Talking about the journey to motherhood or the choice to not become a mother is a fragile, complex discussion that we aren’t having enough conversations around.
Never before in history have women had such control over the decision to prevent pregnancy. This is a completely new choice we are facing. And while we navigate the landscape of making that choice, there are also so many other beautiful stories of motherhood.
There are women who try for years to have a baby and struggle with infertility. Women who never dreamed of being a mother, but one thing led to another and their life changed. Women who wanted to become mothers their entire life and had no issues having children naturally. Women who are amazing, loving adoptive mother’s. Women who do the motherhood thing all by themselves (aka superheros). Women who have suffered pain and loss of the most precious gifts of life. Women with rainbow babies. Women with twins after rounds and rounds of treatment. Women who chose not to become mothers with zero regrets, even years down the line.
Then there’s me… someone completely and utterly unsure of what lies ahead. I sit on a fence with social norms and modern societal influences pulling me both directions. Totally unaware if my husband and I will be able to conceive. Unaware if we will suffer loss and heartbreak. So many unknowns.
Growing up, I never had the urge to be a mother. In college, girls would talk about getting married and starting their family, but I could never envision that for myself. Flash forward to my second date with my husband where he lets my best friend know he wants four children. FOUR people. That is a lot of little munchkins for someone who wants ZERO…
We are coming up on our one year wedding anniversary and starting to talk more seriously about a family, but I don’t feel like God has placed an answer on my heart… yet.
I’m in a season of patience and prayer when it comes to motherhood and if that’s you, please know you are not alone in this! There is nothing wrong with giving yourself time and space to figure this out.
I strive to share the deepest parts of my heart here, but I know that my story is only one perspective. That’s why I wanted to bring in other amazing, strong women with stories to tell and experiences to share.
Sharing Your Story is Powerful
For me, hearing the stories of other women and their journey to motherhood OR their journey through life with the decision NOT to have children was incredibly powerful. It was so powerful for me, that I wanted to share their stories with you, too!
These six women are opening up their hearts on the choices they have made in marriage and motherhood. I invite you to join us as we dive into their stories, and please don’t hesitate to join in on the conversation in the comments!
“It was like I waited my whole life to be a mom, and now that it was actually possible and I had a great partner, I felt less ready than ever.”
I always knew I wanted to be a mom someday. For me it was more a question of “when” than “if”. I remember as a little girl playing with American Girl dolls and pretending they were my kids. Being the oldest of four children, I always just kinda took on that role (sometimes it was appreciated and other times I was referred to as “bossy” lol) and knew that someday I’d have kids of my own. I was always babysitting in high school and college and remember thinking “oh, I’d never do it this way with my kids” or “I love how such-and-such family does ____, I want my family to be like that someday.” (Funny how much more judgmental I was of parents BEFORE having kids of my own than after haha.)
Fast forward to 2013- the year my husband and I got married. At the ripe old age of 20 and 21 (what were our parents thinking?). People would occasionally ask when we wanted kids or how many we wanted. It was the first time I really remember knowing I did NOT want to have kids anytime soon.
It was like I waited my whole life to be a mom, and now that it was actually possible and I had a great partner, I felt less ready than ever. We were young, so I think those feelings were natural, but still I felt weird about it. I had moments of asking myself, “Do I really want to be a mother or do I just like the hypothetical idea of it?”.
Those first few kid-less years were so good for my husband and I. We ended up moving across the country and living the young and wild life as newlyweds (and still kids ourselves). We grew individually and together. We never really talked about being “ready” until one day we were sitting in the park watching the sun go down over the ocean and the baby conversation just kinda came up.
Turns out we had both been feeling similarly without having verbalized it to each other yet- kids didn’t seem so scary anymore, and we were kind of excited about the idea of making a little mash up of the two of us. Something changed in me over those first 3 years, and all of a sudden I wanted to be a mom again!
It happened much quicker than either of us anticipated. We ended up getting pregnant just a couple short months after we both agreed to “talk about it more” and “maybe start trying in a year or so”. I look back and can’t believe it all happened the way it did- we ended up with the most perfect kid, Hank, with very little effort- which I’ve learned since isn’t always the way babies come about.
It’s taken a miscarriage and 10 months of infertility for me to get pregnant with my second baby, which has given me a much deeper sense of what little miracles babies truly are.
Since becoming a mother, it’s been a whole new set of rewards and challenges.
To be honest, I really struggled the first year with my son. I went from working full time in a job that I loved, to being a full time stay-at-home-mom. I mourned the loss of my old self, and felt like there were pieces of me that were gone forever. I loved my son more than anything, but also missed my old life and role.
