I began dating my husband in middle school. He has been my one and only boyfriend since we were 12 years old. We have been connected at the hip since the 7th grade.

When I first saw him, I just knew. How could a 7th-grade girl with pigtails and a mouthful of braces know who she was going to marry at 12 years old? Honestly, I have no idea, but I did. I told my friends, I told my family—I’m going to marry this boy! There has always been something about this man that checks off every single one of my boxes. Growing up as middle school sweethearts, your community knows of you, they come to love your relationship and your “story,” they support you, and they cheer you on.

Fast forward through high school, through college, through engagement, and now marriage. One consistent comment we have heard through it all is, “you are the PERFECT couple!” ‘We are, aren’t we?’ I always thought. We’re best friends. We laugh together. We cry together. We even worked together at one point. We have seen each other go from the puberty stage to becoming a man and woman pursuing their careers and driven to be successful together.

Our only arguments consist of choosing a place to eat. We don’t get tired of each other. Is it too good to be true? Years upon years of my husband’s loyalty has shown me that this isn’t too good to be true. “They’re right, we ARE the perfect couple!” I stopped any second-guessing and agreed with what everyone else said. I thank God for this man I call my husband every day. I am so lucky.

After 8 years of dating, In 2017, we tied the knot and said “I do.” It was a continuation of our perfect relationship. Our wedding was perfect. After all this time, everything was still perfect. So, we thought, let’s keep this party rolling and have a baby! It would be the perfect addition to our perfect little family.

We talked and dreamed about what our baby would look like, their gender, and their personality. Okay, it’s decided. We’ll have sex, I’ll become one of those cute little pregnant women you see on Pinterest with a perfect little nursery and the cutest stylin’ wardrobe for our sweet baby.

But God and the universe had other plans. Months and months went by as well as multiple negative pregnancy tests. Hmm. “That’s okay, I googled it and it can take some time,” I told my husband. A year went by, and we decided to see my OBGYN to get to the bottom of what was going on. She diagnosed me with PCOS, prescribed me some meds, and sent me on my way.

I left the doctor’s office with a new diagnosis, mention of infertility, a prescription note, and “good luck, come back to me when you’re pregnant.” I was confused and devastated. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was not the plan. We should be going into this office for an ultrasound to hear our baby’s heartbeat. We should be picking out baby names. We should be pregnant. But we weren’t.

Since then, I have had to erase the timeline I thought was mine from my mind over and over again. Because OUR plan hasn’t turned out to be THE plan, and that’s a tough pill to swallow (as if we don’t have enough fertility pills to swallow). No one prepares you for infertility: not parents, teachers, therapists, or even doctors. “Use protection or else you WILL get pregnant!” Why couldn’t it be that easy? Whoever said getting pregnant is the fun part, never “tried” to get pregnant.

Post-infertility diagnosis, our lives were shaken up like a snow globe. My perfect husband, my perfect marriage, and.. ah, that’s it. You can’t have a perfect pregnancy too, silly. “Aha, finally. I knew something had to go wrong. I knew things wouldn’t be perfect forever.” I was so hard on myself. It had to be my fault. Maybe I ate too unhealthy; maybe I was an over-active athlete throughout my teenage years; maybe I don’t take enough vitamins; maybe I’m just broken.

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It has me taken three years to realize imperfect situations create the strongest people. If our lives would have continued to be a perfect fairytale, I wouldn’t be the badass infertility warrior I am today. My husband wouldn’t have learned to be the insanely supportive “infertility husband” he is day in and day out. I wouldn’t have met a sea of absolutely amazing women and men walking this same path.

I’ve come to realize that we create our own idea of “perfect” in our minds. Life may not always go as planned, but what shapes us is how we deal with the surprises and the imperfections. I will be a better mom because of infertility. My husband will be a better dad because of infertility. We will fall to our knees when we see those two lines on a pregnancy test. We will enjoy every second of parenting: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We won’t take a single moment for granted. We will turn an imperfect situation into a “perfect for us” family.

It’s funny, thinking you know what’s best for yourself. Because at the end of the day, we might not even make it to the end of the day. We are never promised tomorrow, or next week, or in our cases, next cycle. Don’t get caught up in what you thought would have been or could have been. Embrace your “now,” even if it’s not where you thought you would be or where you want to be, because this is where you are. This is where you’re supposed to be.

You will make it through this, and you’ll be much stronger because of it. And one day we will look back on our childless years, look down at our beautiful baby in our arms, and be so extra grateful to be called “mommy” or “daddy.”

Sara Parr is an infertility warrior who shares her journey on Instagram at @_saraparr.