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December 4, 2018

…And then there were… | Our Journey to Parenthood

Well if this isn’t something we’ve thought about for years. The sharing part. But also the family part.


Sharing is something I was scared to do because we’re in the line of business that requires us to plan out our lives months, sometimes years, in advance. I didn’t want couples planning their weddings to stumble upon the blog and say to themselves, “Maybe we shouldn’t book them. Ya know, in case they get pregnant.” Or, worse, for our current couples to think that at any point we could suddenly abandon their wedding. We’re treading new waters. Allow me to be vulnerable here (and this entire post) when I ask how do the straight women photographers handle maternity leave? That’s a whole ‘nother beast we haven’t even begun to consider…yet.


I should warn you, my friend who cares so much about us, that this blog post is gonna be kind of a ramble. It’s how my brain functions when someone brings up the baby thing. I write pretty conversationally and this is no exception. Well, minus the issue that this is more of a conversation in my head that I’ve been so scared to have with you openly, on the web… for all to see.


Should we start at the beginning?


Ahh, yes. This day.

We got married in September of 2015. Being friends for so long before we made things official, we always knew that parenthood was in our future. We also knew that we didn’t want to wait long.

We gave ourselves a few months and officially began our Journey to Baby (or TTC Journey – trying to conceive) in June of 2016. We found a lovely queer midwife in Alexandria, Virginia to assist us with in home IUI (or Intrauterine Insemination). Why am I even telling you how we did this? Do you care? Anyway… Our midwife taught Katie how to perform the IUI so that we could attempt this process as naturally (for a gay couple) as possible. Home. With love. With privacy. Months go by. Cycles with constant negatives. We dive into the forums and try it all. Keto. Paleo. Increase the exercise. Decrease the exercise. Eat more vegan meals. Introduce clean eating. Avoid soda. Drink a gallon (yes, a gallon) of green juice consisting of kale, celery, apples, ginger, coconut water, lemon, and carrot. Daily. For months. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Eat a whole pineapple, including the core. Buy clothes adorned with pineapples on them (pineapple symbolizes fertility). Jump through hoops lit on fire over a tank of water on a motorcycle with one wheel as you dangle your left leg off the side and clap three times. Exaggerating. But still… treacherous.


And to make matters worse, we get the news that our midwife has passed away. Leaving behind a family and small children. To say that our hearts weren’t broken is an understatement. Life’s tricky.


I have to take a second to mention my sabbatical a few years ago. Yes, it stemmed from all of this. Now there are no longer any secrets between us friends, I should also share this: I haven’t been on any anxiety or depression medication since before we began our TTC journey in order to rid of my body of the chemicals that are currently rated “X” for those looking to conceive or have conceived. Just know that I am not recommending this approach alone. I have the constant attention of my doctors as we ride this rollercoaster of TTC. Not to mention, I have an amazing network of friends who constantly check on me and run to my aid whenever I face a rough day.


Speaking of rough days, let’s fast forward to November 16, 2018 when I posted this on Facebook:


Oh, Soleil. November 16th was the day of our 3rd medicated IUI with our fertility clinic. I fast forwarded a few years, I know. I’ll get back to explaining how we got to the decision of medicated IUI’s with the help of a fertility clinic in a second. Remember, I ramble.


It was almost like I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this IUI wasn’t going to work. I wrote this status just a few hours before going in for the procedure. A procedure most women would be so hopeful and excited about it. And I was… but I was overcome with this overwhelming sense of dread. I was mourning. I was mourning our angel babies. I was mourning the strength I had relied upon when I looked at my amazing spouse saying “We got it this time!”. I didn’t feel any of that. I felt, officially, broken.




What a heavy word.




Surgery. Let’s go back in time and talk about surgery.

My surgery and our losses go hand in hand. Because of the losses, I had scar tissue that was preventing further pregnancy. I would need to go through my very first surgery to fix my body. Broken. Of course, my surgery was the very last one of the day. For days, Katie had to watch my anxiety become overwhelming. I cried for days before the procedure. What if they couldn’t fix me? My mother almost lost her life when I was a child due to neglect while in surgery. Obviously something I hadn’t unpacked because my thoughts immediately went to what if something goes gravely wrong? I remember looking at Katie before she left for the waiting room; racking my brain to memorize her every feature, seal her touch in my memory, the way she smelled, kiss her deeply. To tell her I loved her repeatedly, secretly in my heart, so that she would know that I unrefutably loved her.


