Fertility Vacation 2.0 // Duplicity

My heart skipped Fall. All of this traveling has confused my inner season clock. Like so many parts of me, I am searching for a true north that I can’t quite find.

I like Vienna. I like coffee houses. Is this beautiful city my hideaway? Walk, shoot, museums, eat, shoot, walk. I think it’s the right thing to be doing. I love to cheer myself up with everything that’s available to me.

For me, being happy is being grateful for what I have and pointed in the direction of what I’m looking for. If you are someone who is always using the silver lining as a north star, it’s easy to move your expectations a little to the left or right, but still forward.

Motherhood is a deal breaker. I don’t want to move right or left, I want the dream. I want the sunny day, a family with Mike. However we get there; adoption, surrogacy, IVF.

It makes me think of the quote, "how many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?". How many times will I walk down this road?

Who will I be at the end of all of this?

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // Headspace Shrink

I sent this to my headspace shrink. Because I have a headspace shrink. Who am I?

I’m curious if you know why it’s so bizarrely intense when IVF doesn’t work. Is there anything I can do to help myself? I’m fully open to the possibility that it will work. I’m open to the idea that this can be easier and more magical than I ever imagined. But in case it’s not, I want to have the strength to keep trying again. How can I better protect myself for the worst case scenario?

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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 // Implantation Day

Today is implantation day. April 1, 2017.Today is one of the best days of my life. We have a chance for hope; a chance to be parents. Maybe we will be parents in 9 months, maybe we won’t, but today we have the best chance we’ve ever had.

A questionnaire once asked me to list the three best days of my life. Of course there have been so many, but here are the one’s that stand out:

  1. The day I met Mike Ofeldt
  2. Our wedding day
  3. The day my world expanded as a 17-year-old when my dear friend Cristina explained backpacking and the endless possibilities of travel.

Today is coming pretty close.

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Implantation went great.  They implanted two excellent embryos and froze two excellent embryos. The procedure was relatively quick and painless. There was a point where it hurt and I held Mike’s hand tightly. I think it’s unusual for it to hurt, but I have a tilted uterus so perhaps that was the issue.

I zoned out and imagined two babies in footsie pajamas laughing and playing with Mike and I on the couch. I listened to Don Williams’ “I Believe in You” on repeat and then the procedure was over. I then took a 20 minute nap in recovery. Acupuncture right before and right after was a great choice.

Everything went as smooth as possible. In two weeks we will know more.

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Fertility Vacation // Maybe Baby

This whole IVF process seems vague to me. I lower my hormone dosage slightly for the next two days and then I go into the clinic to have my reaction to the hormones tested.

I know I have an appointment at 8:30am. I also know I will have another appointment beforehand, but haven’t gotten the email confirmation yet. I think it’s for a few tests and an EKG to make sure I can handle anesthetic for egg retrieval surgery. I think next week I come in every two days, but I’m still not totally sure.

What I do know for sure is that tomorrow night Mike arrives in Prague. We will not understand it all together. We will not be prepared, not quite have enough money, not exactly know what we are doing, together.

We will hold hands and walk around Prague, marveling at our bravery and feel a mix of fear, hope, and incredulous possibilities. Maybe we will be disappointed. Maybe our hearts will break and we will have to pick up the pieces and find a way to try again.

But there’s a 10% maybe that we will be parents in 9 months. Maybe our little apartment will be filled with diapers and tears. Maybe I’ll wear one of those wraps that you carry a baby in. Maybe we will have a boy or a girl, or two girls, two boys, or a boy and a girl. Maybe we can argue over names and start the age old panic that new parents have felt since the beginning of time. Holy cow this is really happening.

Maybe.

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Fertility Vacation // 10% and all the Emotions

Today I had my first IVF appointment where the clinic re-did a few tests, including checking my current hormone levels. The doctor said we actually have a 10% chance of getting pregnant, not a 30% chance like we had understood on the call, because I’m 41. I was told to come back in two days to pick up the injections and learn how to give myself a daily shot. Yikes. She said that some follicles were visible which is good for our chances.

I left the clinic and walked for an hour to the Old Square. When I got there I realized I was hungry. I sat down to order and felt that I was near passing out. Not exactly fainting, just falling asleep without control. Is there a difference? I think I was a little bit in shock. 10%?

There is always a delay with me. My natural reaction is to be strong and say, “I can handle this”. What follows is an unexpected falling apart.

We had planned for 30%. We would try three times in the next 12 months with a 30% chance. I realize now that we actually have a 10% chance each time. How do I have hope every day in the process? What’s it like to keep going?

After lunch I walked around some more and then posted up in a lively cafe. I peered out the window, drawing, writing, collecting my thoughts, and wondering, how do I feel?

