When Words Fail: 11 Images Capture the Loss & Longing of Infertility

Liz Alterman | May 19, 2017 Pregnancy

woman facing tornado
Abbie Fox/Foxy Photography

Wanting to have a child and not being able to conceive or carry a baby to term is devastating for any woman. For Victoria Hamilton, who has longed to be a mom since age 12, struggling with infertility and explaining the heartbreak she feels is something that goes beyond words.  

To help her explain the complex range of emotions, the 32-year-old Las Vegas optician sought the help of photographer Abbie Fox, a mom of two who has also had her own bitter battle with infertility. 

Together, these women crafted stunning images that beautifully and brutally capture the feelings that language cannot convey.

"Words can only do so much," Victoria -- who goes by Vikki -- shared with CafeMom. "Pictures are so much more powerful."

Vikki says the images were an emotional release -- but they're hard for her to look at. "People like them and comment how beautiful they are; Abbie did a great job," she explains. "I see the beauty but I also feel so much pain in seeing them. The pictures were a way for me to express what I go through emotionally, daily."

Take a look at these portraits that show the haunting desolation of infertility.  

  • Poppies

    1

    Vikki's blog Beyond the Poppyseed was created as an outreach and an emotional outlet for her battle with infertility. Though poppies symbolize many things across the world, they're commonly associated with loss of a loved one or death within a family.

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  • Tornado

    2

    "When Vikki first asked me to do this session I wrote down all the emotions I've gone through since the miscarriage," photographer Abbie shared with CafeMom. "The only thing that I could think of to describe all of the emotions was a tornado. There are so many emotions, ups and downs. Sometimes I could find myself sitting on the couch in a trance and I literally felt that my heart was twisting. So the tornado image represents the heart-wrenching emotions."

  • Rainbow

    3
    "There is a saying that 'there is always a rainbow after the storm' when talking about infertility," Abbie explained. "The rainbow being the baby born after a loss. Since Vikki doesn't have any children yet, she is waiting for her rainbow still."
     
  • Vikki as a Poppy

    4

    "The red tutu skirt represents a poppy," said Abbie, who opened up about her own experience with infertility. 

    "I personally have struggled for about three years, two of which I had no idea there was an issue. We had always said we wanted four kids so when my daughter turned 2, we said we'd be okay if we got pregnant anytime. I finally got pregnant after two years and we lost the baby at around 10 weeks, last year in March. After having two perfectly healthy pregnancies the doctors couldn't understand what happened.

    "We have two amazing children and after this last year I have sort of given up the idea of having another child. It just wasn't meant to be. While I only had one miscarriage, the pain will be carried with me forever."
  • Butterflies as Symbol

    5
    Shortly after Abbie miscarried what would have been her third child, she began seeing butterflies everywhere.
     
    "For whatever reason I started associating them with the baby. Every time I see one now I smile. I feel like it is God's way of showing me everything will be okay," she said. 
     

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  • Understanding Loss

    6

    Vikki was told by a reproductive endocrinologist that she has diminished ovarian reserve, a condition in which the ovary loses its normal reproductive ability resulting in compromised fertility. She was told that her best chance at conceiving would be IVF.

    "I have been very open with my infertility struggle," Vikki said. "I have been blessed to have met some amazing women along my journey who were struggling to get pregnant. They since have all gone on to have children. It's a very lonely feeling. Not fitting in. Not being taken seriously or forgotten because you don't have kids. People don't understand."

  • Looking into the Distance

    7

    When asked about the toughest part of infertility, Vikki is heartbreakingly candid.

    "The hardest part is never knowing if I'm going to be a mom," she said. "Not having that little miracle that is part me and part my husband. Not looking into a child's eyes and seeing yourself. Never having someone call you momma. Never feeling those little arms wrap around your neck and feeling that bond with them. The hardest part about infertility is EVERYTHING."

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  • Mountains to Climb

    8

    As much as Vikki feels that others often don't comprehend what she's going through, she hopes these images will unite women experiencing the same emotions.

    "I hope the pictures accomplish understanding and awareness. I also want other women to be able to feel like they have someone to talk to. I have had complete strangers refer friends and family to me just to talk. It's hard feeling like you're going through this alone. The emotions we go through, the thoughts we have, our responses to our surroundings and events are sometimes even foreign feeling to us. I want women to feel like they are NOT ALONE," she said.

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  • Infertility Awareness -- Always

    9
    Vikki wears an infertility awareness ribbon as she's determined to educate others.
     
    "The biggest misconception is that it's not a disease," she said. "That it could be worse. How? Women with infertility have just as much stress and anxiety as someone with cancer."
  • Increasing Sensitivity

    10

    Vikki shared her thoughts on how to increase sensitivity toward those facing infertility:

    "Hug your babies tight," Vikki advised. "The next time you've had a bad day remember we would give anything to have a bad day with children. Also, remember how hard baby showers and Mother's Day is for people going through infertility. It's hard to be invited to events, but it's harder to not be invited. Invite us to events, but let us say no without feeling bad. Pregnancy announcements are best done through a private message before posting on social media so it gives us time to process and grieve. Of course we're happy for you, but it's really hard because it's not us."

  • Editing Through Tears

    11

    As difficult as the shoot was for Vikki, it was hard on Abbie as well. 

    "I did this even though it was hard," Abbie said. "I cried many times during the session, and actually had to stop editing a few times with the tornado picture because it is hard to edit through tears. I knew this was going to be something that would mean a lot to Vikki as well as other ladies. There is a lot of shame in infertility and until you have gone through it, you just can't understand. Before I lost a baby, I didn't understand; now I do. I wanted to help open up the communication about it. Women tend to be embarrassed. They blame themselves and don't want to talk about it. They think they must be doing something wrong. When I talk to women about it these are all feelings they have."

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