I’m Sarah. And I’m abOut to become a first time mom (FTM).
I wanted to tell you a bit about my experience leading up to now, and continue to share what its like to go through this major life change in the most honest way possible.
We don’t all get to this point of being a first time mom through the same route. For some of us, its got some weird detours. It’s my hope that the telling of my story will help others feel just a bit more normal about their path.
Today i’m writing this from week 19 of my pregnancy and i’m glowing (okay its 60% sweat) and proudly showing my bump to the world. I’ve never felt this well in my life, and i’m crazy happy. You might look at me now, and think i’m one of those women who’s been yearning for this her whole life.
With how I feel now, It’s easy enough for me to say that I’ve always wanted to have kids, but I wouldn’t be telling the full truth. So, let me be honest.
A baby-crazy teenager
I spent most of my adolescent years fantasizing about having a great job as an artist, and being married and raising a family in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (my home town). Of course, as I got older those things shifted and the details changed, but the idea of having a family never faded from my fantasy. Even as a young adult of just 16 year old, I wanted to begin having children. In fact, much to the surprise and fear of my friends and boyfriends of that time, I wanted very specifically to be a young mom.
You see, I am the baby of a 3-child family. My parents were not old when they had me, but life circumstances sometimes kept them from being particularly physically active with me. They both worked a lot and had their own financial and emotional challenges (which I appreciate more and more as I get older). My parents gave so much of their life to us, but still, there were times in my up-bringing where I wish my parents could have joined me in some of my experiences.
I think back to being in Florida at Universal Studios when I was 14 years old. My original choice of park to visit on our vacation was Bush Gardens with all the exciting rollercoasters, but my parents suggested it would be a waste of our time and money since they weren’t planning on join me on any of the rides (and wouldn’t allow me to go alone). They weren’t completely opposed to joining me all the time though. They both went on some of the tame rides with me at Universal so we still had a fun time at the park. It took some convincing, but my father joined me on one of the rollercoasters. I was thrilled and at the same time sad that it was the only coaster I got to ride in the park. It wasn’t till later in my life that I realized going on those roller coasters was hard on my dads body due to work injuries, and that my mother was not a thrill-seeker (like me). And I couldn’t help but wonder… if they had been younger, would things be different?
And so, during my life as a young adult, I realized that I desperately wanted to have a baby as young as was acceptable, so I could be a parent who was active and able to keep up with an energetic child. Having a baby was always top of mind. I was an anomaly to my friends, but I was honest with myself. This is what I wanted. Of course, I was not in a relationship or life situation that was conducive to having children, so I focused on my schooling and getting myself into a career that could help me get to my family goals.
In college I started dating a guy (now my husband) who I thought from day one was an ultimate catch and serious family-making material. Just when I thought the fantasies about having a baby would click into overdrive, they started to fade.
How it all changed
I was happily in love and enjoying every spare moment we had together. We spent a season away from home having some fun experiencing and learning about ourselves and each other, and we continued to be caught up in our lives, and slowly lost touch with the desire for creating a family. That feeling was being replaced with the intoxication of independence and the illusion of youth.
… and then we took a big hit. After we had moved back to our home province, my boyfriend was was facing unemployment (a familiar story for many people in our area), and was offered a job about 20 hours away. It took the wind out of our sails. Life just got real.
This was a very challenging time for us both, It’s still hard to even conjure up the memories now. For two years, we did the ‘long distance relationship’ dance of lingering late night phone calls and feeling so in love, but utterly alone. Being apart is difficult for any young couple. But for us, there was a strong divide. He knew he was unable to work in our home town (or even our home province) and being away was his only option to hold employment… and I was stubbornly in love with living a small and simple life on our island, and refused to leave that lifestyle behind. We were both holding each other back. , but there was a strong breaking point for us both. We couldn’t continue to do this to one another… so he gave me an ultimatum; Either move away to be with him, or lose him for good.
I decided that moving away from home was best for us both in terms of our career and adventure so I packed up my life and headed to the big city. And just like that, the wind was back in our sails, and we were living a dream life. We had an apartment in a high-rise down town, found new jobs in our careers, and made new friends. I worked as a designer for a music production company and spent many nights at music venues enjoying the night-life. We went to concerts together, travelled, partied, ate at new restaurants, got involved in the arts scene and gained a full on lust for life. We were young, living alone together away from family in a big city without a care in the world. We were high on life!
In looking back at that time, I can see now that I was completely disengaged with the idea of having children. I was enjoying being an independent adult, in love and Working on my career. My life was blossoming, and it was thrilling! At the same time as I was enjoying my life, I was also faced very often with the horror of the world around me. Our politics, our environment, and the projection of our future. The news bombarded us daily with stories of war, suicide, disease, famine, violence, social oppression and hatred. All these things had me saying many times in an off the cuff manner that ‘I don’t want to bring a child into a world like this.’ And so, I identified as a woman who chose not to bare children. That was my right, and my choice.
