taking you to prague

Sometimes when I’m traveling I wish I could bring you all along.  I want to show you every quiet corner I see and every ray of light.  This “sometimes” happens so often that I forget to show you even just a slice of a month photographing. 

So for today here is a slice. 7 frames of Prague. A mini adventure inside of a grand one. Believe me when I tell you, I wish you were here.

Xoxo suzanne

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Fertility Vacation 3.0 // slowing down and following Mike

My world has been colorful buildings along the river, a blank winters sky, and Mike.

After the embryo transfer everything about me slowed down.  We stayed in more, I felt sleepier. Maybe I had a cold or allergies. Maybe the hormones just knock me out. Maybe the winter finally made me slower.

The last week or so has been slower and full of naps and rain but in between there is beauty. New cities and buildings and art museums. New feels like creation to me. New is allowing me to hold space for hope while I follow Mike Ofeldt around. 

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Fertility Vacation 3.0 // Thanking you & staying hopeful

Here we are friends. Thank you. Thank you for your generous donations to our GoFundMe account. Without you we would not be here. Our time for IVF would be over. But instead here we are. I’m following Suzanne around in her red jacket capturing her joy and struggle in this undeniably romantic city. Prague has taken unexpected meaning in our lives and so have all of you. We will learn more in the coming weeks. So far we have passed every test but I guess there is only one that matters.

We will keep you updated and appreciate all of your love and prayers. It means everything to us. Thank you.

Mike, Suzanne and the Wanderers

www.gofundme.com/addingtotheOFELDTS

photography specials

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Hard Truths

This time last year we were in Prague attempting IVF for the first time. What an extraordinary year. Nothing could have prepared me for any of this, and I am so grateful. Although I’m crazy proud of how Mike and I sailed the storm, if I could go back now, I wouldn’t have chosen this path. That is such a hard truth to admit to myself.

I’ve never considered myself someone who backs away from a challenge, but out of sheer love for the Suzanne I used to be, I would say no to putting her through that. It’s too much and ultimately I feel sorry that I hurt her. But life isn’t 20/20, and there was no way I could have talked myself out of it. So, instead I’m left with pride, gratitude, and the most creative 12 months of my life. Like everything in my life I find what I truly feel in the words of a song.

There’s a song by Alanis Morissette, “Thank You”. She has a rampage of appreciation and thanks to the good and the bad. I remember hearing it in the 90’s and thinking, how powerful would I be, if I could thank the experiences that hurt me as well as the ones that made me feel blessed?

Now, I understand the power I wanted to feel all those years ago. Since I can’t go back in time, and safeguard my heart and mind, I will thank this year for sculpting me into a much better version of myself.

Thank you, IVF 1 and IVF 2. Thank you, brave and fearless girl who wants to be a mom. Thank you, strong and compassionate woman for rising to the occasion. Thank you, childish ways for burning the house down. Thank you, new version of me who said, “Enough. Get off the floor.” Thank you, broken mind and hopelessness. Thank you, to the hours I spent on my knees crying and praying to I don’t know who.

Thank you, photographer friends for picking me up and reminding me what feeling supported by the universe looks like.

Thank you, for the unfolding that I have autism. Thank you, for the knowing that it will add to my understanding of myself and my creativity.

Thank you, Prague for giving us a safe haven where IVF is more affordable. Thank you, PTSD for showing me what I can overcome and that my mind and spirit are separate. Thank you, failure for letting me know how proud I am that I tried.

Thank you, to all the self doubt and confusion, because it allowed me to lean on Mike and trust him in a way I probably would have never figured out. Thank you, needing help and to my friends who checked in so regularly just to make sure I was as ok as I could be. Thank you, to Vanessa and Jen Morrison for never asking me to be happier than I could be.

Thank you, to credit card debt. Thank you, that so many people we love can’t relate to this experience at all, because I certainly wouldn’t want them to. Thank you, to heartbreak and fear. Thank you, to all the people who know what we are going through - who fight their good fight, and have shown us the way - we are following your light.

Lately, I see the last year in a different way. Somehow. I have some perspective. I have received so many gifts . . .

I am insanely creative. Photographing gives me a high that’s greater than it’s ever been before. Weddings make me feel down right euphoric.

I get along with Mike in a whole new way. I’m more accepting of who he is. I am capable of giving him more space to find his own way.

I can relate to people in so many more ways. I can see deeper into them.

I find power in gratitude and always focused on the good. Without knowing it I adopted Jess Lively’s mantra of “Yes, thank you and More, please”, to all good experiences. Yes to amazing friends. Yes to creative  jobs. Yes to paying rent, and buying groceries. Yes to art. Yes to love.

I love myself in a way I’ve never known. I’m learning to be enough for myself. I’ve learned to play outside my comfort zone. I am excited for how expansive I’m becoming. I know I can go to hell and eventually find my way back to myself. Back to feeling stable, steady, and strong.I am becoming a more beautiful version of myself.

