THE JOURNEY BEFORE PREGNANCY
I have experience as a teacher and specialize in early child development. I received a top of the line education from SDSU's Child and Family Development Program.
I graduated as a Child Development Specialist, a partial author in a published manuscript "Teacher Perspectives on the Practice of Continuity of Care", a Provost Award Winner, and an Early Childhood-Socio-Emotional and Behavior Regulation Specialist (EC-SEBRIS).
Yet, I am now 33 and don't have children. I am learning more and more that this is O K A Y. I am trusting the process more than ever, even though I deal with grief around not having children yet.
I always thought I would have children by 30. I remember knowing I had goals before children.
1. I wanted to spend some time with Tony as military life often provides physical separation.
2. Finish college.
This is how life went in a nutshell
Before I was born my parents had trouble conceiving. It took them 5 years to have me, and my mom had to take the infertility drug Clomid to have my brother and I. She had hormonal imbalances and no cycle. But I never considered I would go through my own struggles to motherhood since I have struggled a lot of my life already. She understands so much what it's like to wait for children.
I was born a highly sensitive person, and always had processing struggles with reading and needed things slower paced. I had a great childhood. I was diagnosed in elementary school with "borderline ADHD" and no treatment for it. I was treated poorly by peers for whatever reason.
Between :: 2002 - 2012 :: Major neck injury that stopped my life. This caused MDD, nerve issues, chronic pain, fatigue, and PTSD. Eventually I was diagnosed with GAD, and "a mild case of Fibromyalgia". I suffered chronic sinusitis and infections that would keep me sick in bed for weeks. Abusive intimate relationship, and abuse other the years from peers I thought were in my corner. In early 2009, I was hospitalized for double severe kidney infections, but survived that and healed. I have known my husband Tony since 2002 just after my neck injury, but we reconnected in late 2009 after a relationship ended and I began teaching. I was in a healthier place. Tony has just joined bootcamp at the time and we decided to commit to the military life and long distance. I tried to get answers to the fatigue, and why I was sick all the time. I saw many doctors. That didn't help much.
:: 2012 :: I moved to San Diego and we were married at the age of 25.
:: 2013 :: My grandma died and two days later Tony deployed.
:: 2014 :: My god brother, and mother in law died with in a few weeks of each other. I graduated from SDSU a few weeks later, and we moved to a new home. In the fall I started my graduate certificate while grieving.
:: 2015 :: I graduated, but needed a break so I didn't continue my education. Tony also transferred to shore duty (a three year period of being attached to a shore command and no sea time) and his orders were perfect. They kept us in San Diego, and he loved his new position. This was the time we thought we would have to start a family. Then both my grandparents died within weeks of each other. A few weeks later, Tony's great grandma died. more death happened. I grieved more, but slipped into a deeper depression. I knew I needed to find answers on my chronic health issues that I had dealt with since 2002. I also knew the process would be very fatiguing.
:: 2016 :: I broke my nose bilaterally (funny story) so I needed surgery asap. I started trying to figure out chronic illness symptoms during the depression. I knew I needed help. I got a therapist to help get my life back. I had been through MDD off and on since 2002 so I knew the signs. I opened a can of worms that was just growing and growing.
:: 2017 :: 2018 :: I dug a little deeper but not much. I was so fatigued. The depression was lifting, and the lifetime anxiety. I got a part time job at a child development center with a very supportive manager I interned with before in undergrad/grad school even with lots of symptoms. Then I woke up one morning in May with vertigo, and was never the same again. My life turned upside down. Treatments, and doctors appointments ramped up. Almost every day I saw a doctor or specialist. I had to stop driving, and working. I thought I was getting closer to starting a family, and then my life stopped. I felt like I took 20 steps back. More like 20 million. Having a family felt very unreachable. More mothers days to go through. More new years without a time to try for kids. More feeling like I am not enough. More feeling further away from trying to have children.
:: 2019 :: This continued. I had to start an antidepressant and get more treatment. More trial and error. More fighting.
:: 2020 :: I am still. It's in a more constructive way though. I am in a stage of managing, and coping. I am recovering. I will probably always live with some symptoms. I am not cured. I don't know when I will be from some of this. But I had to throw out the idea of chronic illnesses stopping me from trying to have children.
I had to throw out the limitations, and voices - "When I heal, I can try for children", and "If you're this chronically fatigued and ill, you can never handle kids", and "How can you have children when you don't really drive" and etc.
Instead, I have to stop and tell myself, "I am healing and may not be fully healed but I have tools to cope if I am able to have children" and "I can live WITH an illness and have children even though it will be a challenge" and "I will find a way".
