‘It was positive. I was terrified. I started shaking and then crying.’: Woman overcomes years of infertility to conceive beautiful baby boy

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“A year ago today ‘the impossible’ happened. I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying for 5 years and I was told I couldn’t have a baby without medical help. So I had given up and convinced myself that life would be better without a baby. I would have puppies and that’s all I needed, so we got a puppy 2 days prior to this day.

First response pregnancy test indicating woman who had trouble conceiving is pregnant
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

My husband and I were married in 2013. We knew we wanted a baby and we began trying right away. I was 35 and my so-called clock was ticking… we tried for about 6 months before I went to my OB with concerns. They told me to continue to try for 6 more months and to come back if we still hadn’t conceived. 6 months came and went. I went back to my OB for testing. I survived a few days of blood work, Pap smears, inserting dye to check my tubes, discussing my ‘geriatric lady parts,’ experiencing an all over general uncomfortableness, and then home to wait. After about 2 weeks I finally got the phone call that all of my testing had gone through and everything was normal. They had me come in for another look and wanted me to bring my husband to have him tested. (The extent of his testing was to pee in a cup… men have it so easy.) The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong except for my ‘tiny cervix.’ Finding nothing wrong was good news, but it felt like bad news. If we could find the problem then maybe we could fix it. I went home feeling defeated; there was something wrong with me that went undetected. I cried myself to sleep that night and cursed my tiny cervix for making things difficult.

We tried for another year, and in this year one of my friends conceived on a camping trip on my birthday, my cousin had finally gotten pregnant, and right around both of them getting the good news, I had missed my period. I was late and I was sure I was pregnant too! I had a handful of tests and I took one every morning for two weeks waiting to see the two lines instead of just the one each day. Every morning was the same, only one line. I thought I just must not have enough of the pregnancy hormones built up yet, so I kept trying. After the two weeks and losing hope each day, I started my cycle. I sat in the bathroom in tears. I called in sick to work, and I laid in bed for most of that day. 2014 was the year of irregular periods and false hope, and by 2015, my OB was stumped and suggested we try IVF. We couldn’t afford IVF. At this point I had lost all hope. I had to go to baby showers and pretend to be happy for the mom-to-be while grieving my empty womb. We got birth announcements from distant family, and I watched my friends in far off places bellies’ grow on social media. Women were pregnant all around me. Women who didn’t even want babies were having them… I was completely defeated and done trying. My heart couldn’t take anymore. I stopped tracking my ovulation, I stopped tracking my cycles at all.

I spent the next two years convincing myself I didn’t want a baby anymore. They were too much work, they cried, babies cost a lot of money and took up all your time. Babies were hard. I told myself this every time my period came because secretly I still wished every month for a baby. I told my husband I would rather spend our money on travel instead of paying for college. I told my friends that I liked being free to just be me. But when I was home alone, I cried in the bathroom while I talked to my empty womb, giving it a desperate pep talk before each ovulation. After about 6 months I began to believe the lies I told myself and my loved ones — I didn’t want a baby — they were too hard. I stopped trying to convince my womb to grow a child, I stopped crying in the bathroom. I stopped buying tests and I stopped hoping. I numbed myself in order to believe the lie. I lost myself so I could be someone who didn’t want a child.

I became obsessed with puppies to fill the void. I had to pet and hug every dog and puppy I saw. I looked at puppies on the internet at work. I needed a puppy. In 2016 my friend told me she thought her Golden Retriever was pregnant and she wanted to give me a puppy. I was ecstatic! I had a fluffy golden baby on the way! But I didn’t, it was a false pregnancy and I would have to wait until her next heat. I was heartbroken. I concluded it was for the better, ‘I didn’t need another dog anyways.’ So when she told me late spring of 2017 that her dog was pregnant for sure, I declined a puppy. I thought I had become good at lying to myself, but when she sent me pictures of the newborn puppies suckling on their mom I couldn’t resist. I sent the pictures to my husband and he told me to call her ASAP and get us a puppy. We had a fluffy baby on the way and I was going to bring her home August 10th. I had a baby and a date! I felt a lightness in my heart I hadn’t felt in a long time.

The day finally came, I was making the long drive to pick up my puppy. I put her in my car and we drove away. I began to cry.  My heart was hurting for her mother.  I felt awful taking her from her, separating a family. I held her close as I drove, promising her I would take good care of her as my tears wet her fur. After all, if I didn’t take her, some stranger would. At least with me she would have visits with her mom.

