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For four years, Mother’s Day was a dreaded day. I never saw that coming.

As a child, I enjoyed Mother’s Day, making projects for my mom and going on shopping trips with my dad and siblings to choose a simple gift to honor her on this special day. I loved going to my grandparent’s house with my extended family and playing with all my cousins. When I think of Mother’s Day, I can smell the heavenly fragrance of my grandmother’s gardenia corsage that my grandpa gifted to her EVERY year. He worshiped her; and my dad worships my mom.

I grew up to marry someone as sweet as my dad and my grandpa. We lived a year of bliss until we decided we wanted children. Now, when you decide you want kids, the desire is SO strong that you wish you were already 40 weeks pregnant with swollen ankles, heavy breathing and all. However, when the news of infertility came that longing to become pregnant was overwhelming.

I come from an extensive line of Fertile Myrtles. My mother, my sisters, all my aunts, and most of my cousins have gaggles of their own children. So, I never saw it coming that I would require In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in order to achieve parenthood.

When I think of Mother’s Day, I also remember a time of jealousy, bitterness, sadness, pain, happiness for others, etc. Everyone deals with infertility differently. There are so many conflicting emotions. Joyce Meyer said, “Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you decide to enjoy your life.” So, despite the emptiness we felt, we decided to enjoy our life. I muddled through trying to stay positive. We took up hobbies to occupy our minds. We “lived it up” (if you can call it that) doing all the things that children would one day hinder us from doing. We lived vicariously through our nieces and nephews. This was KEY to our survival; it was through them that I felt fulfilled as a woman with a motherly role on those Mother’s Days that I dreaded.

As it is in many cases, IVF was financially out of our reach. However, with the help of my sisters, we applied and received an infertility grant. Which helped cover the costs of the procedure but we still had to cover the costs of the medications, visits and lab work.

After one round of IVF, in which we transferred two embryos to increase our chances of having one baby, we ended up with TRIPLETS! I never saw that coming! We were warned of the small risk of twins, but decided to face that risk as many infertility patients do. Both embryos attached and then one split. We are still debating which of our adorable identical boys is the “bonus baby”.

Vivian, Harrison and Dean were born just four weeks early in the Fall of 2013, and only spent two weeks in the NICU! As much as we hoped for such an outcome from a high-risk pregnancy, I never saw that coming! I ran into zero of the many expected complications-I tease that this was a perk thanks to my infertility.

Triplets are an obvious challenge. Along with pure joy, I remember sleep deprivation and frustration in the beginning (and even still sometimes!), but my infertility reminds me of how grateful I am to have all I ever wanted. I am happy to have a wrecked belly of saggy skin with stretch marks upon stretch marks! When I look at my belly, I am reminded of the emptiness I once felt and how I once longed to look as bad as I do now. I am full of gratitude to have cheeks to kiss, bellies to tickle, mouths to feed, and butts and noses to wipe!

Raising them has been the highlight of my life. Looking back, I see that however painful, my infertility prepared me for new difficulties, and even opportunities. Infertility made me who I am. My infertility journey is what gave Footsteps for Fertility Foundation its start. Together with my husband and sisters, we host grant giving events in Idaho, Texas and Washington (so far!), where together with our partnered clinics, we have been able to provide grants to 120 couples! I never saw that coming!

I am not a perfect mom. In fact, I probably resemble Miss Hannigan more often than I do Mary Poppins. I never saw THAT coming, but my infertility shaped me into the best kind of mom that I can be. I am a more thankful mom than I would have been otherwise.

My hope for any mothers-to-be who are reading this, is to provide strength and hope for good things you don’t see coming. Happy Mother’s Day!

Written by Serena Mackerell, Executive Director of Footsteps for Fertility