I am having to stop beating myself up emotionally. Self compassion is something I am strengthening.
Changing my mindset and working on my confidence with so many tools has helped.
I understand a little bit of the phrase, "There's never a good time to have children", but I absolutely respectfully disagree in a major way.
For Tony and I, we have goals, and life hasn't gone according to plan. That's okay. I haven't always been okay with it. I am sure many people have goals and a vision of an outcome.
For me, there is A B S O L U T E L Y A GOOD AND BETTER TIME TO HAVE KIDS.
For me, there have been better times.
"Better and Good times" meaning: M Y best time. M Y most appropriate time. M Y comfortable time. Not yours. MINE.
So even though people keep saying that phrase which sounds dismissive in a way, I continue to focus on my path with Tony and we are doing this OUR WAY.
I think what many people really mean is "there's never a perfect time", which I agree with. So I've learned not to take it as disrespectfully or personally. Many people don't think before they speak. They mean well. Same goes for all the times people have died in my life. I know they mean well when they say, "They are in a better place". Being mindful can help. So like I said, I separate my emotions more from those inconsiderate phrases because I just am tired of letting those things get to me. It's a process. I am not perfect either and I am sure I have said something before that was not the mindful or considerate thing to say.
THERE IS a "Good" "Better" "Healthier" "Right" time for Y O U!
Sure, I could be a parent. Sure, it will always scare me. Sure, fear can keep me from having children forever. Sure, you have an opinion. Sure, may be trying to help by saying that.
It's my journey. It's Tony and I's journey.
This is my journey before pregnancy.
:: Ash ::
:: August 2020 ::
This past month has been challenging.
I have grieved. It's also been a week since being off my antidepressant. I also have been in a vestibular flare up, and over did myself by being ambitious in June and July.
The setbacks come with trauma responses for me so I am having to practice extra patience, and grace.
I wanted to be feeling better than I do now before starting a family.
I am having to practice acceptance also.
I know my time will come to when we can start, but in reality I am exhausted also after "trying to get pregnant" for years.
Births and pregnancy announcements have been particularly hard to hear of lately even though I am happy for others. It's something that people won't truly understand unless they themselves have struggled with getting pregnant. I am thankful to have some people in my life who absolutely understand.
I have switched to a Reproductive Parental Psychiatrist for extra support as we continue to prepare.
On that note, I KNOW the bad days do not mean I have a bad life, although my body may try to tell me otherwise.
One day at a time with my tools.
:: September 2020 ::
The more a focus on myself, the better I feel. I am practicing ......
Patience Self Care Discipline and holding myself accountable Listening to myself more
Clearing the noise of worry and what others think Trusting Myself Confidence
There are so many shifts and awakenings happening for me right now, and although it's exhausting, and my vestibular symptoms have been flared, I am feeling better about a lot of things.
:: October 2020 ::
We are on month two of "actively trying to conceive" even though I have been trying for years. Just not in the way society thinks.
When we decided to go for it, the act of switching my Flo app status from “Track Cycle” to “Get Pregnant” was a big deal for me. I finally felt like something in my life was flowing instead of being put on hold.
I thought, “I’ve been through hell, so maybe the conception part will come easy for me, but I won’t hold my breathe”. I have been saying for a while to people, "If" I am able to get pregnant, and they usually say, "O you will, don't worry!" To be honest, no one knows, so I just stay neutral.
Sure enough it hasn’t been easy for me, and no luck yet, but I know the best thing I can do is keep focused on stress management, patience, and my routine as we move forward into this next phase of our journey before pregnancy.
January 2021 Update!
:: January 2021 ::
This trying to conceive stuff is not easy. I skipped a cycle for the first time in my life last November and had a lot of very unusual symptoms, so after being extremely late, I saw my doctor and she did some testing. The good news is the hormone testing my doctor ordered came back normal, and I did end up having my cycle a month late.
We have received lots of curve balls since October so there's been lot happening in general other than actively trying to conceive.
I feel calmer about whatever comes our way at the moment more so than back in October and November. Not much else to say other than we are doing our best to be patient.
Check back soon for more!
We have been trying to get pregnant for years, but it's not in the way you may think.
The struggles before trying to start a family are not discussed enough - at least to my knowledge and experience. I know there are people out there though.
I always envisioned myself having children even though the thought of it is scary to me sometimes. I hear from parents that they felt the same before they had children and during pregnancy.
For the most recent update, scroll to the bottom of the page.