I secretly hoped for an “oops” baby.
As soon as we got married, I was deep in the throes of baby fever. It definitely wasn’t the right time: we were both in college, hardly had a dollar to our name, and yet I just could not shake the desire to start our family. Hubby, too, wanted kids sooner rather than later.
I grappled with this huge decision for our entire first year of marriage, and secretly just hoped it would happen so that the decision was taken out of my hands, but God had other ideas.
Every time we got close to deciding to try for a baby, I would dip my tentative toe into the waters, and stand there. Hesitating between safety and adventure. Wondering if a leap of faith was really just a polite term for recklessness. Wishing that there was some fairy godmother to make the choice for me. Quietly hoping we would have an oops and the decision would be made. I voraciously read the few blog posts I could find written by women stuck with the same decision: have a baby now, or later?
A year passed…
A year filled with scraping by financially, college classes, jobs, and no babies. One of us was never completely ready. We never really made a choice, so we just kept waiting for clarity.
I felt like we were never going to be ready. While I graduated just a semester after we got married, Hubs was finishing up his last year of undergrad, and after he was done he would be applying to grad schools. I felt like I was being pulled forward in this current of education, and we wouldn’t reach shore for another three years. When I thought about waiting three years, until I was twenty-eight, to have my first baby I wanted to cry. I just could not imagine putting it off, and yet I didn’t feel peaceful about jumping on the baby train when our life was still not settled. But what did settled look like? The more I researched, the more I was convicted that 1). We are not in control of our fertility, it really is in God’s hands. 2). Ten years from now we still might not be “settled”. 3). There is no good time to have a baby, so just have one already. 4). We will never regret having a child.
I struggled with the what ifs. What if we couldn’t support a baby and go to grad school. What if we couldn’t support a baby and ourselves. What if this was the most foolish decision we ever made. What if waiting a year or two or three was the wisest course. What if the lesson was in the waiting? What if I was supposed to carry this cross? What if?
Wait, I told myself. Wait, wait, wait. And my heart withered. Something inside me cried out that I shouldn’t wait. That time was short. That I would not regret it. That it was worth working for. I talked with my Mom, my friend, my Hubs. I prayed. The desire to start a family did not go away. It just grew, and grew for both of us.
We made a decision…
As it turns out, peace didn’t come before the decision, it followed making the decision. We didn’t have a light bulb moment when I just “knew” it was time to try. Instead, we made the decision first, and felt peace afterwards. I suffered with anxiety about it for about a week. And then the joy began building.
Around our first year anniversary we decided not to try, but we decided not to wait either. We decided to neither try for a baby nor try to stop a baby from happening. This may sound a bit vague, but it was a way to ease ourselves (I.E. me!) into opening the door to our first baby. We decided to let what happen happen. We raised our insurance to cover maternity care, and went on with our lives. For a few days after that decision, anxiety gripped me. I worried about never getting to travel, about burying ourselves under financial burdens, about how we would survive. At the same time, I felt excited: I fully expected to be pregnant within the month, and began thinking about an April baby.
And then it didn’t happen…
Our first month I was sure we would have a baby right away. Maybe it was naïve, maybe it was anxiety, but I just knew. That didn’t happen. My second month we tried a smidge harder, but I was worried about being pregnant while having my wisdom teeth taken out (looking back, I am SO glad I wasn’t pregnant that month. The wisdom teeth ordeal ended up requiring lots of strong pain killers). We weren’t pregnant.
The beginning of September found me researching how to conceive fast. I was finally one hundred percent ready. I didn’t care anymore about the money or the worry or knowing what would happen in the future. All I cared about was having a baby. Our baby. I ached for a baby. I decided that September would be the month that we really started to try rather than just “let things happen”. As it turned out, letting things happen was no fun. Nothing happened. What was the point? I hated the ambiguity, the disappointment at the end of the month, and the devil-may-care attitude. No, my type-A personality was ready to make things happen. Was the third month the charm? Nope. The end of the month brought yet another slew of negative pregnancy tests.
By December I was weary of hoping, planning, and trying to make something happen on my schedule. I obviously had no control over this process. I had hopes of announcing to our family at Thanksgiving, of a June baby, but that wasn’t to be. I wished we would have started earlier. I was nervous that there was a reason why we couldn’t get pregnant: in the back of my mind I feared that there was something wrong with us.
Gone were the days where I was locked in indecision about having a baby. Now, all I wanted was a baby. I ached for a baby.
I was driving myself crazy.
Our Trying to Conceive Timeline
- July 18th 2015 Got married
- July 19th 2015 Started having baby fever
- Thanksgiving 2015 Talked to parents about baby fever on our Thanksgiving trip. It didn’t help that my older siblings all had babies or were pregnant. The baby fever grew.
- Christmas 2015 We kept swinging back and forth. Maybe we’ll try. Maybe we won’t. We should. We shouldn’t. Let’s do it. We can’t afford it. Can we?
- June 2016 Talked to friend about baby fever. She suggested we just stop preventing pregnancy: “Just let things happen”. That was the first time it actually sounded doable to me. I was clutching so tight to things that I knew, and so afraid of starting a journey into a void of which I knew nothing. But maybe I could just stop preventing it?
