Shannon is a 26 year old, first time mother, expecting identical twin girls in April 2016. It was a joy to photograph her and Drew for their engagement and wedding, and it was an honor to photograph this milestone in their lives as well. I asked Shannon to share her pregnancy story with you - it hasn't been an easy journey, but I think it's one that's truly worthy to be shared and celebrated.
These photos were taken when Shannon was 25 weeks pregnant: "I’m swollen and exhausted; but so thankful for another day. These photos capture a new me, someone that has been broken down, and rebuilt."
My husband and I were married on October 31, 2014 (Halloween!), we couldn’t wait to be married and start our family. I never could have been prepared for the journey we were to embark on; and looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
The process of becoming a mother has forever changed me, given me patience, acceptance and an abundance of growth. Once we decided to grow our family, I couldn’t think of anything else. I’m a very strong-willed woman that was raised to go after things you want, never settle. This “no limits” persona has helped me to get ahead in athletics, business and finances. I was convinced the same would be true in pregnancy. So we tried everything.
I started tracking my monthly cycles, using a number of fertility apps, purchasing ovulation kits and ovulation monitors; there was nothing I wouldn’t try. Six months flew by, each month I was crushed. Becoming pregnant had somehow become bigger than me, bigger than my marriage. I blamed myself, I was convinced that something was wrong. My husband was a saint throughout this time. I critiqued everything he did, and forced him to make major life changes for the sake of getting pregnant.
Eight months passed, and I decided it was time to contact a fertility specialist. We spent a ton of money, had all sorts of tests done, everything came back normal. I somehow still felt crushed, I felt like I’d been searching for something to just be wrong. This is when it hit me that becoming a mother was too big to control. I started to recognize that the process of getting pregnant was preparing me for all the challenges of being a mother.
The next few months were some of the darkest months I’ve ever experienced. I questioned who I was and how I’d come to be this way. All the rigid rules I’d created for myself had to be broken. I had to learn to be intimate again, with a man that I love. I forced myself to be social and have a few drinks with friends that mattered.
I slowly broke down barriers and began letting go. I let go of the timeline, let go of all expectations and embraced the here and now. Slowly, I started to feel alive again.
My husband and I took a vacation in August of 2014. We drank like fish, laid on the beach, were intimate daily and embraced the now. I finally felt like I had woken up, I felt present and excited about the here and now.
That next month, we found out we were pregnant. It had taken us (2 young, healthy, active 20-somethings) just shy of one year to get pregnant. I recognized the journey had just began.
For someone like myself; a type-A control freak, it is very hard not to fall back into the trap. I was so excited to be pregnant, over the moon, ecstatic. However, I almost lost sight of all the hard-work and personal growth I’d accomplished. I started setting high expectations for my pregnancy. Things like, “I will exercise 5 days a week” or “I will only gain 18 lbs. like my mother did”.
Thankfully, that all changed after our first ultrasound. At 8 weeks, we found out we were not only pregnant, but expecting multiples. From that point on, everything changed.
At our 12 week ultrasound, we were diagnosed (blessed) with a Mono-Di pregnancy. In English, that means we were expecting two babies, that would be identical because they shared the same placenta. We were given a whole bunch of information and sent to a Maternal Fetal Specialist. My husband and I were so excited, but understood there were significant risks.
My pregnancy has included weekly, sometimes bi-weekly ultrasounds and monitoring. It has been a roller coaster ride, filled with some of the highest peaks and lowest of lows. To this day, our Baby B still measures 20% behind Baby A. But, my husband and I promised to remain true to ourselves and to our babies. We decided to take it one day at a time, stay off of google, and trust in the miracles growing inside me.
Once again, I’ve been tested as a soon to be mother. I’ve taken solstice in the now, I’m thankful for every day that passes.
I’ve let go of all expectations, nothing is more important than the growth and health of our sweet girls.
I’m embracing what matters and letting go of all that doesn’t.