Monday, October 3, 2011

The Bittersweet Business!

With infertility, the hardest thing I find is to balance normal life/working life with IVF. I have to remind myself that this is only a season of my life, not my whole life as it feels right now. With up to 2 injections each day, medication, vitamins and ultrasounds every other day it feels like that is all I can think about and find the energy to do each day. The medications make me tired and un-motivated to do anything, but sit on the couch and watch t.v. oh, and occasionally shop! Which I need to stop doing. At least now, I am buying clothes (non-maternity) for myself instead of baby items. I needed a few winter sweaters and things. I held off on buying any pants hoping to soon buy maternity pants. That is kinda funny though... most people don't hope to buy bigger pants. The sweaters I bought are long/dress sort of ones that could easily be converted to a maternity sweater, but if not needed, then would look great with a pair of jeggings or leggings and some cute boots! But back the the bittersweet business....

I love my business and working for myself! As many of you know, I have a design and photography business, Zeju Design and Photography, LLC. I graduated from DAAP at UC with a BS in graphic design. Having to take many photography courses, I decided to include both photography and design in my business. After working corporately for 2 years, I now have the autonomy that I always wanted.
I have worked for the last 2 years doing mostly wedding photography with my sister-in-law, Christy Connell from Connell Photo Studio. We have completed about 32 weddings together over the last 2 years and have had a blast working together.

With the onset of deciding we wanted children and discovering that we were infertile without treatment, I had to make some big decisions. It is extremely difficult to book weddings 9 months to a year in advance when you have NO IDEA if you will get pregnant. And if so, with how many babies and in what month you will actually deliver. If this cycle is unsuccessful, we have to wait 6-8 weeks before we can start the FET cycle (frozen embryo transfer). With the timeline so far, if this works, then I will deliver anywhere from May/June this cycle to August/Sept. with the FET cycle. As you can see this puts me right in the midst of wedding season. I have already had to turn down about 4-5 weddings for June alone. It makes me so sad to do this, especially when I can tell that couples are disappointed. It feels great that they wanted me so bad to shoot their weddings, but terrible at the same time that I can't.

This was my year! My 3rd year of business and it was gonna be a good one! I finally raised my prices to accommodate my overhead and actually make some decent money. I may never catch up to John... sometimes it seems like why bother... he brings home the bacon... and the steak and the lobster! :) I have invested in the biz the last 2 years and have basically broken even. This year I was excited to make some dough. But more than making $, I am extremely devoted to my clients. I want to make their wedding day extra special and do everything for them that I can do. I would NEVER cancel a wedding, unless I was in the hospital dying and even then I would find an even better photographer than myself to capture their day. So needless to say, I decided that I must not book weddings for the summer months of 2012 and possibly even into the later months of the year. I have to plan ahead and make sure that I do what I need to do first for our hopeful future children.

I have mixed emotions at how I want the future to go... Of course I want a family... but what else do I want and how am I going to be able to do it all?

At times, I am excited about the possibilities of getting into more real design work, not just "free"lance. I think about having this super successful business... graduating from my home studio to an actual studio/office with about 5-10 employees, growing to 20+ employees, working with great clients, making the big bucks and traveling the world developing good design solutions for ethical and life changing companies.

Then my mind wanders and I think that it would also be great to take some time off from trying to be successful by the worlds standards and be successful by God's standards. (Though, I am not saying that making money and having a successful design business isn't something of God's standards. It most certainly can be done to God's standards.) I am just talking about going down a different path and investing in the lives of children. Children who need families. I have a super high level of compassion for orphaned, abandoned and abused children. I could walk into an orphanage today and take them all. Or into planned parenthood and beg the mothers to give their unwanted babies to me before it is too late and they are aborted.

(Side Note: Every time I go to Christ Hospital for a doctor appt. or for an ultrasound, I have to drive by planned parenthood. I have to drive past the protestors with their signs and pictures of destroyed babies. It wrenches my heart. I would quit doing IVF now if I could save just one of them. On my way home I have contemplated many times standing outside and telling those mothers that they have another option - me.)

I would love to adopt both domestically and internationally and work with foster children (adopting them too, if needed). But, if they are not adoptable, then taking the time that they are with us to help them develop the life skills that they need: learning about Christ and what it means to be in a loving family and working through the pain of their past. With these skills and the Lord's help, they can hopefully help their biological family grow to a new place. Ultimately accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life and helping their parents to come to the same decision. With this chain of events, the foster child can stop the cycle of abuse and neglect in their families. I would love to be a part of that! :) I make it sound easy... it wouldn't be... possibly more difficult than having a successful design business. If this was my path/calling in life as I do feel it to be... then it would be full time job. Would I have to give up my business? I just don't know... I would if that is what God called me to do.

I am not superwoman, I can not do it all, even if I want to. At times, it all seems so overwhelming and my mind wanders again to now... my life... which for the most part is calm and stress-free. John helps with this, of course, by providing for my needs: both emotionally and financially. I know even with one new baby (a biological baby) through IVF, as big a blessing as that is, it will change my life forever! It will change it both for the good and also be difficult at times. So now, I think just enjoy these moments: take time off to rest, relax and grow a baby in my belly! This may be the most peaceful time of my life. But those who have had children say that having children is the best times of their lives and I think that they are right! This time of relaxing would all include for me sleeping in, watching t.v., trying out new recipes (I made the best homemade egg rolls today), spending time with John and our families, swimming at the rec center and walking my dogs and I am also contemplating/praying about volunteering somewhere... maybe the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I am working too... so feel free to call me if you have any design or photography needs.

When/if the baby/babies come... then what? I have never wanted to be so tired from working full time and growing a successful business that I do not get to fully enjoy my children. I have also heard though that you need that adult time to fully enjoy your children. Maybe I am naive and it will all work out as so many things do. God is good! These are just thoughts that I think about sometimes. I admire women/moms that can work, keep house, do laundry, take care of kids/spouse/extended family, have a ministry, be in Bible studies, plan church events and everything else under the sun... but they are also often exhausted and I do not want to be exhausted all the time. Who does!

The amazing thing is with me finally making the decision to not book weddings the Lord has provided in so many ways. John has a new job 5 miles from the house making tons more money than he did before. With his Physical Therapy job and teaching job at Sinclair Community College, he has replaced my salary and then some. God has given me other jobs to do besides wedding. I have some paying design projects in the works and other smaller photography sessions too. I am amazed at how God provides for us exactly what we need when we need it. I am very thankful that He is in control of my life and no matter what I choose to do, wtih God's help, I can be successful in His eyes and that is all that matters.

I want to most importantly serve God, Christ and my family. I am most happy when I am making a difference for HIS kingdom. I will continue to pray that God guides us and that I can remain content in a time where many things are unpredictable and I feel like I am just waiting for the next big thing!


  1. Erin, I just wanted to say I have so enjoyed reading your posts so far on your journey. I just want you to know that I have been praying for you and John that you will see a little blessing or two from this. I will tell you that if/when you have children you are going to love it. Being a mom is definitely one of the most rewarding things.

  2. Wow. Great post Erin. I'm enjoying reading your blog and Brooke and I will continue to pray for you and John through this. We miss you guys.

  3. Thanks David! We miss you guys and would love to see you at Christmas but we know that you will be in high demand when you come back. Thanls for the prayers.