Hey guys! A bit of a personal post today. Probably one of the most personal I have ever written. I have always felt weird sharing something like this on a ‘food blog.’ But after a lot of debating, I realized that this is my little space on the internet. My space to use my voice and share my life. And this story. This huge part of my journey in life. If you totally don’t care about babies and these types of personal posts, don’t worry, I will be back with an awesome recipe tomorrow or the next day. But for now, I am cradling a big mug of steamy matcha, and sharing a piece of me with you…
I was snuggled into my Uber ride, traveling across town to visit a close friend who recently had a baby. It was a beautiful summer afternoon. I felt energized, though I will admit, a little anxious – as usual lately, to be stepping into babyland. Rushing palm trees breezed past my window, sun warmed the side of my face. I chatted with the driver a bit, then sunk down in my seat and clicked open my phone. Click, click, click. I opened Instagram. The headliner photo that popped on my screen was a popular blogger announcing that she was pregnant. “Wow, she’s pregnant too!” I thought to myself thinking of all the recent pregnancy announcements I have heard. I scrolled through her blissful, beautiful photos and captions about becoming a mom. I sighed and moved along on my feed. Scrolling through as usual. It was a flurry of food photos, travel pics, pets, a few selfies and an armful of baby photos. Friends from high school, bloggers, close adult friends, all smiling away, holding their chubby-cheeked babies, all peaches and cream adorable, with a cherry on top.
It is funny how I used to never think twice about baby photos. But lately, every single one pangs on my heart a bit.
I scrolled deeper and deeper into my Instagram feed, more foods, more babies, more travel, more happy things as usual. I felt like I was trying to climb my way out of quicksand, with that sinking feeling I get every time I see a photo of one of my friends with their happy, adorable kids. My therapist (who has helped me a lot with this journey) uses the term “triggers” for things like cute baby photos. Wait, what? I don’t want cutie-pie babies, kids, babyshowers, gushing pregnant friends and all things ‘having kids’ to be “triggers” to me. I love kids. I have been babysitting since I was 8 years old, love hanging out with my niece and nephew and friends kids. I love little ones. I don’t want them to be triggers. I don’t want to be broken. I don’t want to be that person.
But in some ways, for right now, I am.
I closed Instagram, put down my phone and turned my head to the window, breathing in and out to the sound of the jazz music my Uber driver was playing. I closed my eyes and remembered to think positive thoughts, focus on the good and happy things in my life and remember what I have promised myself: no matter what happens, I will be happy. Joy is a choice. It is also, sometimes, a battle. You have to claim it. And I know how to do that. I will claim my happiness, no matter what happens. Kids or no kids.
I arrived at my friend’s house, had an awesome visit with her and her new little bundle. I watched the baby sleep for long hours, snuggled away in his stroller like a freshly baked muffin in a muffin wrap. I watched her peel him up and squish him close to her chest. She had the most content and calm smile across her rose-colored cheeks.
It was a happy day. Walking and laughter. Chatting. Life. Work. Fresh air. Nothing special, just friends being friends. I headed back home feeling good but also a bit heavy-hearted. The apartment I walked into, our happy home, the one where I feel love and comfort, felt extra quiet. A bit cold. Empty. I rushed to my kitty cats, scooped them up and nuzzled their fuzzy faces. Pets always help, everything!
I went back to my evening. My life. The one I love so much. I filled the night with food, happy things and time with my little family of husband and cats. why can’t I just be content with this? Life would be so much easier! But visions of kids fluttering around the room kept dancing in my head, and my good mood turned melancholy.
Babies. I don’t talk about this topic here, like ever. But I am to the point where I can’t shut up about it with friends and family and I just really want to be open in talking about my struggle, here on my blog. I read so many bloggers talking about life after they find out they are pregnant, but what about the time before that? What about the struggle. And what about those of us who may not get the baby in the end? I want to read those stories too, so I decided, screw it.. I’ll just tell my own.
