I’m Not THAT Girl

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I have been married to my husband for over eight years. We have a wonderful marriage filled with incredible memories of adventure, travel, growth, and new beginnings. We aren’t anywhere near perfect and we have our fair share of struggles. Nonetheless, we are happy. We were married fairly young and we’ve supported one another through much change- education, careers, loss, religion, relocation. One thing I cannot add to that list is parenthood.

Here’s the thing. I’m not that girl. You know the one. The girl who spent her childhood dreaming of her wedding day. The dress. The venue. The flowers. The cake. Even the groom. That just wasn’t me. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I’d get married at some point. It just wasn’t ever my focus. And yet, when I was 22, I met my guy and we were married a year and a half later.

You know what they say:

First comes love.

Then comes marriage.

Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.

Well, I think it is pretty clear that I’m also not THAT girl. Again, you know the one. The girl who cannot wait to be a mom. The one who is the first to ask to hold a new baby. The girl who loves being around lots of children. That just wasn’t ever me. It wasn’t that I decided early on that I didn’t want to be a mom, I just really never thought about it. Again, not my focus.

When I was married, we were part of a religion that emphasized family and to say I felt pressured to have children would be a HUGE understatement. I can’t tell you how big of a deal it was that we didn’t have babies the first half of our marriage. The social norm (even outside of religion) is that everyone should have children, preferably right away, and that those who don’t are odd or even selfish. And I think all of that pressure actually pushed the idea of motherhood out of my mind even more. At some point, people stopped asking. Maybe they felt like we weren’t able to have children. Who knows. But, man, was it peaceful.

We moved to California a couple years ago at the age that most people I know were getting married or having babies. And so, it started all over again. The questions.

     Why don’t you have kids?

     Do you want to have children?

     Don’t you want to be a mom?

     When are you going to get pregnant?

     What are you and Cody doing?

And the questions aren’t all I get. Lately, my social media has been flooded with BOLD comments and private messages about it.

     Gosh, I’d love to be able to get everything done like you do but I have kids.

     You aren’t tired? Let me send you some of my kids. Then you’ll understand tired.

     It’s TIME for you guys to have children. Stop putting it off.

     Travel? You two need to have children instead.

So, why haven’t I opened up about this yet? I know that in an effort to stay transparent about my grief, I’ve opened up my life to the world. That’s fair. And while I openly talk about the grief that comes with losing my parents, I’ve struggled to talk about this. Because it just isn’t something that’s talked about. Because, people can be insensitive and intrusive. Because, it feels like something that is just ours. But, I know it is time.

So, here is our truth.

It was our decision to spend our 20s without children.

It isn’t our decision to spend our 30s without them.

There it is. We spent the first many years of our marriage with no desire to have children. We were young and wanted to live our lives as we saw fit. Here’s the thing. I get that we are the outlier. I understand that my friends who are moms are so in love with their children that they can’t imagine us making the decision NOT to have them. And, I respect that. But, it is truly our decision and I’m genuinely shocked every time we are approached about it. I think it is a very personal decision and no one should be judged for living their lives. We must acknowledge that the decision not to have children (or to wait) might be the right thing for a lot of couples and that we must stop shaming people for making choices that are different from our own. In fact, if I had written this just a few years ago, I would be writing about our decision not to be parents.

Things changed for us about 2 years ago when we decided we wanted to have children. Like most things in life, that didn’t come easy for us and we’ve struggled with infertility ever since. It’s been a crazy couple of years, filled with lots of emotions.

Of course, as more time goes on, it gets harder and harder. Infertility is rough and it is easy to feel like your body is failing and in turn, you are a failure. I feel that. BUT, I want to stress that although these last couple years have been emotionally draining, we are okay with how things are playing out. We are happy. We are patient. We are faithful.

I’m nervous to put this out there because, to be honest, I’m not ready to discuss the specifics of our infertility or where we are at in the process. It feels extremely personal and I want to put all of my energy towards doing what’s best for my family and not fielding questions and dodging pity. That’s just the truth. But, as time goes on, it gets harder and harder to let the questions and comments roll off my back. And I just feel like infertility is one more thing to add to the list of things that need to be talked about more.

Grief. Depression. Anxiety. Divorce. Adultery. Miscarriage. Loss. Infertility. THESE things are part of life and I truly believe that the lack of dialogue makes it all so much harder because everyone is suffering in silence and so everyone feels alone and on many levels, shame. So, I’m hoping that we can all be a little more sensitive and appropriate with our approach and that those who are suffering can lift one another up and feel supported.

So, that’s it. After many, many years of skirting the questions, that’s our story. We chose not to have kids and to spend time getting an education, building careers, and really getting to know ourselves and each other. It was the right choice for us and we are proud of it. There’s never a great time to bring this up because it does make people wonder what they can and cant say. We have so many friends and family who are experiencing the joy of parenthood and we are genuinely excited for them! I’m choosing to be transparent and straightforward about this because this is the experience we are going through. I’m a naturally optimistic person and we’re hopeful that things will work out for the best.

I hope that I will be able to share more and more of it as time passes and we push forward. And, because I know it take two to tango, I asked my husband to share his thoughts on our infertility journey:

We have really been inseparable ever since we started dating and I have loved the time that we have been able to spend together. I know we have flip-flopped several times about whether or not to become parents up until recently. I have never been in a huge hurry to start a family and I don’t think we would be where we are now if we had decided differently. I’m happy with how things have worked out for us. I think we are in a good place now to become parents, but no matter what happens and whatever is in store for us, I am glad that I get to experience it with you. I love you.

            -Cody

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I am a 30 year old California native who just moved back to the state after being away for 10 years. In that time, I’ve established a career that I love and spent the last 3 years completely invested in. I absolutely love teaching high school, but I have an overwhelming sense of regret that I let my love for my students and my desire to help them take away the time I could have spent with my mom and my husband. It is for this reason, plus my overwhelming desire for adventure, that I’ve asked my husband if we could move back to my home state. I’m coming back fulfilled and confident but completely broken as I’ve now lost both parents. I’m just trying to put back the pieces as I figure out how to honor both of them while truly being happy and moving forward. I’m essentially starting fresh, as a lifelong mourner. Each day is a tribute to them and to my marriage. I feel a rush of excitement and I know that though the change is HUGE, it is going to be incredible. My dream is to laugh every day, allow myself to grieve my losses, regain my relationship with God, and build a stronger relationship with my love. Cheers to new adventures!

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