Before my first child, I had watched many women in my life slowly create humans in their bodies. They would give me their tidbits of insight and I would absorb the information like it was a foreign language. Staring with squinty eyes at their bulging bellies, wondering if I would ever actually learn the words they were speaking.
I wish I had written down my opinions before I got pregnant, because today, I know the language so well that I speak it fluently. Motherhood is one of the biggest parts of who I am now. It is like once I crossed that line of bearing children, there was literally no turning back – even with my memories.
Yet there is one aspect of pregnancy that plagued me before kids, and still does today. It is the simple fact that getting pregnant is extremely complicated and confusing, and there is very little to prepare you for it.
What I do know now is that making a baby is a game that has no set rules – what works for one, won’t work for all. Each step is like running through a minefield of conception fortune. You yearn deeply to land on that lucky mark – you just have no idea where the spots are to step on.
My daughter came after two lost pregnancies and the use of an app that suggested we “try” so many times we got tired of even looking at each other. We were ready to quit at the two year mark of our first lost pregnancy, and that third positive test was the one that finally made us parents.
Nine months after her birth, we found out we were expecting again. We had just started talking about a second when my son popped into our world. He was the perfect twin of my daughter, and the absolute best unplanned surprise.
My husband still looks stunned in disbelief when he speaks to people about the pregnancy process. He repeatedly says he had no idea how painful and grueling it could be. As young adolescents, we were taught about pregnancy in such a fact based way – you have unprotected sex, the sperm travels to the egg and babies are born.
Yet the truth is so much more complicated than that.
I have friends who got pregnant on the first try and some that took years and years to make a baby. I know people who have done IUI, IVF, surrogacy, adoption and some that even eventually just stopped trying. I have others who drained their life savings through multiple infertility treatments, and then ended up miraculously pregnant naturally down the road.
A lot of people lose pregnancies like me in many different stages in the process, or some painfully give birth way too early. While others go to full term and devastatingly lose their babies after they have already held them in their arms.
And some, like me with my son, get pregnant with no issues and deliver full term chubby babies.
You see, that’s the problem. We all blindly go into this pregnancy process with no idea how to do it or what the outcome will be. There is no set guide you can buy or checklist you can make that will guarantee anything.
Of course your doctors will give you their educated opinions on what has worked and how to up your chances to make a baby, and some suggestions can and will help certain people. But sadly, even the professionals don’t know with 100% certainty what will work for you or me.
During my fertility struggles I heard it all – exercise more, do acupuncture, stop eating processed foods, have sex less to build up the sperm count, have sex more to up your chances, and the best was to “relax and stop trying” (which doesn’t even make sense).
Everyone wants to help, but no one really knows the answer.
I sometimes wish someone had told me about the potential struggles before we started. I know it wouldn’t have changed the path my body went through to become a mother, but I somehow felt wronged by the little I knew about the fragile nature of fertility.
During my second pregnancy I started bleeding right in the beginning, and doctors, friends and family still reassured me that I was fine. And when the unthinkable happened and I miscarried, I felt an urge to yell at them and ask why.
Yet deep down I know the reason why no one talked about it – they simply didn’t know. The possibility of the pregnancy remaining was equally as possible as the pregnancy ending.
Being pregnant is supposed to be about life and renewal. It’s the new chapter all hopeful parents want to start. So we keep the negative at bay in the hopes it actually will be just fine.
It seems as though anything can happen when you’re trying to have a baby, because pregnancy is equal parts miracle and mystery. There are too many factors in our lives and bodies to ever really understand how it will eventually happen. There is no guarantee or way to predict what your future journey will be.
So my best advice to all the hopeful mammas out there is to never give up. Families are made in so many different ways, and just because you don’t follow a predictable path, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one. It simply means it is the path that you were meant to take.