If you were to ask me what my favorite holiday is, without hesitation I would answer "Mother's Day", and not for the reason you may think (or maybe it is).
For many Mothers, today is their day to be celebrated... breakfast in bed, gifts... all to say "thanks" for a job well done at being a Mom. For me, Mother's Day is a day for me to celebrate the blessings of being a Mom.
For many years, we struggled with infertility. In fact, it took well over three years before we got a positive pregnancy test (one out of several dozen hopeful sticks). Three very difficult, heart wrenching years that took their emotional toll on both Preston and myself. I watched those Mother's Days go by with feelings of loss, anger, failure and helplessness. I tried not to focus on the unfairness of life; at the women around me that were able to conceive without planning it, and the women that had children they didn't want--that we had a loving home and the means to support a child, but empty arms.
We were never given any concrete answers on why it was so hard for us to conceive, one Doctor would give us this answer, another, that answer. PCOS, Endometriosis... we ran the gamut of issues. The most frustrating thing about infertility is that it is like fighting feathers, if there is no concrete diagnosis, there aren't many options but to "wait it out". Particularly when IVF is not feasible, and since our health insurance doesn't cover IVF, it wasn't.
When we did finally get that positive pregnancy test, instead of elation, I felt like a ticking time bomb. It seemed that, through others, we were constantly reminded of the fragility of a pregnancy. Everything went smoothly until the very end of the second trimester. At that time, during a routine ultrasound, they detected several abnormalities with our son that pointed toward some medical issues. We were sent to a Neonatologist 2-3 times a week every week for the duration of the pregnancy, where we watched and listened to our son with nervous anticipation for some indicator that he would, or would not, be okay. Again, we were fighting feathers--he was undiagnosed, an enigma. Would he be physically or mentally imperfect? Both? We were prepared to love him, but weren't sure what sort of special preparations we would need to make in order to care for him. We were suddenly facing frightening scenarios--would he need surgery on his bowels, his kidneys or his spine? It was fairly certain he would be born with some sort of a syndrome, although the medical team we were working with couldn't agree on which one. Would it be better to induce labor early? Or leave him in the womb as long as possible? Should an amniocentesis be performed, or is the risk of provoking labor too high? And so it went for endless weeks... ultrasounds and fetal monitoring and genetic counseling. Finally, it was determined that a c-section would be the safest method of delivery, and so one was scheduled for just a few days before my due date. Fingers were crossed that all would go well.
Our son accommodated all the planning, and was born on schedule. I got a fleeting glimpse of a beautiful, angry round face before he was whisked away to the NICU by his medical team, where he was tested and poked and prodded. Six long hours later, he was deemed too healthy to be in the NICU and discharged to our room. The Doctors kept us in the Hospital a full five days, undoubtedly searching for any signs of abnormality. They finally let us take him home, though--our perfect, perfectly healthy, baby boy.
When Jaxon hit about 10 months old, we decided to give pregnancy another shot. We had heard that it was sometimes easier for couples experiencing infertility to conceive right away after a successful pregnancy. A year later, we were somewhat surprised to come home from a Hawaiian vacation to a positive test. The early pregnancy, once again, was easy. Then, at about 9 weeks--things went badly. It took a full week of tests and ultrasounds and plenty of emotional ups and downs before it was confirmed that the pregnancy was over. I was devastated, angry and hurt--why, after all the difficulties we had already experienced, did we have to deal with this? We were blessed, however, to have so many wonderful people around us that had walked that path already. We were eventually able to move on with the attitude that, while another child would be welcome, we were blessed already--and Jaxon could be enough for us.
We conceived again the same week our second baby would have been due, and were blessed with a healthy baby girl just a few short weeks ago.
And so, Mother's Day is a day that I give thanks for being blessed after so many struggles. I'm grateful that today is such a sweet day for me, but I will never forget how much sadness this holiday used to bring. I got my heart's wish, but there are so many women out there that continue to struggle with the same devastation. And so, I want to wish everyone a happy Mother's Day--those that are Mothers in the traditional sense, future Mothers, those that wish to be Mothers, and those that take on the role of Mother--the single Fathers, the Aunties... everyone who has ever loved or cared for a child like it was their own, everyone that has the heart of a Mother.
Happy Mother's Day.