Over the years I have watched so many friends around me have babies. I have watched their growing bellies wondering if this will one day be me. Over the last 6 years that we struggled through the storm of stimulation cycles, I did everything I could to get pregnant.
I begged, pleaded, bargained and prayed to God. I dreaded baby showers, I was happy for my friends, I wished them joy, love and happiness, but I felt sad for me, too. People would always say things like, ‘Carly you have so many kids’. ‘You have so much love for other peoples’ children, it’s time you get your own’, or the dreaded one, ‘your husband will soon leave you if you don’t give him children’. Little did they know that for me it was not that easy.
Infertility changes you. It breaks you down and leaves you in a dark place, left to pick up the pieces and put them back together. I’ve been pricked and prodded blue, stuffed full of hormones that not even I could understand at times. The hardest part is the uncertainty, each cycle you’re feeling cautiously hopeful thinking this might be the time you get pregnant, and you get excited to take the test to find out if it’s happened.
It’s this big build-up, but yet another let-down.
Each passing month heightened such emotions.
It gets scarier because you start thinking, ‘Is this one more step to getting pregnant or one more step toward finding out I’ll never have children?’ When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t know if that feeling is going to last forever, or if you’re going to get a happy ending.
After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in my matric year, with multiple surgeries affecting my body, leaving behind scars and lacerations, struggling to get pregnant was one of the ‘horrors’ I had to face along with PCOS. Multiple cycles of clomid, setbacks with my health, one IUI cycle and even though the odds were against us, we decided to try IVF irrespective of what my doctors were advising me, and it was all worth it.
The goal with IVF ultimately is pregnancy but also that enough mature eggs are harvested, so that you can freeze a few for some more cycles, should this first one not be successful. With me they harvested 17 eggs, and I was like WOW, that’s a good number. I was ecstatic, proud of myself…because I mean 17!! But on the day of the transfer the doctor informed us that only two out of the 17 harvested reached blastocyst stage for implantation. There were none left to freeze. I was traumatized, I remember crying uncontrollably after the procedure already thinking if this doesn’t work, I would need to do EVERYTHING over again, and where will this money come from! But faith in God, family and friends kept me going…my support system was ever ready.
The gift that infertility gave me was that I appreciate it in the here and now.
I’m overwhelmed at what it took to get to my first Mother’s Day, mostly simply overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I have experienced, all that I have learned, and all that I continue to get to experience with Lilly in my world. You tend to forget all of the hard times and remember only joy. That’s the beauty of motherhood.
At one time I never thought I’d get to celebrate Mother’s Day, I was convinced it would never happen for me. But here I am, almost 4 months into what I can only describe as the best job in the world!
Motherhood has just been a complete whirlwind – nothing can prepare for how much you love your baby (or how little sleep you get!).
Time has gone by so fast, it doesn’t feel that long ago we were having our first appointment. It’s hard to put into words how I felt when Lilly was born, THE EMBRYO THAT SURVIVED. It was something that we’d wanted for so long, to actually have her arrive was just surreal. I remember telling Borris when she cried for the first time; “That is our cry!” I think it took a couple of days for me to actually believe that she was here and not keep thinking it was a dream, OUR MIRACLE.
She’s almost 4 months old now and it’s safe to say that being her mum is the best thing that I’ve ever experienced. Everyday there’s something new and, whilst I miss her being a tiny baby, seeing her learn and grow is the best part of being her mum. You have this little person who would recognise your voice amidst a crowd of people, eyes that would follow you everywhere you go, and the only one who knows the sound of your heartbeat from the inside. I look at her in awe and wonder how I got so lucky to have this little person in my life, my own little human.
This Mother’s Day, I think of the mothers that have lost their precious babies or perhaps haven’t had the opportunity yet to feel the flutter of a baby move in their bellies with anticipation. Those mothers who long so deeply to hold a tiny, precious soul in their arms and commit their lives to protecting that beautiful gift of life.
I’ve been there, and I appreciate their stories and the bravery that it takes to share them. I think each life has a significant purpose, and we can gain wisdom through other’s stories even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves.
I think of all the gifts that my baby has given me, and I can say with certainty that I didn’t know true joy until I had the opportunity to sacrifice and give and do all that I could to care for her and to get her here. It was worth it. The pregnancy, the long nights in the beginning, the recovery. Mothers say that they would do it all over again and again a million times, and sounds cliché, but when you have experienced the joy that your children bring, you agree and would do it too without a second thought. Lilly has etched in my soul with each little precious moment what’s most important in life: family.
Motherhood is everything; it’s hard and it’s tough and it’s tears and it’s bags under your eyes. It’s pushing through and finding that inner strength that you may not have even been aware of. And when they are here, and that day will come, it’s smiles and kisses, and its belly laughs over the silliest sounds and making up songs that have never been sung, but were somewhere in your heart all along, waiting for them.
I am humbled and in awe of the sacred role that I have been privileged to step into, and I am extending my arms in the warmest embrace for those mothers who may not have children in their arms…yet. Those mama’s hearts that never give up. That is a true mother in every sense of the word. Keep fighting, mamas.