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I'm Suzy of Simply by Suzy, and I'm so happy you're here at my blog because I can't wait to serve you with lots of good stuff like a peek into all of my favorite photoshoots for clients, freebies and resources on motherhood, how to get more connected with your life, and how to take beautiful pictures of it. 

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personal writing | acceptance: navigating a tough season

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This blog post is for you if you’re interested in getting to know me more deeply as a person or photographer… or if you’d like to connect with me over the hardships of parenting.

I once was told that you should share from a scar not a wound, but today I am sharing from a big gaping wound.

You see, about 9 months ago we had our third child. Our first son! I will never forget the moment I found out we were having a boy… I woke up and looked at my clock. 6 am.

I grabbed my phone and saw an email pop up from Quest diagnostics.

Test results are ready.

OH MY GOD! Without even thinking I opened it up… I quickly scrolled and skimmed the results.

Normal… normal… Y chromosome present.

Wait. That can’t be right.

Male fetus detected.

I threw the sheets off me and ran down the hall and squealed to Vasili, “OMG BABE we’re having a BOY!!!!!”

That moment, in all of its loveliness, to be honest it took a lot of work to get there. Because a few months prior to that we had decided we were perfectly content with having 2 kids. Our youngest was just starting to sleep through the night and it felt like we were finally coming up for little sips of air… it felt like, for the first time since becoming parents, we were reaching a sense of normalcy in our marriage, our schedules, our finances, our sense of selves…

And then I found out I was pregnant.

Trigger warning. I am going to talk about how hard it was to cope with an unwanted pregnancy. So if you are in a place where that is difficult for you to digest, I want you to know before continuing.

When I peed on that stick my heart sank and I began to tremble.

What was Vasili going to say? Would he be mad at me? I can’t be pregnant…

I don’t want to be pregnant.

I sobbed for days after that pregnancy test and for the rest of the month I ebbed between vomiting and crying. I would wake up at 4 am in tears remembering that it was true. And when the tears relaxed, morning sickness took its toll and I often laid on the couch for hours and slept while the girls played on me.

I am happy to say that I did a lot of work after that moment to choose that pregnancy, and now that Adrian is here, our family truly feels complete.

One thing my therapist helped me with during my pregnancy was seeing that the path forward lay in acceptance.

“There was a time where I worked with a lot of patients struggling with chronic conditions. For them it’s not about treatment, because there is no treatment for a chronic condition. Finding joy and contentment for them is about acceptance. But really the same thing applies for any aspect of living we struggle with. Life is kind of like a chronic condition. We often can’t change the missed expectations or circumstances we are faced with in life, so joy and contentment lies in acceptance.” she told me.

And so I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year trying to figure out what I am actually able to change in my life and for the rest, how can I find acceptance.

9 months of having Adrian in our lives and let me tell ya, there is a whole lotta acceptance. Especially now. Because for me personally, 6-12 months has always been the hardest postpartum phase.

Cut my guts open, keep me up all night tending to a newborn, attach a baby to my breasts day and night until it all blurs together for the rest of time and you will never find me without a smile on my face… but 6-12 months? That feels like hell for me. At that point the hormones have long worn off and I am just dying for some sleep. And sex. And more me-time. And childcare. It’s a strange 6 months of intense transition before the clouds part and life starts to feel more stable (or at least for our family it has always played out this way).

This third time around, because there were no secrets about what to expect for this first year postpartum, I decided to hire someone to come photograph us every 3 months. There’s a lot of reasons why I committed to that investment, but one of those reasons is that I knew exactly how hard and challenging some days would be. I wanted to give myself little easter eggs in my calendar to look forward to.

And I knew I would need those photos to remind me how amazing and incredible this year still is. When we are smack dab in the middle of a challenging time, when we need those reminders most, it can sometimes be the hardest to see what is good (even despite the best of efforts to remain grateful).

I always say, an experience is temporary but our memories of that experience last forever (or at least, for the rest of our ever). Given that, I think photos can be one of the most powerful tools we have to help us shape the way we process and view our life.

Which makes me reflect on how and why we choose to book a professional photo session, and how photos can help us to experience more joy and presence in our life. As a photographer, most times I see people book photos to celebrate when life is good.

While our best moments seem like the only ones worth documenting, I would argue that investing in family photos even when we’re in the midst of hard life phases is just as important.

Now hear me out.

Because I completely understand that when we aren’t feeling our best, the idea of having a photographer come into our orbit with their camera can feel like a stressful experience where we’re forced to pretend.

But what if it wasn’t about pretending?

What if having photos taken when life feels like a big dumpster fire is actually about hiring someone, a professional seer if you will, to come over and see what is still so wonderful when we’re having trouble doing so? To create little beacons of truth to remind us that there is so much good even when things feel like shit. Beacons of truth to reach for and keep us going when we’re tired AF. Reminders of what it is that we’re fighting like hell for.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that that’s what family photos have felt like for me this year. Especially as our family is neck deep in that dreaded 6-12 month postpartum period.

And despite not feeling our best, every time I see photo day coming up in our calendar I feel so much purpose and excitement! Our friend, Danielle, comes over and for those few hours we spend with her, we give ourselves permission to let go of whatever is plaguing us. We play with our kids and have coffee. We intentionally make the effort to enjoy the simplicity of our routine. I make my husband lay on me and kiss me and I choose to forget how mad I am at him for still not making an appointment with the therapist. And he chooses to let go of how mad he is at me for leaving a hundred dirty diapers out for him to pick up.

Best of all, when we get the photos back, Vasili and I sit down and look through them together after the kids are in bed. It is the BEST feeling in the world to see how beautiful a morning with each other is from someone else’s perspective (particularly, someone we feel safe with and comfortable to be our less than shiny selves).

It helps me to reach a deeper place of acceptance that although we may not have as much time or sex or money or sleep as we want, that we have the most important thing of all…

We have each other.

And that is worth fighting like hell for.

photo by Danielle Dolan

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