Our Journey| Charlotte Newborn Photographer

Charlotte, NC Premiere Boutique Newborn, Maternity, Children, and Family Photography

“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.” -unknown

 This quote couldn’t be any better explaining life with postpartum depression. Or maybe it’s depression, anxiety, life…whatever it is, it took over my life and I wanted to take control back.

A little back-story, and by little, I mean…there’s a lot.

I love my life. My husband and kids are the best part of my life. My family is wonderful and I had fairly normal childhood (we are 100% Italian, so as normal as that gets). My husband and I met in college and were best friends first. We fell in love, got married, traveled, bought a townhome and started our life together.

Even though I was a teacher, having kids scared the sh!t out of me! I didn’t think I could be a full time mom. Kids are crazy!

 About 3 years into our marriage, Sean and I decided to try and see what happens. Well as luck would have it, we got pregnant on the first try. The feeling of seeing that positive test was something I have never experienced. Fear, happiness, worries…all rolled into one. At that moment, my feelings towards having my own children changed.

Sean and I told our families right away. We bought them cute gifts to show them they will be Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles. Everyone was so excited!

The day came to go to the doctor to see our little nugget!! Sean wasn’t able to take off, but I just figured he could come to the next one. I waited anxiously and was brought back to the ultra sound room. The nurse put that cold jelly on my belly and started to look. Silence. She said nothing. I didn’t know what to look for or what she was suppose to show us, so I thought nothing of it. But then she said she’d be right back with the doctor. A sinking feeling came over me.

The doctor came in. Did the same thing the nurse did. Said nothing at first. Then the words that no one ever wants to hear. “I’m sorry, but we can’t find a heartbeat.” I didn’t say anything.

She walked out and I burst into tears. I called Sean and muttered something about no heartbeat. He couldn’t fully understand me, but I just hung up.

 I left that day not knowing what to do….how to feel….where to go. I was told I have to come back and have a D&C. What was that? It doesn’t just do everything on it’s own? I have to come back and reconfirm I won’t have a baby??


Now that I have sat with this for a while, we had to tell our families. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was hard as hell. That’s for sure. Sean got the brunt of it, as I couldn’t talk to anyone. Not everyone understood, not everyone was helpful, but I guess everyone deals with it differently.


After all the heartache, doctor visits, more heartache, we were able to try again. We were in Key West relaxing, drinking, and having an amazing vacation.  Second time around, same thing, pregnant right away. This time was different. I wasn’t as excited, I was scared. What happens if I miscarry again? What happens if this is another baby I can’t hold, put to sleep, watch grow up? Sean tried to keep me positive, but physically and mentally going through a loss is hard. Thinking of all of the possibilities, made it hard to get excited. We didn’t tell anyone this time around. I couldn’t go through that heartache again in case it didn’t happen.


As ‘fate’ would have it, I started bleeding. While I’ve never been pregnant long enough to know how it works, I knew this wasn’t normal. I went to the doctor knowing what she would say. No heartbeat. Your body will take care of itself. Well, I guess that was better. I don’t have to come back in again to relive the horror of the D&C.


A few weeks went by and something wasn’t right. I was still bleeding. I went in for an ultra sound and they said everything looked normal. Now I grew up with a ton of complications as a young lady. I knew my body pretty well and I knew something wasn’t right. That same night, I looked at Sean and told him we need to go to the ER.


I was wheeled back to another ultrasound. This time, the girl said she sees something a little abnormal, but wasn’t sure. So the doctor came back and said he was going to do a microscopic surgery to see what was going on. Obviously, I have no recollection of what went on, but Sean said it was the longest hour of his life.  Sitting in the ER alone hearing all kinds of alarms, codes, emergencies happening around him were frightening. He wasn’t really sure if any were about me or not.


Finally, the doctor came out. He told Sean that I had what was called an ectopic pregnancy. It’s where the baby starts to grow in a fallopian tube. If I waited any longer, I could’ve died.


When I woke up, the doctor came in and told me the same thing. He asked me how much pain I was in before we came to the hospital. My answer was none. He was floored. He told me that my tube was on the verge of bursting and most people would be doubled over in pain. So call it fate, intuition, whatever you want, even though I wasn’t in pain, my body knew something was wrong.


He went into detail about how I no longer have my right tube. It was too damaged to keep. What the hell does that mean? Again, I’m not a doctor, but I assume I needed that to have a baby. We were referred to an IVF doctor. Before this, I haven’t really heard of any of this. I just assume people have babies the natural way. Little did I know, this is way more common than I thought.


Dr. Hickey was wonderful. He sat us down and talked through EVERYTHING. Probably more than we needed to know, but him being so thorough helped us become at ease with the process.


We started with the main drugs and did a round of IUI. What is in an IUI? Click to read about. This is typically the first procedure that they do. It wasn’t effective and after more testing, they realized that my body physically couldn’t hold a baby. Where the baby latches wasn’t capable yet. So lucky for us, we didn’t have to do other procedures that wouldn’t work and jumped right to IVF. Lucky? Yeah, I said lucky…lucky to have needles stuck in me multiple times a day…blood work every morning, swelling, sickness….lucky.


The process sucked to put it bluntly. My insides felt like they were going to explode. My hormones were everywhere! The first round didn’t work. I was in so much pain that they stopped the process. We waited another 2 months to start again. This time, we made it to the transfer. We were able to get many healthy eggs! How exciting!!


