I can’t believe I’m writing this! After having a longer and more difficult journey than we anticipated, Aaron and I are so excited to be welcoming our first baby, a boy, at the end of July! I rarely write personal blog posts on my photography website but when you book me as your photographer, you’re also gaining a new friendship. So why not get to know more about me! And afterall, since photography is such a huge part of my life, this blog post will touch on all the emotions I felt when I found out I’d be having a baby mid-wedding season and how I’m navigating this with my impacted couples. So here we go!
The Fertility Journey
Pregnancy didn’t come easy for us. I have shared bits of our story on Instagram and have realized that in doing so, I’m touching a lot of people that need to hear of a success story after struggles. So that’s why I’ve decided to be an open book on the subject.
Aaron and I started trying for a baby in January of 2019. We waited a few years after getting married because we wanted to buy a new house, enjoy being married, and take time to travel. Knowing what we know now, I still don’t regret waiting! I loved those years of just us.
We tried for a few months at the beginning of 2019 before taking a 5-month break to avoid having a baby in the middle of my busy work season. We started trying again in January of 2020 and found out we were pregnant on Valentine’s Day! Our first pregnancy only lasted 7 weeks before we had our heartbreak. We decided to continue trying as soon as possible and tried without success for 9 months. During that time, I tried EVERYTHING natural. Caster oil packs, acupuncture, Chinese herbal supplements, diet changes, nothing did the trick. When our first baby’s due date came and went, we knew more than anything we were ready to be parents and started exploring other options.
Since we had been trying for about a cumulative 1.5 years (not counting our break) without a successful pregnancy, we were eligible to start moving to next steps and entertain fertility treatments. After meeting with the doctors at the wonderful Center for Reproductive Medicine in Minneapolis, we decided our first step would be to try IUI before we moved onto IVF. Why? When they did their testing on both Aaron on myself, they weren’t detecting anything “wrong”. IUI was also covered by our health insurance, and IVF was not. Because the doctor said IUI had a chance of working, we decided to go that route. However, the doctor warned us the success rate on your first round of IUI was a bleak 15%, so we decided to start the process right away, assuming it would take a few rounds to be successful. At the back of our mind we also knew that losing another baby was always a possibility. So even though the timing of our first IUI would land with a late-July baby, we thought by the time we actually had success that our baby would likely be due in the fall or winter. Of course, we were wrong!
The process of IUI was very easy, all things considered. I had to drive to our doctor every other day for a few weeks for follicle checks, timed medication, etc. But aside from the hassle of those short appointments, it really was easier than we thought. The procedure itself was only 15 minutes. Easy easy! Unfortunately, with COVID, Aaron wasn’t able to be there with me for any of these appointments. It’s crazy to think I got pregnant with his baby and we weren’t even in the same city when it happened – medicine is wild!
We found out we were pregnant on Aaron’s birthday, November 16th! Finding out your pregnant after loss is a totally different wave of emotions. We felt disbelief (also, how the heck did it happen so fast for us?!), anxiety, happiness, and a whole lot of fear. We were really guarded until we hit our first ultrasound and saw our baby for the first time. The anxiety was really heavy through 12 weeks, but to be honest, the anxiety truly hasn’t subsided, even at 21 weeks. But we are so beyond grateful for where we’re at!
My First Trimester Symptoms
Unlike most people that get pregnant, I knew that I was pregnant very early on. So, I was able to enjoy about 2.5 weeks knowing I was pregnant without ANY symptoms whatsoever. Literally, not one. This of course didn’t help with the pregnancy anxiety! But in hindsight I did feel lucky to feel so good and pretty energized at the beginning. Once I hit 6.5 weeks, I started to feel really fatigued and the food aversions began. Once I got to 7 weeks, I was so nauseous! It persisted all day but was the very worst around dinner and at its peak at bedtime.
Things that helped me: acupressure wristbands, constantly sucking on hard candies, eating small bits every 2 hours, and ginger ale.
The nausea lasted beyond the first tri and into about week 16 of my pregnancy. Yuck! I was also thankful it was a COVID winter, so I didn’t have much pressure to leave my house. But truly, it’s all worth it.
Telling Our People
I’m an open book, Aaron is more guarded. So I’d be lying if I said we didn’t tell anyone until 9 weeks, because my besties from college all knew right after we found out! A lot of them have suffered pregnancy losses so I knew I’d need that support system and level of understanding as I navigated those first few, hard weeks.
After we had 3 ultrasounds and hit the 9 week mark, we knew we were ready to tell family. The best part? It landed right before our Christmas celebrations! Aaron’s Christmas celebration was first, so we told his family by leaving envelopes with everyone’s names on them under the tree. Inside was a selfie of us with our ultrasound photo! Everyone screamed and cried and it was the best! They were shocked because I wasn’t feeling well that morning, so our excuse for my late arrival was that I had a follicle check at the doctor. In the midst of a pandemic, you can’t say you’re not feeling well as an excuse anymore! Their reaction was sooo fun – I’m SO glad I got it on video!
The next week was my family. My family had been pestering me asking if I was pregnant for weeks! My dad even asked an hour before our surprise. So when they opened their Christmas gift, they just laughed. Their reaction didn’t look that exciting on video but they were soo happy! My parents live 6 houses down the street so they’re so excited for lots of grandson time. I have a vlog of our fertility journey + footage of us telling our families here!
I told some of my other best friends around the 9 week mark as well, and Aaron waited until 12 weeks to tell his circle. At 11 weeks, we also found out baby’s gender! A boy!!! Aaron and I found out on our own at home, and we surprised the rest of our family with gender reveal cookies that we shipped to their homes. We asked them to record their reactions and pulled it together in video format after. I have the video here. Seriously, one of my favorite videos of all time! I watch it all the time when I need a smile!
A Mid-Summer Baby
So, what does this mean for my 2021 weddings?! Per the suggestion of my doctor, I’m not shooting any weddings in July in preparation for the baby. I’m returning for my first wedding September 25th, 8 weeks after baby’s due date. I have replacement photographers lined up for all of my couples and will be going through very in-depth training with all of them! I’ll continue to edit the photos as baby naps and serve my clients to the best of my ability. I gave all of my couples a discount and offered them a full deposit refund if they weren’t comfortable with my action plan. Truly jumping into mompreneur mode right away!! Trusting in God’s plan with our baby’s timing, but truly hoping we can avoid this timing from happening again with future babies!
Overall, Aaron and I couldn’t feel more blessed and excited for the arrival of our son! We constantly pray for continued good health so we can meet this little rainbow baby earthside soon 🙂
Video: Baby Burtzel – Chapter 1
Video: Baby Burtzel – Gender Reveal
Thank you Brooke Elisabeth Photography for taking our pregnancy announcement and gender reveal photos!