I can add more peace to the world by speaking to myself in a more compassionate voice. I am capable of learning so much. I am meant to be an artist. I can make art even when I can't find myself. I feel powerful that I am connected to all of the other artists in the world even when I can't quite find Suzanne.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // Not This Time

Can this be it?  Are we really not suppose to have kids?  This process has shaken me to my core. I feel defeated. This time I know how cruel IVF can be.  It’s no distant stranger.  I’m not in shock, I’m just worn and hurt.  Who would have guessed we would be sitting here.

I was so naive and I took so much for granted.  I thought the hard part would be finding someone I wanted to live my life with.  Mike is home, I’m certain of him.  He keeps me safe. 

But now I want that magical feeling of cuddling a cute baby on the couch.  It’s funny, I am not a "couch" person.  I’m not even a "house" person.  I’m a "lets go somewhere" kind of person.  But babies are fun to sit on the couch with.  I’ve loved having my nephew here and as much as I loved taking him places, he taught me that the couch is a playground of it's own. 

These have been my first few days without him since he moved up to Northern California.  We packed up his dishes, clothes, toys, books...everything.  I’m mourning our life with him.  Suddenly without notice, my whole family moved while I was in Europe.  And now we are mourning our IVF dreams as well. 

Today is not my favorite day.

And yet still I can’t give up.  Sometimes it scares me.  Maybe all of these signs are saying give up and yet, I can’t.  Not yet anyway.  I still imagine that picture of little Mike in the bathtub as a kid.  The image that changed all my beliefs.  I want a child with Mike.  I’m still so open to what that will look like in the world of IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. 

First, I need to see what grieving will look like this time.  Even in my heartbroken, defeated state, I know that we will get up again.  Despite this being one of the worst, saddest days ever, I refuse to imagine our lives without a kid to love.  Often I really wish I could.

To our friends and family: we are beyond grateful for all of the love and support we have received. We never would have been strong enough to try this again without you. Thank you to the ends of the earth. 

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer)

I’ve been pretty sleepy since the Frozen Embryo Transfer. It’s been a lot of slow movement and rest. I’m so grateful Vanessa is here. I am so strong and steady because of her.

This girl is my soul sister. I met her by chance and a couple of days later we were on a road trip to Napa. She is a beautiful gypsy and from that fateful week, I’ve always wanted to protect her and keep her in my pocket. To me, she is fearless, open and wild. I’m sure she is terrified often, but she pushes through and changes states every year I’ve known her, and most recently, countries. Her address is always in flux.

Recently, she moved home in between Prague six months ago and Prague now. She has seen her mom take her last breath and said yes to a man who loves her. The last six months have felt like someone continually ripping off a bandaid, and yet less than two weeks after saying goodbye to Mama Luna, Vanessa got on a plane to spend 10 days with me in Prague so I wouldn’t be alone.

Everyday we walk around taking pictures, sitting in cafes and at the movie theater. Vanessa reminds me to be brave and just being in her company makes me feel like more is possible.

She was in the room with me for the FET procedure. It’s very clinical, but all of a sudden we saw the embryos on the screen and we both started crying. Maybe I’m pregnant.

Mike has been inundated with text messages of baby names and general excitement in the middle of the night. It’s been hard for him to be at home while I’ve been gone for a month going through this. He’s my hero.

He’s been shooting non stop and working 9-5 to pay for all of this. Some people have sex after a night out and get pregnant, and some people have three days off in a month. Mike has stepped up and fought for us to get pregnant.

I’m excited to have a partner like Mike. We’ve been through so much together and now, we are stronger. I admire Mike and trust him to fight for us.

While our paths to IVF 2.0 have been so different, his support has been unwavering.

I am so thankful for Mike, Maryanne, Betsy, Vanessa and all of our friends at home cheering me on.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // Tomorrow & Maybes

Tomorrow is the big day. Beautiful pregnant women are flooding the streets around me and kids are everywhere we go. It’s often drizzling outside, but the trees are alight with color. I can’t believe this sudden change in me. I feel 180 degrees different.

Light on my feet, spinning around and turning my face to the sun on a grey day. What if it works? What if we get pregnant?

Maybe everything is going to be okay.

I wonder what maternity clothes are like, can you wear your real clothes or will you just stretch them out? I wonder if the baby will be silly or like to laugh or be a grumpy cat. Either way I’m excited to capture our life. Maybe Mike and I will get a cool van and go on road trips and show the baby the national parks and how beautiful the world is. Maybe.

I wonder if the baby will like to travel and if he/she/they will like to visit Gaidin.  I wonder if I’ll get a mom car and if my hair will be messier - is that possible? I would love the chance to discover all of these things.

So many maybe’s.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // My Last Dollar

Once I got out of the Airbnb in Prague and looked around at the familiar painted houses in Vinohrady it hit me. What the fuck am I doing here? A bit of shock, horror and a small fleeting moment where my mind rejected the whole idea.

