Chicago In Home Newborn Session | A Surrogacy Story | Heather Hackney Photography | Chicago Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

“Unexplained infertility.” That’s what the countless doctors told them. This is something that one in eight couples face, yet so few talk about. As someone who also struggled with getting pregnant, I really wanted to share Brian and Melissa’s story because this is something that we shouldn’t be afraid to share with others.

Their story is so beautiful and one that I didn’t want to change to my voice. So, here’s Brian and Melissa’s story - in Melissa’s own words:

Brian & Melissa, who grew up in and now live on the northwest side Chicago in the Forest Glen neighborhood, got married in March 2014 and started trying for a baby immediately. Unfortunately, it was a long road due to unexplained infertility. We endured two reproductive endocrinologists, two acupuncturists, two intrauterine inseminations, two IVF egg retrievals, three canceled embryo transfers, six failed IVF embryo transfers, countless tests, countless doctor appointments, countless drugs, and countless disappointments. My sister, Christy Sykes, who lives in Maryland with her husband Napoleon Sykes and two young boys of her own, generously offered to be a gestational carrier for us (this means she carries an embryo created using our egg and sperm). We were at both extremely thankful and humbled, but also had to come to terms with how creating our family was not going to be the traditional way we'd hope it would be. The surrogacy process itself is also a bit overwhelming, with many screenings, tests, lawyers, contracts, and logistics. However --- we were gifted with the good fortune of living in Illinois and Maryland – two states that have some of the very best and progressive surrogacy laws; in some states, surrogacy is illegal. Amazingly, Christy passed all the tests with flying colors and got pregnant on her second IVF transfer and baby Clara was born in Maryland on August 9, 2018.

We share our story because although one in eight couples face infertility, few people talk about it openly, despite the fact that studies show that women suffering from infertility experience anxiety and depression similar to a cancer diagnosis. When we started our journey there were friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and even complete strangers who went through IVF and were willing to share their story, advice, and resources with us and we hope we can be this to others. Surrogacy is not common. In fact, we don't have any friends or family who have gone this route, and so if anyone reading this is contemplating this path to start their family, or even just going through any kind of infertility, we are happy to be a resource for you.

We turned to Heather for our photos because we wanted to capture Clara at one month. We loved Heather's examples of lifestyle photography, capturing families in their homes with natural interactions vs. staged photos. And looking at her instagram account you could see the joy coming through her photos as she photographed her son and others. Although taking photos can feel so unnatural to us, she made us feel very relaxed and helped us capture some wonderful moments!