Personal

My Infertility Journey

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As you’ve likely discovered from other social media channels, I am miraculously pregnant! I have decided that it would be beneficial for me to process some of my journey and also share it with you, as I think it gives more context as to why this is so special. So without further adieu…


Joshua and I have been married for 12 years and have wanted kids for practically the entire length of our marriage. Even before marrying we had chosen names for a boy, buying a Build-A-Bear and giving the bear that name. Children have always been a major desire of ours, to the point where we joked about having 13 kids and it’s now dwindled to somewhere between 4-10. We might be a bit insane; I guess the verdict is still out. :)

In 2011, we found out we were pregnant. I actually blogged about it on this website and you can read it by clicking here. We were so excited—our dream of having kids were finally coming true and we were starting in our 20’s, four years into marriage. It was perfect. Our dreams were shattered when at 14 weeks, I began to miscarry. I remember holding the baby in the palm of my hand, marveling at how much even at that little size it was a precious baby. God gave us the name Rose and she was buried in a memorial garden; one that we still visit to this day. It was an extremely painful event to go through and it followed us for several years.

In 2014, I had a breakdown. We were in the process of adoption and began to work through home study questions and I just lost it. I was so bitter at God, at my friends who just easily got pregnant with barely trying, with all the Facebook announcements of new babies on the way, and I felt alone and hopeless. Would this dream ever happen? Besides this, we were living abroad in a culture where value is placed on the woman because of her children. Due to us not having any, it was often a topic of conversation. I didn’t know how to deal with comments like, “What’s wrong with you?”, “You must be weak since you can’t carry a child” or even, “You will be blessed once you have children.” I was absolutely fed up with all the condemnation, all the disappointment, and the feelings that something was wrong with me. I was so broken, discontent, and I lacked joy that I should have had for my friends. During this time, I reached out to a group of women who I asked to pray for me. I didn’t know what to do anymore and I knew that it wasn’t something I could change within me. So my friends prayed. And to this day, I honestly don’t know what happened. Perhaps it was simply processing these emotions with others and getting them out, recognizing where I was at and moving on. Or perhaps God just took the pain away. Either way, I distinctly remember feeling utterly content and finally decided that it was okay that I didn’t have kids yet. That my value wasn’t determined by my kids, or lack thereof, but by the value God placed on me. I didn’t realize this change until some friends visited us with their three kids in tow. Halfway through the trip, I realized I once hadn’t asked myself, “Why me?” and I enjoyed my time with their kids. There was a mental, emotional, and spiritual shift that happened, which allowed me to be content with my lot in life. It didn’t remove the desire for kids, but I felt at peace about it all.

Over the next five years, Joshua and I did a multitude of things, including traveling, working abroad, and master’s degrees. During this time, we both didn’t forget our desire for kids, but we had full plates. Due to the season we were in, we waited patiently until some things slowed down before we jumped into anything next. Finally, this year in 2019, we decided that it would be the year. We couldn’t wait anymore. We’re not in our 20’s any longer. We’re not so young and spry anymore and can wait another 10 years. So, with all the testing we’ve done in three different countries, our option was IVF, so we decided that’s what we were going to do in August of this year. We honestly weren’t sure how we’d pay for it or the exact timeline of things, but we knew that this was our next step. And we both truly were at peace with that and knew it would be hard, but worth it if it all went well.

In late February of this year, I began to suspect something was off with my body. I just didn’t feel right, I had lost my appetite, began to feel nauseous at times, was more exhausted than usual, and other unmentionables were happening. Part of me wanted to suspect I was pregnant, but I had been down this road countless times, filled with disappointment and sadness when it wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for. So I blew it off, expecting life to continue as normal.

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Finally, life wasn’t continuing as normal and we bit the bullet and bought a pregnancy test. With great nervousness, I took the test and found the very thing I thought I’d never see…two lines. This was probably the ugliest cry I’ve ever had and thankfully Joshua was the only one who witnessed it. I was pregnant. How was this possible? I just couldn’t even compute what was happening. The next morning, I took another test and it was stronger even than the night before. We were so baffled that the day after finding out, we literally stared at each other the entire day, dumbfounded and not sure what to do. Apparently, our plans of IVF weren’t needed and God miraculously gave us a baby.

