Infertility Awareness Week: Real Stories from Real Families

Akron OH newborn Photography Session

As a Cleveland, Akron & Canton OH Newborn photographer I meet so many different families. Every family is unique and special in their own way, but they are not all started the same way. I want take some time this week to raise awareness about something: infertility. This week is Infertility Awareness Week, April 24-30th, 2022.

I know as a Mom of four myself, I was not aware of some of the infertility issues that people have gone through. Maybe I was naive, maybe it wasn’t in my circle or maybe it wasn’t talked about. Whatever it was, I was definitely unaware of how common it is. 

Becoming a Newborn Photographer helped me meet so many different families who have struggled with infertility. Some of those families talk about it, others don’t. One family however, did, and (with their permission of course) I want to help spread awareness and share their story.

Emily, Josh and Little Harper’s Change of Plans!

Newborn Photo Session with Newborn Bed Prop.

A little over 10 months ago I had the honor of meeting Emily & Josh Smith. They got on the schedule for a maternity and Canton OH newborn photography session with me. Prior to the session they filled out all the needed contracts and filled out the questionnaire. We then planned their maternity and newborn session. However, baby Harper had other plans!! I received a message that Harper was born as a Father’s Day surprise weighing only 2.15lbs and would be in the NICU for a while. 

I kept in contact with Emily and Josh through the NICU time, checking to see how Harper was doing. She was doing great and got to come home on August 21st!! This was much earlier than her Sept 2nd due date! I was ecstatic for Emily, Josh & Harper!!

Fast forward to the session day. As a Cleveland and surrounding area newborn photographer, I have had many newborn sessions. If you have ever worked with me, you know I love to chat and get to know my clients. During the session the subject came up about Harper’s journey into this world and it was such a great story I wanted to help Emily spread the word about Infertility Awareness Week and highlight Harper’s amazing story! 

Harper’s Story: Infertility Awareness Week

Here is Harper’s story in her Momma’s words:

Let’s start from the beginning. We tried to conceive on our own for 6 months after finding out I had PCOS. After no success, I finally reached out to our fertility doctor, Dr. Nicholas Spirtos at Northeastern Ohio Fertility Center. We’ve been with the center for the last 4, going on 5, years. Both Josh and I love our doctor, embryologist, and small office staff. Josh and I both struggle with male and female infertility. We were given a 1% chance to coneive on our own.

We started with 6 rounds of IUIs, all of which resulted in negative pregnancy tests. Then we started IVF and they retrieved 23 eggs, 11 fertilized, and only 4 made it to day 5 Blastocyst. We were able to transfer two embryos, both of which resulted in negative prgnancy tests. We did manage to get pregnant once, but miscarried with our baby girl Everly Mae. After six years of trying to conceive naturally, through IUI’s, and IVF, which all resulted in negative pregnancy tests or miscarriage, we had the opportunity to adopt two embryos. We never thought of using an egg or sperm donor and we never thought of adopting embryos.

But Then We Did!

Newborn posed image of Cleveland newborn photographer studio.

Two years ago, we received a phone call from our fertility doctor’s office asking if we would be interested in adopting two embryos. After talking to my husband, we called the office the next day and signed the papers to receive the two embabies as if they were our own. We were so blessed to have been chosen by our doctor to receive our “embabies”. We were/are so blessed that a couple out there wanted to give up their “embabies”  to help grow someone else’s family.

December of 2020, we transferred one of those “embabies” and were blessed with our rainbow baby Miss Harper Elaine. We delivered at Aultman Hospital on Sunday, June 20th (best Father’s Day present!) by emergency c-section due to having preclampsia. Admittedly, I didn’t know it due to not having any concerning signs besides a lot of swelling and being tired. I of course thought those were normal pregnancy symptoms! We delivered Harper 11 weeks early with the help of Dr. Daniella Kiko from Generations Women’s Health. Her original due date was Sept 2nd and she spent 63 days in the Akron Children’s NICU at Aultman’s Hospital.

She is a true miracle in every essence of the word. We pray that our sweet girl’s embryo sibling will one day be in our arms, when the time is right!

RESOLVE: Ohio Canton General Infertility Support Group: Infertility Awareness Week

These two are absolutely incredible and have even started their own infertility support group!

The National Infertility Association was a great resource as we started our infertility journey. They helped us understand terminology, look into other fertility treatments ,and connect with local support groups. With that, two years ago I started an infertility support group through RESOLVE. We meet monthly via Google Meet and have a private FB group “Ohio: Canton General Infertility Support Group”. It’s a peer led support group for women who are struggling with primary and secondary infertility.

If you yourself have dealt with Infertility issues, please tell your story! Help other parents currently going through it to know there are many options and a light at the end of the tunnel. 

If you are currently dealing with infertility, I hope Harper’s story has helped you to feel hope and given you ideas of how to seek help with resources that are available. 

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