Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ten years ago today...

Ten years ago today, a phone call and a second pink line totally turned my life upside down.

And for the last ten years, I have been trying to put it right side up again.

That second line brought the news of impending motherhood.

Even as I sit here and write these words, I am still in awe. Of how a dream became a reality, that would grow into a person, with ten little fingers and ten little toes.

Ten years ago, I was so busy. I was completing my Master's Degree, I was pursuing National Board Certification for Teaching. I had a full time teaching position. I had a husband and family and friends.

For someone who had always been successful at every under-taking, getting pregnant was not as easy as it should have been.

My husband and I tried for over a year to get pregnant on our own. After realizing that things were not progressing as they should, we finally consulted a fertility specialist. Our doctor was very optimistic. "You're 26, you don't drink, you don't smoke, you'll be pregnant in six months." I would not ovulate. I would not menstruate. Tests were conducted and it was concluded that I had polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Here was a person who had a five year plan, with everything checked off, except for a baby. I could do just about anything (I mean, I am a teacher, for goodness sake!) and I could not make my body do what it was supposed to do.

And I was sad. I felt like a failure as a woman. This was what my body was designed to do. And it was out of my hands. And it felt like the whole world was pregnant... But I was stubborn, and I continued to believe that it was something that I could control.

I went to my office visits and had my blood drawn. I took my medication (OH. MY. GOODNESS.) and scheduled my "romantic interludes" as though I was scheduling dental cleanings. And waited. And nothing happened.

On Ash Wednesday that year, a group of us from school skipped class and went to Mass at the Catholic Church across the street from the University. As I knelt, I realized for the first time that this was something completely out of my hands. As I prayed, I asked God to choose for me.

I realized that I could not have it all.

I knew that the process for both National Certification and overcoming my infertility were complicated. I knew that it was going to be one or the other. And I knew that I could not decide. I remember praying, "You choose, and You help me be okay with whatever You decide." A huge wave of relief washed over me.

I continued to do what I needed to do in order to complete "the Box" as the Certification papers were known. I continued to follow my doctor's orders. But now I did it, knowing that this was something bigger than me; and I was okay with that.

A few weeks later, it was my beloved sister's 24th birthday. We went out to celebrate and my dinner did not set well. I still felt cruddy the next morning, but thought nothing of it. A couple of days later, when my period was a no-show, I called the doctor's office and was told to come in for blood work, which they promptly lost when I called for the results.

I am by nature a pretty impatient person. I don't really like surprises, and I don't like to be kept waiting if the answer to something was promised on a particular day and time. So I took matters into my own hands, so to speak.

I bought a pregnancy test, went home, peed on the stick and waited. When the second line turned the faintest of pinks, my heart leapt with joy. And my stomach flipped with fear.

Joy, because, for so long, this is what my heart had longed for. Because a precious life was underway.

Fear, because I knew at that moment that nothing would keep me from protecting my child. And the ability to recognize that is incredibly frightening. Fear, because my mind was clouded with questions and concerns.

What kind of mother would I be? How would I be able to do all that would be demanded of me? How would this change my relationship with my husband?

Ten years and three children later, my heart still leaps with joy and my stomach, at times, still lurches with fear.

The moments of fears and questions and doubts are different now, I suppose. You navigate through those fears and doubts with love and hope like hell you are doing the right thing.

You still struggle with the kind of mother you are, or are trying to become. You manage to do all that is demanded of you. You find that this new label of parents brings you and your spouse closer, on a united front, against anything or anyone that threatens to hurt your child.

And most days, when you stick with your gut and trust in something bigger than you, you ARE doing alright.

On the difficult days, I think of that early February evening, when I prayed for guidance and comfort. I trusted once, and received the best answer I have ever gotten.

Incidentally, I did not achieve National Board Certification that year, or the next. My perseverance paid off on the third try. While I was pregnant with my second son.

One phone call and a second pink line...What a ride it has been...


  1. What a glorious post, Maria. I love what you have to say here about how infertility can throw us planners for a loop. And then what you have to say about the choices and compromises that come with the decision to start a family.

    Congratulations to you on your big, beautiful family, and on your NBC. Perhaps the perfect illustration of one of my favorite sayings: "You can have it all, just not always at the same time."

  2. Amazing post, Maria. I also had to accept that there was a bigger plan for my life and I just had to accept what that plan was. It's very powerful stuff, letting go like that.

    Is it the worst thing ever when you're treating with a fertility doctor and EVERYONE around you is pregnant? And the dumb comments I used to get!

  3. God always has a plan and a time for everyone!

  4. What a great post! I'm a planner, too, and neither of my pregnancies happened within my "chosen time frame." It was just one of many lessons motherhood had in store for me.

  5. I struggled a lot before Ben...nearly 2 years of trying with "nothing wrong" and one devastating miscarriage. As a control freak and planner, it was really hard on me, and I found incredible consolation in the women who shared their stories of struggle and frustration with me.


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