During that time that I would now identify as my non-maternal time, there were people who came into my life, who before knowing me terribly well, noted that despite my views of the world around me, I was still a positive person. I’d been described as a sunny, glass-half-full person. These people were new to me (having moved to a new city) and their perspective of my personality was intriguing. Their comments prompted me to turn inward and see it in myself. It took some time to align my thoughts with my behaviours. For one, it didn’t align very well with how I thought the world was in shambles. And for another, these people didn’t know me as well as say, my best friends or my family. But still, their words and opinions had an impact on me. I did very often (and still do) tend to look on the brighter side of things, and was pretty damn good at finding a silver lining and keeping my head above water when my world was drowning.
Over time, that started to become a strong part of my identity and how I viewed myself. I AM the person who will always find happiness in every dark place. I am the type who can enjoy the little things in daily life. I am powerfully optimistic, and I bring that out in others. Armed with this knowledge, my self esteem began to grow.
The more I leaned into that positive identity shift, the closer I became to wanting to be a parent again. It grew very slowly and very subtly; I felt more confident in myself, and I started being more interested in the intricacies of parenthood and fantasized about how I would raise a compassionate, positive and happy child. I grew fond of picturing how my husband and I would tackle the challenges of raising a kid, and how our lives would go from exciting nights on the town, to exciting days experiencing the world through the eyes of a child. I caught myself feeling proud of the parents in my life, and even the strangers as they integrated a child into their lifestyles with ease. And most notably, I caught myself longingly gazing at children, babies, and pregnant moms with a soft smile on my face.
Tick tock goes the clock
It was coming back…that tick-tick-tick of my internal clock. And right in time with it, my husbands expressions of how he wishes to have a bigger life with more meaning, and his unmistakable joy when being around his nieces and nephews. It was like a warm glow of a sunrise finally dawning on us. We were ready to take the step together to become parents. To be a family.
But (there’s always a but!) like the warn out story of so many before us, mother nature wouldn’t let it happen that easy. Despite being ready, our bodies were not. And like a striking blow to the heart, I was diagnosed with endometriosis; a reproductive condition (disease) that makes getting pregnant a challenge for many, and an impossibility for some.
My diagnosis meant that, depending on the severity of my condition, I may struggle for a long time to have children, and realistically I may not be able to conceive at all. Fortunately, many women successfully conceive and there are treatment options that could help increase my chances.
I began a 3 year treatment to help set up a ‘hospitable’ environment for my body to carry a baby. During that time, I could not get pregnant. While that was a difficult reality to face and a long time to wait, it was the most logical step forward on our path to parenthood.
3 years passed, and finally, we were cleared for trying to conceive. And yet, mother nature still had more to say. It took us 2 more years of trying, waiting, disappointment and tears before our doctor finally recognized that it wasn’t working, and we weren’t getting any younger. At this point I was 32 years old (and my husband 34) and had been trying to have a baby for 5 years (including treatment time). It was time for intervention with a fertility specialist.
We were both saddened by needing the intervention, but ultimately relieved that we were being escalated to the next step and hopefully much closer to success. After a short waiting period, we had our first appointment with our fertility specialist. It was a long appointment of many questions, explanations, and date planning. We were moving forward with appointments immediately, beginning with blood work for us both, and some mildly invasive tests for me.
Of course, my tests were tightly scheduled during specific times in my menstrual cycle so that they could accurately look at egg production, the shape and position of my reproductive organs, and a variety of other factors. All my appointments were laid out; on day 4 of your cycle, procedure A. On day 10 of your cycle, procedure B Etc, etc. I was incredibly nervous about the outcomes of the procedures. What if it wasn’t the Endometriosis that was the problem? What if it was something much worse, or what if all this time, I was completely infertile? I was spiralling down with worries of letting my husband down; the man who so badly wanted to have kids. I didn’t want to be the reason he would never have a son or daughter. I was straight up scared.
The waiting game
During the anticipation of my first procedure, I was counting down days in fear, waiting impatiently for my cycle to begin. Waiting, worried and anxious. And waiting. And waiting. and more waiting?
Wait…what day is it? I’m three days late. Now four. And my cute but very independent and non-cuddly dog is following me around like my shadow and cuddling with me constantly. This is weird… I cant be… can I?
I bought a test. It was positive.
OH MY GOD. How did this happen?! We got pregnant while waiting for my cycle to begin for fertility testing! Right when we were least expecting it, mother nature stepped up and said “Fine. If you’re really this serious, here ya go”
WE DID IT!
And so here we are, joyously pregnant after 5 years of trying, and managing to pull off a natural conception with no surgical intervention when all the odds were stacked against us. I’m not the young mom that I’d hoped I would be, but I can say with complete confidence that I’m much more prepared and emotionally stable to bring a child into the world. It was a blessing in disguise that we were met with roadblocks and forced to wait. We are amazed that it happened to us this way, and love that we have such an interesting story so far.
I for one, am super excited to see how this story continues to unfold!