The highest part of me is 100% certain I want to be a mom. That’s my intuition and knowing. I’m also bombarded and occasionally run down with moments were my inner being says no. Are those moments true? Am I following my right path?

Despite the image of holding my baby in his or her pajamas, there is a lot of guilt involved in being “all in” in this process.

I’m an adventurer and up for the best life has to offer, but I’m not irresponsible. This year I’m all in. All the debt, all the months of stepping out of my life and responsibilities, the time away from my husband, and my sanity - all in.

I’m not usually a gambler.

Though there was this one time that I spent my last dollar….

I was at a bar in Sydney on the ground level of a hostel. I bought a VB (Victoria Bitters) for $2 at happy hour. My friends were always spending their last dollar, and I thought they were nuts, but there also seemed to be freedom in it.

So I tried it. I sat there, in awe of myself drinking that beer. It was thrilling. Of course I knew I had groceries at home, my subway ticket and a direct deposit going into my account from my ad agency job in the morning, but from 6pm until the next day I was “skint”. I felt so rad.

That was over a decade ago, but just telling you about it makes me feel alive and a little indestructible.

When I walk into the clinic today, I’m going to hold on to the feeling of being that girl, sitting in a bar, drinking a beer she didn’t particularly like, feeling like she had the coolest secret ever. It felt like jumping off a cliff and landing in the sweetest blue water and coming up laughing, gasping for air with salt water running down my face.

I’ll choose to be her instead of the sad, broken poker player risking everything.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // A Candle, a Wish or a Prayer

Good morning Santorini! Getting here was magical; a water taxi came to our boat’s dock at 3:45am and took us to the Venice airport. What a cool way to travel.

And now, we are sitting at a cafe in Santorini. It’s warm here and feels like vacation. There’s light greek music strumming in the background.

I took my first hormones today. I guess it’s really happening. I only want to drink coffee or take a nap so that I feel rested and in control.

It was an act of bravery to swallow those pills. I hope nine months from now we are holding a beautiful baby who looks like Mike Ofeldt. A baby who is so healthy and feels how much we love him or her; our carrot robot.  I hope we have twins, a boy and a girl.

I am so appreciative that we have the chance to make our dreams come true. I’m grateful that Mike is the man by my side.

It’s odd, but lately I’ve been having bouts of insecurity. It’s nothing that’s been said or done, but I had this terrible dream that Mike fell in love with one of our married friends with two daughters and they left both of us and got married. Since then, I had a couple of odd thoughts about what life would be like if he left.  

I guess I’m realizing it’s possible our dreams won’t come true. So maybe my brain is making the leap that other dreams can not come true as well, like growing old together.

I think it’s because the last few months have been hard. Not hard on us as a couple, but me as a person. I have felt a lot of anguish and like I’m constantly processing one emotion or another. I miss things being light. I miss my mind being light. I guess I miss the old me so maybe he does too. It’s taken a lot for me to get this healthy again and the reality is that our wildest dreams can come true or I’ll spend a few months digging myself out of a hole. It’s all going to happen so fast from here on out. Light a candle for us, make a wish, say a prayer.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // Made to Be Happy

One of my close friends is worried I’m not strong enough to be pregnant or will find parenthood too much.

I’m not worried.

When I’m pregnant I will be so good at celebrating. I am made to be happy. It’s the most honest part of my personality. I will have this peaceful, calm.

Me and the universe will snuggle up to one another, exhaling and basking in the feeling of being “home”.  Finally letting go of the tinge of sadness or fear because this moment of belonging together is much more real than lying down broken hearted.

Of course, being pregnant will be challenging, but I can’t help but believe that the avalanche of joy that I will feel will shelter us. Me full of gratitude and hope is a powerful force.

Parenthood makes so much sense to me. Selflessly loving someone seems to be natural. Finally, my skills of trying hard and having a grateful attitude will be in my favor.

I want to be in this space now. I want to be in love with the world as I am. Even without having everything I want. I want to feel beauty in trying.

How do I live through this barrage of hormones and stay my sweet, powerful, free-spirited self?

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // How Do I Get Braver?

How do I become braver than I currently am? What is the practice?

I know I’m brave because I’m sitting here wiping away the tears. I’m willing to take risks and I’ve made it this far.

Maybe I keep trying to imagine how getting pregnant would change the rest of our lives? Diapers, pajamas, teenage hijinks; maybe that’s a way.

I feel like I’m lost in the hows and maybes.  

I’m not sure I’ll get on the plane.
I’m not sure if I’ll walk into the clinic.
I’m not sure I’ll give myself the shots.

It could lead to our dreams coming true, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do any of it.

My friend Vanessa sent me this text when I needed it most:

“Remember we are not people that allow fear to run our lives. Fear does not control you. YOU control the fear. That doesn’t mean not feeling it, that means not allowing it to make your decisions. This is your choice, and when I say yours, I mean your heart and soul. Choose to enjoy life with the man you love. Do not choose fear.”

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