“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:15-16 (ESV)
For those struggling with infertility, the sacrifices of motherhood start long before conception. Our identical twin girls, Elle and Quinn, were six years in the making. Praying and hoping, poking and prodding, sacrificing all that I was, emotionally and physically. While no woman wants to endure IVF, there comes with it a separate set of struggles for women of faith. Is this God’s plan? Will He bless this? Are we playing God?
I never wanted it to come to this. It would have been so much easier to conceive naturally, or via IUI, than to have to go there. To IVF. To the place of contention that had the ability to dissolve friendships, families, and our testimonies, to those in disbelief. Through each step of our fertility journey, as treatments became more and more aggressive, I prayed specifically against the need for IVF. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I didn’t want to have to trust God that much. In the end, ironically, I realized that’s exactly what motherhood is. One big trust fall, into His arms.
The more I prayed against IVF, the more quickly we arrived. It was my unanswered prayer that I later realized was answered, and very clearly, at that. We stepped out in faith; a faith in the belief that all life is created by His hand, and that no life could possibly be, without it. We made a promise to respect every single embryo, and to see them all through, in time. These were my children, and I, their mother.
After a challenging journey of injections, morning monitoring, surgery and frequent blood draws, two embryos were transferred into my womb. Both began to flourish. One of the two split into identical twins, resulting in a triplet pregnancy. We were strongly encouraged to terminate our identical girls, to give our fraternal triplet boy a fighting chance at a healthy pregnancy and life. Not once did we consider it. At week twenty, we lost our sweet boy when his gestational sac ruptured prematurely. If we had terminated our identical girls, we would no longer be parents at all. Though I mourned the loss of our baby boy, the doctors reminded me that I had to stay strong for the two little lives still growing within my womb. I was the strongest mother I knew how to be for two little souls I had yet to meet.
Just when I thought my trials had ended, our twins were diagnosed with TAPS; a form of twin-twin transfusion syndrome in which each received unequal blood flow from the placenta. With both of their lives in danger, doctors decided to deliver Elle and Quinn at 32 weeks, each weighing just over three pounds. Minutes later, I gave birth to our stillborn son. My birth experience was filled with more joy and sorrow than I ever could have imagined. But one of the hardest things a new mother can experience is leaving the hospital without her baby. I gave birth, walked out of the hospital with my hand in my husband’s, and he squeezed my hand tightly as we drove away, staring through our tears at the NICU wing where our girls would reside for another few weeks.
When our girls proved to be healthy and stable, they were finally able to come home. We knew we wanted to document the early days of parenthood, as tiring and messy as they were. In lieu of a newborn session, we opted for a family photo session with Michelle Lange in hopes of capturing not only our little girls, but the joy we feel as parents and the thankfulness we have in our hearts for this answered prayer (times two!).
Ironically, Michelle had taken portraits of me before I conceived, to be featured in a fine art magazine with a story on my infertility journey. Therefore, it only seemed fitting to ask Michelle to document our victory on the other side of infertility. With each chapter of our journey, Michelle’s photographs tell our story where words fall short. I can’t wait for the rainy day when we pile onto the sofa as a family, reach for our beautiful wooden keepsake box of prints from this session, and show our girls that life and love are always to be cherished.” Kristen, Mother
MICHELLE LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY