Stories of You

Natalie: Picture Perfect

“I can’t wait for people to know that things have been far from perfect for me and that the perception from others is so wrong.” This is Natalie. This is her story.

Garden of Eden Photography

On the same day that she went shopping to buy the very first set of pink clothes for her twin girls, that night she went into premature labour. Natalie was only twenty three weeks pregnant. “I started feeling tightness and cramping. I didn’t know labour had started.” The waves of time crashed onto each minute that passed and by morning, the bloody show solidified her destiny. She heard the softness of a midwife’s voice saying “honey you are going to give birth to these girls.” A constant buzz in her ears started, drowning out the cacophony of panic, prayers, tears and hysteria. Everyone was there. The delivery room was full; her husband, parents, in-laws, siblings, cousins. Those who didn’t fit into the delivery room spilled into the hallway.

Ayla was born at 1pm. Her heart-beat lasted for only ten minutes. Grandmothers held her, kissed her and bid her goodbye, all within the few precious moments of her life. Then hope. Natalie’s cervix closed and everything stopped. The sadness shifted and a sense of excitement weaved in. There was a five per cent chance that Natalie would keep the other twin. Five per cent was enough to hope. Yet, at 3.30pm Natalie felt the tightness and cramping again. She knew. But for half an hour she told no one. The faces of those she loved were waiting in anticipation, daring her not to disappoint them again. But she could only hold on for so long. Elis was born. Her tiny heart-beat lasted only for a few minutes.

“I held her, looked at her, kissed her, but that was enough. I was watching everyone in the room like I wasn’t even there. You reach a point of exhaustion mentally that you just leave your body. I just wanted everything to stop.”

Garden of Eden Photography

The tragedy of losing her beautiful girls was only the beginning. “I lost everything that day. I lost me. I can’t even put into words how it got so bad.” Natalie would spend hours in the nursery that she had prepared for the twins. Her husband would find her underneath the twin cots, she would wrap herself around them, holding on, screaming and crying. “I was going to have it all, and then it was gone.”

“463 people on Facebook know this has happened to me. 1000 students at school, 80 teachers, everyone is going to know I have failed – that is how I felt.” Anxiety, panic and depression curled its way into her life. The medication started and the sleep stopped. She went six days straight with no sleep. The cocktail of medication became worse. “We started living in hell at home.”

Garden of Eden Photography

“I needed to be constantly walking. I walked up and down the hallway at 2 o’clock in the morning. I would wake my husband at 3 o’clock to go for a walk around the block with me. My mum would wake up at 4 o’clock to walk with me. I had an energy I couldn’t get rid of. I thought I was going crazy. I literally believed that I was losing my mind. I wanted to die. I knew that I wouldn’t kill myself, but I wanted someone to do something to me. I wanted it to end. I wanted my brain to stop. The voice in my head was constant: ‘you’re never going to be pregnant again, you’re going to have to go through IVF again, you are a failure, and you have disappointed your husband, all this is your fault.’ I started reflecting back on my life and questioning if I have been a good person, maybe I have been a horrible person. Maybe I deserve this?”

The turmoil in her mental state intensified. Natalie went through three hospital admissions and two unsuccessful cycles of IVF. Agony twisted upon agony. Finally Natalie found her heaven on earth. Innisfree is a health and wellness centre focused on bringing balance and peace back into people’s lives. Here Natalie was slowly weaned off the medication. She received daily psychiatric care. She learned to sleep again and to work through her anguish. At Innisfree Natalie found herself again. “I still remember the first time I was actually hungry, I wanted a peanut butter sandwich! I still remember that feeling; I had lost it for months and months and months.”

Garden of Eden Photography

A third cycle of IVF and Natalie was staring at a positive pregnancy test. She cried for two whole hours, unable to call anyone because it had all started again. She spent nine months counting the days, reading the books and memorising the statistics. For every month and every day she knew her little baby’s survival rate. It was nine months of waiting for something bad to happen. Natalie never felt the kicks of her tiny little girls. But she remembers the first time she felt the kicks of her son, Kaya. “I hated it, because I didn’t want to love him. I thought it would be easier to lose him – if I didn’t love him.” But love him she did. At thirty eight weeks and five days Kaya was born. Natalie cried and cried when she first held her son. “I was crying for the girls. I grieved for them first and then I welcomed him.”

To distract her mind during Kaya’s pregnancy Natalie took up her photography. “I love creating memories for other people.” She loves photographing newborns and sharing that connection with mothers. Most photo shoots Kaya is with his mum and while she edits her photos, he happily sits on her lap. Garden of Eden Photography is about capturing the essence of a moment and being immersed in the beauty of memories. Natalie’s images are breathtaking.

