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Maggie Kunkel, Waterloo, ON
Our wild ride with infertility was not something I expected.
As early as I can remember, I wasn’t one of those girls or young women who yearned to be married or for that matter, have children. I did not see myself as a wife or a mother. All that changed when, at 25 I met a guy who swept me off my feet. Within a year and a half, we were married and planning a family.
To my great surprise, I found myself looking forward to becoming a mommy.
Yet…in the back of my mind, I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be easy. I don’t know why exactly: self-doubt? Not feeling worthy? I’m not sure, but I was not confident. And, I was right!
Year one of trying to get pregnant: nothing. Year two: still nothing! In the meantime, countless friends, family members, co-workers, acquaintances and even people on TV and in books were getting pregnant! While I was happy for all of them, inside I was hurting so bad.
After trying to conceive for three years, we decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist and get examined. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and the doctor suggested that I have laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis to, potentially, increase my chances of conception. Following surgery, we were referred to a local fertility clinic. It was a good thing we did because, in addition to endometriosis, I was also diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance. I had no problem producing eggs in my ovaries but because of my hormonal imbalance; my eggs were not released during ovulation. It felt that getting pregnant would be impossible!
Thankfully, the clinic came up with a treatment plan.
To determine if we could cope with the stress of the treatments, it was recommended that my husband and I complete a psychological assessment. Fortunately, he found us both fit to proceed with treatment. Woo hoo – let the ride begin!
My treatment started with daily injections in order to regulate my hormones, followed by three rounds of artificial insemination. First try at the artificial insemination: unsuccessful. A week or so after the second insemination, I got a phone call from the clinic, and was told that the test results had come back positive. Caught off guard, I naïvely asked what exactly she meant. She happily replied, “You’re pregnant!”
Even as I write these words, I experience the exact same joy I felt twenty-three years ago! I was elated.
During my lunch hour that day, I went to the mall and purchased my very own What to Expect when you’re Expecting book. For years, I had drooled over that book but, not wanting to set myself up for failure, told myself I would only purchase it when I was pregnant.
And here I was – PREGNANT!
That day, I also bought a card for my husband. It had a picture of a crying baby on it, and the caption read, “Your new alarm clock!”
When I gave my husband the card he read it, hesitated for the longest time, and couldn’t quite register what it meant. Finally, he made the connection and became ecstatic. We both were! It was the start of a new and exciting chapter for us.
After four years of trying to conceive, I was very ready for this and found myself already attached to the baby inside of me. I loved being pregnant even through the three months of ‘morning’ sickness that somehow always took place in the evening.
I was hungry for information and learning! I read countless articles, listened to other moms’ stories and attended prenatal classes.
My baby preferred sleeping horizontally with either the head or feet facing out forward. As such, my pregnant belly always protruded forward more than most of the moms I saw. In fact, one of the moms in my prenatal class was 99.98% convinced that I was carrying more than one baby! She was adamant and kept asking me, “Are you sure?” Just as adamantly (but politely) I insisted that the ultrasounds only showed one baby. I was right….and that adamant woman became one of my best friends!
On July 15th, as I was settling down to sleep, I heard an audible ‘pop’ and realized that my water had broken. Unfortunately, my baby had decided not to fully engage into my pelvis and as a result, between July 15th and July 16th, I laboured for over forty-two hours. About twelve of those hours were back labour. My husband laboured right along with me because he had to apply pressure to my back for hours at a time in order to relieve some of the more painful contractions.
He was relieved when it was finally time for the epidural. We were finally both able to rest. After a couple of hours of rest, the nurses detected that my unborn baby was in distress. A fetal electrode was screwed into my unborn child’s scalp. After 40 hours in labour, the nurses and doctor ordered an operating room to perform a C-section! I adamantly refused to have a C-section after already going through so many hours in labour and obviously so did my baby; he FINALLY started pushing his way out!
Thankfully our son was born healthy and with a wonderful temperament.
After a joyous year of bonding with our first born, we were eager to try again for another child. That being said, if this wasn’t possible, we felt fortunate to have been able to experience a viable pregnancy and childbirth – no matter how complicated.
We tried three more rounds of artificial insemination with no success.
I was then told that I would have to have another laparoscopic surgery to remove any existing endometriosis and scar tissue before starting another treatment cycle. My only running thought was, “I don’t have time for another surgery. I need to take care of my baby boy.”
A couple months later when I went to see our doctor about scheduling my surgery, I sat in her office and told her that I was pregnant. She was pleasantly surprised.
Seven months later, I gave birth to my second son. He was the perfect addition to this wild ride.
Have things been a little challenging for me and for my husband? Absolutely! Still, these challenges make you appreciate the little things in life even more. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
My boys are healthy and thriving young adults. Still, when I see parents with their young children, I can’t help reflect on my own parenting. I wish I would have been more present and savoured every moment like I am able to do now: twenty years later and twenty years wiser.
Being a parent is probably the hardest thing I have ever done or will ever do but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Flaws and all, I have become the person I am today because of all my life experiences and, more importantly, because of my children.
I feel so lucky and so blessed to have been able to experience this wild ride!
Maggie is an Experienced Parent with our Parenting Now Team. You can connect with Maggie at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch for her at a Let’s Talk Parenting session in the community.