My husband and I got married at the ripe old age of 22.
Yep, we are those people.
In fact, I was 22, two months, and five days, and I was pretty sure I had it all figured out. We were headed off to Nashville, where my husband was entering a PhD program at Vanderbilt. I would work in something involving my English degree, and in a few years I would happily start spitting out the four babies we planned to have.
We probably should have waited until after Adam was finished with his five-year program to think about starting our family, but my baby fever started after we’d been married less than a year. Many of our new, slightly older couple friends were having babies left and right, and I was enamored. Thankfully my husband is the T to my (severe) F on the Myers-Briggs typing system, and he could usually make me see that perhaps plunging right into parenthood was not the very best plan for our family.
A few years later, though, shortly after our third wedding anniversary, our best friends announced they were pregnant with their first. I had already weaned off my birth control and antidepressants, to be ready for future conception. And so, somehow I finagled my husband into thinking that now was the opportune time.
My body didn’t seem to know anything about “opportune times,” though.
A few months off birth control, my cycles started getting further and further apart. About the time we decided to try for a baby, they stopped altogether. Which is a little problematic when you’re trying to conceive. I spent the fall of 2007 stressing over how my body was failing me, while around me everyone else seemed to be getting pregnant without any troubles whatsoever. Three of my cousins got pregnant while I waited.
I finally made an appointment with my OB, who was not nearly as sweet and helpful as my general doctor. I did manage to get a prescription for something to jump-start my cycle and (eventually) a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a hormonal disorder. Women with it usually have cysts on their ovaries, and it can cause issues from weight gain to elevated male hormones to wonky cycles to miscarriages. When I began to research PCOS, I got scared I would never get pregnant. Many women have a near impossible time of it and must pursue advanced fertility treatments or adoption.
Shell-shocked, I just did what I was told. I took the pill to start my cycle, which made me a raging lunatic for 10 days. (I’m sure my husband really, really enjoyed that.) Then I started taking a drug for diabetics, which was supposed to help control the PCOS. It made me ill and pretty much unable to eat, but I forged on, with only babies on my brain. I charted my cycle and pretty much dictated when possible conception would take place.
One cycle in, I was pregnant.
That’s when the really hard stuff started. All-day sickness, back pain that lasted until I gave birth, trying to stay awake at my desk…all the normal things that seem so strange and unique with your first pregnancy. Through it all, I was just passionately grateful to be pregnant, not to miscarry, and to feel the kicks of that tiny little girl inside my swelling belly.
After 36 hours of labor, I pushed our little girl into the world on October 27, 2008. We had been married a little over four years, and I was 26. Once again, I thought I knew exactly how things would proceed from there.
Let’s all have a good laugh on my behalf.
When I had my fourth child almost exactly eight years later and at 34, I think I knew better on just how clueless I would continue to be. All we can do is learn how to do this parenting thing together, figuring it out with our own kids every step of the way.