First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes...you're familiar with the old adage. But at an alarmingly increasing rate, couples are struggling to conceive, couples just like Raina and Monty, some of the sweetest and most authentic people I've had the pleasure of meeting.
You can read on for some details of Raina and Monty's struggle and resounding victory. I had the honor of photographing Raina for this couple's maternity AND newborn session. Look at this gorgeous pregnant woman!
Photographs have a natural, organic way of conveying raw emotion if you know where and when to point the camera, and fortunately, with LOTS of practice, and a little luck, I was able to capture some beautiful moments in the sessions with this wonderful couple. For all the moments inbetween, I asked Raina and Monty to share some of the juicy details, and any advice they were willing to pass on to others trying to conceive, and possibly attempting in vitro fertilization.
I know you and Monty had a difficult time conceiving, and Raina, you even mentioned you had considered adoption at one point. Would you care to share your experience with IVF?
We knew we wanted to have children, and tried the year after we were married. We are a bit older than the average parents and after seeing the OB/GYN, I was refered to an IVF clinic. We found out that I had low reserve (not many eggs), and Monty had low numbers with limited movement. We went through two rounds of IVF. Both rounds were taxing- injections morning and night, appointments every few days, uncertainty if it would work, trying not to get our hopes up, or expect to get pregnant, while staying positive and trying to enjoy the process.
After the first round did not take, I was skeptical about a second round. Monty encouraged me to do one more, and we got our little miracles.
As we considered growing our family, adoption was brought up. I have wanted children since I could remember and being a parent was important to me, whether the child was biologically mine or not, it didn't matter. If IVF had not worked, adoption was our next option. It is still on the table if we decide to continue to grow our family.
Tell me a little bit about what made you decide to get family photos done.
We decided to have family photos taken to showcase the babies, and to have a professional touch. We wanted an experienced photographer come in and be able to capture the sweet faces, the essence of newborns, and to have the entire family in the photos. We wanted photos we would be proud to display in our home, use as birth announcments and give as gifts. We have 1000 photos of the babies, but we aren't in most of them, or if we are we look frightful (sleep and shower deprived), and the will never be publically displayed.
What was your pregnancy and birth experience like? What was the best part of your pregnancy like? The pregnancy and births were great experiences, especially for carrying twins to 38 weeks. I had no issues with the pregnancy and was able to celebrate each passing week. The best part of the pregnancy was watching my belly grown knowing there were two little humans in there. Every day it was bigger, sometimes by evening it would be notically larger. We had fun dressing up the belly, watching the babies move around and kick, have the hickups, and feeling them grow and "poking back"
The birth was amazing. Having healthy babies was priority, having healthy babies vaginally was ideal. The entire process was smooth, the hospital (Lawrence and Memorial, New London, CT) staff, nurses, and doctors were amazing. Both babies were born, healthy, screaming, and vaginally!
What's been the grossest thing you've experienced since becoming parents?
The grossest thing we have experienced has been changing diapers and the babies fart/poop into your hand (it's all about hand placement).
What were your first thoughts when you found out the sex of your babies?
We did not find out the sex of the babies until they were born. It was so much fun not knowing and having to wait to find out who they were. When Baby A was born, my first thought was I have a son!! Then Baby B was born, and I thought, I have two sons! I was overjoyed to have twins of the same sex (I would have loved any combination of gender). I can't wait to see these two brothers grow up together.
What's the most exciting (or scary) part of having twins?
The most exciting part of having twins is knowing they already have their best friend. The scariest part is figuring out how to take care of two babies at the same time. It's a lot of work, but we wouldn't change it for anything.
What was the last non baby-related book you read?
The last non baby-related book I read was " The Girl with all the Gifts." It was well written, easy and quick to read , which was important as we were still getting the house in order for the arrival of the twins.
What tips or advice would you give another first time mom or dad about to experience these first few weeks of parenthood?
The first few weeks of parenthood is all about getting to know your baby (babies). The best thing we did was not allow friends to visit the first 1.5 weeks. We allowed close family (grandparents, aunts and uncles only) to visit as they would be helpful and not distract from the loose routine we were trying to set up. We are slowly allowing friends to visit, but only one visitor per day to ensure we keep our routine and the babies aren't too overwhelmed. We have also only allowed visitors who don't require to be entertained. People who will watch the baby (babies) for a few minutes while you eat or shower, or who will help out with laundry and dishes. Make sure everyone washes their hands and if they are sick or have been near someone who has been sick to visit only when they are better. Have visitors bring prepared food! Easy to eat, heat, and store. Schedule visitors around your schedule. If they can't make it at that time, reschedule! The best thing of the first few weeks though is watching the babies grow, stay awake a little longer each day, watching personalities show, and trying to enjoy as many moments with the newest family members.
It was truly a privilege photographing this sweet family. Welcome to the world, Ansel and Faelan! You are blessed with some amazing parents.