We are Chrissy O'Neill & Co., husband and wife team, obsessive dog parents, artists, and destination wedding & elopement photographers. Follow along here on the blog to see lots of beautiful people, the most stunning weddings, and behind the scenes from our travels and everyday life.
If talking about infertility or miscarriage is hard for you, or if you don’t feel like you have the emotional bandwidth at the moment to read about something that is a bit heavy, please feel free to skip over this. I feel you. Trust me, I have had (and still have) many random “fragile” days where I’ve learned to protect myself by avoiding anything that isn’t glaringly positive and full of good news. But there are also days where I feel a deep appreciation for the women who occasionally pepper my newsfeed —sometimes seemingly full of pregnancy announcements, bumpdates, and adorable baby photos— with grace and transparency discussing their struggles with infertility and miscarriage. It can feel like a hug amidst a line up of gut punches. And I want to pepper in a little hug for any of you who might feel that way right now too.
This is not a post about how I’ve struggled with miscarriage and infertility but then figured it all out and overcame grief and want to tell you about how you can feel better about it too. This is a post about how I AM struggling with miscarriage and infertility and have it maybe less than 10% figured out. It’s messy and uncomfortable, and doesn’t always feel like the most important thing to discuss amidst the many issues going on in the world today. But it is so lonely. My goal is to make you feel less alone if your journey to starting a family is taking a different route than you’d expected, too.
Here’s what I have figured out: As much pain as it’s brought us, I don’t think I would change our fertility journey. That’s not to say it isn’t absolutely heart wrenching to still be sitting here with empty arms, but a lot of good is growing from our yearning. It’s taken me a long time to acknowledge this because one of the most frustrating things that is said to couples who struggle with infertility and miscarriage is that “it’ll happen when it’s supposed to” or “it wasn’t meant to be”. I don’t believe either of those things. We have been expectant and ready this whole time. We want this so badly, and I refuse to believe that our first pregnancy wasn’t meant to be. But, I do believe in trying to find the good in bad situations, and in this situation, I have learned so much about myself as well as about my husband, and we have grown to be so much stronger than I ever knew we could be, both individually and as a couple. I’ve learned to give myself a lot of grace —like, A LOT. Tim has allowed me to feel what I needed to feel, and then pulled me out of the depths, and I’ve learned how to do the same for him. The suffering has without a doubt made me stronger, but at the same time, the grief has softened my heart towards the people around me who might also be struggling. And I know that when that day comes that we are finally able to hold our baby in our arms, the little things won’t bother us as much. Morning sickness, sleepless nights, stretch marks, a messy house, dirty diapers, endless laundry — give me all of it.
All of that is not to say I don’t still struggle with what has happened to us. It hurts in so many ways. I’ve struggled to be happy for people I love during the most joyful, exciting times of their lives because of my own hurt — whether it be friends that started their families with ease or friends that were once in the trenches alongside me struggling with infertility and loss who suddenly breeze past me and I’m alone again. Nothing makes me feel more weak, selfish, and ashamed than not being able to attend a baby shower for someone I love because it would make me too sad. It can feel like I am at a standstill while the world keeps on moving around me. I don’t believe grief ever really goes away. For me, it definitely comes in waves. It starts with a lightning bolt strike in my chest and then the emotions wash over me. It’s taken a long time to piece the words together to describe it, but one general battle that I’ve been struggling with is trying to find a way to feel content with my life in its current state and to be able to look forward to our future family with hope and excitement rather than fear and anxiety. I have this irrational fear that moving on and finding happiness and gratitude in my life, just as it is, would somehow mean that I don’t mourn the loss of our first pregnancy —the loss of the baby that is supposed to be in my arms right now. And I do, so deeply. I desperately want to find joy in this time of waiting, but for some reason I can’t allow myself to feel it. This is something I’m still navigating and trying to find my way to peace in the midst of the storm that is infertility.
If on this Mother’s Day you’re feeling alone, feeling bitter, wanting to just keep your head down and peddle through until it’s over —I see you. I am with you. But I challenge you, as I am challenging myself, to view your future motherhood through a new lens of expectancy and gratefulness for what’s to come. I fully believe good things are coming for you.
If you relate to this on any level or if you have any personal experience dealing with grief in this way and would like to talk more, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out.
These photos have been nine months in the making. When Chelsea from Tuesday Grace Designs created this invitation suite, inspired by a photograph I took while in Portugal earlier this year...
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