It took about a year of feeling guilty for wanting more than just being home with my baby for me to realized that it’s okay. It’s okay to still be your own person and have your own outlets. It’s okay to enjoy time away from your kids, and to still want to work or have you own “thing”. Once I learned that, I started to actually enjoy and thrive in motherhood so much more. I started to take better care of myself and as a result I became a better mom and enjoyed being with my son so much more.
Today, I feel like I’m finally in a good grove as a mom. I adore having a toddler and spending time with Hank is truly a joy and fulfills me in ways I never imagined. There are so many little, daily joys in motherhood that feel like magic.
After a rough journey to get pregnant again, I’m 26 weeks along with our second and feel like the gift of another baby is nothing short of miraculous. There are parts of me that are nervous and scared about having another baby, but I know that this time around will be easier because I know what I need to take care of myself and be the best mother I can be. I know that those early days are hard, but that they go by so quickly and a time will come when I wish I could have those moments back.
That feeling of losing yourself to motherhood is SO real but the joys of it all run SO deep too. It’s like the best and worst feeling of being pulled in different directions at once. I still have days of feeling crazy and like all I want is to get away from my kid (just being honest here) but I have so many more days of experiencing the deepest kind of love and fulfillment. I wouldn’t trade being a mom for the world, it truly is the best job and I’m thankful every day that I get to do it, boogers and all 🙂
“We thought we were done growing our family, but we were wrong.”
In February 2017, our little family of four decided to begin the journey into foster care. We all agreed we did not want to permanently grow our family, but instead the purpose for this journey would be to temporarily give a safe and loving home to a child who doesn’t have one.
We would also come alongside their parents to help them do the work to get back on their feet and provide a suitable life for their children. Sounds like a plan right?? We thought it was a pretty good one, too!
In November of 2017, just two weeks before officially receiving our foster care license, our caseworker called us and said she has two sisters in need of respite care for 3 days (respite care is like an approved overnight babysitter for foster children). She said this would be a great opportunity for us to get a feel for what a placement is like, and she ended the conversation with ‘oh yeah and by the way, these girls will be adoptable soon and your family would be perfect for them.’ Ahem, Excuse me but WHAT?!
We said yes to the respite care, and one look into their big beautiful brown eyes and I knew. I knew these girls were ours. The longing for a woman they could call mama forever, a family they could call theirs. It was there…I could see the pain of their situation in the way they looked at me with so much hope. God knew. He knew we weren’t beginning this journey into foster care just to foster. He had a bigger and better plan for us. We thought we were done growing our family, but we were wrong.
In August of 2018, our family of four officially became a family of six. It has been the hardest journey EVER. Raising children is hard, raising children born to another woman of a different race with a traumatic background is REALLY hard. But when you say yes to God, he’s not just gonna leave you hanging.
This journey has been the hardest, but also the most rewarding and full of so much of God’s grace and beauty within all the brokenness. A real life story of how God makes beauty from ashes, and that has made it all worth it. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
“At 50 years of age, married and childless, I can assure you that if you don’t bear offspring it is entirely possible to make a great life and be content with it.”
I really didn’t stress much about kids. I had a stressful upbringing, and I didn’t feel connected to my family in a healthy, loving way (still don’t) so I believe that influenced my somewhat apathetic attitude about it.
It took me a long time to figure out who I was and, cliche as it sounds, to accept and like myself. I know now that I wouldn’t have been able to handle the responsibility of kids when I was younger. Now I am not physically able to care for kids, and I know I don’t have the patience for them anymore.
At 50 years of age, married and childless, I can assure you that if you don’t bear offspring it is entirely possible to make a great life and be content with it. And social media be damned to make anyone feel otherwise!
“Every single relationship is work. It is how we love through that work that gives us the guidance and strength to keep going and to reap the rewards in the end.”
Our story…..I don’t know how to put into words our relationship, really. It reminds me of an old married couple sometimes. Those darling couples you see in the grocery store picking up what the other needs without asking, getting into an argument about what they should have for dinner and laughing so hard at themselves and not knowing why. Our relationship started out incredibly rocky…..for years, but looking back it gave me strength to love so hard I didn’t know what else to do. It has given me a different perspective on relationships and living this life in general.
At 11 months we brought our son home from Ethiopia and it was one of the most traumatic experiences for both of us. Not only did we take him away from everything he knew in the orphanage, but we then went on a 48 hour adventure home where he didn’t sleep until we arrived in Seattle. We were so exhausted to the point of sickness that we rented a room for 3 hours in the hotel to rest.