Woman who had hard time conceiving takes selfie in car with her dog in back seat
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

It was the day after I brought our new puppy home that I realized I was late again for my period. I mentioned it in passing to my husband and he replied, ‘You’re always late.’ I laughed at myself for even saying anything. But something felt different. I can’t explain it except for I felt full inside. Not a fullness after eating too much, but like there was too much air in my veins. When I woke up at 5:30 a.m. the next morning for work, that feeling was still there. I remembered that I had thrown a pregnancy test into the back of an unused cabinet long ago. I opened the dreaded cabinet and searched in the dark with my hand until I felt the plastic wrapper crinkle under my fingers, and pulled out the test. I don’t know why I even took the test. I was sure it would be negative. My heart was racing as I watched the lines appear… I started shaking and then crying. It was positive, and I was terrified. I woke up Matt yelling at him that this was all his fault as I shoved the test in his face. He held me as I cried. You see, I thought I was upset because I didn’t want a baby anymore, but anyone who knew me knew that was a lie I had convinced myself of. Really, I was terrified that now that I had finally conceived, I would lose the baby before I even got to meet it, and that pain would be worse than never having the baby in my belly at all.

Pregnancy wasn’t the beautiful experience I have heard women talk about. It was messy, I felt horrible a lot of the time, I hurt in places I had never hurt before, and work was too hard on my body. Despite all the feelings, I made it through the first trimester (not gracefully, but still in one piece). I was nauseous all the time, my heart was palpitating, and I was constantly worried that I would do something wrong and lose my baby. It was a long wait to get through those delicate few months, but I made it to the second trimester and it was a bit easier. The nausea has lessened, the baby was more resilient so I didn’t have to worry as much, and we found out we were having a healthy baby boy. For the third trimester I was put on ‘house arrest.’ I was having contractions from 28 weeks sending me to my OB or the hospital for monitoring multiple times. I couldn’t be on my feet for too long or my cervix would decide to contract, that tiny cervix was causing problems again. The doctors were worried my boy might try to come too soon, so I was put on bed rest.

Pregnant woman who had hard time conceiving lies on couch with golden retreiver in lap
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

Yes, there were some really amazing and beautiful moments — seeing and hearing his tiny little heart, feeling him kick and move in my belly, and the quiet moments where it was just him and me, and I would sing him songs while rubbing my Buddha belly. But as a whole experience, pregnancy isn’t all butterflies and hearts. Something I have found that most women won’t tell you until you are in it.

Pregnant woman who couldn't believe she was pregnant stands in white dress and flower crown holding her stomach
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

Finally our due date came and it was time for my baby boy to leave his warm nest. He was born April 16th after an emergency C-section. I was holding him for the first time… but I wasn’t just holding him, I was holding my beating heart. The blood started rushing into my head and even with Donovan in my arms I was having separation anxiety. He was no longer part of me, sharing my blood and my body. He was his own tiny separate human who will eventually be independent of me. As happy as I was to finally have my body back to myself, I was just as sad. We spent 10 months as one and now we were two separate beings. I was my own and he, his own. He felt a world away when he was feet away from me in his daddy’s arms. No other mother had ever told me I would feel this way. That I would have to grieve the celebration of life. That I would miss my baby when he was only inches away. I had never heard one mother talk about this part of birth, so it was quite a surprise. When my husband was asleep and the nurses were gone, I held my baby against my heart and cried. I didn’t want him to be separated from me. My heart ached for his heart, no matter how close I held him it wasn’t close enough.

Husband leans over holding newborn beside wife who just had c-section
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

It has been such a wonder to watch our sweet Donovan grow. Matt and I cuddle on the couch together while holding Donovan, both of us intently listening to his baby babble as if is the most captivating story. We all laugh when he laughs and smile when he smiles. I get to wake up every morning to him talking and laughing away while staring at the ceiling or his guardian angel that I can’t see. What he may never fully understand is that he is my little angel. He has filled the hole that was once in my heart.

Husband and wife smile as they hold their newborn close to their face
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh
Father lies asleep with newborn asleep on his chest
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

I want to be real, so here is mothering a newborn… I am sleep deprived, there are many days I don’t get to shower or eat a full meal in one sitting. Sometimes Donovan cries and it takes trying everything I can think of to finally calm him. Being a mommy to a newborn is no easy task. There have been times where I bounced on a big ball crying along with him until we both felt soothed or too exhausted to cry anymore. We cried together in the doctor’s office when he was sick. I have shared many tears with him, but we have shared so many more smiles and laughs. There is a happiness that fills my heart in every moment, good or bad, because I was given this little miracle.

My baby boy is now almost 4 months old. He holds my heart within his chest, my blood in his veins, my smile in his smile, my twinkle in his eyes. Love is what made him and in return, he is love. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the heavens for him. This journey so far has been my greatest. I couldn’t have done any of this without my amazing, loving, kind, and perfectly imperfect husband. He has been my calm in the storms, and there have been a few. A year ago today, the impossible became possible, and I was given the privilege and responsibility of being a mother. It is proven that a woman’s brain physically changes after becoming a mother… It’s a strange feeling, I have become someone I don’t quite know yet… but I think I might like her.”

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Mother who had hard time conceiving kisses son on cheek
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh
Husband stands behind wife who has baby swaddled to her on beach at sunset
Courtesy of Mary Nayneh

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Purnell, 40, of Camarillo, California. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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