I’m going to come right out and say that some people that might read this post may not relate and some might even be put off by it. Some of the things I’m about to share are things that I’ve always felt I’m in the minority in how I feel and that many people (women especially) don’t get it. But it’s me and my journey and it is what it is.
I am not a person who ever really wanted children. I wasn’t dead set against them I just never pictured myself as a mother and loving it. I never went crazy about babies – I’ve never loved holding every baby I see and always felt kind of awkward around kids. I don’t know what to say to them or how to play with them. We don’t have the same interests and ideas of stimulating conversation. And being the introvert I am, I don’t like small talk or meaningless conversation, which is basically what I think conversing with most kids is like. I’m admittedly selfish and independent and as a young woman starting out in the world, always pictured my life with my husband, traveling, doing fun grown-up stuff, and not being bogged down with the mundane and stressful life of parenthood. But if it happened, I would adjust and reset my expectations. Furthermore, I dealt with some health issues in my early twenties that doctors said would likely hamper my chance to bear children. It never bothered me too much since I wasn’t sure I ever wanted any.
But half a year into my young marriage, I discovered I was pregnant. We weren’t trying and figured our chances were slim. It happened fast and without complication. This is where I apologize in advance to those who are struggling or struggled to have children – I don’t know what it’s like to want it so bad. And then have it not happen. Especially in cases where there isn’t a good reason why. I didn’t want it, shouldn’t have been able to have it, but it came easily. Fertility is one of those mysteries in life that I believe show God’s sovereignty as it so often goes differently than we (and our healthcare providers) plan.
I didnt have have a hard time coming to terms with this unexpected life turn. We were young and everyone around us was starting a family and it just seemed like the thing to do. We’d have things in common with our friends – we would all become lame and take on this mundane new adventure together.
And so we had this amazing blessing of a daughter, Skyler. My heart grew and I discovered some motherly instinct. I still never embraced the idea of now being titled “mom” but there were some rewarding things about it I knew I wouldn’t trade for that other life I had envisioned. A lot of it I hated and still do, but the good always makes up for the bad. There is something about watching this person grow; this person that is a unique combination of my lover and myself and even traces of our parents and siblings, that is fascinating and scary and fulfilling. Skyler’s presence in this world has given me a new depth of purpose and range of emotions that I never imagined before.
Not to turn pessimistic, the addition of Skyler to our family also brought challenges we never expected. The frightening ordeal of her heart surgery took a toll on us. It was early enough in her life that it, along with the normal unpleasant parts of having a child, thoroughly scared us away from ever wanting more children. We’d been through enough, we all came out okay and feeling very lucky, and Skyler was otherwise darn near perfect. Why press our luck? So we continued contently as a family of three, plus our pets. But even with health issues in the clear, we faced other challenges as a family, not unlike many families do. The mundane, day-to-day family life, coupled with the stresses of life that often follow career-driven people, slowly eroded the bond between Ronnie and me. Much like so many modern families, we lost ourselves in the midst of it all. Next to Skyler’s surgery and those days and weeks spent fearing for her life, realizing the fragility of our relationship and working through that was one of the scariest and hardest times in my life. As fighters do, we dug ourselves out of the mud we had slowly waded into and set out together with a renewed commitment to putting each other and our family first, taking the time to slow down with each other, and most of all communicate if/when we sense friction, rather than ignore or bury it. We were joyful and energized, ready to face the world again as a better version of our little family.
And as destiny would have it, (or Murphy’s law or God’s sense of humor or whatever you want to call it), just as we had found our new family groove, we discovered I was pregnant. Outside of battling health issues, this was the last thing on the list we wanted to do. Especially at 35 years old. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraphs – from my abnormal mothering instinct to pressing our luck to not wanting to complicate our life, I’m going to come right out and say I was pretty devastated. And I felt guilty for not being happy about it. I tried to look at the bright side and think of this as an unexpected new challenge that if we went about positively, would be fun and rewarding.
But no matter how I approached it, there was gnawing negativity in me about it. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I HATED being pregnant the first time – it felt physically terrible and I was scared how much worse it would be eight years later. And I didn’t feel emotionally prepared – though I am a mother already, I didn’t feel emotionally ready to parent a baby again. Eight-year-old children are MUCH easier and less demanding than 8 week old children! And then there was romance and time with my husband enjoying each other – all those physically and emotionally draining parts of pregnancy and the first challenging years with a new addition to the family – how would I do it? How would we survive this again? I don’t think I can put into the words the depth of fear and anxiety I had about this new curve ball in our life, coupled with the guilt of not being excited about it.
Fast-forward a few months into the pregnancy – we weathered some not-so-fun physical struggles, a wide variety of hormonally-driven and anxiety-ridden discussions, and eventually found ourselves looking to our baby girl Layla’s arrival with some excitement and much-needed positivity. Skyler’s enthusiasm over welcoming a baby sister certainly helped move us toward a healthier mindset over the whole thing. And I finally felt like I was falling in love with this wild little one in my belly. As luck would have it, a matter of days into feeling really good about this, we learned of Layla’ heart condition, and found ourselves yet again treading the waters of fear and anxiety.
As this adventure of a pregnancy is in its final weeks, I try to just live and breathe one day at a time. People (some knowing the situation and some unaware), ask me if I’m excited and ready. It’s a loaded questions for me. Of course selfishly I want to be DONE being pregnant. I cannot wait to have my mobility back and not be in pain every time I move. And I look forward to the future of us at home with our new family of four – it’s just a delayed future that hopefully comes to life sometime in December. But I also dread and fear bringing Layla into this world and the weeks to follow. Nothing about it is going to be easy – her recovery, my recovery, logistics with Skyler and making sure she feels loved and supported through this, and that Ronnie and I have the energy to support each other in the midst of the chaos. It’s hard to get excited about and look forward to all of that – but it’s necessary to get us to the good, and I hope and pray that we can recognize the joyful moments that are sure to occur along the way, even if few and far between.
So that is the craziness I am in – the ups and downs and twists and turns that have brought me to the place I am with my beloved family today. We are far from perfect and have faced real struggles and have fought through more than we ever imagined when we planted the idea for this family nearly ten years ago. Life is unpredictable and unfair. But strangely, I’d rather have ours than anyone else’s, because I believe we were made for this. Each member of our little family was made for each other and the world wouldn’t be the same without any one of us. Though it’s far from easy, I choose to be thankful for it all and hopeful in what is to be.