- July 1st 2016 We decided to raise our insurance to include maternity. We are lucky enough to have insurance that covers 100% of pre-natal, hospital visits and such. I knew we would be in hot water if we had an oops baby, and didn’t have insurance coverage. We finally decided to bite the bullet, and pay the extra money for maternity coverage just in case. I thought of it as an investment.
- July 13th 2016 We decide to stop preventing babies, and just let what happens, happen.
- July 18th 2016 Our first anniversary
- July 27th scheduled my wisdom teeth extraction for end of August. Nervous about it, can I get them out and be pregnant too?
- End of July not pregnant, and beginning to wonder if I can deal with the ambiguity of not trying and not preventing. Thinking that the next month we should try. For real. Maybe?
- August 24th was a bit more intentional about trying, but was relieved when there was no pregnancy. I took massive amounts of pain pills for my wisdom teeth (which ended up getting infected, and I had to be on antibiotics to boot). I have no idea how I would have handled that situation if I had been newly pregnant.
- September 1st: All the fear of trying for a baby is gone. When we started in July I was anxious about how to handle a baby financially, and all the unknowns. However, by September we were both working a million hours, stashing away as much money as possible, feeling pretty good and I was just ready to be pregnant. I wanted to be pregnant more than I wanted anything else, and hubs was the same. I saw a baby, and something inside me would ache. I truly believed that it would be a mistake to put it off any longer, and I sighed over the year we didn’t try. I was also getting nervous. We had been “just letting things happen” for two months, and nothing had, indeed, happened. I figured if we got pregnant in Sept, then I would have a June baby which sounded perfect. *fingers crossed*
- September 16th: I went on our annual family camping trip. I watched my sis-in-law play with their six-month old baby. I let myself dream about how fun it would be if S and I brought our baby to the weekend camping trip next year.
- September 19th: took a pregnancy test six days before Aunt Flo was due. It was a negative. Felt certain that I wasn’t pregnant again this month. Bought myself a latte.
- September 23rd: another neg. test. Feeling some odd symptoms? Could I be…
- September 25th: not pregnant again this month. Really disappointed. There are few things as disheartening as another negative pregnancy test.
- October 10th: sis-in-law announces her pregnancy. Barely let myself think about us having babies around the same time. That would be so fun! Better not to think about it…
- October 23rd: Expecting period any moment. Cramping. Two negative pregnancy tests. Shed a few tears over another month down the drain. Made a list of all the reasons why it was good I was not pregnant (but really didn’t believe it). Saw babies everywhere. Wishing either the period would show up OR I would get a positive test rather than just having neither.
- October 24th: beginning to see babies everywhere. Working really hard to stay positive.
- November: this month I charted my temperature (which was fun!) for the first time, and knew we got things done at the right time. I cramped for a week around what I thought was implantation, and was really hopeful. Yet, still no baby this month.
- All I wanted for Christmas was a positive pregnancy test.
- December rolled around and I needed a mental break. I had become so all-consumed with temping, dreaming, and hoping and the inevitable crushing disappointment that I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I shelled the idea of having a baby. And just let the month roll on by.
- December 5th: had vivid dream that I was pregnant, and gave birth to a baby girl. She had black straight hair, creamy light brown skin, and big black eyes. The dream took me through my last week of pregnancy, skipped the birth, and went to holding her. My Mom named her Dominica Ames (no idea where that name came from) and even sent out announcements, but I really wasn’t sure that is what I wanted her to be named. Ha ha!
- December 17th: I got my positive pregnancy test!!
I started writing this post back in July, terrified out of my mind, certain that I was going to become a mother very shortly. When that didn’t happen I cycled through fear and anxiety wondering if it wasn’t going to happen for us. Then, eventually, I gave it all up to God.
What I learned through this process
- We are not really in control of our fertility at all: I thought that as soon as we decided to have a baby, then it would happen. We definitely had to try longer than others, but nowhere near as long as some. Our journey opened my eyes to the huge community of women who have been waiting on a baby for years. In the end, I really had to realize that no matter what I did (or didn’t do) in the end, the process was out of my hands. It was not up to me. I could not control this part of my life. During this time I read Kendra’s post Dear Newlywed: You’re Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing and it deeply resonated with me, personally. There is this allusion out there that we can have as many children as we want, and that children should be carefully avoided until everything is all set in our lives, but this post really made me reconsider some of those philosophies.
- God really does have a plan for our life, including for when we have children: even though it was somewhat frustrating that it didn’t happen right away, the months of waiting really taught me that God was in control of the process. I feel so much assurance knowing that this baby showed up when God wanted him or her to.
- God will bring people (and resources) into your life at just the right time: I felt especially discouraged when I hit the fourth or fifth month of trying, and about that time I had signed up to be paired up with another blogger for a month. We were supposed to chat about blogging, promote each other’s content, and help boost our blogs, but we quickly discovered, in a moment of transparency, that we had both been TTC for about the same length of time, and that we were discouraged. We were both from big families, had gotten married within a month of each other, and had been TTC for close to the same amount of time. We poured out worries to each other, and supported one another (we also got pregnant within one month of each other, so the similarities didn’t end there!).
- I was not ready for a baby quite yet, even though I thought I was. God used the process to refine me, grow us as a couple, and prepare me for the day when I did get a positive.