From the outside, Natalie’s life appears to be nothing but perfect. She has a beautiful son, successful marriage and incredible business ventures. Yet, she wants people to know that her life is far from the “picture perfect” that they perceive. “I lived the charade of perfectness and wore those dresses every day, but not anymore.” This is the first time Natalie is telling her story. “I’m not afraid to share my story, if someone wants to talk to me, connect and relate then this is what I want this story to be about. I’m not ashamed. I have nothing to hide. I want people to know. I need to hear other people’s stories and people need to hear mine.”

Judging a book by its cover can only give you the slightest glimpse into a story. It is always better to take a moment, open the pages and read the story within.


 Natalie is generously giving away a $100 voucher for Garden of Eden Photography.

To enter the giveaway:

Like always Josefa on Facebook.
Like Garden of Eden Photography on Facebook

Answer the question:  Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

All responses must be entered as a comment below.
This is a game of skill and the winner selected from the answers below.
Please login with your email address.
You must like both pages and answer the question to be eligible for this giveaway.
One entry per person only.
The giveaway is for Australian residents only
The giveaway closes on Tuesday September 10, 2013.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday September 11, 2013.
The winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn.
Please note: Garden of Eden Photography is located in Melbourne, Victoria.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by meeting up with someone for the first time and feeling like you have known each other a lifetime, cuddles from Kaya and Nat’s generosity to allow me into her home to share her story. 

Life’s Little Treasures Foundation is a national Australian charity dedicated to providing support, friendship and information specifically tailored for families of children born sick or premature; they have a 24 hour support line 1300 697 736.

If you would like to nominate someone or yourself to be part of Stories of You, please email me directly at I’d love to meet you over coffee and hear your story. Read the other incredible stories from the Stories of You collection here.

  • I am guilty of OFTEN judging books by their covers. I often think so-and-so’s life is so perfect, but what do I really know? I couldn’t stop crying throughout this post. You shared this tragic story so beautifully, I felt like I was in that room when the girls were born, I felt the pain. I am so thankfully Natalie has her little man now, but I am sorry for the pain she had to go through to get here. xo

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, Josefa. You have me in tears again. What an inspiration Natalie is. It takes real courage to share those feelings we bottle up deep within. I would love to enter this comp, but will take a few moments to think and will enter later 🙂 I have heard of Garden of Eden Photography and it is stunning.

  • LydiaCLee

    It’s a perversely human trait, where we project our ideas of other people onto them, then realise things are totally different….generous post (in sharing)

  • Natalie Ahmet

    Josefa how can I thank you enough for taking the time to get to know me, for getting to know my story , my way. You have truly captured the emotions of the single most important and heartbreaking event of my life. I am proud to share your words with the world. Your talents as a writer are evident in this piece…I only pray and hope that these words touch the hearts of those who may need them x

    • Thank you so much to YOU for sharing such an incredible and inspirational story x Wishing you all of life’s blessings Natalie x

  • Wow. Natalie thank you so much for being so brave to open up and tell your story. And Josefa you have done an amazing job portraying it for her! So many emotions and thoughts that we all go through but for some reason feel that it’s not the done thing so we keep it all hidden. I hope your story inspires others to do the same xox

  • Rebekah Zervopoulos

    Such an emotional read. So proud of you Nat for being brave enough to share your story and a massive credit to Josefa for capturing the true emotion and heartbreak you went through.

  • Pip (@melbournelass)

    Natalie, thank you so much for sharing your precious moments with the Always Josefa community. I shed tears of empathy as I read it on the tram journey today to work. To hear you have come out the other side indeed makes you a woman of such insurmountable strength. I often admire the images jumping out via your Facebook feed and can feel the passion behind the lens. It’s been so revealing to know where that comes from. What an incredibly lucky little lad and husband to have you in their lives. Such poignant story telling Josefa, thank you. Pip

  • Wow – what a sad but beautiful story. Such a tear to my eye. Such a tale of hope, despite agony xxx

  • I do not want to enter, I would like for someone else to win. I just wanted to say to Natalie… “I know. I know your story and your pain as they are similar to mine.” Sending much love your way, coming from someone who tried for five years to have a baby via IVF, I have been pregnant five times, four times I could not get past 16 weeks. Just once, like you, I made it to 40 weeks and Jarvis was born. Everyone tells me how lucky I am. As much as I adore him, I still remember those four babies, so I do not think luck is on my side.