I made it through surgery. Feeling great. Wishing I had more anesthesia because what a delicious nap I had and blah, blah, blah. 


Reality check:

This is a heavy financial burden, yes. But the emotional, mental, and physical toll is such a high cost. I can only imagine what Katie goes through. Yes, we communicate. But sometimes, it’s too much and some things are better left to the imagination.


I constantly ask myself “Do I want a family this bad?” 


Clearly, our 2 years of at home IUI wasn’t working. We knew that we HAD to go the medicated IUI route with a reputable fertility clinic.


Let’s talk about that real quick: How often is IUI? I get that question a lot. Followed by “What exactly is IUI?”. IUI essentially removes the sex from the equation of conceiving. A doctor inserts the good goods via catheter into the uterus, thus extending the probability of pregnancy since all the egg has to do is claim her winner and plant herself in the nice cozy womb I’ve thickened up for her. So, following a woman’s cycle, IUI is every 4 weeks.


Here’s a picture Katie sent to my cousin minutes after our second IUI. We were warned, first IUI is a trial.  It usually doesn’t work the first try. BUT THE SECOND TRY. That try is money! (Millennial speak for: almost a guarantee!) Oh, Soleil. So hopeful. Girl, it’s a trap!


Break check. Can we just discuss real quick about how I’m talking about this on my very public blog that I share my work on? Like hello… awkward. Let me remind you all that this has been a highly requested blog post subject. So I started sharing what medications I was on and posted some sonograms of what they were looking for and ERASED IT ALL. Maybe another post for that. Just too much info. Carrying on…

Three medicated IUIs in. I don’t even know how many home IUIs we did over two years. Here we are. Another negative. November 16th was supposed to be a day full of hope and I just knew. I just knew it wouldn’t work. I knew we’d be heartbroken. I knew we’d feel lost, again. I knew that I would feel so broken.



I. Am. Broken.


When I posted that heartfelt tangent on Facebook, I got a lot of comments. Many just words of encouragement. But I also got some hate. So really quickly, I wanted to offer some tips on how to approach your friends who share about their journey to parenthood.

  • Please don’t share someone else’s story. “For this person I know it took ten years and they spent a small fortune and now they have their baby!” It’s painful. We’re three years in. I know you aren’t suggesting it, but thinking about spending another 7 years in this journey sounds downright dreadful. Spending a small fortune? We’ve done it and have even more yet to spend. They now have their baby! Yes! We love that part. But it just reminds us that we don’t have ours and we don’t know why.
  • Please don’t tell us to “forget about it” so that it will just “happen naturally”. We’re a gay couple. It can’t happen naturally for us. We aren’t afforded the ability to just “forget about it”. We don’t have the “sample” ready to go at the drop of a hat whenever we need it. It costs money. It’s all about timing. It’s about how healthy the host is. It’s all we think about.
  • A beautiful response is “If you need a distraction, I’m here for you.”
  • A beautiful response is “I’m praying for you.”
  • A beautiful response is “I can’t wait to watch your dreams come true.”
  • A beautiful response is “I’m waiting with you. I can’t wait to celebrate with you.”
  • A beautiful response is “I’ve walked your journey. I’ll walk along side you now. I’m here if you need anything.”
  • A beautiful response is “I love you.”


What next?

No more IUIs. Our doctor and fertility team don’t feel as if this is the best journey for us any longer. Now, we head towards IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). A much bigger financial risk with still yet no guarantee. Crazy.

We’ve opted out of beginning this month, so soon after our negative (on Katie’s birthday, btw. Brutal.). I’d rather have some Coquito on Christmas Eve and leave my mind off of the baby making. My heart is broken and I need time to process. When will we start the IVF journey? No idea. Just… just not yet.



Luckily, I’m the one writing this and not Katie, who would disagree with that word in it’s entirety. Probably goes for how my fertility team thinks to. They all love us so much. We get hugs and deep conversations about life whenever we are in the clinic. We know we’re in great hands.


Until then, I’ll keep wearing pineapple on my clothes. Maybe I’ll get myself a pineapple tattoo for my birthday. That way, when we are holding our little one day, I won’t ever forget about the strength I possess within me. We’ll get through this.





