Hi, I’m Chenel, I’m a young mom, 25, of two boys and I married the love of my life whom I met at the age of 18. I have an incredible passion for photography and for my kids. I used to only photograph weddings but now I’ve shifted my business and I am photographing births – it’s probably the most incredible thing ever to witness and capture.
I (accidentally) started a blog two years ago where I chat about all things mama-related and show you my world through my eyes.
I was told at the age of 18 that I might struggle to have a baby one day as I only got my period every 3 or 4 months. At that age, I didn’t think too much of it until I was actually married…when it sort of counted. With our first child James, it took well over a year and that was tough enough, but with our second, it was even more intense. I was not ovulating at all and my estrogen was low it was pretty much non-existent. I went to a couple of gynecologist appointments, scans and blood tests – the hospital felt like my home. Eventually, the doctor put me on ovulation-inducing medication with added rounds of estrogen. It gave us hope which was, little by little, eaten away at as I was still not getting pregnant.
Month after month I carefully listened to my body and googled pregnancy symptoms. I became obsessed.
I bought so many ovulation and pregnancy tests we could have probably paid for IVF. Month after month, seeing negative tests, broke me.
It hurt me more than I thought it would. I was so sick of going for scans and being told my eggs weren’t big enough when they are released or some other stupid reason. I was so mad at my own body!
The rocky journey also included chemical pregnancies and though I was barely pregnant, it was enough to show a blazing positive little cross on that Clearblu and it spiked my hope levels…only to crash them gloriously to the ground. I was 4 weeks and a couple days if I can remember correctly. I kept testing, almost like an addict and the lines got lighter and lighter until there was nothing and I started to bleed. The cycle was going to start all over again and it was heart wrenching –people will tell you it wasn’t a real pregnancy but your feelings and emotions and hopes will tell you otherwise.
Every aspect of my being was challenged: my self-worth, my femininity, my profession, my marriage, my faith.
I felt lost and confused to be honest. I would not understand why my body was doing this. Weren’t us women actually made to have children? Why would my body not do this naturally? Why would I need medication to fall pregnant, that so many women do naturally?
Getting pregnant wasn’t easy, and I found that devastating. I really beat myself up for waiting so long when I’d always wanted children and family had been the basis of my happiness my whole life.
It really changed me as a person. It opened my eyes to this big world of infertility and how many women actually suffer from it. I never even knew it existed before the doctor muttered those words to me. I understand the hurt, I understand the anger and I understand the frustration now. And I do not wish it upon anybody.
On my very last month of being allowed on the medication, I fell pregnant. It was 10 days before Christmas – yes, you imagine it was the best Christmas present ever.
There are still big misconceptions about struggling to fall pregnant. I feel like we still don’t talk about it enough, as though it’s a taboo subject that people need to avoid. But you know, it’s actually so common. It happens to way more women that we realize, and we need to stand up and be there for each other. I think people don’t realize how incredibly common it is to have infertility issues – maybe because no one speaks about it.
In a way, I’ve mentally gotten through the experience. I created an Instagram account for my TTC journey and I often go back and read all my posts and how I felt at moments. Sometimes I cry reading the captions and sometimes I am proud of how far I have come since then.
It will always be a sensitive topic and it will always be a part of me. I heal by speaking about it, by connecting with others that have been through the same. It makes me feel less alone – what is that saying? We rise by lifting others.
Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream. It’s the loss of an assumed future. And, like every loss, it will be grieved.
With loss, we have to be so careful how we speak to others – I will definitely avoid things like “It will be okay, just relax it will happen, stop stressing about it, you can always adopt” Those words were muttered to me so many times and it honestly upset me so much. So what would I say? It sucks. And I GET that it sucks. It’s a horrible thing to go through and it kills bits of you inside.
Life can be so unfair but I have learnt to trust in God’s timing.
He knew when the time was right even though I refused to understand. Nothing you can say can really heal someone or make them feel better – but they need to know to NEVER ever lose hope, no matter how difficult it may get.
I wanted to convey a lot of symbolism for the first part of the shoot; the scales on which we weigh ourselves against others, and the “norm”; the empty and full passion fruit and seed pods; the pages of paper – our story, our pain.
The biggest link I’ve seen in many pregnancy stories is how we feel inadequate and less of ourselves – we hold our reflection up to the world’s impossible standards.
This shoot wouldn’t have been possible without:
Floral arrangements: Flowers on the Stoep
Makeup: NJD Makeup Artistry