Beth Chucker

Photographer
 
A Work In Progress
Location: Montclair, New Jersey
Nationality: American
Biography: “Same song still playing in the car, on my i-pod, from the night before, the life around me and in me was never the same.”   Beth Chucker is interested in private moments that shape the dynamics of relationships. How we cope with... MORE
Public Story
A Work In Progress
Copyright Beth Chucker 2022
Date of Work Apr 2012 - Aug 2013
Updated May 2022
Topics Abortion, Conceptual, Documentary, Editorial, Education, Emotion, Essays, Family, Feminism, Fertility, Film, Fine Art, Freedom, Friends + Family, Infertility, Miscarriage, Photography
Summary
In the same examining room where months ago we talked about the new baby plan, my legs are reaching for the fluorescent light. Camera in hand I take the shot. A distraction and realization that I am not alone in this modern day science of trying to conceive a child, I am documenting my journey, this temporary ritual.
 In the same examining room where months ago we talked about the new baby plan, my legs are reaching for the fluorescent light. Camera in hand I take the shot. A distraction and realization that I am not alone in this modern day science of trying to conceive a child, I am documenting my journey, this temporary ritual.

 I was 40 when I realized, whoops, we got to do this now. I sort of told this to myself many times in the past, but at 40, it was time to listen. At 32, my mom said “enjoy your first few years of marriage before having children.” I think that is the only advice of her’s I followed right away. Never had baby fever, but knew I eventually, I wanted a family, I just didn’t want it to define me, yet. So I waited. My mother died about two weeks after my second Wedding Anniversary. I was 35. That was one year after I finished up my second degree and was promoting my photography. That year or maybe for six months leading up to her death, I wanted to get pregnant but truthfully I think it was for her to have something to live for. After she died I went back and forth from LA to DC. From my dad to my husband (and our cats). This continued for about a year. Death is a time warp and besides losing my mother, I lost someone who was close to myself and my mom (to suicide) four months after my own mothers death. The end of 2005 and most of 2006 was not the right time to make a baby. End of 2006 and most of 2007 traveled and applied to grad school (and got in). Moved to New York City, bi-costal. 2007-2009 more years that were not time to make a baby. Finally,at the end of 2009 we are back on the west coast and settling into our new home and I am looking for work and curating locally. But we were back in a honeymoon stage of our life, things felt calm. Did not focus on having a baby. 2010 turning 40. Oh boy… actually, I enjoyed it. But then the whoops came calling! We need to seriously think about having a baby. We tried for a year. Kept track of  my ovulation (loosely in the beginning) but we didn’t have any luck. Each month we kept more and more obsessed and worried and discouraged. We met with my gynecologist in that florescent examining room and started a plan to do IUI and regular old sex (I feel compelled to state the later). After two IUI’s and regular old sex (see) we got pregnant in 2012. Wow that feeling and relief. But at 11 weeks we got the news many women get. The heart had stopped and I would be getting a DNC. Aborting the dead embryo. My doctor was like the sweet supportive brother you would want if your life had just deflated. He was encouraging and I escaped into the Shins new album for about a month.  But I  had been prepped by many, that this was normal and not unusual and after I mourned, I pushed on and started trying again. We all take in grief differently. Some things make me more pragmatic and to push forward and in this circumstance because I knew my age was not stopping I had to push past the grief. We tried six more times with IUI and regular old sex (covering all basis). Anyone who gets on the schedule knows how sexy this does not always become. We were all in a bare bones factory trying to make a baby. I am one of those people who will talk to anyone and I really don’t compartmentalize so, yes I became close to my doctor and his assistants. We were all in this together, in my head. Pregnant again, but at 5 or 6 weeks no heartbeat. Second DNC, (aborted deceased embryo) in about 6 months

The evolution of the schedule:
-Ovulation trackers- year one
-Sperm collection- year two
-IUI Finger crossed
-Shots- year two and a half
-IUI Fingers crossed
-Tests
-Ovulation trackers
-Sperm collection
-Shots
-IUI Fingers Crossed

 But there were some in “our factory” who we needed at times that I felt were not compatible co-workers. There was this clinic we used for sperm sperm wash and their lab techs and the receptions were very nice and wonderful, the doctor on the other hand. Well, he kept reminding me that I was too old to be doing IUI and that I should just go straight to IVF (which is what his clinic did/does (they were just in the news last year for embryos being switched) ). He was a “charmer”. The only reason I went to him twice for IUI was because my own doctor was either doing a triathlon or delivering a baby. Time is precious and when you are ovulating you stop everything, I mean everything. And you will work with people who make you feel like shit.  

After our second DNC, we were told by our “brother type” doctor that we should work with a fertility doctor. He did recommend “the straight to IVF doctor”. We met with him and he said the same things but then put emphasis on the fact that I was geriatric. I am a 42 year old women, that word geriatric floored me. Can we take that term away? When you are a place of hope for a couple and you are planning to profit off of them, could you please try and rebrand the term geriatric when pertaining to their ovaries. Let’s just scare you into working with us, cause your eggs are old as fuck, did not work on me, but it does on many and that breaks my heart.

I also got other opinions and I started acupuncture. One fertility clinic was glamorous with many doctors and many successful well known clients. The other was a doctor who had a main office but also floated around town. We met him in a small tight fluorescent lite white office, he took our history and then looked up and said “you’ve been pregnant twice in a year, you don’t need to rush into IVF”. He reminded me of my OBGYN (nice brother like). Yes, I got the answer I wanted, but it was also his whole outlook, he never called me geriatric or made me feel bad for waiting, he just said, your eggs are older and they need help.

New plan: one more IUI, more aggressive shots, continue with acupuncture but stop the Chinese herbal teas, get a scan and make sure my uterus has no scar tissue from the two DNC’s (I was clear), check for ovulation and come in. But if this IUI doesn’t work come the new year, Plan IVF.

Dec. 23, 2012-  I would love to say that the day we created our twins that getting there was all sunshine, but no, my husband and I fought before we got the appointment, I don’t remember what, but I remember feeling sad that we were not in 100% happy place. But I think our road to creating a child was becoming that emotional roller coaster. But Doc, what a trooper he was so supportive of both my husband and I, he must be used to the emotional turbulence that it takes out on couples. As all three of us hung out there, two sitting on stools and one lady(me) with her legs in the air, he kept smiling at us and wishing for our dream. Visualize it,, he does that with all the couples, what a special talent. This now more common ritual in science worked and yes we got twins.

Looking back, I have no regrets, I love the people my husband and I made (and our fertility, OBGYN team). Time could have kicked us in the ass, but being an older parent works for me and well, I had to have help and I had to get pissed off,  and I had to mourn loss, but I was lucky cause my daughter and son are very incredible. Even though they make me insane.