If you ran into me at Target this morning, you’d immediately think, “Wow! She has her hands full!” You’d witness a sweatpants-clad, 30-ish woman, pushing a cart with three-year-old twin girls strapped in the in the front and an active five-year-old begging for the Lightning McQueen mac-n-cheese.
What you probably wouldn’t realize is how much I struggled to become a mom and how my journey has impacted not only my parenting, but also my worldview.
My journey to become a parent didn’t follow a traditional path and while I currently feel that my arms are overflowing, I remember when my arms were empty and my only real wish was to have a child. After my husband and I threw away the birth control pills in September of 2004, I saw two pink lines in February of 2005. We thought we were on our way to creating our family. Our joyous news ended as an ectopic pregnancy, causing me to lose both fallopian tubes.
I was only 24 and there was no chance of conception without Invitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is a costly and invasive procedure that involves retrieving eggs and fertilizing them outside of the womb. After countless surgeries, more shots than I can remember, way too many pee sticks, and 5 IVF cycles – we were blessed with our son. On our little guy’s first birthday, I started the medication to begin IVF again. Our 6th IVF cycle was successful and we soon found out we were expecting twins.
My struggle to become a mom changed me in many fundamental ways – not only did it make me a stronger person, but I believe it made me a better mom. I feel like I appreciate my kids more after all that we went through to conceive them and infertility helped me to develop key parenting skills like dealing with frustration and the ultimate parenting need – patience.
After my girls were born, my husband and I agreed that our family was complete. However, we had three embryos remaining. It didn’t take us long to decide to donate the remaining embryos to another couple who was trying to conceive. We knew all too well the pain and the willingness to do anything to have a child. While ultimately the other family was not successful, I am still glad that we gave them a chance. Before we experienced infertility I am sure I would have balked at even the thought of another couple raising my biological child. I now realize what a gift a child could have been for that family – and being able to recognize that was evidence of one of infertility’s greatest gifts to me: more compassion.
I still wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy, but over time, I’ve come to see many of the positives that came along with the experience. I have more patience, more compassion, and a totally different worldview than I did prior to this experience. I’m not sure I’d recognize these changes in such a positive light if we hadn’t had a happy ending, but some of them – like increased compassion and changed political views – would have occurred no matter what the outcome.
If you happen to notice a somewhat frazzled mom juggling three small children at Target in the next few weeks, don’t immediately think that she must not have any idea how to utilize birth control. If she’s anything like me, the crazy chaos of her life isn’t a nightmare, but a dream come true.
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Jamie Weitl is a thirty-something, WAHM. Her trio, Bo (5), and twin girls, Clara and Anna (3) ensure that every day is a new adventure. When she isn’t chasing her children, Jamie teaches online full-time for a university in addition to freelancing. She blogs regularly about her family life at Sticky Feet and is also a food blogger at Five Wooden Spoons. You can find her on Twitter @jamieweitl.