Before my first child, I watched many women in my life slowly create humans in their bodies. They would give me tidbits of insight and I would absorb the information like it was a foreign language. Staring with squinty eyes at their bulging bellies, wondering if I would ever actually learn the words they were speaking.
Stacy at her maternity photo shoot at 32 weeks pregnant in April 2014.
Now sitting here today after four pregnancies and two kids, I find myself wishing that I had written down my pre-pregnancy thoughts...because I now know the language so well that I speak it fluently.
Yet even after having two beautiful babies, there is still one aspect of pregnancy that plagued me then, and still plagues me now. It is the simple fact that getting pregnant is extremely complicated and confusing, and there is very little to prepare you for it.
Making a baby is a game that has no set rules – what works for one, won’t work for all. Each step is like running through a mine field of conception fortune. You yearn deeply to land on that lucky mark – you just have no idea where the spots are to step on.
My daughter came after two lost pregnancies and the use of an app that suggested we “try” so many times we got tired of even looking at each other. We were ready to quit at the two-year mark of our first lost pregnancy, and that third positive test was the one that finally made us parents.
Nine months after her birth, we found out we were expecting again. We had just started talking about a second when my son popped into our world. He was the perfect twin of my daughter, and the absolute best unplanned surprise.
Emerson (21 months) and Wyatt (2 months) in February 2016.
My husband still looks stunned in disbelief when he speaks to people about the pregnancy process. He repeatedly says he had no idea how painful and grueling it could be. As young adolescents, we were taught about pregnancy in such a fact-based way – you have unprotected sex, the sperm travels to the egg and babies are born.
Yet the truth is so much more complicated than that.
I have friends who got pregnant on the first try and some who took years and years to make a baby. I know people who have done IUI, IVF, surrogacy and adoption, and some that even eventually just stopped trying. I know others who drained their life savings through multiple fertility treatments, and then ended up miraculously pregnant naturally down the road.
A lot of people lose pregnancies like me in many different stages in the process, or some painfully give birth way too early. While others go to full term and devastatingly lose their babies after they have already held them in their arms. And even though it seems impossible in this day and age, some women still lose their lives in the process of having a child.
I know this because my first pregnancy that was ectopic, came close to taking my life.
Stacy on a walk in the hospital with her nephews on July 4, 2012.
We all blindly go into this pregnancy process with no idea how to do it or what the outcome will be. There is no set guide you can buy or checklist you can make that will guarantee anything.
Of course, your doctors will give you their educated opinions on what has worked and how to increase your chances to make a baby, and some suggestions can help certain people. But sadly, even the professionals don’t know with 100% certainty what will work for you or me.
During my fertility struggles I heard it all – exercise more, do acupuncture, stop eating processed foods, have sex less to build up the sperm count, have sex more to up your chances, and the best was to “relax and stop trying” (which doesn’t even make sense).
Everyone wants to help, but no one really knows the answer.
I sometimes wish someone had told me about the potential struggles before we started. I know it wouldn’t have changed the path my body went through to become a mother, but I somehow felt wronged by the little I knew about the fragile nature of fertility.
During my second pregnancy after my ectopic rupture, I started bleeding right in the beginning. Yet doctors, friends & family still reassured me that I was fine. Then when the unthinkable happened at 11 weeks and I miscarried, I felt an urge to yell at them and ask why.
Yet deep down I know the reason why no one talked about it – they simply didn’t know. The possibility of the pregnancy remaining was equally as possible as the pregnancy ending.
Being pregnant is supposed to be about life and renewal. It’s the new chapter all hopeful parents want to start. So, we keep the negative at bay in the hopes it actually will be just fine.
It seems as though anything can happen when you’re trying to have a baby, because pregnancy is equal parts miracle and mystery. There are too many factors in our lives & bodies to ever really understand how it will eventually happen. There is no guarantee or way to predict what your future journey will be.
So, my best advice to all the hopeful mammas out there is to never give up. Families are made in so many different ways, and just because you don’t follow a predictable path, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one. It’s just simply the path that you were meant to take…
Stacy with her family: Jason, Emerson (7) and Wyatt (5) in May 2021.
A version of this piece was published here in December 2020.