  • Tam Fox

    OMG, I knew reading tthis was goingto hit home hard. I have been crying for a while now. This story is raw emotions put into words and inspiration all wrapped into one. Knowing Nat from a far for many years and seeing her story unfold was heart breaking, the worst thing was knowing personally what the emotions she was feeling actually felt like.

    I think we are all guilty of this in some way or another. I personally have been judged from a very early age. I have faced many battles like at age 8 a family friend said that I was getting chubby, so I stopped eating and began my journey of anorexia. This continues everyday and still at age 34 I can’t look in the mirror. I experienced my first lose at 6, when my baby brother died of SIDS. That day is etched into my memory like it was today, I decided I wanted to be with him so like you Nat I didn’t want to be here. I had even made a plan and the only thing that saved me was my older brothers hand grabbing mine stopping me. This lose stayed with me and emotionally I shut down refusing to feel anything. People saw me as a bitch, trouble maker even didn’t like me. Friends didn’t come easy as I didn’t want anyone getting to close. Still I keep my emotions under wraps. One of the hardest things was trying to find words to say to Nat. As nothing was going to save her from this pain. If I could have done anything to take it away I would have, I have been there losing a child at 18 weeks. My baby didn’t take a breath she was born sleeping. Being under 20 weeks she was not classed as a life, that I couldn’t handle. I too turned to drugs but I think of a different kind. I was self medicating with any upper I could find. I too had to find myself knowing that everything I had tried to be I was personally destroying it day by day. Waking up hating the person you are was my turning point.

    This is the first time I have shared my story and I am so Nat knows she has many people around her that know and have felt similar pain. I am in absolute awe of this women, everyday I read a post and she inspires me to be a better person. Her story is amazing and to achieve what she has after the crappy hand she was dealt is a true inspiration. I want to thank her and Josefa.

    Nat you are not alone xxxxxx I am one of your biggest admirers and you are a true testament of what a person strives to become in their journey of life. You probably have no idea just how being you affects the people around you.

  • I have the biggest pit in my stomach and my heart for Natalie. Thank you for sharing her story. I can’t imagine how much of her heart has been broken.
    I think we all tend to judge a book by the cover. I really try not to as I know myself life is far from perfect and have been judged many times. We all have our stories to tell, some hurt so bad that you never want to let them out, others hurt so much you have to let them out. Everyone has a story and we should never judge because most of the time we will never know their full story.

  • My heart is with and aches for Natalie.
    Thank you for reminding us all to not judge a book by it’s cover and that everyone has a story X

  • Aksel Ahmet

    Thank you Josefa for writing this for our family

  • Grace

    Big hugs for Natalie. Thanks for introducing her to us, Josefa. She is such an inspiration.

  • Beck

    Sending big hugs and lots of love, it must have been so difficult to share such an emotional story. So beautifully told xxx

  • I don’t even have any words to say here. What a horrible ordeal to live through. Thank God she has come through to the other side now

  • Annaleis Topham

    I’m in tears. What an emotional story. Must still be so hard to keep moving forward.

  • Nikki @ Wonderfully Women

    Wiping away the tears and sending wishes for a bright and brilliant future ahead. xx

  • Wow Natalie you are amazing, I have goosebumps from that story Josefa, so well written. I’m so happy that you now have a son Natalie, that you found the help you needed and are now an awesome photographer that captures the joy of babies for other people. What a strong woman you are! x

  • What a moving story, such a tragic loss for Natalie. I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of her pain. I’m so glad she has found her way through the maze of grief, and now has a gorgeous little boy. Thank you for sharing – I’m sure there will be many women who will be touched by Natalie’s story.

    Visiting from #teamIBOT xxx

  • Yellow_Dandy

    I cannot even imagine. I’m so glad she shared her story, and I’m sure she will be a great support to others who have been through a similar experience. x Karen

  • Oh my god, what a tragic story. Natalie, you have come through so much. What an amazing woman you must be. And Josefa, SO beautifully crafted. x

  • TeganMC

    Oh Natalie, such a heart wrenching story. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that you went through. Thank you for sharing your story xx

  • Rita

    Thank you for sharing your story Natalie. I know it will help many women out there. And thanks Josefa for another beautifully written post.