Having Kids. I have always wanted kids. I remember I was a senior in high school when I was having a carefree conversation with one of my best friends.. “Oh we are going to be the cutest moms some day!” We laughed as we imagined going to coffee, our strollers parked, adorable babies giggling in our arms.
But after high school, babies were the last thing on my mind. I went to college, had big ambitions for my career, dated, and eventually, hoped to meet someone, fall in love, move into a house, have an amazing career and have a bunch of kids on the side. Cats, a dog, and annual vacations to Hawaii. Ha. Daydreams are fun, right?
Well, I did fall in love and get married in 2006. My husband and I have gone on adventures, moved (a lot!), traveled to far off places, struggled, soared, laughed, cried, screamed, ordered takeout at 2am while watching reruns of Family Ties or Friends – you know, everything a well-rounded marriage needs.
I remember I wanted kids pretty early on in our marriage. I would’ve been fine with getting pregnant in the first few years, really. But that didn’t happen and suddenly I was turning 30 and five years of marriage had zoomed by. On my 30th birthday, I remember wrapping myself in a fuzzy robe after my shower, we were getting ready to go to dinner, and I just started sobbing. I was freaking out about turning 30, and then on top of that I couldn’t believe I was ’30’ and ‘married for 5 years’ with no kids.
A few more years passed and still no luck getting pregnant. Then this year, I started to get serious. I went to a fertility clinic, did the whole “What is going on, what are my options, and how much does it cost????” thing.
But let’s pause a minute. The weird thing about this “I want kids” thing is this: I love my life. At 36, I have crafted out a pretty solid routine of work I love, friends and family, travel, art. And I have so much love in my life. My husband and all out kitty cats who bring us so much joy and love. I love my work-from-home job, the freedom I have to travel or visit friends or basically do anything I want at the drop of a hat. I can take a bubble bath a two in the afternoon. I can stay in my PJ’s all day and work my butt off on projects that inspire me. I can exercise at sunrise or after sunset. I can wake up at five AM or sleep in until eleven. and I don’t have to really worry about taking care of anyone else all day besides myself, my kitty cats and my husband. On one level, it feels amazing. Life, even with its ups and downs and struggles, joy and sadness, feels good.
But on another level, a deeper level I cannot even fully explain because it feels so primal: I HATE IT. The calm of it all. The quiet. I want noisy, messy, loud. I want to have kids to dote on and snuggle with and care for and feed and love on all day and giggle with and play with and I want my hair to be messy, my eyes to be tired and swollen from lack of sleep and overflow of love. I want to wear yoga clothes all day, two days in a row. I want to be typing out a blogpost, sipping a smoothie all while rocking an infant in my arms, feeling all dizzy, stressed and wide-eyed but also full and warm. I want to grumble with my friends at the park about how “two is such a hard age!” and “breastfeeding is hard!” and “Oh the tantrums last night..” While we push strollers and love on our messy buns and ‘hot mess’ outfits. I want to perch under a pair of giant sunglasses to hide all the signs of 4-5 hours of sleep. I want to feel my little family grow, to create something bigger than just the two of us. I want to wake up to a crying baby and snuggle on him/her and whine that I am tired, all while feeling my heart almost explode out of my chest because I created this fuzzy little human, and I am the person they need most in this crazy, scary, strange little world.
But I’m also a realist, and an analyzer, so let’s be honest here. Kids are expensive. Time-consuming. Exhausting. Sometimes infuriating. And basically require every last inch of your mind, body and soul to parent. They can stress out your marriage, career and social life. So why in the world do some people want kids? I mean, it doesn’t make any sense from a practical viewpoint. Especially in today’s crazy, unpredictable world. But on a soulful sense, for some people, there is an unexplained pull, a heartfelt drive, a yearning to have children.