And this is now where I am at. Every day is a mixture of shock and joy as I consider what is going on inside of me. I don’t take this lightly; I feel that it is truly a special gift from God. I do struggle with the idea of miscarrying or losing this child somehow, but I am learning that this is the process of becoming a mom. Parents, I am learning from my friends who have kids, are constantly worried about their kids. It starts in the womb and never ends. So, starting now I am trying to release this baby to God, giving Him my concerns, and trusting that He has it all under control. Honestly, just with what I’ve experienced in my life, how could worrying help this baby anyway? I have so little control over much of this process, including when the baby is outside the womb. So, this is good practice for me to trust God with this child’s life and not try to control. I’m sure I’ll grow much in this area over the years.

I have another post that will be shared shortly about a project I’ve been considering long before I found out I was pregnant. Infertility is still very much a part of my life and story and I feel a drive to do a photography project over it. More details will come soon.

Thanks for following with me in this journey, even if you are first hearing this story. If you are struggling with infertility, please don’t give up. I have been there and I did give up hope. Thankfully, God didn’t give up hope on me. I don’t know what your story will be, but know your value doesn’t come from your children or lack thereof. Seek your identity in God and what He has to say about you, not what man says.

More to come soon in the following weeks. I have a crazy journey ahead!

-Ashley

Whirlwind

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Life can be a whirlwind. So much can happen in such little time that it can make events feel like months apart yet they were only a week ago. This is my life lately. I can't keep up with what day it is, what time it is, or when things happened (or didn't happen in some cases). Is anyone else startled that it's already March 21st?! That is crazy! My parents always told me when I was younger that when you got older time went by faster--I hate to say it, but they're right. Life definitely feels more precious to me these days. Seeing that almost a quarter of the year has flown by makes me want to live every moment to the fullest. 

My grad program is going well, albeit I have found this module the most difficult of the program. We are finally at the stage of putting our ideas into practice, working to complete our final research project. I'm still doing a project over fatherhood, although I had to niche down to a specific aspect of fatherhood, rather than look at it comprehensively. I'll explain on this more later in another post.

The goal is still to complete a photo book which is very exciting. I'm also hoping to host an exhibition or two, we'll see. There are many milestones ahead of me, so I'm looking forward to seeing how all this pans out. 

I hope you follow along in my journey over this next year! I'm interested to see what happens. :)

-Ashley

Christmas in America

I always find it interesting coming back to America around Christmas time. Living in other places where Christmas isn't as widely celebrated makes this season a joy to come back to (although it's also a surprise in a lot of ways because we're not used to it anymore). I love taking part in traditions and festivities--putting up Christmas trees, making cookies, going to parties, etc. It's one of my favorite times of the year, celebrating the birth of Jesus with family and friends. 

Speaking of traditions, when I married my husband I was introduced to caramel chocolate covered pretzels by Joshua's grandmother. They are delicious (read: addictive!) and she makes them every year for her grandsons.

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Gram's Caramel, Chocolate Covered Pretzels | 2015

Gram's Caramel, Chocolate Covered Pretzels | 2015

We've had some great laughs while making these, so it's always enjoyable doing this with her (and they're fun eating afterwards ;). So far, we've already helped my family and Joshua's grandmother put up Christmas trees in their houses and everything looks so festive. This surprise return back to the States has been fun and we are trying to enjoy it while we're here.

What's your favorite holiday and what are your favorite traditions? Would love to hear how you celebrate!

-Ashley

Back in the Heartland

Two months ago I wouldn't have suspected I'd be in the States right now. I also wouldn't have foreseen our move to the Middle East either. Change can happen so rapidly--it's mind boggling! One minute life is a certain way and within seconds it can be completely opposite. I'm glad that God is in control and I'm not--I'd screw things up, that's for sure!

If you've seen my recent Instagram post, you will also have seen my mind exploding at all the goodies in America. The grocery store really makes my head spin. There are large grocery stores where I have lived the last four years, but for some reason large stores like Wal-Mart, Target, etc. in America really amaze me. I can never get over the variety, quality, and quantity of items you can purchase!

So needless to say, life has been very different the last week and a half. Everyone looks like me, talks like me, and life is familiar. It's a strange feeling (that I like, but it's still strange). I thought coming back this time I knew what to expect. This is our third trip back to America in the last 4.5 years, but I guess I was out long enough this time to forget nuances that make this place special.

