Guest blog by Amy Murchland

Amy's maternity photos were created and captured on the 30th May 2017 / her last photos shown were taken on the 11th of August 2019 aslo at Oreti beach here in Southland, NZ,

(today's date 25th April 2020)

I do not often reflect these days on the journey to conceiving Isaiah. Talking and reminiscing about
troubling times in our lives is not for everyone but for me having the opportunity to share my story
has been part of the healing process. For that reason I am okay to go back to that time…..

I always knew I wanted children. Not a van full, one or two would suffice. I thought I would simply
decide the time was right, do “the deed” and nine months later I would be holding a baby in my
arms. Naïve, very naïve. This might work for some couples but not for us. Months of trying turned
into a year, a year turned into two and then into three. Somewhere among-st all of this of course I
knew something was not right and went to seek medical help. I learnt the word infertility and it
would start to take over my life.

My story of infertility spans well over 5 years. To talk about all I went through in detail would end up
being a novel so without trying to minimize my story I will give you a brief outline. GP visits, blood
tests, surgery, painful recovery from surgery, a diagnosis, scars, a fertility specialist who tells me I
have been misdiagnosed, unexplained infertility, ovulation induction treatment, more blood tests,
multiple negative pregnancy tests, buckets of tears, a 12-18 month wait-list for publicly funded IVF,
depression, counseling, trips back and forward to Dunedin, more blood tests, pills, needles,
injections – so many injections, egg retrieval, stomach cramps, only one of the four eggs retrieved
fertilize, embryo transfer, more blood tests, a glimmer of hope.

The day my fertility specialist told me I would need IVF still feels a bit like a dream. To this day I do
not remember anything that happened in that room after he said those three letters. All I know is
my mind was repeatedly telling me “how have we come to this, this isn’t real, you are a failure as a
woman, your body isn’t good enough.”

As time wore on in my journey the so did the toll on my mental health. I spent a lot of time at the
gym working out obsessively taking my frustrations out on my body, it was the thing that was letting
me down after all. I had days where getting out of bed was a real chore. I stopped seeing friends,
invitations to baby showers or children’s birthday parties would send me on a downward spiral for
days. Tears so many tears. I knew I had hit my lowest point when I was considering how I could
possibly escape from my current reality.

Fortunately for me we were incredibly lucky with our first round of IVF and our one fertilized
embryo. After the agonizing journey we had been through full of ups and many downs, finally, a
positive pregnancy test!

I only reached out to Awhina about two weeks before my due date to do a maternity photo session.
I lack a lot of confidence especially if it involves having my photo taken and here I was feeling tired
and fat, not beautiful and glowing! She went out of her way to fit me in, the only session she could
offer me however would have to be at sunrise. At this point I don’t believe she was doing a lot of
magic making at sunrise. The irony was not lost on me as I stood in the early morning on the sand
dunes, it felt symbolic. Even after darkness the sun will always rise.

During and after this photo shoot was one of the first times I had felt compassion and understanding
for my story from outside my family group. Awhina understood what a special moment this was to
me. I had lost a lot of faith and confidence in my body after so many years of it failing me. She
helped to make me see through the power of photography that I was strong, I had held onto my
dreams, I had endured a lot to get to that point and even when it seemed hopeless I had pushed

We made a return in front of Awhina’s camera again as a family when Isaiah was around eight weeks
old. These photos are so incredibly special to me. Jamie my partner was a confident Dad from day
one. For me though it took a while to adjust to motherhood. I felt like I should be eternally grateful
after all I had been through to get my baby and that I wasn’t entitled to find it difficult. Although no
one else may be able to see it, for me the images captured that day tell that story. They are
beautifully honest. Most overwhelmingly though they capture how a little blonde haired, blue eyed
boy had made us feel love we did not know existed and connected us on a whole different level.

Towards the end of last year I took up the opportunity again to have Awhina create some magic for
us. Quite fittingly we found ourselves back where it had all begun with my maternity shoot on top of
the sand dunes. Isaiah was now two years old. As with a lot of toddlers of that age his love for me is
intense and unfiltered. I am also now a much more confident Mum. And there we were we had
come full circle. I knew taking photos of my stubborn two year old would not be easy. I didn’t really
need to worry. Cue Awhina larger than life with her wicked sense of humor cranking out her
dinosaur and duck noises and really just going with it. At my reveal session the images took my
breathe away. I know how much I love my child but to see it in a physical form was something else

For us having another child is not a given. If we venture down that path it is likely to be another long
heart breaking journey. For that reason I am eternally grateful for the gift Awhina has given me. My
walls tell a story. That’s the thing about Awhina. It is not all about the photo, it is about compassion
and understanding, it is about making you feel beautiful in your skin, it is about building woman up
to feel loved and valued. This is why I love Awhina, it is about the journey, it is about telling your story.

Dear Amy thank-you so much for sharing your story with us and for choosing me to capture these precious moments of your and your family it is truly an honor.  xx Awhina

© 2020 Awhina Russell Fine Art Photographer Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand. / 0279206482