Seven years ago, life dealt me the biggest blow when my mother passed away. After rising up out of that despair, I thought nothing could come close to that sadness. I was wrong. Struggling with infertility was heart-wrenching, but it also changed me for the better.

After getting married, my husband and I wanted to hold off on having kids. We wanted time to ourselves and having kids was not at the top of the list. Little did I know that pregnancy over 35 equaled advanced maternal age!

Eventually, we caught baby fever. By the time we got around to it, after my 34th birthday, my biological clock was ticking. We tried for a month, three months, six months...still no baby.

I had my share of late periods—all followed by a negative test result. I tried all sorts of fertility supplements and ovulation tools. I read article after article about how to get pregnant. I figured the more I knew and the more I tried, I’d find a way to make it happen. Nothing worked. Each passing month led to deeper disappointment. What was I doing wrong?

Did I deserve to be pregnant? Those questions kept popping into my head. I realized I needed answers and sought out fertility testing. One exam after another, different doctors, and too many blood tests. I now had more questions than answers.

Was it PCOS, a hormonal imbalance or my age? Oh, and did I mention my husband’s tests came back normal? You can bet how that made me it was all my fault.

After a year passed, we looked into fertility treatments. Since my insurance didn't offer coverage, an IUI was all we could afford. Unfortunately, the first IUI didn’t work—no surprise there. But due to an adverse reaction after my second IUI, I started reevaluating things. I was at the end of my rope, but I hung onto a bit of hope.

I knew that if I was going to get pregnant, it had to be on my own terms and not a doctor’s recommendation. With the support of my husband, we agreed to cancel the third IUI session. I had no reason to think I’d get pregnant naturally, but there was still a spark of confidence in me.

I came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t control the outcome. That was a big realization coming from a control-obsessed person like myself! There was no way I could keep living the way I was...dreading bad news with each coming month. Judging myself and dishing out self-blame. For some of us, it takes a toll—emotionally, physically, and financially—to bring a baby into the world. Would I treat another woman like this during her battle with infertility?

I decided to focus on my well-being and find my path to being happy...with or without a baby. I gave up on the fertility vitamins, conception teas, and ovulation tracking. I let go of the expectations, and although I was still sad about not being a mom, I didn’t let that define me. Months went by and when I noticed my missed period, I took a test. When I saw the positive plus sign appear, it was surreal. I’ll never know what led to my pregnancy, but what a blessing!

The first trimester was a bit rocky. I escaped the fate of morning sickness, but fatigue hit me hard. I had a treatable but dangerous infection. Then I received an alarming test result. When you hear the words "Spina bifida", your mind can think of nothing else. Relieved, the full anatomy scan confirmed we had a healthy baby. I enjoyed my baby's kicks and watching her move during ultrasounds. I sang and talked to my belly each day. I relished the experience of carrying my was a long time coming.

All was going well, until I found out I had gestational diabetes. It became difficult to put on weight with my restricted diet. Add on the weekly Non-Stress Tests and my dread for the doctor's office. On top of everything, my amniotic fluid was on the low side. It was a difficult time, but at least my baby was thriving.

Two weeks early, my water broke. Four hours later, my daughter was born. To this day I’m still in awe of how I managed a drug-free delivery—labor pain is like nothing I’ve ever experienced! As I held my daughter for the first time, my heart melted and I forgot about everything else. She was perfect and I felt privileged to be her mother. Right then and there, I couldn’t imagine life without her.

Yet less than 24 hours later, my husband and I faced that possibility. The next morning, the doctors told us she was "very sick." She had an intestinal infection. There was a cloud of uncertainty looming over my husband and me, as the surgeon described the next steps. How could we focus on all the details when there was a chance it could be fatal?

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Without hesitation we had her rushed to a NICU. Watching your baby leave the hospital without you is tough, to say the least. We tried to wrap our heads around what was happening. The best we could do was take turns being strong and staying optimistic for our little girl.

Every day we took the long drive to the NICU and lingered around for hours. The first few days were touch and go. They started her on antibiotics, but it was too soon to know if they’d work. Surgery was still likely at that point. The fear of losing her was always in the back of my mind and I cried each time I left the NICU. But when I did see her, talk to her, and touch her...I felt complete.

The last thing I wanted to do was leave her side. It was rough, but I knew it was nothing compared to what our daughter was dealing with. After twelve days, she was able to fight off the infection. We were ecstatic when we brought her home!

Fast forward two years and our beautiful daughter is growing up fast! She’s smart, sweet, and silly...a perfect combination. I often think about the journey it took for us to be here together...not only my hardships but her own. I have a greater appreciation for my family because of what we fought through. Each day, I try to keep perspective and think back to the ups and downs. It's a simple way to remind me of how far we’ve all come. Having her in my life and becoming the person I am today—it was all worth the wait.

Corrine Taylor-Chin lives in White Plains, New York with her husband, their two-year-old toddler, and a Siamese fighting fish named CoCo. She and her husband struggled with failed IUIs and infertility for two years before conceiving their daughter naturally. Corrine shares her story in hopes that it will connect with and bring comfort to others. She also enjoys writing about local travel and is working on her first screenplay.