A Calamigos Ranch Wedding For Lindsey & Brandon

Few weddings will be as impossible for me to describe as this one. I’m going to give it my best shot.

I met Lindsey because I photographed her sister Jenna’s wedding and later became really good friends with Jenna. Lindsey and Jenna’s family left such an impression on me. Their’s is a family anyone would want to be a part of. I love their easy nature with each other. I love how competitive everyone seems to be while really enjoying it. They are all so high vibe just being together. I had the chance to get to know Lindsey and Brandon as a couple at their engagement session on the pier in Santa Monica at it was so fun. I love how easy it is for these two to include me in their fun.
Less than a week before her wedding Lindsey and Jenna’s dad passed away suddenly. It was a shock to the whole family. It was so heart breaking. My heart broke for everyone.
Most people’s wedding day is kind of singularly joyful. This wedding day was joyful while a whole family grieved. It’s so hard to hold two emotions at once. I was in awe of Lindsey every minute of the day. I was also so impressed by how this family banded together. Every time I pushed down the shutter I thought “ I love this family. Please let them be ok.”
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to be in the moment and enjoy what you have. I am so proud to know and love this group of people. I am crazy lucky.

Event coordinator: The Exotic Green Garden
Photographer: SheWanders
Videographer: Porterhouse Films
Florist: LA Floral Couture
Hair & Makeup: The Beauty Lounge
Venue: Calamigos Ranch
Musician: Still Listening Productions
Cake: Cake Monkey
Cookies: Milk Jar Cookies

Fertility Journey : A year later...

I feel sad that I don't post more on here. I'm always looking for some kind of concise thought or how I really feel about things and I can never hold on to it long enough to actually get it into squarespace.  There is so much I feel from one week to the next. I don't know how to hit publish anymore. I have so many entries that exist only in my paper journal and not publicly. I hope I start sharing again, I hope I share this.

My wonderful and brave friend “A” posted this on Facebook last week.

It’s was a  graphic from @livandhopetothemax
What NOT to say to someone who’s trying to get pregant.
At least you don’t have stretch marks!
I’m so sorry, this is what women were meant to do.
You just have to be patient.
Why don’t you just adopt, that the easy way!
Have you tried … that worked for my SIL neighbor’s cousin.
It will all work out, I know it!!!
You should adopt and then you will get pregnagnt.
We have been trying for a month, so I know exactly how you feel.
Trust me, you’re so lucky you don’t have kids, enjoy your free time.
Be so glad you arent’ pregnant.
But you already have a child, isn’t that enough?
Who’s fault is it that you can’t get pregnant?
If you would relax I bet it would happen

This was her post…..

I have heard almost every line on this list (some from good friends and some from even our own family). Of course people that say these things mean well but unless you have experienced #infertility firsthand or had a close friend or family member you don’t really understand. And people’s words can unintentionally cause a lot of pain when you are struggling to grow your family. Infertility is a MEDICAL condition. Have you ever told someone with Diabetes to “relax and I’m sure it will cure itself”? The causes for a couples inability to conceive or keep a pregnancy are varied and can be complicated. In some cases couples experience “unexplained infertility” where the Doctors can’t explain the reason they cannot get or stay pregnant. And just like other medical conditions there are treatments but being “cured” is never a guarantee. I can personally say that the experience has tested me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Despite the pain I am so much stronger than I ever thought before. It has made me a better mother and person. I wanted to share this since it is #infertilityawareness week. I decided to be open about our story trying for Stella and now for baby #2 (not for sympathy) but in the hopes that it will help another couple going through this to not feel alone. In fact 1 in 8 couples will experience infertility. #niaw #ivf #ivfjourney #infertilitysucks#ivfsupport #ivfwarrior

A’s post put things into a perspective I’ve never been able to articulate.  I also never knew there was an infertility week. I never even thought to use the word infertility. We called it our trials our IVF Journey or our trying-to-start-a-family Journey

Infertility in·fer·til·i·ty

/ˌinfərˈtilədē/

noun

  1. inability to conceive children or young.

I believe so strongly in the power of words. I would never have considered applying this label to Mike and I. Clearly it's true and the shoe fits but it sounds hopeless and final. But now I'm in a space that feels final. I turn 44 next month, so I guess that's pretty final. Infertility. Wow.

My friend A recently went to Prague for IVF.  She asked me for my thoughts before she left she ended up getting a cold and we didn't get to have coffee while she was in town. But I agonized over what to say to her. We even have an episode on Our Creative Uprising where I try to understand how to even give someone my two cents.

  1. I don't want to say IVF was a terrible experience for us because I don't want to tell someone who has had so much disappointment already that it was awful for me

  2. It may not be awful for them.  They might get pregnant and have a baby. I wouldn’t want to discourage them to not try.

  3. If their experience turns out to be anything like mine, I couldn't handle the guilt of not telling them how excruciatingly awful the effects were for me. I would never wish anyone the trauma that my body and psyche endured.

Some stories do end well.  The implementation was successful for A and yesterday the blood test came back positive. I didn't realize I was holding my breath or how scared I had become until the text said “positive”. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh my god thank you. Please let everything go as good as it can.  Please let A be safe and supported” I prayed to the universe. “Thank you” I audibly exhaled.

That's the thing about advice, I feel so confused and unqualified. I don't really understand how common my reaction to IVF was. At the clinic the nurse said I may experience pms-like symptoms and I may be a little weepy. That's not what happened though. I ended up in a therapist office off being treated for PTSD. I ended up in what seemed like every therapist - healers office fighting for my identity, my mental health and my sanity. I know that the IRS lists therapy as a line item for IVF.   The IRS isn't exactly a feel-good generous benefactor. I have to assume that my experience is somewhat common. So here I am so far out of my depths asking myself

how do you hold the idea of IVF, PTSD, financial devastation, emotional devastation

against the possibility of a baby?

Have you ever had a baby wrap its full hand around your one finger? I think all of my fears become moot when compared to that feeling.  Who cares how bad your experience is if you get a baby? Not many I guess.

Who cares how awful it is if you don't.  The experience of having someone I care about ask me for advice made me realize that I care. I care about the cost of IVF to my mind, body and spirit. My gut kept telling me

‘tell her to avoid the risk”  and “don't let her get hurt the way that you did”.

I only had fear to offer. A year later it's still too much for me to ask my gut to have hope. My gut is still a little tired and a lot heartbroken.   I ask it to be brave and try some other way for us to have a family and there is no answer. It won't show up. It won't even acknowledge that I'm asking the question. It's worse than a no it's silence.

Maybe it will just take me a little longer to have some perspective or hope.  I'm so eternally grateful that A got a cold I'm so grateful that she took the risk and that it's paying off. I never ever wanted to be that voice of doubt in someone's ear. I hope that everyone in this world goes after their dreams in whatever way works for them. I am made to cheer people on. It's one of the most authentic aspects of my personality. Although I no longer know how to be the brave cavalier risk taker I used to be. I do know how to give this advice.

JS6A8361.JPG

Make peace with your fertility journey.  
Learn to really love yourself regardless of what the pregnancy stick says.
See a therapist or find some support.
Process every emotion you can and find every way to take care of yourself.
Make your choices from a place of love and being enough.
Find a way to be okay regardless of the outcome .

I wish everyone a way to make peace with their journey.

Big Hugs Suzanne