For example, the other day after the funeral of Joshua's grandfather, we decided to get out of the house and just drive. As we drove we happened to see a sign about disc golf and decided to stop and see what the course looked like. As we went into the store, we ended up chatting with the owners of the place for a good 30 minutes, grabbed a cup of coffee from their in-house coffee shop, and chatted with the owner's son (who was the barista) for another 30 minutes.

We left filled up (as an extroverts tank is filled by people interaction :) and we were so surprised by the friendliness of these random strangers we had met. How are people so friendly? It was such an enjoyable experience; one that has been rarely experienced the last year and a half.

So we're definitely enjoying our time in the U.S. even though it's been a hard trip back. Besides celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow (yay for turkey) and seeing family/friends, I'm really hoping to connect with photography societies here. It's something I've never done before, so it'll be interesting to see what is going on in the Houston and Dallas areas. 

A lot is happening and I'm sure I'll have more to share soon about my project, life, and our travels! Have a Happy Thanksgiving, my U.S. friends!

-Ashley

Life Can Be Hard

Life can be really hard sometimes, throwing curve balls at you when you least expect it and it really knocks you down. I can honestly say that I feel quite knocked down--I just didn't see this one coming. 

Thanksgiving 2015 - Joshua's grandparents

Thanksgiving 2015 - Joshua's grandparents

We lost a very special person last night, Joshua's grandfather, whom we call "Papa". I met him a long time ago, when I was 13 I think, and he's been an important person in my life ever since. For Joshua, he was like his dad. With both of his parents passing away, his grandparents took him in and made sure he was taken care of through college. Even before that, they were the rock in his life from his childhood, one of the most stable relationships he had. For myself, I've actually considered Joshua's grandparents to be my grandparents as well. Since I didn't have a second set growing up, they naturally just filled in that spot, caring for me, loving me, and accepting me right away. I have always been able to count of them.

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

As I reflect on him and all the moments I shared with him, my heart is really full (and also very sad). He was such a good man. He deeply cared for people and loved to joke around. Playing Phase 10 with him was always interesting, especially as he would say, "I'm just speculating" as he'd pull a card from the discard pile. He absolutely loved flea markets and garage sales, and when we were with him he'd show us every treasure he found for a quarter, beaming from ear to ear that he found such a great deal. The stories he shared from his past were also so interesting and I wish I would have asked more about it now.

Going to bed last night, I realized that he was only 51 years older than me--and that was startling. Our lives are so short, folks. We don't live very long in the grand scheme of things. I thought how important it is to live our lives to the fullest and do what God calls us to do. In the Bible it speaks so much about how fleeting our lives are--just a breath of air and we're done. When things like this happen it's sobering. Death doesn't discriminate or care--it is guaranteed that everyone who is living will experience it no matter how much we avoid the subject. This makes me consider and look deeply at my life. Am I headed in the right direction? Is there more I should be doing with my life? Do the things I care about now really matter? 

Thankfully, as a follower of Jesus I believe that Papa is with Jesus right now and I'm incredibly grateful for that. I have a peace that is so firm that it couldn't be removed even amidst grief. 

Since all of this has happened, we decided that we are coming back to the States for a short time. Obviously, this wasn't planned, but we feel it's necessary for us to return to be with our family. If you're in the Houston or Dallas area, let us know. We'd love to see you and connect. if possible

And lastly, please pray for Joshua's grandmother, his family, and us. This is going to be a hard couple of months.

-Ashley

New Territory | Personal Post

Living in a new country is always a learning curve--What gestures are appropriate? What do people find interesting to talk about? Where do you buy groceries--and what do you have/lack and what do you have change in your diet to go with what you can find? What do you wear? What's in fashion or what is inappropriate to wear? And so forth! The questions are endless.

Learning a new city is also an interesting experience. Some of our new finds include a local coffee shop that makes excellent coffee. We also found a bubble tea shop--something I haven't had in a long time (that was an exciting discovery)! We also have found that a lot of local places are closed between the hours of 1pm and 4pm. Larger grocery stores and shops are fine, but if you want to go to a market, don't plan to go at that time (we heard about this, but then forgot and learned the hard way--oops). You actually probably wouldn't want to go at that time anyway because it's so hot! Also the work week here is Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. 