  • Melissa

    WOW I can’t believe this story!
    Natalie was a student teacher at my primary school and taught my sister so the fact that I actually know her is incredible! More than 13 years later and I can’t believe I’m reading her story.
    Nat you are an amazing woman and one of my inspirations for becoming a teacher.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Kathy

    Josefa you have told Natalie’s heart-wrenching story so beautifully – the pain comes through so raw and real and I can really identify with her (misguided) sense of guilt – I felt so much to blame during our infertility. The crazy thing is I used to judge mothers back then – I’d be jealous if I thought they weren’t being attentive parents, thinking it was unfair in presuming that they had it so easy. But we don’t know what people go through to be parents, or what they go through in their lives in general.
    Thank you so much for organising tonight’s dinner – I am still amazed at the connection and support amongst bloggers and it was so lovely that your initiative brought us Gold Coast bloggers together too. Have a great rest of the week on holidays and thanks again…kathy

  • I try so very hard to no longer judge a book by its cover, because every person has an inner story to tell.
    And this one is so very heart breaking to read but I so think Natalie is very brave for sharing her story.
    Some one will connect with this and that is something that will help. There are many layers to every one’s soul, may Natalie be healed xxx

  • Chantel

    Josefa, your writing is wonderful. Natalie’s story is both heartbreaking and uplifting xxx

  • What an incredible story. Natalie, my heart is breaking for you. I don’t have any words that could possibly be worthy enough to offer you after reading this, but I do know I will remember your story for as long as I have memory. xx

  • TwitchyCorner

    So Heartbreaking, moving and brave. I admire people who decide to follow through on their convictions that their story needs to rise to the surface. Healing is never too late, when you are ready. Best wishes to Natalie. Great story, Josefa.

  • Money Mummy

    Hi Natalie, thank you so much for sharing your story. I lost a baby girl at 21 weeks, nearly 5 years ago. Your words encapsulate exactly how I felt too. I felt like a failure and that my body had let me down. Overwhelmed by grief I thought I was loosing my mind. I had never seen the edge before and it was darn close. I am so glad you got a “take home” baby in Kaya, we did too. Sending massive love xox

  • Kim

    Wow. i honestly hold my glass up to you Natalie for telling your story, for being brave and for coping with what I can imagine is the most difficult grief to ever bear. I am so glad for the birth of your son, and that you and your family have found some peace. And a prayer for your little girls. Kimx

  • Natalie thank you for sharing. It really is important for us all to be reminded that just because things look wonderful on the surface doesn’t mean that people have it easy.

  • Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. It’s amazing to hear about a woman’s eventual triumph over tragedy.

  • Julie

    Thanks for sharing your story Natalie. We never know what is going on for people below the surface. I can’t imagine how hard that time must have been. Visiting from weekend rewind x

  • Thank you for sharing such a private story Natalie. Josefa, thank you for giving Natalie the platform to do this. Beautifully written xx

  • Leanne Winter

    Have to wipe away the tears to comment. Thanks for sharing Natalie’s story, so brave of her. Time for us all to count our blessings.

  • Your story is so heartbreaking and courageous, Natalie. A picture is only so deep, it’s true, but you seem to have a knack for photographing what’s under the surface. x

  • Lynda @HomeleaLass

    Thanks for sharing this very human story, it’s beautifully told. It’s a good reminder that, like Natalie, everyone one has a different story. Different to you and me, and different to how things appear.


  • Such a sad story, but ultimately one of hope. Thank you for sharing her story Josefa.

  • BabbleOnCity

    This is such a heartbreaking story told so beautifully. Natalie is so brave for sharing it. Thank you xx

  • Nat, I just cried for you, both sad and happy tears. You are incredible and brave and inspiring. Thank you for sharing the truth xx

  • MummaLish

    I am guilty of judging people by their outward appearances, particularly the “grass is greener” aspect. It’s strange how I think that other people’s lives must be so perfect based on what they are willing to show, when I know first-hand that they could just be putting on a brave face, trying to make the best of their situation and not sharing too much with anyone lest their walls come crumbling down and they are vulnerable again. Maybe their lives aren’t so perfect, that crooked smile and weary eyes may be signs that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. Visiting from the weekend rewind, thank you for sharing such a heart-wrenching, breathtaking, yet inspiring story. Thank you to Natalie for being brave enough to let your story be told xx (not entering the giveaway as I live in WA)

  • What a beautiful and heart wrenching story. Thank you for sharing your story Natalie and reminding us not to judge from the outside.

  • Alison @ The Thrifty Issue

    Oh my love … such a moving story, you told it so beautifully. Thank you for sharing, Alison xxx

  • The Natalie: Picture Perfect giveaway is now closed.

  • Emily Morgan

    what a beautifully told tale, I cried. and what a strong amazing woman Natalie is – thank you so much for introducing us to her!

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