When you replace, ‘why is this happening to me?’ with ‘what is this trying to teach me?’ - everything shifts. Wow. I felt those words this morning as I scrolled my Pinterest feed. Mainly because I had that very epiphany a while back as I lay in my bed, physically and emotionally spent after my sixth miscarriage.

I was so angry. I was so sad. My body was exhausted. My anxiety was soaring. Why couldn’t I do this thing that wasn’t supposed to be so hard? I wanted to be a mommy more than I’d ever wanted anything in my entire life… and there was a very real chance it was never going to happen. Well, at least biologically, anyway.

I knew I could adopt. That’s honestly what kept me going some days. But, I had a deep desire to experience pregnancy. I wanted to know what it would feel like to have a baby growing inside of me. A baby that was 50% my husband and 50% me. There were times I felt selfish for feeling those things. So many emotions on the infertility rollercoaster.

Three years later, my first miracle arrived. Miss Julianne Faith. Two years after that, Mr. Miles Parker made his entrance into this world. There was (and is) more gratitude in this heart of mine than words can fully express. My dream came true. Twice. I know it doesn’t work like that for everyone. I never take it for granted.

While I was in the throws of countless doctor’s appointments, IVF’s, IUI’s, shots, pee sticks, surgery for ectopic pregnancies (yes, more than one), miscarrying at home in so much emotional and physical pain… I wasn’t sure there was a greater purpose. I thought I was being punished for something. I felt like my body was a failure.

It wasn’t until after life with two kids settled in and those painful days got further and further behind me that I could truly see. Things came out of that whole experience that may not have otherwise.

It strengthened my marriage in an indescribable way. I know my husband has my back and loves me through the good, bad and the ugly. This further proved itself years later under different circumstances. But, we became an even stronger team because of those hard infertility days.

I gained really special friends — friends who went through their own struggle to have children. A unique bond. Would I have ever met these women otherwise?

I started talking about my infertility journey publicly. I have this job that has given me a chance to have a voice in our community. I felt a calling to share in hopes of letting others know they’re not alone. I had some really lonely days early on where I felt like I was the only person going through this struggle. I didn’t know it then, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. SO many (too many) women have gone or are going through it. Over the years I have ‘counseled’ and offered friendship to perfect strangers who reached out because they needed someone who ‘gets it’.

Motherhood. It can be totally and completely cray cray at times. There are days I am certain that I’m about to lose my damn mind. On those really hard days and in those really hard moments… it takes a minute, people. But, I smile. I feel gratitude. I laugh (because sometimes that’s all a girl can do!) at the chaos and I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like the luckiest human on the planet to have been given the gift of experiencing motherhood. Insanity and all… I appreciate it so deeply.

And finally, empathy. There were days I walked around looking perfectly fine on the outside. I hosted my radio show with a smile in my voice. Pep in my step. Inside? I was falling apart. I can specifically remember multiple occasions where I would get a phone call from my doctor’s office telling me that my beta numbers were falling… I was losing yet another pregnancy. I’d hang up the phone and go on the air. Life keeps moving even when we just want to curl up and hide from all of it.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.

So, yeah. Since then I have tried to have that mindset in every funky situation I’ve found myself in. What is this trial trying to teach me? What can I take from this totally craptastic experience? I have been able to take away something EVERY time. Not gonna lie, sometimes ya gotta look hard. Sometimes it’s super hard to see it in the middle of the moment. But, a step back or even after a little time has passed… look again. The lessons are there. And they’re meant for us to find.

Jennifer Waldman