This special post was authored by Shantel Ingram by request of Path Made Clear
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I just never knew the struggles I would face to become one, or how life would change when it happened.
I met my husband in 2000 and we were married the following year. Time to start a family, I thought. I was twenty, he was twenty three, and we were both excited about the prospect of being young parents. We spent that year trying to get pregnant, without success. I consulted my doctor and began researching fertility treatments. It would take two long years before I actually became pregnant, only to lose our baby at 9 weeks.
The emotional and physical toll of losing a child was unbelievable. After many months, we decided to try again. This time, we began working with a fertility specialist. She started me on shots without ever diagnosing the cause of my complications. This time, we thought, it's going to work out. But, after two treatments, there were still no results. I was starting to lose hope.
Later on in 2007, my husband and I moved to North Carolina. After about a year settling into the area, we found jobs. At that point, I located a local physician and updated her on our history. This time, the doctor ran the right tests and I was officially diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It was nice to finally have the clarity of a diagnosis. At the same time, the fertility specialist we began seeing very bluntly suggested we give up on trying to have a baby. “You’ve been trying this for too long," he said, "It won’t happen. Your options are in vitro fertilization or adoption.” "What?!," I thought. We were discouraged and decided to take a break from treatment for a few years. If it was meant to be, it would happen naturally.
As time passed, we kept trying, but still nothing happened. I found a different specialist who put me back on treatments; still nothing. Not long after, my husband signed up to be a long distance truck driver. This put him on the road between one and three weeks out of every month. It made the pursuit a little more challenging and we took a break again for a few years. After a time, I eventually reconnected with our fertility specialist and made an appointment to restart treatments once more.
As our appointment neared, my husband was out on the road. It was our first visit back and I remember pleading for God to give me a sign that things would work out this time. I couldn't stop praying. Suddenly, as I pulled into the parking lot, a song came on the radio and it felt like a sign: “Don’t worry about a thing 'cause every little thing gonna be alright." I sat there absorbing the moment as Bob Marley sang to me. When the song was over, I went in to the appointment. Somehow, I learned, I was pregnant! A miracle baby girl was set to arrive around June 8th of 2016.
As the due date approached, things started to speed up and I learned that I would need to be induced. After 15 years of trying, you would think that I'd be ready, but I wasn't. I was scared. I can't say if it was the shock, the impending pain, or the danger that things could go south; I just didn't feel joyful. Thankfully, our little girl was born and she was healthy. I was now a mom! When we came home from the hospital, I assumed I would feel better.
Things did feel a little better at first, but around my six-week checkup, I knew something was deeply wrong. I was feeling things and thinking thoughts that scared me. It was very confusing. All of a sudden, I couldn’t be alone with my daughter for fear that I might harm her. Most days, I couldn’t even look at her. The nurse informed me I was suffering from postpartum anxiety and she prescribed Zoloft. After about a month, I was feeling better. Six months down the road, I got off the medication completely.
Strength for the Journey
It's now four years later. Today, we have a smart and healthy little girl with a tinge of sass and attitude. On the more difficult days, I remind myself that I prayed for this and wonder if it’s too late for an exchange! I'm joking, of course.
I still suffer from occasional anxiety. But nothing like before - just everyday concerns. I’ve learned to manage my anxiety with daily meditation, exercise and prayer. Although the symptoms of my polycystic ovary syndrome never go away, I have found that they can be reduced with a healthy diet and exercise.
I wanted to share my story here as a reminder not to give up hope. If you’re struggling to become pregnant, I understand what you're going through. Keep seeking help. If you’re lucky enough to have had a child, but find yourself overwhelmed as a mom, let me remind you that you can do this! Just keep on praying. In fact, I highly recommend throwing on some music, dancing, and laughing in the face of your circumstances. My life has taught me that 'this too shall pass.'