The other day, I went for a walk around the lake with my 2-year-old twins. One of them bent down, picked up a handful of gravel from the path, threw it at me, and laughed gleefully. Again and again he threw the gravel, and again and again I told him to stop.
“You throw gravel one more time, and you’re going into the stroller for a five-minute time-out!” I said after the sixth time he chucked the pebbles at me and was bending down for more.
He threw more gravel at me. I swooped him up and wrestled him into his stroller. When the none-too-happy toddler had somewhat stopped resisting and was finally buckled in, I stood there, hands on my hips, and thought to myself, “Wow! I really am a mom! I just said and did things that were just … so … mom!” And then I smiled wide and my heart exploded with joy, relief, pride, and gratitude.
My journey to motherhood was long and arduous. Due to circumstances, I had to abandon the “happily ever after” fairy tale of motherhood with a partner and start another story as a Single Mother by Choice.
When I got pregnant after my first IUI (intra-uterine insemination), I was over the moon. So simple! So easy! Magic! The beginning of a wonderful fairy tale! Amongst the people I told, was my 94-year-old grandmother. “You will be happy like you couldn’t be with anything else. But you’re not far along. I want to see your child, but it’s early, honey,” were her wise words.
Unfortunately, they were also predictive words. The day before my eight-week ultrasound, I miscarried.
That was the beginning of what ended up being four-and-a-half years of an intense roller coaster of joy and devastation, hope and grief, courage and despair. I went through three miscarriages, multiple failed attempts to conceive, a fetus with a trisomy, and, after three failed rounds of IVF, the realization that my eggs were likely no longer viable. By the time I’d switched to donor eggs, I’d been through so much, that even my uterus was a tenuous place for a baby to gestate.
I was exhausted, battling for hope, and utterly dependent on the support of my friends and family to keep going. But I was determined to give it one last shot. If that try failed, or if I lost the pregnancy, that was it — I was done.
I got pregnant with the twins on my 12th try. It was my fifth pregnancy. Miraculously, both babies stuck and stayed. The pregnancy was by no means easy, though. At 18 weeks, Twin A’s water broke. I went onto bedrest — seven weeks at home and eight weeks at the hospital. I lived in fear that the babies wouldn’t make it. I spent my days writing Catalogue Baby (my graphic novel about my fertility journey), reading, snuggling my rabbit, doing puzzles, and praying the babies would survive.
At 32 weeks and four days, I went into labor, and the twins were delivered via emergency C-section.
When we finally came home after two months in the NICU, I found myself in blissful but daunting silence. There were no more beeping machines or the bustle of medical staff, no more cries of other babies or the swish of a custodian’s mop. On the flipside, however, there were no more nurses to lend a hand if I needed to sleep or go to the washroom or eat. There was no one to whom I could ask questions. I was at home, alone, juggling two babies, and having to figure things out on the fly.
And so it has been for the last two years. It’s been intense but beautiful, challenging but inspiring, exhausting but gratifying. Being a Single Mom by Choice has allowed me to experience my kids in a much more profound, intimate, and complete way than I could have ever imagined.
My four angel babies are still with me every day. I have lived a lifetime’s worth of emotional, physical, and spiritual experiences with them, and they have made me who I am. I became a mother the moment I fell pregnant with my first angel baby, and they are as much a part of me as my living children. When someone asks me if the twins are my only kids, my answer is always: “They are my only living children.”
Becoming a Single Mother by Choice was not the fairy tale I had initially imagined for myself, but it is a much richer story, one that has proven to be extraordinary and infinitely fulfilling. It is one filled with quests and treasures, demons and pixies, magic and mystery, pain and redemption. All the things I’ve lived through have made me more delicate in some ways, but, more than anything, they have made me stronger, fiercer, more grateful, and more joyful. I have come into my power in a way I never could have imagined. It’s been just over two years since the twins were born, and I can still barely believe that I have not only one child, but two! They are the greatest treasure of all, and they are worth every second of the epic journey it took to bring them into the world.
To read more about my journey to motherhood, pick up a copy of Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of (In)fertility which is available now for pre-sales on all the online platforms and available in stores March 2. For more, visit CatalogueBabyNovel.com.
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