Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Journey to Parenthood

Since I've always used this blog as a bit of journal to keep track of life, so I can look back on it later, I knew I wanted to include a bit about this huge transition period in our life. I think I also wanted to put this out there because going into this, I didn't realize how many couples have stories more like mine and less like those lucky families whose transition from wanting a child to having a child is short and sweet. And, honestly, after not really having a avenue for this journey in its process, it feels lovely to process it all now, quite wordily I should add, on the other side.

Anyone who really knows me knows about my love of babies/kids. When I was 12, I used to tell my parents how much I wanted a baby (much to their horror). They soon got me working in the nursery at church, caring for 6-12 month olds for a couple hours each Sunday. They hoped that dealing with cranky babies and having to change their diapers would inject a dose of reality into my love of babies. Honestly? It just reaffirmed how much I loved them. I spent 5 years working in that nursery (and would go back and work on breaks when I was home from college). I remember so vividly the sensation of a baby going to sleep in my arms, and knowing how much babies do, and have to trust, their caretakers, and what an awesome responsibility that was.

My baby obsession (which was sort of what it became) continued into high-school, where at one point, my bedroom was decorated with pictures like these:

Thankfully, I was smart and knew that even if I thought babies were the most amazing things in the world, there was no way I was having one before I finished college and met the right person. So I waited.

And waited.

By the time I got to the end of college, my obsession had waned a bit. I still loved babies, but was enjoying the life of a single young twenty year old, and was happy not to rush the future. And then, I met Ed.

Mile 37 of my 50 Miler race, where my new boyfriend was crewing me, despite only knowing me for a little over a month. 

And he was wonderful, and amazing, and we fell in love and got married.

And suddenly? I'd entered into an odd limbo. Where I was actually *allowed* by social convention, to have kids. Granted, I was still young (24), but it wouldn't be "against the rules" (and yes, plenty of happy, healthy couples can have children outside of marriage, but it wasn't what I wanted or what I knew my family wanted for me).  Despite this new stage, we knew we wanted to wait. After all, Ed had two more years of graduate school, after which we'd move who knows where, and it didn't make logistical or practical sense to expand our family in this temporary situation. Plus, we wanted to enjoy being newlyweds!

After about a year of waiting, I starting thinking about what it would be like to add a little one to the family with a little more longing. My sister had her beautiful daughter and it just made me even more excited to get to take that next life step. People were always asking when/if we were going to have kids, and I got just a little tired of saying someday. So we made a plan. Ed needed to get his post PhD job, we needed to move, and we needed to buy a home. Then, we would be ready to start a family.

In February he got his job. In April he graduated from his program, 

and we bought a house big enough for multiple family additions. And in July we moved. Suddenly we were ready for this next life step! We were going to have a baby, and everything was going to be amazing. I researched maternity leave/FMLA in my new district and was ready to work my one year in Arizona and then jump ship that summer for motherhood.

Except it didn't happen for us that summer. As the months slipped away, our ideas about the future had to shift with them. As summer turned to fall, and then winter, and then spring, we had to adjust. It got harder when people asked when/if we were going to have kids and still having to tell them "someday" when I so wanted to say, "now!" We started planning a wonderful summer in California, since it was quite apparent that the summer baby we expected (or even a late pregnancy summer) wouldn't be happening. We looked for ways to appreciate life with just the two of us in our new state. We started and completed so many house projects. We attended many, many happy hours. And we waited.

Enjoying beach camping during Spring Break

Before we knew it, it was June and we were off to California. I knew when we came back, that we would be reaching the dreaded year "cut off," the amount of time a healthy couple has before they should seek medical help in starting a family. By this point, I didn't have a lot of faith it was going to be happening for us. I tried to let go of the anxiety and stress that the future seemed to be holding, and we enjoyed our summer. Many bottles of good California wine were drank, many walks along the beach breathing in that salty air, and many great days spent enjoying one another, being just the two of us, and being with family and friends we love.

And finally, we came back to Arizona, a bit over a year after we'd moved, and resigned to moving onto the next phase of trying to start a family. I found a place and made an appointment for September, the earliest they had, and hoped that this was our solution. School started up again for the second year, and I tried to be excited for a school year I didn't think I'd be teaching.

But then, on a beautiful Saturday morning, our last year suddenly all made sense. Because we found out that, despite 13 months of waiting and hoping and wishing, and resigning ourselves to the fact that it might not happen without help, we found out we had been blessed with this pregnancy. And suddenly that past year of waiting seemed like the perfect amount of time to wait for this miracle. Ed and I got to spend so much wonderful time together growing as a couple and getting settled in our new home, and becoming better people so we can be better parents. And had this happened in any other month, the little one growing and developing in there wouldn't be the same little baby that I have so grown to love and cherish over the last 3 months (and really over the last year and a half).

So, that's our story. It was a hard year, but much less hard than it could have been, or had the potential to be, had our story not gotten its happy ending when it did. It has made me so cherish this pregnancy, this baby, this gift, and has made me thankful for every part of this process. Even when I'm tired or feeling sick, or feeling some other less lovely symptom, I have to feel happy because they are a sign from my body that we finally get to grow our family and have been so incredibly blessed.

So, it is with such gratefulness that I experience this pregnancy. And while I'm sure to be posting plenty more about it (especially since I *may* have been writing some secret posts sitting in my draft box while I sat on this secret), I don't think they will hit quite this deeply. But I never want to forget this feeling, these moments, and the journey it took to get here to this wonderful place.