I’ve entered some kind of beautiful dream full of uncertainty and perhaps some inevitable heartbreak. This dream has the potential to burst my heart wide open by putting one or two more Ofeldts on this earth. It’s a dream I am absolutely made for.

I’m vacillating between feeling incredibly strong and heroic, and feeling like I may have a panic attack right here at EMA Espresso bar. A duplicity that seems to be the new normal.

I wonder about the people I’m watching and drawing. I wonder about their story. Do they have something exploding out of them as big as invisible sunbeams, or are they just having a regular day where all of their emotions are in the normal range?

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Fertility Vacation // The Past & Choosing Prague

I’m pretty comfortable at 30,000 feet above sea level. Although, as I pack my bags for this month-long adventure, it feels different. A fertility vacation in Prague; this trip has more unknowns than ever before.

Quick backstory to catch you up. Up until I met Mike, I could never mentally picture a husband in my vision of my future self and family. I would see other people getting married and think, how could I ever love someone enough to spend my entire life with them? After I met Mike, that vision changed almost immediately. His mom sent me a card one day and taped to it was a picture of Mike as a baby in the bathtub.

I want to have a baby with this man.

Mike and I have been trying to start a family since 2013. It’s been devastating. I can’t possibly be dramatic enough with words. It’s been hard to be strong everyday and make this dream come true, when everything feels so hard. It can be easy for some people, but it’s hard for us.

It was really surprising to me that we couldn’t get pregnant, and something I never expected with life. I always knew I wanted to be a mom and have never doubted this is something I will be. I always just thought I would get pregnant right away. When I didn’t, it made me question myself and my choices on such a fundamental level.

IVF was always something I thought about, even as a kid. But as reality set in as an adult, Mike and I discovered that it was out of our price range.

My friend Nicole enlightened me to fertility vacations in Prague. This of course got my heart pounding with interest. Prague has a good reputation for IVF, is considerably more affordable than IVF in the U.S, and is a beautiful part of the world.  Check, check and check.  

I feel comfortable in Prague. It’s a photogenic, walkable city. Being in Prague, away from the financial pressures and the stress of everyday life will help me stay relaxed. As a person who values freedom and exploration, being in a different city feeds and calms me. I am my truest self while traveling.

In real life, I run a photography business and “adult” everyday (well, mostly everyday). On vacation, I get to walk around all day and take photos, eat lunch outside, visit museums, and feel the energy of the city. Days full of self care and relaxation.

A fertility vacation in Prague makes perfect sense.

The process as I know it so far will consist of hormone injections every three days for two weeks. There will be more appointments, and then eventually they will remove my eggs and put Mike’s sperm and one of my eggs together. And then, they will put the embryo back inside me.

I’m sure there will be a little more romance and details involved, but I’ll focus on that once my feet hit the ground.

We will try IVF three times in Prague over the course of this year. We will then try adoption. If not adoption, we will be Big Brothers and Sisters.

I am a little nervous, but mostly hopeful. We know that ultimately we will be parents, we just don’t know the path quite yet.

And now to finish packing. Three suitcases, art supplies, and movies. Journals and soul books. Everything creative. I wish I had more time to pack, but I guess it wouldn’t really matter. I'm not sure I'd ever be ready.  Time to jump.

xoxo

Suzanne

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On the way to Charlotte : Jen and John Maternity Santa Paula California

I adore Jen and John.  I first met them at Karis and Blake's wedding years ago.  I have such a girl crush on Jen, her smile lights up every room.  I was ecstatic when I heard they were going to have  a baby.  It's so crazy wonderful to get to share these major life changing moments with people.  I loved capturing their vows in Rhode Island just a couple of years ago and I loved being at her Grandmother's house capturing the last couple of days of pregnancy.  Little Charlotte was just born safe and sound and I can't wait to get her in front of my lens soon.  One day Mike and I will have our own kids.  I feel like moments like this bring us just a little closer to our dream.  Wahoo yay Launs thanks for sharing your dreams with us.

Jenna

“Before you were born I carried you under my heart. From the moment you arrived in this world until the moment I leave it, I will always carry you in my heart.” -Mandy Harrison

Hello Wanderers,

I have to be honest. Doing a photo session with an expectant mother for the first time is always a challenge. There is a discovery period of how comfortable she is in physical movement and in posing.

It may take a while to find that comfort level, but once it is reached, there is a whole new level of beauty that can be captured. This beauty lies within a mother who chooses to do something that only the female body can do: bring a new life into this world.

There is a moment of awe when I am able to capture photos that show the beauty in this progression to entering motherhood.

xoxo

Mike and the Wanderers

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