When I was a little girl, I had my whole life mapped out. I would meet a guy in college, we would date for a year, be engaged for a year, be married for 2 years when our first child was born, and we would have 3 children each 2 years apart. For whatever reason, my feeble mind thought this was the perfect timeline for dating, marriage, and children. Well reality was completely different for me in terms of dating and marriage, so what about children?
I was pretty traumatized after Milo was born. I mean that in most senses of the word. As you might expect, pregnancy and delivery left me physically worn. But I also had mental and emotional wounds that needed healing. I still harbored resentment towards God for never relieving me of the sickness I experienced during pregnancy. That resentment grew deeper as I had a few complications while healing from delivery. Add to that the stress of establishing breastfeeding, the long nights without sleep, and trying to learn what each cry means—I was a wreck.
It was bad. I felt like I was drowning and I wasn’t sure if I could trust God to save me. The light finally broke, mostly around the time Milo started sleeping through the night. Things didn’t feel quite as desperate as they once had, but the experience left some scars.
I had developed an intense fear of getting pregnant again. I’m not kidding when I say intense fear. It was an obsessive thought that took over my day. I would randomly break down crying because I didn’t think I could handle another 9 months of what I had just been through. I have several friends who had unplanned pregnancies in the last year or so and I was terrified that they might be contagious. That I was bound to have one as well just for knowing people who did. There were multiple occasions in which I would have the slightest symptom, a little stomachache or the taste of iron in my mouth, and I would become convinced I was pregnant. I could not talk myself down, so I would take pregnancy tests just to get confirmation one way or the other.
It’s embarrassing to be admitting this, but it’s the truth. My pregnancy with Milo was extremely difficult and things didn’t just get better when he was born. I continued to suffer, but in different ways. And it made the thought of ever going through it for another child very hard to bare.
I can thankfully say that’s behind me now. I no longer lie awake at night trying to figure out how I would survive another pregnancy. I don’t obsess over pregnancy symptoms and, I can honestly say that if I found out today that I was pregnant, it wouldn’t be received as negative news.
That also doesn’t mean I’m all too eager to get pregnant again. I’m really enjoying having my body mostly to myself again (I’m breastfeeding so my body isn’t completely my own). I’m actually training right now; meaning I don’t just run miles to get them in, but I have grueling workouts in which I push myself to the limit. I’ll be running another full marathon (#12) this fall and have pretty aggressive goals in mind. The opportunity to have a really good training and racing season is important to me, especially after the year I experienced last year.
Trying to decide the right time to have children is challenging. I don’t know what I was thinking as a child, that I could just say I would have a child every two years. There are so many factors that have to go into play; for me it’s time to emotionally recover from a sick pregnancy and the chance to run “freely” for a while. For another it might be a career or financial goal they need to meet before feeling comfortable having children. I think it’s important that we realize how difficult this decision is and that it looks differently for each person. What keeps me from having another child now might seem ridiculous to you, but your reasons may seem ridiculous to me.
Like most things in life, I’m just trying to stay present. To not worry about when the time will be “right” or if my next pregnancy will be as bad as my first. I’m trying to enjoy today: my body functioning properly and being Milo’s mommy. So I take it day by day and trust that God will reveal His plan in due time.