So we are in new territory folks--learning a lot and realizing also as we learn how much we don't know about life. It's interesting living in other cultures as it teaches you so much about the creativity of God and how different life can be done. I think every person should live in a different culture than their own for at least some season of their life--it teaches you a kind of respect and perspective that living in your home culture doesn't. Not to say that in some cities you can't get that "international" experience that I'm talking about; I'm fully aware that pockets of many nationalities exist in major cities. But for whatever reason, immersing yourself in a new environment and having to learn how to appreciate differences (because you can't change what's around you or escape from it) is a character building experience. :) 

October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

October 2017 - This new place is starkly different from South Asia. So much space and no people to be seen. It's very different and taking some getting used to.

The other day while looking for homes, we were invited into someone's home and we had the pleasure of experiencing their hospitality. After cardamom-coffee, dates, somosas, fried fish, other-unrecognizable-items, and juice (remember this was a spontaneous house visit--they were prepared!), we left their home grinning ear to ear, very honored, and stomachs full. Our host was very adamant that she show us hospitality and how they do it, relaying to us every detail that goes into serving guests in our new city. They were very proud to be the first locals to invite us into their home and we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was actually recognizable in a lot of ways from our previous place of residence. 

I look forward to more of these experiences as I have much to learn in this new place.! Follow me to hear more about it. :)

-Ashley

Settling In | Personal Post

So with our recent move we've been house hunting and trying to figure out where to live. It's been quite a journey. With viewing 19 houses already I feel like a pro! I definitely have my list of what I do not want and what I do want very defined since we've seen so many places. 

I do have to say I am ready to be settled. After four years and four international moves under my belt, I'm done with packing, selling items, and saying goodbye. I have to say though, even with all of these moves, this last goodbye was the hardest for us. The day we left I held one of my closer friends for 10 minutes while she bawled (and I was too, I must confess!). It was unnerving, especially since I don't know if I will ever see her again. Yes the world is changing and globalization is happening, but she is very poor and I don't think she has ever left the country...or ever plans to. I'm thankful for the time I had with her and I hope and pray the best for her and her family (and everyone else we met).

October 2016 - My friend teaching me how to make Biriyani. 

October 2016 - My friend teaching me how to make Biriyani. 

Sorry for that somber bit! I am excited that we are here and that I will make new friends--just sad about what we left behind. Joshua and I feel that we'll be here likely the next three years, so we feel we can make roots a bit more and actually be a part of our community than previously. There are some photographic societies that I hope to jump into here and who knows where that will take me! I guess time will tell. :)

So how do you handle transition and change? Do you embrace it or run the opposite way screaming? :) I think I can say that I'm embracing it this time and trying to keep up with everything that's happening. There's a lot going on so time will tell to see how we do. :) Pray for us! 

Have an awesome day and be on the lookout for part two for my master's project!

-Ashley

Update on Life

Ever since my Masters program began, I have not been very faithful to posting on this blog. My apologies! I would like to put some plan into place, but as you know in your own life, certain priorities take precedence over others and unfortunately this blog is not necessarily required for daily life. Although I would argue to say that this blog does help me in many ways, like processing ideas, getting my work out there, and interacting with other creatives. 

So what have I been up to since my last blogpost (in November?!)? A lot!

My first semester of grad life is down in the books. I had a scare though--I didn't realize there was a huge grading difference between the State's and the UK and let's just say I had a mini-heart attack when I first saw my grade. Fortunately an academic adviser contacted me to explain the system and made everything clearer for me. Although when I look at my final grade, I still feel like I didn't do well. After 16 years of using one system, it's hard to wrap your mind around what is good and not. Apparently I did do well, so I'll take their word for it. :)

We celebrated Christmas and New Years. I purposefully stepped back from grad work after the course ended and tried to enjoy the festivities. It was a lot of fun, although so different than celebrating in the State's. Sometimes I enjoy celebrating in a culture that doesn't widely celebrate Christmas because it really makes you consider why you're celebrating in the first place. While I missed family and friends, I'm glad we were here!

Trying to catch up on neglected tasks and projects. After my program ended there was so much I needed to catch up on and do (i.e. email!). I'm slowly getting through everything, but as you know, there is always more work to do. 

Photographically speaking, this break I didn't do much other than personal pictures of the holiday's. What I would like to share are some images from my portfolio in progress for my program. These are towards my project on Fatherhood. 

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I can begin regularly posting again soon!

-Ashley