On Thanksgiving Day this past November, something incredible happened: my wife gave birth to my beloved baby girl. It had been a long road, much longer than 9 months, and far more difficult a journey than most people realize. The birth of my daughter was more than a momentous occasion for my wife and I, it was something that we had both grown to fear would never happen at all.

We had decided to have a child while I was still on active duty, and after months of trying the good old fashioned way, we finally relented to testing. The process, I’ll readily admit, is a lot easier for the man — since it basically boils down to romancing yourself into a cup and moving on with your life. For a woman, it’s far more arduous. Strangers with strange devices rummaging around the parts of you no one wants to have them. Laying around in MRI machines while doctors inject easy to track dyes to peer into the internal workings of your plumbing. It goes on.

Worst of all for both of us, however, was the guilt. We each stewed quietly, too afraid to bring up the laundry list of reasons why we each felt that our predicament was our own fault.

I’ve done some pretty bad things. Maybe I just don’t deserve to be a father.

Those musings hurt twice over: first because of the shame over what you’ve done to your spouse (“she should leave me so she can be a mom”) and again when you think about your own wish to be a parent. Of course, little did I realize, she was going through her own laundry list of lifetime transgressions – making all the same decisions about her own fault, her own unworthiness, secretly scared that her husband would leave her in search of a more fertile pasture to start his family. Despite having the sort of relationship where we talk about everything, we never talked about these fears. They were too frightening, too real.

Now, in hindsight, I can honestly say that I think my daughter’s delayed arrival did happen for a reason. Had she been born while I was on active duty, my medical retirement would have been much more difficult and I likely wouldn’t have gone back to school. Had she been born while I worked in HR. I probably would have finished my MBA instead of changing majors and you’d find me, miserable as ever, inside my office near the production floor of a defense contractor. If she’d been born during my first year as a writer, none of us could have afforded to eat.

Instead, she was born on the most fitting of holidays: Thanksgiving of the same year that I became a senior staff writer for a website I once followed on Facebook and thought to myself, “one day… I hope I’m doing stuff like that.” I’m living a winning lottery ticket, and I thank my lucky stars every day. I’ve had a lot of jobs, but now I have the two best ones in the world: being a dad, and being a writer.