Twelve years after my first baby-holding experience, an incident at my hometown grocery store solidified my fears. Turning down an aisle, I saw a horrifying sight. There was a woman standing near the charcuterie counter, and she had babies all over her. One was attached to her chest, another was falling out of her shopping cart, one was clinging to her leg, and another was poking her with a stick of salami. I froze, bug-eyed, and tried to envision myself in the same scenario. Anxiety ensued but I could not run away. After graduating college, I was now working at this very grocery store — a miraculous career option among the joblessness that surrounded me. Wearing my employee apron and baseball cap, I finished stocking the shelves and cautiously shuffled around them.

Don’t get me wrong — I have been a nanny and am excellent at short-term interactions with kids. However, the demands of motherhood have always felt unnatural to me.

Aside from being distraught about my anxiety towards babies, like many during the recession, I was apprehensive about life in general. I was an ambitious recent college graduate who reluctantly returned home to live with my parents. I always had dreams of a career in which my actions impacted the world — of the intoxicating adrenaline of art, originality and passionate work. Instead, I was scooping grated Parmesan cheese into plastic containers. I both appreciated and hated my job. I felt trapped.

A trip to the gynecologist changed everything.