Our Imperfect (& Long) Journey To Parenthood
"My journey to Motherhood has been another reminder to me that there is no perfect path in life—only your own unique road that you discover, tread and light up along the way."
Where We Began...
Eddie and I fell in love 18 years ago at the gym and are about to celebrate our 13-year wedding anniversary this May. For most of those years, neither of us thought we’d become parents. We just didn’t feel called to do it. We were happily focused on building our careers, having fun together, competing in the NPC/IFBB and raising our fur babies. We were so content, it never occurred to us that something could be missing.
From time to time, we'd talk about parenthood, but the conversation always ended with, “We’re not ready.” Looking back, I now know that you rarely feel “totally ready,” you just have to leap when you think you might be “kinda ready.” But, that’s a conversation for another day.
Am I Even Mom Material?
The truth is, up until recently, I never dreamt of being a Mom. I dreamt of being in love, building a career, traveling, writing…but never being a Mom. Maybe it’s because I was always the baby of the family. Maybe because I wasn’t around young children a lot. Heck, I think I babysat twice, and I didn’t like it. AT ALL.
And, for the longest time, I wasn’t comfortable around babies. I was always nervous when someone wanted to hand me a newborn. Now, hand me a dog and I would kiss it right on the mouth, but babies…ehh…not so much. I can’t explain why that was, but things have certainly changed.
As I got older and my friends were having their second, third and even fourth child, I really started to question what the heck was wrong with me for not feeling giddy about motherhood. I felt like less of a “woman.” It definitely messed with my head. I actually went to therapy about it to try to sort my emotions about motherhood. Perhaps there was something holding me back that I needed to address? But, here’s what I learned at that time…I just wasn’t ready yet.
But then around my 39th birthday, things started to change. I felt a shift within me. It was like room was being made for another.
I started to feel differently about my interactions with children and babies. I can remember my eyes spontaneously beginning to well up seeing a family together. I full on ugly cried after receiving a handmade birthday card from a friend’s daughter. I began to feel like we needed to give our fur babies a human sibling.
Thankfully, my hubby’s heart was shifting at the same time as mine—we started to talk more seriously about having a baby. Neither of us was 100% ready, but time wasn’t on our side. Me being 39 and Eddie being 40, we needed to get moving on this.
So, in April 2016, we had a planning meeting with my OB/GYN and moved forward trying to get pregnant. After six months of trying, we decided to see a fertility specialist, given our “advanced age.” (If you didn’t know, the medical community treats 39 as totally freaking over the hill and dried up from a fertility perspective.)
Fertility Challenged: IVF Is Our Only Option
After all sorts of testing, we discovered that we were going to need help in the fertility department. If we wanted a baby, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) would be our only option. It was such a difficult thing to wrap our heads around. Our heads were spinning with questions:
Why would two people who lived so healthy need help? We weren’t THAT old, why is this happening? Were we being punished for not prioritizing a family earlier? What if this doesn’t work? How could we have put this off for so long? Is this process safe—I heard it can cause cancer? Am I going to have quadruplets? Wait…explain to me the part about potentially ending up in the hospital from over stimulation?
But, thanks to supportive family and friends and loved ones with first-hand experience, we quickly got over our disappointment and fears and felt beyond grateful to have this option to explore. Without modern medicine, a baby would not be possible for us. That was not lost on us. So, while this wasn’t how we pictured things to go, life is full of surprises and we were happy (although nervous) to be along for this ride.
So, with a heart full of hope, we kicked off our IVF journey to parenthood in September 2016. It involved a ton of needles, hormones, pharmaceuticals, bruises, blood tests, doctors appointments, mood swings, tears, setbacks, worries and finally…pure heart bursting joy. On Dec 22nd 2017, we found out that Baby Baird was on the way.
Becoming An Iron Mama.
I am so in love with our lil one already and beyond thrilled and grateful to be pregnant, but let me be clear: this whole process has not been for the faint of heart. The fertility process and now pregnancy have been HARD. Maybe it’s not so hard for everyone, but its most definitely been kicking my butt.
Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. But, I’ve had to find strength I didn’t know I had throughout this process. Today, I can say I am not only surviving but also thriving, despite the challenges faced. I promise to share each and every one of them—I hope something that I have learned can help you or someone you know. And, I hope some of you can help me too! So, please don't hesitate to reach out.
All in all, my journey to Motherhood to date has been another reminder to me that there is no perfect path in life—only your own unique road that you discover, tread and light up along the way. I have had moments when I wanted my journey to look more like someone else’s only to realize mine offers something special (although challenging) that is changing me for the better. I’m becoming an Iron Mama.