regimen that they tried when they first got pregnant with Luke. Around that same time, we had a 2 year old photo session for Luke. They were pretty optimistic that they'd be pregnant soon - so optimistic - that we even took some "big brother" announcement photos that would be used in their Christmas cards that December. I did not know anything about their journey at this time and at that time, and as more time passed, I was asked not to share this photo. I didn't ask questions.

 


The costs start adding up

Becky was starting a new job with great health insurance....except that it didn't include coverage for infertility *treatment*. Most insurance plans cover the cost of diagnosing infertility, but hardly any cover the treatment itself. They were paying cash for everything - oral medications, once monthly injections and multiple follicular ultrasounds each cycle ($270 each!). September and October passed by without success. November came - and over $8000 of bills...so they stopped trying for a bit. They had decimated their savings.

Pretty heartbroken, they decided to take off most of 2017. They tried to keep the protocol from the previous year - and search for a new doctor. As the new open enrollment period started, Becky looked at new medical plans. She was shocked to see that in 2018 the medical plans would include $10,000 coverage for infertility *treatment*!!!

Both Jon and Becky had extra doctor appointments to make sure there weren't any structural issues preventing them from getting pregnant. After a few more bumps in the road - like a fall on the ice resulting in a broken wrist, a blood clot in a fallopian tube, and 'life'...they were back to trying. 

This lead to more expensive injections and the IUI procedures (IntraUterine Injection - and in less glamours terms, 'turkey basting'). 


What does $10,000 get you? 

Not very far. July came and went - and barely into the second cycle, they had blown through their insurance coverage. They started paying out of pocket again.  They found one pharmacy in the Twin Cities who offer a deep discount on fertility medication for those who are paying out of pocket - thank you Walgreens in Uptown! They had saved some money in their HSA account that got them through most of late August's cycle. But again, they were met with a negative pregnancy test. One more try in late September - and they were out of money and still not a positive test. 

One day, Becky received a text that changed their lives. Her best friend from nursing school (she was pregnant with her first child via IVF) had some medications left over that were going to expire. She wanted to give them to Becky. They all met for lunch - and she was handed a bag with $4000 worth of medications - along with the book "Wish" by Matthew Cordell

As Jon and Becky walked back to the car, they joked that if they got pregnant that month, they'd have to name their child after her. They sat in the car and realized that neither of them were actually joking. 

Two more failed IUIs. 

They adjusted the protocol for the third cycle and worked through a more 'private approach' to the IUI process. Once finished, they were told to head home, and wait two weeks and test then. 

Two weeks passed - and time to test. And the results... 

...In Becky's words "BLANK. NO FRICKIN LINES ANYWHERE. THE GODDAMN TEST WAS DEFECTIVE!!!!"

She had to get Luke on the bus to school before she could get to the store to get another test. It was the only time in her entire life where she walked out of Target with one item. A digital test. 

Finally it read "PREGNANT"


So, why share the story on your photography page?

Because we can! I have a platform of social media and a new-ish blog where I can help share stories of the real people I have the honor of working with. We often times show all the happy - but tend to hid sad, heartbreaking parts of our life stories. 

Luke is now a big brother to Kaylee Anne Kristina. Kaylee is a favorite character from the show Firefly. Anne for Becky's mother Ann (who always wanted to be "Anne with an E" like Anne of Green Gables) - and Kristina for their friend who gave them all the medications on which they got pregnant with Kaylee. 

  

 


Comments

Christina(non-registered)
What a beautiful, hope-filled story! Love that you took a deeper dive into the backstory of this amazing woman and her family.
Amy(non-registered)
So cute! Thank you for sharing! It's important to make connections even when what connects us is sad.
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