Now the waiting game came. Will these eggs mature enough to be put back in? How many will we put in? Will we have multiples? Will it not work at all? Will I have to do these shots and medicines all over again?


The day came to do the transfer. It was quick and painless and I was in bed a few hours later. We were told not to take a test too early because it could be a false positive due to all of the drugs I was taking. I read every post I could find about IVF and saw that most women were able to get a correct positive 7 days after. So I got a test. POSITIVE. All of those feelings came rushing back. Will this be the one? Will we have to endure another loss? When will we be able to tell our families?


I went back to the doctor 14 days after the procedure. They were going to be able to tell me if there was a heartbeat or not. 2 weeks! A very positive thing about IVF. The 10-minute wait was the longest wait ever. The nurse finally came in and started the ultrasound. Moments later we hear it. Thump thump, thump thump, thump thump. Is that really my baby’s heartbeat?? I burst into tears. Tears of fear, joy, happiness, exhaustion, fear. Seeing our little nugget was the best feeling on earth.


As an IVF patient, you go back weekly to see your progress. It was a great and nerve-wracking feeling every week. Every week I would go in wondering if today would be the day they told me they couldn’t find the heart beat. But weeks went by and our little baby was growing and thriving. We graduated! At week 11, we were sent back to our regular doctor.


A few more weeks went by and I had a few scares, but our baby was still growing. It wasn’t until almost 18 weeks; we decided to tell our families. They were starting to notice I wasn’t drinking (which I did at most family gatherings), gaining some weight, etc. I was excited, but scared. Knowing there is always a possibility of a loss is frightening.

April 8th, 2014, Landon Charles Whalen was born! The birth….that’s another long story. He didn’t make it easy. It was a feeling that I can’t describe, but a wonderful one.


After everything we went through, it took me a while to talk about it, but once I started opening up, it was shocking how many other families go through something similar. Our story ended with a healthy baby boy. Sadly, not everyone’s does.


So now that I have reflected on our journey, here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

Don’t ask people questions like:

So when’s the baby coming along?’

‘So, have you got any good news for us yet?’’

‘I can’t wait for the grandchild to come along’

After miscarriage statements or questions:

‘It’ll get better in time’

-Ummmm don’t tell me how I should feel.

‘It wasn’t meant to be’

-what is that suppose to mean? I was meant NOT to have a baby?

‘I don’t know what you’re going through, but…’

-No buts. You don’t. End of story.

‘Luckily you lost pretty early. Think if it happened any later.’

Luckily?? How is any of this lucky? Like I’ve stated earlier, there are MANY people who have gone through much more than we did. But don’t downplay how you think I should feel.

You never know what someone else may be going through. Maybe they are one of 1 in 4 women that have experienced a loss. YES…1in 4!!

Maybe they don’t want to have kids. WHAT?! You heard me…some people just don’t want kids. And that’s OK!

Things to say to someone who has experienced loss:

Nothing: if you can’t think of the right words, just be there for them.

‘I’m here for you’

‘You are not alone. Be kind to yourself’

Things to consider for yourself and your partner:

Don’t go into a Google black hole

I did it. Every day. I would search and search and search for answers to why I couldn’t keep a baby. Was it my fault? Did that glass (bottle) of wine before I knew I was actually pregnant make me miscarry? What if I took more vitamins? What if I ate healthier? DON’T DO IT. You will lose your mind. You did NOTHING wrong. Our bodies are mysteries and there is nothing you will read on the interweb that will prove you did anything to ‘make’ this happen.

Find a tribe

While I was going through all of this, I had a best friend who went through a different journey, but a hard one as well. It was so nice to know I can ask all of these questions with someone who was on the same page as me. I only wish I was more open about it then. I couldn’t even tell you the amount of people I know now who have similar stories. But again, during the thick of it, you don’t want to talk much at all. At least I didn’t. Even if you don’t find your tribe, try to talk to your significant other. While they may not know all that you’re going through, they will comfort you when you just want to cry.


If you know someone who is struggling, reach out. They may not have the strength to ask for help.



Family pictures by Ally & B Photography: https://www.allyandbphotography.com/


Gina Whalen Photography | Boutique Newborn, Maternity, Children, and Family Photography
2250 Bluebell Way, Tega Cay, SC
Charlotte, NC | Tega Cay, SC | York County, SC | Mecklenburg County | Charlotte Photographer
Based in Charlotte, NC
Studio Located in Tega Cay, SC
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Thanks for stopping by! I would love for you to say hello :) I specialize in Boutique Newborn, Maternity, Children, and Family Photography. I want to show that you loved with passion and emotions. I am drawn to the emotional and heartwarming ways we connect with one another and our surroundings. A session with me is perfectly focused on taking the time to slow down and really appreciate the little things in life we don’t always stop and notice. To contact me, please use the contact tab above or email ginawhalenphotography@gmail.com
Gina Whalen Photography Serves northern South Carolina, Northwest suburbs, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, York County, and beyond. Studio located in Tega Cay, SC. Surrounding cities include: Tega Cay, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Indian Land, Charlotte, York County, Ballantyne, Steele Creek, Gastonia, Belmont, Pineville, and the surrounding areas.
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