I just assumed that when I was ready to have a baby, I would. I had no reason to believe that getting pregnant would pose any difficulty for me. I was relatively young, healthy and had no untreated medical issues. But I was wrong. Like many other women, pregnancy for me was not a guarantee. I fell into the category of “unexplained infertility.” I looked fertile on paper, but there was some unknown reason why I was unable to get pregnant. My infertility diagnosis was devastating. Infertility took my hope, faith and frankly most of my joy. It was the most difficult time in my life. I honestly didn’t believe I was ever going to be a mother.
But then after three and a half years of infertility, six failed intrauterine inseminations and one failed in vitro fertilization, I was pregnant…with twins. I wrongly thought that was the end. The struggle was over, and the beginning of my happy little family life had finally come. After such a struggle to get pregnant, I really wanted to enjoy it. But it was very stressful to have a high-risk pregnancy after infertility. I was constantly concerned something was going to go wrong. And at 27 weeks, it did.
Following eight days of hospital bedrest, my twins were born. And once again I was in a situation I had never expected. My very small and premature babies were fighting for their survival and I could do little more than witness the fight. Again I felt completely powerless and unable to control the outcome of another medical situation. Surely I hadn’t come this far to lose everything I had desired for so long. Each day was an exercise in patience and faith. But after 65 days, they came home, relatively healthy and mine.
I have been a parent for several years now and the struggle of infertility and the heartache of NICU life are memories. While the wounds have healed, the scars remain and are a constant reminder of why we all fought so hard to get to where we are now. Those NICU days took a lot from me, but they also gave me something that is so important: perspective. My outlook on life and certainly my parenting philosophy has been greatly impacted by my challenging journey to motherhood. My time isn’t occupied with evaluations of what is positive or negative. Instead, I focus on finding joy in the fact that I get to have the experience at all.
Parenting is challenging. And at those most taxing moments, when I am calming a tantruming child, breaking up a sibling disagreement, picking the same five toys off the floor again and changing another diaper, I feel profoundly grateful. Grateful that I get to witness all of the moments: the easy, the good, the hard and the bad. I’m deeply thankful that there are little hands to hold and tiny tears to wipe away. I won’t take any of this for granted, because I know how close I came to not having it at all.
I don’t often think about whether my cup is half empty or half full anymore. I am just so grateful that I have a cup.