It was so easy.
I had responded with the message that I took time to write and received one back. We traded messages back and forth and within a short time I was sending a confirmation email about heading over to meet them the very next day. I’ll be honest, mentally I hadn’t gotten past the first message and had figured that if at all, they would maybe, possibly, kind of, want to meet me within the week so to have it set up so quickly, believe me, I had to take time to process it. Remember, I wasn’t treating this as just a shoot, this was so much more personal. I had to talk at least a little about myself and the whys of this project and there would be no way to get around mentioning infertility. That’s what I was there for! I can talk your ear off about photography but about me? About this?
For safety reasons (okay and curiosity’s sake) I took a few minutes to peek at Randi’s Facebook profile. I wanted to be sure of who I was meeting and to get a feel for the family since I hadn’t yet heard their story. We would be meeting in their home so my feelings and what little information I could see was what I would be relying on. Can I just tell you that what I saw worked to immediately set me at ease?
I saw a full young family, smiles, brand new babies (!!!), along with words of thankfulness and faith.
I carried this mental snapshot with me as I stepped into their quiet neighborhood and up their steps to be greeted by their daughter Kinsley, who I would find out is the oldest of all the siblings. She offered me a seat but once I stepped into their home, I couldn’t help but pause when I saw Randi as she sat reclined and covered by the two newest additions to the family. The three of them looked completely content right then. She introduced them as Hazel and Lennox. “Three weeks and some change” she told me when I asked their age. I mentally remarked how brand new this chapter to their story is. So new.
I took my seat across from Randi.
To be there with someone who was newly on the other side of the IVF process, the pregnancy and the wait, I didn’t feel as I maybe expected I would. I’ve known that IVF was my only option since 2014 and from then on feelings shift and move but only occasionally does make it over to gratefulness and rarely does it turn toward acceptance but it did then. As I watched the family move in and out of the living room as they settled into their evening at home – first meeting dad and husband Adam then the family’s first set of twins Alek and Elias – I found myself feeling anticipation more than anything. I thought about my little family and our evening routine. How would that be changed in a couple of years? There is still time for us to grow and I felt gratefulness move over me. Not there yet, but soon. During our talk, I’d learn that their story started nine years ago and so I have no doubt they may have felt the same over time as I did right then. That it’ll happen for me in time. But speaking of the Blairs, here they were in their new now past the chaos of IVF. It was calm…and calming.
“Tell me everything.”
I went into this knowing very little about their story so I wanted to hear as much as they were willing to share. Randi, started from the beginning only stopping periodically to confirm a detail with Adam or to pass a little one over to an older sibling.
Randi and Adam, teachers, met in Colorado Springs. They married in 2004 and three years later would open their home and become parents of three by way of adoption. Kinsely, Alek and Elias changed a family of two into a family of five and in early 2009 their adoptions were finalized.
At 14, Kinsley is tall with an even demeanor. During my short time with her family, I’ve learned that she enjoys challenges from cakes to classes and aces them. When I watch her bounce and sway her youngest siblings, I can’t help but think of how much guidance she’ll dole out to each of them. She is already a lovely big sister.
Elias and Alek are 10 and the family’s first set of twins. Much like Kinsley, there is a sweet confidence to them, a deep love for their little siblings and still a bit of goofiness. They play off each other but have their own distinct personalities.
Adam sat in a chair to the side of me and spoke about the desire to add another child to the family. It was a big desire for Randi but he was in a position where he was happy as they were and happy to try for her. During the early stages, the testing and procedures were focused on him. They were aware of issues from a childhood injury that could come into play from his side but Randi mentioned that she had no reason to believe there would be any issues on her end. They knew what he was dealing with but she, like me, comes from a seemingly fertile family. You never think that your experience would be any different. After an IUI and a round of IVF where the couple implanted three embryos, they hadn’t managed to become pregnant.
With Infertility treatments, it can be hard to know what to pinpoint as the cause when there are so many things that have to come together for a pregnancy. The urge to continue pressing forward with treatments is often hampered by the cost that comes with each cycle. As teachers, the Blairs were not exempt and would soon decide to find a better Dr to put their money where it would be used in the best way. This lead to them switching providers twice to find the right one. According to Adam, the doctor they interviewed would be known not for his bedside manner but for his honesty and his ability to tell them what they needed to know, not what they wanted to hear. At this point in the story, I was expecting to hear where it all worked out and that all they needed was to switch doctors. That would be inspirational enough, I’m a huge advocate for speaking up for yourself when it comes to doctors, but that wasn’t the case here. Not yet. When I shared my story with them, I talked about my hobby of searching through my family history and then seeing great grandmothers and other family members who had upwards of 13 children. Of course there was no IVF then, no reproductive help and so my family appeared to be incredibly fertile people. How did I not get included in that? Unfortunately, Randi was familiar with this feeling of mine.
After switching doctors, the testing tables were turned and it was her time to be the main focus. After a Laparoscopy surgery, Randi would find out that she had extensive Endometriosis and fibroids. Over all this time, Randi and Adam had held on to their belief that God had a plan and his plan would come through. It was for them. It would be their’s but their time spent waiting was not without its own lessons. One of which I’m learning myself – God’s timing is not our own.
The Blair family is and has been surrounded by so much support that it blew my mind to see the physical manifestation of it. Hazel and Lennox will be diapered for quite a while to come. Baby equipment has been given to them and I can’t even imagine the prayers that have been said over the years on their behalf. They have been covered spiritually, physically and even financially when it came to their last cycles. Family and friends raised money for them to continue their journey with their third cycle in 2015. Randi shared that it ended in a devastating loss. The couple had achieved a pregnancy but her fibroids impeded the growth. Soon after came a break from trying. The two would take to different sides of the spectrum emotionally with Adam dealing with feelings of depression while Randi became relentless holding on to the promises of child birth. It wasn’t over yet. They both remarked that the mood in the house was dark during this time and it was then that Adam made a comment that turned a metaphorical light on. He mentioned that when her dream became his, it seemed like it all began to line up. Until this point, he wanted it for her but something in him began to want it more for him. I listened as Randi talked about her babies and peace and there it was. That’s the feeling in their home. Peace.
On the same accord and with prayer and support surrounding them, they would have their fourth try in 2016 and this would be the one that would lead to the little babies, born March 25th, that were being loved on while I sat in their living room.
Listening to them, I mentally confirmed what was missing from my own journey. That openness I had chosen against before. The support they receive is due to their ability to be open about both the struggles and the victories which I can take to also be an act of faith. If you believed something was coming to you or that something had been promised to you, how would you act? Being open leads to people being open with you and my time spent with the Blairs was step one for me. I left their home knowing I had made the right decision. Instead of not wanting to be found through that ad, I was hoping for more people to listen to and to connect with. Being open even just a tiny bit more would be beneficial to me if it meant I got to meet sweet families and see myself in their stories.
We ended the visit with a plan to meet the following Monday for the documentary photo shoot which was just as special as the first meeting.
Come peek inside the Blair home here: