In a very moving personal essay in Glamour, Texas doctor Dr. Shannon M. Clark talks about her struggles to get pregnant after age 40. Clark is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and works with high-risk pregnancies and knows very well of the challenges of pregnancy women of advance maternal age face.
As Dr. Clark feared, she too faced difficulty. After miscarrying her first pregnancy, and undergoing multiple cycles of failed IVF, Clark and her husband, René Harris, decided to turn to an egg donor to achieve their dream of parenthood. It worked. Clark gave birth to healthy twins last year, Remy Vaughn and Sydney Renee.
Before that welcoming moment, she decided to have a very unique type of maternity photo shoot. In a set of moving photos, photographer Cheryl Whitney-Huebner of Image Studios Group perfectly captured Dr. Clark when she was just 20 weeks pregnant and barely showed signs of a baby bump.
But what was haunting, yet beautiful about the shoot and the resulting images is that they also featured Clark’s egg donor, Tara. It was Tara’s eggs that Harris fertilized and Dr. Clark carried to term.
In one photo, Tara hands Clark a small wrapped gift box which is a metaphoric representation of motherhood. Both women are wearing long white dresses with lace accents in the sleeve which, while juxtaposed with the rustic background, has its own symbolism. Clark later hands the box to Harris in another shot.
There’s a lot to unpack but Clark offers some insight in her essay.
About meeting Tara, she writes:
She was so beautiful and gracious and made us feel so at ease. We spent an afternoon taking photos and casually talking about my pregnancy. Again, I studied her face, her hair, her eyes, her walk, her voice, and her mannerisms, just trying to memorize what one day I may see in my babies in case I would never see her again. Little did I know that that would be the only way we were able to formally commemorate my pregnancy.
Whitney-Huebner’s website invites potential clients to “close their eyes and picture” how they want to be photographed and what images they are drawn “to make you feel something.” In this shoot, Clark came up with the idea but Whitney-Huebner brought it to life by selecting the locale, setting and staging it. It definitely gives of an emotional feeling.
“Nothing about my journey to become a mother has been typical. I may not have been able to experience all of the typical things that a pregnant woman experiences, but what I do have are beautiful photos of my barely there belly bump with my husband and the woman who made my dream of becoming a mother a reality,” Clark shares in her piece. “I also have two beautiful babies who make every tear I ever cried worth it. For that, I will forever be thankful.”
I often daydreamed about what it would be like to be a #mom. There were plenty of moments when I thought it just wasn’t going to happen for me. Then these two came along and changed everything. My #life will never be the same. My #heart will never be the same. And for that I will be forever #grateful. My one goal at the end of every day for the rest of my days will be to make these #babies as #happy as they make me ❤#twins #twinsofinstagram #motherhood #family #babygirl #babyboy #siblings #brotherandsister #love #infertility #babiesafter35 #babiesafter40 #ivf #donoregg #thankful #pregnancyafterloss #imtheluckyone #stuff4multiples #worththewait. #twinstyle by @knight_jess of @macandmia. A special thank you to @roberto_ganoza photography for documenting our journey in pictures ?
Head over to Glamour to check out Clark’s very moving essay. It’s a good read and worth the time.
Photo: Cheryl Whitney-Huebner, Image Studios Group LLC