‘When I held that precious bundle to my chest, I waited for that awe-filled moment. Instead, I felt relief.’: Mom after infertility says ‘motherhood is tough but so are you’

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“I always knew I’d be a mother. No matter what random, ever-changing career I set my sights on, one thing always remained the same: I would be a mother. My tomboy, teenage self would joke about how I’d have a huge household full of boys because I couldn’t fathom having girls. What would I even do with their hair? I wish I’d spent more time learning about my own anatomy and less time worrying about the gender of my
future children.

While for most people the road to parenthood is easy, nothing could have prepared me for the road I had to take and the feelings I’d harbor once I finally got to claim the coveted title of mother.

My husband and I met in 2015 at an ’80s tribute band concert. I won’t say it was love at first sight, but there was something about the pleather skinny pants and long red, Axel Rose wig that intrigued me. By the fall of 2016, we were married and I started my countdown for when we could start trying for a baby. He wasn’t keen on the idea of children, but I’d set my heart on trying the next year and I had all these plans.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

That year flew by, as they often do and suddenly, I found myself in the exciting world of trying to conceive. My sister and my best friend had already had their firsts and I was eager to catch up. No one prepares you for the possibility of it not working. We’re told, over and over again, to avoid accidental pregnancies. ‘It only takes one time!’ But for us, that wasn’t the case.

Month after month, I’d sit and pretend not to stare as that stupid pink dye would roll right over where the second line was supposed to be. I’d squint until my eyes hurt, come back, and check the test in the trash. I tried this and that, consulting Doctor Google and Pinterest for ideas. Nothing worked, so after an agonizing 11 months of nothing, I went to a doctor.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

The first doctor I saw told me to wait another month. She was sure I’d get pregnant if I would ‘just relax,’ because we’re young and healthy. I never went back to that doctor. Instead, I found one who diagnosed me with anovulatory PCOS and suspected endometriosis. This started years’ worth of fertility treatments that broke me down until I was barely a shell of my former self.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

In the end, we did one round of IVF with ICSI. Our first frozen embryo transfer resulted in the most gorgeous little boy we had ever seen. In continuation of nothing going to plan or being easy, my pregnancy was hard and our baby boy was brought into this world via c-section.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

After 32 hours of a failed induction, I was finally a mother to an earthside child. While I held that precious bundle to my chest, I waited to be filled with the pride and sense of accomplishment other women described. I wanted that awe-filled moment that inspires other people to look at you like you’re a warrior goddess who has done the impossible.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

Instead, all I felt was relief. Relief that it was all over. I could finally breathe, my hard-fought battle had been won. So why didn’t I feel like a winner?

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

I soon realized I’d spent all my time trying to have a baby I’d forgotten to really prepare for one. I had spent years avoiding motherhood in an attempt to scale back my resentment and longing. I didn’t want to hear how hard it was, I judged mamas who complained and gave terse remarks of how I would give anything to be in their shoes. Every time I saw an article or a post on social media about how much moms struggled, I paid it no mind. After all, motherhood couldn’t be harder than infertility, could it?

While I can’t speak for other moms, I can say this, motherhood after infertility is a beast all of its own. Infertility strips you of your confidence and you find yourself in a constant battle with your body. Watching as it betrays you through failed cycles, miscarriage, and curveballs you never fathomed. You start to question your own instincts, not trusting your heart for one second because the moment you start to believe things are going right, they end up falling apart.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

Going into motherhood with zero self-confidence and even less knowledge of what to expect, I was a hot mess. The trauma of infertility lingers and my inability to trust my body turned into the inability to fully trust any of my instincts. I cried half the way home from the hospital, silently wiping my tears while staring at the perfect little miracle I had prayed so hard for.

Part of me thought I’d made a mistake. How on earth could I take care of this little baby? What possessed me to believe I could be a good mother? It took a lot of trial and error, a lot of sleepless nights, several pity parties, and help from my village but eventually, the nights got a little easier and the days a little brighter.

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

I still have moments where I wonder what I’m doing or if I’m doing it right. I’m not perfect and nothing about motherhood is easy, but each day, I can feel myself growing. I’m learning and healing and rebuilding myself into someone stronger and even more resilient. Motherhood is tough, but so am I, and so are you. Keep going friend, we got this.”

Courtesy of Bailey Johnson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bailey Johnson from North Dakota. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘Did you know you are pregnant?’ she said. ‘Umm…what?’ The 6 hours I spent on a stretcher in the back hallway were a blur.’: Couple details secondary infertility battles, ‘I’ll never stop hoping’

‘The doctor said, ‘You have to lose weight to get pregnant.’ After years of praying and trying, it’s still not my month.’: Woman candidly details hidden side of infertility battle

‘I saw his tiny little head emerge. ‘Shirts off!!’ Baby was placed on Frank’s chest. I wrapped my arms around my husband and our son. She made our dreams come true.’

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