The first newborn session of 2019 in the Sara McConnell Photography studio was a very special one. All new babies are of course special but this sweet baby girl is my very first Extraordinary Love session. If you haven’t heard of these special new sessions that honour a family’s struggle with infertility, miscarriage, or infant loss please check out all of the information on my website here.

newborn baby with a smirk while sleeping

I was so grateful when Betty’s parents, Amanda and Jake, contacted me with their story about their experiences with infertility and miscarriage and how they would love to be a part of my Extraordinary Love project once their little one arrived. The amount of effort, pain, and stress involved in their journey to parenthood was staggering to read about but so was their obvious strength and resiliency. As a couple they have been very open in sharing their story and the realities of infertility and miscarriage. Now as a part of the Extraordinary Love Project their generosity and openness continues in the hopes of creating awareness and supporting others in a similar circumstance.  

sleeping newborn baby

Amanda and Jake’s path to parenthood was anything but straightforward. Their journey to where they are today was almost 4 years long and in that time they faced many fertility treatments, countless medical appointments, and two heartbreaking miscarriages. The physical effects of fertility treatments, pregnancy, and miscarriage were only a part of the battle as the rollercoaster of emotions took its toll on both Amanda and Jake causing bouts of depression and much anxiety throughout their efforts to have a baby.

Baby wrapped in white for a newborn photo session with Sara McConnell Photography

In early 2017, after over 2 years of trying to conceive, Amanda and Jake were elated to find out they were finally pregnant. Their joy however turned to devastation as they learned their pregnancy was not progressing as expected and that the pregnancy would end in miscarriage.

After this first miscarriage the couple felt in the dark about what to do and where to find support as they weren’t provided with any information from their healthcare providers about where to turn for support.

As the couple continued their fertility treatments Amanda and Jake tried to put their negative energy into something more positive by volunteering their time to support local initiatives such as The Butterfly Run, trying to raise awareness about local support programs such as The Butterfly Box, and by sharing their experiences openly (see here, here, and here to read more from Amanda about their journey). Infertility and pregnancy loss are unfortunately not uncommon however both can be a very isolating experience with seemingly little to no supports available. By being involved in creating awareness around infertility, miscarriage and infant loss the couple was able to feel like they were making a difference and hopefully making it easier for others walking a similarly lonely and painful path to find the help they needed.

In Fall of 2017 Amanda and Jake were again pregnant following a successful attempt of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). Sadly this pregnancy also ended for them in miscarriage. While again a heartbreaking experience this time the couple knew what resources were available in the community and did not have the same feelings of being alone as they did after their first loss. By knowing what supports were available and in being connected with a community of others who understood what they were going through they were able to feel empowered with the new knowledge they had.  

In May of 2018, after a Frozen Embryo Transfer, Amanda and Jake were thrilled to find out that they were pregnant again. While monitoring the pregnancy by ultrasound during those first early weeks the couple found out that the pregnancy had actually started as an identical twin pregnancy but that one of the babies did not develop properly and had been lost early on, something known as “vanishing twin syndrome”. Finding out that there was a strong heartbeat and that baby was measuring perfectly was a relief and filled them with optimism but the surprising news of a lost twin was at the same time worrying and sad.

As Amanda’s pregnancy progressed her doctor brought her in for ultrasounds often to try to help ease the anxiety and with each healthy measurement the couple felt more reassured.

sleeping baby

After almost 4 years of struggling with infertility… 31 cycles, 3,667 pills, 64 injections, countless ultrasounds and doctors visits, In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with ICSI, 12 eggs retrieved, 7 eggs fertilized, 4 embryos created, 2 embryos frozen, countless tests and treatments, thousands of dollars, 2 devastating miscarriages, millions of tears, 1 frozen embryo transfer, and the biggest struggle of our lives…

We are overjoyed to announce that we are expecting our miracle rainbow baby! Due January 15, 2019! -Amanda

Amanda and Jake were overjoyed that they were pregnant again however for people who have experienced infertility and miscarriage a positive pregnancy test is far from the end of that chapter in their lives. What is often not realized is that pregnancy after infertility and loss is a much different experience as the struggle and pain that parents have gone through dramatically affects their perspective and emotions during the wait for baby to arrive.

sleeping newborn baby

...we are extremely happy, but there is also a sense of guilt for being happy now, knowing others are experiencing pain. There’s also fear knowing that this still could be taken away at any moment. I’m choosing to remain hopeful, but a slight dose of reality is always in the back of my mind…. Mixed emotions like happiness, pain, fear, joy, excitement, guilt – can all coexist at the same time – it can be very complicated…” -Amanda, December 2018

On December 23rd, 2018 Amanda and Jake were overjoyed to welcome their beautiful baby girl, Betty, safely into the world. Isn’t she perfect?

Baby wrapped in white for a newborn photo session with Sara McConnell Photography

Amanda and Jake brought Betty in for her Extraordinary Love Newborn Session when she was 9 days old as a way of not only capturing all of those adorable little newborn details and celebrating her arrival but also as a way of honouring the difficult path this family has gone through to hold their baby.

Baby in a yellow wrap with pineapple backdrop for a newborn photo session with Sara McConnell Photography

The pineapple is often used as a symbol by those experiencing infertility to offer hope and show support to others experiencing infertility. On the day of Amanda’s successful Frozen Embryo Transfer she wore pineapple earrings for good luck.

Baby wrapped in rainbow blanket

A rainbow baby is a baby born after miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. The rainbow is an important image to many parents as it represents the incredible gift that can come after the storm.

We want to thank Amanda and Jake for sharing their story and their beautiful little girl with us as part of the Extraordinary Love Project. They would also love to share with those facing similar struggles some of the things that they found helpful.

Newborn baby wearing white tulle
newborn baby wrapped in yellow with a cloud backdrop and raining coloured hearts - newborn photo session with sara mcconnell photography


Suggested resources from Amanda for those experiencing infertility and miscarriage:

  • When we experienced our first miscarriage, we were gifted a “Mama’s Heart Care Package” from a friend, which can be purchased from a company “Tenth Moon Mothercare.”
  • Since that time, there is a very similar care package that’s been developed known as the “Butterfly Box” from a local company “Mom Friends”. This is a box filled with items and resources offering support to someone experiencing miscarriage or infant loss. They are available free of charge to anyone who needs one in our community.
    More info on the Butterfly Box can be found here:
  • I realized I needed to try and put my negative energy into something more positive, so for 2 years I volunteered for the Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau. It was very helpful trying to put my energy into something that hopefully was helping other families. I focused on trying to share information about local resources that existed in our community, and a full list can be found here:
  • From time to time, my husband and I met with Dr. Patricia Gervaize at the Ottawa Fertility Centre who is a clinical psychologist specializing in reproductive health issues. You do not need to be a patient with OFC to see her. She was the most helpful psychologist we had seen, likely because she specialized in what we were going through. She was extremely helpful during our darkest times.
    More info can be found here:
  • I joined the online Ottawa and the Valley Facebook support group for those experiencing infertility. This group also meets monthly for peer-to-peer support groups. It was very helpful talking to others who were going through something similar.
  • There were also some videos and documentaries that I found very relatable:
    How to Buy a Baby:
    One More Shot:
    Vegas Baby:

Extraordinary Love ~ Sara McConnell Photography