Struggling through five long painful years of infertility isn't something that most people would look back upon and actually be thankful for. Then again, I'm not like most people. I don't know what it's like to have an unplanned pregnancy or to get pregnant when trying to conceive for a short time.
No, I've always taken the long road. I've always taken a little longer to accomplish things, and pregnancy was no different.
I was ready to start having children about two years before my husband was ready. Then when we were both on the same page and ready to start trying for a baby, we never imagined what would happen. Month after month went by and we couldn't conceive.
Before I knew it, two years of trying went by. Then I went to the doctor to see if there was something wrong.
The first gynecologist did a series of tests to rule out all kinds of possible reasons for the infertility. Some tests were painful, while others were embarrassing. They found nothing wrong so I went home and kept on trying each month. After another year went by I went to another doctor and went through some tests only to once again be told that everything seemed normal and healthy.
The next logical step was to make sure everything was up to snuff with my husband. Again nothing was found to be abnormal. So we started watching the calendar, using ovulation kits, reading, crying, and thinking. We looked into going to an infertility specialist but found that the cost of the procedures were way out of our budget.
Perhaps the most important thing that happened through those five years of struggling with infertility is how my husband and I grew. We grew as a couple and as individuals and like the saying goes, what didn't kill us made us stronger.
A lot can happen between the time you are 26 and ready to try for a baby and 33 when you finally give birth. At age 26, I was ready to become a mother but I didn't have a strong appreciation for parenthood. It seemed to me like just the next step in our marriage. Giving birth to the next generation seemed like something that was expected of me. I thought I had it all planned out when it came to motherhood. I figured I would have the baby, go right back to work, and live the life of having it all.
As the years went on I began to see parenthood differently. I started to really appreciate the idea of getting the privilege to raise a child. I longed so much for the opportunity to get to be a part of the club that only parents are allowed into. I wondered if other parents knew just how lucky they were.
Through this long struggle my thoughts started to change and I began thinking of how I could mold my career into something that would give me more time with my child, should I ever be given the opportunity to have one.
Those feelings became stronger and more concrete over the years. I had accepted the fact that my husband and I were infertile for unexplained reasons. We knew we would have to become parents through other means so we began researching adoption.
Anyone who is trying to get pregnant knows firsthand how many pregnancy tests one can go through. I felt like I owned stock in E.P.T. For years, at the first sign of a late period or bout of not feeling well, I crossed my fingers and ran to take a test, only to be disappointed.
Then one February morning as we were getting ready to go on vacation I took a test. For the first time ever it read positive. I was beside myself and immediately began to think that it must be faulty. Of course I took about a dozen more tests within the next couple of days, all of which came back positive. Then I had it confirmed by my doctor. I was six weeks pregnant after trying and being ready for so long.
I began to plan and prepare for that magical day and immediately my career aspirations went to the back burner. I began to feel as though the meaning behind having it all was being a mother and wife and having a family. On September 21, 2004, I had an unplanned c-section and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
For most parents the first weeks that follow are so tiresome and stressful that they sometimes question what they have gotten themselves into. Not for me. I was so happy to have been given the opportunity to have this child that I gladly and without any complaints took care of her at all times. While most parents would dread hearing a 2 a.m. cry, it was music to my ears because each time was a reminder that I was finally a mom.
I don't think for a minute that I would cherish parenthood the way that I do now if I hadn't gone through infertility. I know what it's like to long for a child and not have one and to believe that you may never get the chance to have one.
Those seven years changed who I was as a person and how I look at motherhood. Struggling through years of infertility made me have such a deep appreciation for my daughter and getting the opportunity to be a mother. Today I'm thankful for going through infertility because I truly believe that the struggle has made me a better parent.
Jacqueline Bodnar is a freelance writer living in Las Vegas with her husband and daughter.