Lady Kaitlyn and the stag ovary

Lady Kaitlyn and the stag ovary

Kaitlyn contacted me a few months back to document her process of acceptance and story of her ovary removal. Our time together was just so beautiful. She was brave and present and vulnerable which happen to be 3 components that make Ladygroove so successful in my opinion. People showing up as they are...celebrating themselves and the roads they have traveled. Her journey through ovarian cysts, laparoscopic surgery and finally the full removal of her left ovary (which she lovingly now refers to her right ovary as the one who has to go on dates stag) is inspiring and real. I found her words and her journey to be extremely relatable even though I have never had ovarian issues. Isn't it beautiful how so many of our experiences look different yet take us down the same road of self discovery and growth. 

Here are a few snippets from her experience:

“Do you want to have kids?” Is not the same as “Do you want to be a mom?” I always knew I wanted to be a mother, although I never admitted it.  I resented the question in high school and college. I am naturally nurturing, naturally a caretaker, but I wanted it to be my choice, not an expectation of a life goal. Being a mother does not mean you have to birth children. I had not even considered how much I may value my specific genetics, or how I felt about carrying a human to term. I became enamored with the idea. My artwork became more intimate, more delicate.

I felt like somehow, I had failed. I had failed my body. I had failed my family. If I had eaten differently, or lived differently, had settled down immediately or kept up with the doctor, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. If I had more faith, or had been a better person, maybe I would not be losing the chance to do the one thing that is supposed to be the easiest thing in the world-become pregnant. When you go through 15 years of periods you hope there is some sort of payout (or I did). And while I was only facing the loss of one ovary, we didn’t know what could actually happen with the other. I felt stuck with a fate I didn’t choose, analyzing every choice I made in the past that led me to finding out something in my body was against me.

My identity as female, as a woman became a burden during this time. I believe in the choice of motherhood, but my choice did not seem good enough. And I wondered how I could be good enough in other aspects of my life. Who would want to be with me if I couldn’t have kids? It seemed so strange that such a tiny thing could determine so much. Ever since I was little, I had faced the statements regarding my gender as a challenge. Any idea that I could not do something- climb trees, be strong or intelligent, or travel alone, simply because I was female was an idea I was going to prove wrong. I could overcome anything because I was a woman, because I knew my abilities, not my sex, determined what I could accomplish. But I couldn’t do anything to overcome this. I could only go through it, and I was afraid of what was waiting for me.

It has been 8 weeks since I had my ovary removed, and I can’t say I feel much different physically from before. My reproductive organs do not make me a woman, and the lack of one does not make me less a woman, I know that. But after a week of looking at my red and swollen incision, I knew that somehow I needed to document what had happened. Part of me felt gross and broken, and part of me felt I needed to be able to show how I became the woman I am. You can feel like a victim of life or you can own it, and I wanted it to be my scar. My story. And my story is pretty damn beautiful.

Studio Swag

Studio Swag

This studio is a long awaited, happy dancin' kind of dream come true. It's my daily office and the space where Levi and I both shoot. It's the space that I have and plan to have many women leaving feeling pampered, empowered and alive in their femininity. It has already been one of belly laughter and tears. I never imagined my life to look this way (married to a photographer while being a photographer, shooting boudoir, 7 years in with no kids) but I can honestly say I'm thankful that it does. No one could ever know what has been put into our marriage, our personal growth, and our work lives to get us to this present place but we do know and we are very proud. And this studio is certainly the fruit of a hell of a lot of that labor.  

I teamed up with Whitney McGregor (Interior Designer and Stylist) to make this space beautiful and functional. She's good y'all. Real good.  She has an eye for luxury and traditionalism but always with a side of whimsy. For the studio we went for a worldly eclectic space with a minimal tone for the functional. Whitney says "It was amazing to watch the space evolve from concept phase to finished. I think we always had that original inspiration in our brains even though we took a few winding roads to ge there." Whitney designed this multifunctional wooden screen (backdrop, changing room, room divider, architectural presence) and Anthropolgie Display coordinator and Craftswoman Emily Barton  built it. I painted the walls and floors and door and Levi designed/installed the greatest backdrop holder in history. Whitney chose this Katie Walker original that hangs above the black settee and I just want to hold it like a baby all day long.

We think it's the coolest time to be a part of the current movement in the Pendleton Art District and we both love (well, I think Levi is very happy about it and I'm like crying and boogying over here about it. this is typical) that Village Studios and Gallery is our home. Also a big thanks to Ryan Johnston for his magical landlord skills and for all of his hard work in contributing to the economy and liveliness of Greenville SC.