Moving to a new place and meeting new people can be really exciting. It can also be really frustrating. We've definitely experienced both in the short time we've been in Milwaukee, mostly with driving and trying to find our way around (please let me know if you have any GPS recommendations). We can make it to church and the airport and Wal-Mart and the mall and that's about it. Granted, we've only been here two and a half weeks, but it would be so nice to not have to consult Google Maps and write the directions on an index card for every trip we take. I find myself actually missing the grid system of Utah, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!
Part of moving in is meeting new people and going new places and experiencing new things, and tonight I kind of did all of that at once. I was invited to the Relief Society's book club meeting tonight, and I decided it would be fun to go, at least I would meet new people even if I didn't read the book. The selected text was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the controversial piece published earlier this year about a Chinese-American's way of mothering her two daughters. There were 15 of us there, and half the time was spent chatting about random stuff, the other half about the book. However, I said about two words the entire time, mostly because I was the only one there who did not have a child. Only one woman actually brought her baby, but everyone else there was a mother. There were discussions about parenting styles and disciplining and doctors and hospitals and ultrasounds and other feelings/acts/things associated with children. I just sat there and sipped my water and ate my brownie. While we were chatting in small groups after the book discussion, a girl starting talking to me...
-So, do you have any kids?
-No, not yet.
-How long have you been married? (As if the answer would somehow excuse me for not having procreated yet)
-Over two years actually. Yeah, two years and a month or so.
Her eyes literally widened when she heard my answer, and I knew she was thinking, What is keeping this woman from having children?! Doesn't she know it's a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth?! Don't get me wrong, this sister is super sweet and great, but she was visibly taken aback when she heard my answer. I left shortly after the conversation, I just couldn't handle it. Let me explain...
Disclaimer: The following text is fairly frank and may be considered TMI. You have been warned.
I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mother. My biggest goal in life is to have children that Daniel and I can raise in the Gospel and love and care about and provide for. We have names picked out and I know what color I want to paint the nursery and what pictures of Christ and the temple I want to hang up and all that jazz. I want to nurture the precious souls that have been entrusted to me and give them everything. Unfortunately, my brain and my body don't match up.
I've never had regular periods. Ever. I've been menstruating for almost 10 years and nothing works right. Each one lasts about the same amount of time, but it may be 3, 4, 5, or even 6 months before the next one. Growing up, it was great. I hardly ever had to worry about Aunt Flo, and I was thin and athletic which also probably contributed. My doctor told me not to worry about it and that it would be dealt with at the appropriate time. I didn't make a big deal about it because it wasn't a big deal to me.
I started birth control the day after I turned 19. It was a miracle drug to me. I knew exactly when things were supposed to happen, and if I wanted to delay my period by a month, all I had to do was skip the sugar pills and move on to the next pack. I welcomed the acne and mood swings and bloating every month because I was thrilled that my body was working, something I had never experienced regularly. I hoped that when I went off the pills that my body would just keep going because I knew that it could.
Daniel and I have tried to get pregnant twice. Considering Daniel's schedule for the next several years, we tried to work out the timing where we'd have late spring/summer/late summer babies to maximize Daniel's time at home between school/research/etc. Even though it's a small window, we figured six months each time was a good place to start. Both times were (obviously) unsuccessful. Off the pill, my body goes right back to the way it did when I was a teenager. Each time I went to the doctor I expressed my frustrations, and each time she gave me another 3-month prescription for birth control, just in case this time is the one that my body finally realizes what it's supposed to do without drugs.
Daniel and I have talked about the fact that it might take some time before we have children. We've talked about adoption and feel that even if we do have children of our own, it's something we'd still like to pursue. We also know that there is no magical timeline for trying before seeing a doctor about possible fertility issues, but the general guideline is six months to a year.
It breaks my heart not to be able to start a family yet. It breaks my heart that I can't experience the joy and pain of motherhood. It breaks my heart that I can't give Daniel the children he wants. It breaks my heart that I can't give my parents and Daniel's parents the grandchildren they would love to spoil. It breaks my heart that for right now, there is nothing I can do to fix my situation. It breaks my heart that there is so little support for people like me, especially in the Church, and I have such a small net of people I can turn to (or if there is some sort of group or something that it's advertised so poorly). Worst of all, it breaks my heart because it makes me feel broken, like I'm being punished. I'm obviously not righteous enough or charitable enough or compassionate enough or whatever, so I can't be trusted with bringing another life into the world until I get my act together.
So don't judge me (or anyone else for that matter) for not starting a family after two years of marriage. There is definitely more to the story than you think. And please don't rush to tell me that I'm great and awesome and wonderful and that things will work themselves out. I know I am and I know they will, I just get sad about it sometimes in the moment. I cross my heart that I'll be okay and I'll still love you and your baby and not get upset when you ask me to babysit or whatever. I could use the practice anyway.