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Data associated with your account, such as your name, address, email address and payment information
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We will notify you of promptly any known breach of our security systems or your data which might expose you to serious risk.

This website or mobile app is not designed for use by children under age 16, and we do not knowingly solicit personal data from anyone under age 16. If you are under age 16, do not access or use our website or related products or services. If you become aware that we have collected data of anyone under the age of 16, please contact us so that we may delete that data.

You have certain rights with respect to your personal data, as outlined below. Note that we may charge you a reasonable fee for actions that you ask us to take with respect to your data. In addition, we reserve the right to request that you provide us with evidence of your identity before we take any action with respect to the exercise of your data rights. Further, your rights may be restricted or nullified to the extent they conflict with our compelling business interests, the public interest, or the law.

Update Account Information: You have the right to update or change any information you have provided to us. To update or delete your information, please contact us at hello@soleilandkatie.com.

Confirm Personal Data and Its Use: You have the right to request that we confirm what data we hold about you, and for what purposes. You also have the right to confirmation of whether we process your data or deliver your data to third party processors, and for what purposes. We will supply you with copies of your personal data unless doing so would affect the rights and freedoms of others.

Change Consent: You have the right to change your consent to our use of your information. In such cases, we may require you to delete your account with us, as described above, and you may not have full access to our website.

Request a Copy of Data: You have the right to request a digital copy of the data that we hold about you. Your first request for a copy of your personal data will be provided free of charge; subsequent requests will incur a reasonable fee.

Transfer Your Data: You have the right to request that we gather and transfer your data to another controller, in a commonly used and machine readable format, unless doing so would cause us an undue burden.

Delete All Data: You have the right to request that we delete all data that we hold about you, and we must delete such data without undue delay. There are exceptions to this right, such as when keeping your data is required by law, is necessary to exercise the right of freedom of expression and information, is required for compliance with a legal obligation, or is necessary for the exercise or defense of legal claims. Such a request may result in a termination of your account with us and you may have limited or no use of our website.

Emails And Communications: You may opt out of receiving future email correspondence from us by checking the appropriate box when you register for the account or make a purchase. You may change your communication settings by contacting us at hello@soleilandkatie.com

Marketing Communications: You may opt out of receiving any third party marketing communications or having your personal information used for marketing purposes. You may do this by contacting us at hello@soleilandkatie.com.

Processing: You may, in some circumstances restrict the processing of your data, such as when you contest the accuracy of your data or when you have objected to processing, pending the verification of that objection. When processing has been restricted, we will continue to store your data but will not pass it on to third party processors without your consent, or as necessary to comply with legal obligations or protect your rights or those of others or our company. In addition, you may opt out of any processing of your data altogether. Note however that doing so may result in the termination of your account and loss of access to our website.

Complaints: You have the right to complain to a supervising authority if you believe we are misusing your data or have violated any of your rights under this Privacy Policy or applicable law.

The State of California has established its own unique regulations that apply to California residents. If you reside in California, you have the right to obtain from us, once per year and free of charge, information regarding what information we disclose to third party marketers, and the names and addresses of each third party to whom we disclose your data. If you are a California resident and would like to make such a request, please use the contact information listed below.

If you are a California resident and under the age of 18, you have the right to request that we remove any data that you publicly post on our website. To request removal of your data, please use the contact information listed below. Note that while we will remove your data that is publicly posted on our website, we may not be able to completely remove that data from our systems.

We offer the opportunity for you to volunteer certain information to us that is used for email and marketing purposes. This information includes, but is not limited to, your name and email. You will have an opportunity to unsubscribe from any future communications via email, but we reserve the right to maintain a database of past email subscribers. We reserve the right to use this information as reasonably necessary in our business and as provided by law. Your information will be shared with reasonably necessary parties for the ordinary course of conducting our business, such as through Facebook ads or Google Pay Per Click marketing campaigns.

If any part of these Terms, Conditions and Privacy Policy is deemed unlawful and/or unenforceable, all other provisions contained herein will remain in full force and effect.

The information contained herein constitutes the entire agreement between site users and our company relating to the use of this website.

These Terms, Conditions and Privacy Policy are governed by and construed in accordance with United States law. Any dispute arising out of or related to the information contained herein is subject to adjudication in the state of Virginia, United States.


Contact Information
Soleil and Katherine Hagan

Last Updated on 5/30/18

terms & conditions of use | privacy policy