His trauma was shown by crying straight for almost 40 hours….and I am not exaggerating. One lady moved to the back of the plane, one asked me if I had thought of Benadryl, and the stewardess took him and walked back and forth and the plane for almost 30 mins. I hung out in the bathroom for almost 3 hours throughout the flights to help the passengers and to wipe the sweat off my face.
We totaled 54 hours without sleep, with a new baby who looked different then us and the stares flooding in and asking, “Why Lord why?” The story continues, but that will be for another day.
I write this story not only for me and my family to document, but more to define relationships. Every single relationship is work. It is how we love through that work that gives us the guidance and strength to keep going and to reap the rewards in the end. I mean, look at us! God is good.
“More than just the physical loss, there was the loss of the intangible dream of a child.”
I was 21 the first time I became pregnant. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. “It’s pretty common,”they said. Apparently, it is normal to have a miscarriage and then go on to have successful pregnancies. Or so I was told.
Two years later I became pregnant again. The whole time, it never felt “real.” I always felt like an imposter; a fake, a fraud. Due December 21, we named her Hannah Noel.
I had been having headaches and nausea for a few days before my eight month check-up. At that appointment my blood pressure was quite high and my doctor could not find Hannah’s heartbeat.
I was sent to the hospital where I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) and delivered my little girl, she was stillborn. We were devastated, shocked, bewildered.
Four months later, I found out I was pregnant again. “Should I be checking my blood pressure?” I asked. The doctor told me it wasn’t going to happen again, acted like I was paranoid.
That pregnancy too ended in miscarriage; at 16 weeks, a little boy. Mix in some years of infertility, two more miscarriages and I was just done. Emotionally, physically. Done. We never did find out exactly what was causing the recurrent losses, it was suspected that it was auto-immune.
A light from the loss – The day after I delivered Hannah, a nurse who had not been on the day prior took care of me. She was uncomfortable, she didn’t know what to say to me. Instead of words of comfort, she cried.
I could tell that she was ashamed with her show of emotions, perhaps felt unprofessional, however, they spoke to me in ways she would never know.
She was the one that showed me that it was OK to grieve. That this WAS a monumental loss. Though Hannah never took her first breath, she lived and she died. She was REAL and it was tragic and touched more than just me. I will never forget that nurse and because of her, I become a nurse, wanting to comfort even one person the way that she did me.
Now, at 42, my days of dreaming of being a mother are over. There were hard times healing from the loss of my babies, the loss of the promise of a lifetime of motherhood, love, family. There was a lot of grief to muddle through.
More than just the physical loss, there was the loss of the intangible dream of a child. The loss of my children have touched every aspect of my life. Things look different than I once dreamed of, and yes this journey has been heartbreakingly tragic at times, but it has also been beautiful.
I mother in different ways, to my pets, my family and friends. I bring forth new beauty through creating jewelry in silver and stone. I wake every day and look mindfully to find the beauty, the grace, the gratitude for each moment.
“This is our story and each couple will have a very different set of priorities and plans so I cannot emphasize enough the value of talking together about what your unique dreams and ideals look like.”
We were married for five years before having our son. Spending those years as just us was very intentional and I didn’t even consider having a child before I was thirty.
This plan worked well for us because we had discussed at length what was important to each of us and what our lives could look like: extensive travel and financial stability was high on the priority list before entering the next stage of life.
When we did decide to have a baby, it was exciting but also scary to think about how much our lives and relationship would change. The peace that came from this decision being the right one for us was palpable. I tell friends that the right decision brings peace —whether it’s who you marry, which house to buy, or what color your hair should be!
This is our story and each couple will have a very different set of priorities and plans so I cannot emphasize enough the value of talking together about what your unique dreams and ideals look like.
For the record, my experience of being a mommy has been amazing, exhausting, rewarding, sometimes smelly, entirely beautiful, and definitely the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done!
Truth is, Motherhood is Not Up to Us
At first, I wanted to type, “The choice whether to have children is completely personal and our own,” but if I said those words in this blog post, I would be lying to you. In the end, it’s NOT our choice. It’s God’s choice. And WOW… that is extremely relieving and freeing. Resting in that lifts so much anxiety and stress off of my heart, and I hope it does yours, too.
Whatever plan God has for you and your family, it’s the right one because it’s His. Not your plan, your husband’s plan, your MIL’s plan etc. Open up your heart in patience and prayer. Rid yourself of the responsibility that does not belong to you my friend.