You know that saying, "A picture says a thousand words?" That came in really handy with the profile book. I wanted our book to hold true to this philosophy, to be something where if someone was skimming, they could get the gist from just looking at our pictures and the captions. Not that the text was extraneous, just that the choice of photos was so important to us. That they should capture who we were, independent of the text.
So we uploaded many, many more pictures than we ever were going to use, and we debated the merits of different ones. I am proud to say that there are at least four pictures in our book where I am wearing absolutely no makeup. Which, if you know me, is amazing (I love to paint my face). The reason why they made it in was that they showed something wonderful, like us looking super in love out for a hike in the woods (bonus, it was November, so I have a nice natural flush going to light up my pastiness). Or a real moment, like our Easter morning Easter basket hunts, done in pajamas with messy hair and big, genuine smiles. I think I'm wearing a bra in that one. It doesn't matter, because that ear-to-ear smile and childlike joy of opening up a little bag of prizes selected and hidden by each other is what comes through.
There was one picture that Bryce wanted to use, that I just couldn't say yes to.
"We look so happy," he said, as he went to upload it into the book:
"Not that photo, please." I replied, with a lump growing in my throat and my heart.
"But it's a really happy photo! We exude love and joy!" Bryce really liked it, and for good reason.
We do look happy. Super happy. And we had good reason to, but I didn't want to use it.
Does it look familiar? It might, because I've used it in two different posts before, In The Time Of the Butterflies, and 40 Weeks Ago.
I was surprised by the completely visceral reaction I had when I saw this photo being chosen. I immediately got hot in the face and tears welled up and spilled over.
Why? We were pregnant in that picture. It is the only picture I have that is not a ill-fated pee-stick, that shows just how amazing it felt to finally, finally be pregnant and have good news. I think this was on our second Beta day, when our numbers rose like a champ and we were no longer super cautiously happy (although we should have been), but thrilled and able to put into words our hopes for the pregnancy as we walked around that county park filled with swallowtail butterflies.
It was a picture that told a story all right, and it brought up emotions that I hadn't realized were just waiting to bubble up. I didn't want to share my super happy "we're pregnant" photo with someone who could remain a stranger because they didn't pick us. That's my moment. It belongs to us (and, ironically, you, who may also be strangers, but strangers seeking an infertility/IVF/donor gamete/adoption blog, so you're not REALLY strangers. You get it.). Even if no one would ever know that that's what this picture represents, I do, and I didn't want it in our visual representation of our lives dedicated to a different baby, one who will presumably stay and not break our hearts after six weeks of joy.
Seeing this picture in the context of our new quest was a little unnerving. We've left that behind, the physicality of trying to get pregnant, and failing. And failing and failing and failing. We had a few beautiful moments where we thought we'd made it, but they were too quickly ripped away from us. And now, now this process of having a baby is so cerebral, so un-physical in such a beautiful way. I can choose. I can decide not to put that picture out there. I can put other pictures out there to represent our life and the happiness that exists independent of our quest for family.
We did decide to put this picture in, though, cropped to just mostly our incredibly happy faces:
Our in-book crop of this photo cut out what is pretty obviously (to me anyway) a gurney in the back. Even though this is a post-transfer picture, for a cycle that didn't work, I was okay with including it. Because we look so happy, and that happiness is because of HOPE. And hope is something we still hold, although in a different way. I am not filled with hope that an embryo inside me might stick and make me a mama. I am filled with hope that pictures like these will connect us with the woman who will become our child's birth mother, a hope that is far more realistic (retrospectively speaking). I still hold this hope inside me, the same as it was in this picture where we look so happy and full of anticipation of nothing but good things to come. It's just coming in a different way.
Hopefully, the person who will make parenthood possible for us through her own grief and loss and planning will see the pictures we did choose, and they will stand out to her. She will say, "This family of two is so full of love and so full of hope that they can share their life (as quiet/goofy/insulated as it may be) with my baby, and it will be beautiful and just right and comforting." That's the hope inside that picture, that's why we chose it for one of our last pages. In hopes that it conveys the emotion that will help connect with someone else's emotion... and connect us with FutureBaby, who is meant to come into our lives, and who may exist even now, out there somewhere, completely unaware that he or she will be joining our happy family of two.