It’s a strange form of insanity, really. And I totally understand why some people choose NOT to have kids. I get it. I totally respect it. I love how different people want different things. And happiness looks very different to different people. We should never compare ourselves and our wants, needs, loves, hates to others. I 100% believe that men and women who don’t have kids can live very full and ridiculously happy lives.
But for me, I am one of those people who has always wanted kids. I always pictured myself as a mom. I have a notepad with a long list of baby names. I daydream about going to Disneyland with my little ones. Family trips. Christmases. The whole enchilada. I have always thought of myself as a ‘someday I will be a mom’ person.
So that is why my current situation is so challenging, soul shifting and strange for me.
So. Long story short. Fertility struggles SUCK. Financially, hormonally, emotionally. This journey so far has made me feel like I am climbing a very tall beanstalk that disappears into the clouds, and I have no idea what awaits me up there. A scary giant? A magic bean? Nothing? Just an endless climb until I decide to climb back down?
From IUIs and IVF to ultrasounds, fertility drugs and doctors fees. And reading about things like multiple miscarriages, talking about adoption, pregnancy stresses or problems – or other big, scary, life-changing things — all those things swim way out there in the distant ocean, while I feel like I am standing on the beach, waves lapping on my ankles. Just getting my ‘feet wet’ in every sense of the phrase. I don’t really want to dive in, I just want to get pregnant, easily, like so many women do. But that wasn’t the journey intended for me. My journey feels like a long road I have only really just begun.
Oh, so I am guessing you are wondering WHY I am struggling to have kids? Well, I am not ready to divulge those details, this post feels personal enough for today. But in vague terms, it is a few things (it usually is), and to be honest even though some things are clear cut challenges for me, even doctors don’t have all the 100% sure answers. I was just talking to someone today who said her friend was told she had zero chances of ever getting pregnant … she is going on 12 weeks pregnant now. I hear stories like this all the time.
I am so grateful that you are still here, reading this. THANK YOU. I just feel really good getting this off my chest and hopefully helping a few readers who are also struggling with infertility, feel less alone or strange or sad. We will get through this together! Women, both moms and non-moms are amazing creatures, we have such a strong capability to nourish each other – lift each other up – especially when we cannot find the strength to lift ourselves up. I am so grateful to the moms in my life that have given my advice and support. And also the non-moms who have made me feel less alone and hopeful about whatever the future may bring.
Ending on a Happy Note. Through all this, this quote basically sums up my truth:
“The key to your life is how you deal with “Plan B.” You can aim for Plan A. You can arrange for Plan A. But “Plan B” is what actually happens to you. It’s your resilience in being able to roll with the punches and move on to “Plan B” that really makes your life. If something doesn’t work out, you can’t automatically think that something bad has happened. You never know why things happen the way they do, but that’s life. That’s how it unfolds. When faced with “Plan B”, don’t feel you have to be dragged kicking and screaming into it because, sometimes, “Plan B” is so much better.” ~ Marilu Henner’s Veggie Girl Power Interview
Since I’m already knee-deep in Plan B, I will just have to wait and see where it takes me, and keep my chin up with some “gusto,” as Marilu would say.
I have no idea how this story will end. It might end with a baby, and it might not. But that is why I am sharing NOW. Because not every person has the perfect ‘baby story.’ Sometimes it is challenging. And feels hopeless. Or just uncertain. Actually, uncertainty is the main feeling I have through all of this. Which is why it feels so scary to share right now. But I think that is the point. I don’t want to hide. This is real life. My story. My life. Happening right now. I don’t ever want to be ashamed of my own story – and sharing every piece of it.
So thank you for listening.
And after all my anxiety over posting this, right now I feel so proud to be using my voice, for me, and for anyone out there who needs to read that someone with a face they know, is going through a similar struggle.
I learn so much from women who have gone through this stuff before me, please share your stories or positive comments.
Much love, xoxo, K
ps. Thank u to friend/mama/writer-genius Steph for your support on this post!
Read more of my personal posts here.