I haven’t blogged for a long time. And mainly because everything I’ve wanted to write, everything I’ve had to say, needs to be told through this one lens. Which should be announced through a happier/cuter manner, but this is where I am today and how I’m gonna do it.
God willing and the creeks don’t rise, we’re gonna have a baby come January.
Let me back up now. Last time I wrote, it was about needing a job. Partially induced by the “OMG I’m pregnant we’re poor this baby is gonna need somewhere to sleep other than a dresser drawer!” But I also want a job. But John and I have made some choices in our marriage that means we’re gonna do things a little differently than the average people our age. It might come off as more “traditional,” but I hope that as you read you’ll see we made these choices because they were best for us, not because we wanted to fit into some patriarchal ideal of what a family should be.
First off, we got married young. Not had-to-get-our-parents-permission-to-sign-the-marriage-license young, or even MTV-would-want-to-make-a-reality-show young, but raise-a-few-eyebrows young. I was two weeks into my 24th year, and John was just a few months older. I’d been on my own for a few years (though full disclosure – my parents still pay my cellphone bill, mainly out of my mother’s fear that I’ll switch plans and then never call home. Don’t tell her Verizon is practically the only carrier in Montana. They also spotted a few plane tickets home, for primarily the same reason), and I wasn’t exactly moving out of my parents’ house into my husbands’.
We got married young not because we felt like we should, or to have sex, or to move in together (we had already lived together for a year in JVC), but because we were in love, we knew it was right, we weren’t old but were old enough to make this decision, and we wanted to. Had we met when we were 32 instead of 22, we would have gotten married then. Sure, some people thought we were crazy for getting married before finishing law/grad school, but in the long run, it made far more sense for us. Getting married at 24 is definitely not for everyone, but dating for 10 years wasn’t for us either.
The next big factor in this journey wasn’t a choice we made. I got sick. Being diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition, wasn’t just an annoying matter of having to pee more often; it was life-changing. More problems piled on quickly after that (those I chose not to blog about, because believe it or not, they are more personal than my bladder!) and we spent most of our first year of marriage in doctors’ offices, researching treatments, reading books, and in physical therapy. It was stressful, hard, depressing, but we were happier than ever we had chose to get married.
Although IC itself has no effect on fertility, one of my extra problems, endometriosis, meant that we might not be able to have children, and other factors had potential indirect impacts on our ability to conceive. We had both always known we wanted to have kids. We felt it was our calling, that we were meant to parent and raise children. Again, not for everyone, but we knew it was for us. We had never planned on when we were going to have kids, and definitely didn’t plan on having them this early on, but when we realized it was something we badly wanted and weren’t sure was going to happen, we knew we didn’t want to wait 10 years to find out having biological children wasn’t a possibility.
So we went for it. And to our GREAT surprise, it worked.
Which means that we’re having a baby 7 months after I graduated with my MA and 5 months after we move, making the job search pretty difficult. We knew this was a possibility when we decided to have kids, but to be honest, we thought it was pretty remote. But more than that, we knew this was ultimately our priority. The timing means, however, that unless I have a job and am sitting at a desk in 2 weeks (not looking likely!) I won’t have a guaranteed maternity leave (with the state at least, where I am mainly looking. Not a lot of public health jobs in the private sector, let me tell ya). And if I do, it would be for 6 weeks. (You have to work somewhere for 12 months to qualify for the Family/Medical Leave Act where you can take a longer unpaid leave.) It must be my maternal instincts kicking in already, but the thought of leaving a 6 week old newborn at home/daycare isn’t something I can handle. (Not because I think it’s a “wrong” choice for anyone; I just know I couldn’t make it work.)
Since we made the decision that being home with a newborn is a priority, and time is ticking away, (and the economy sucks), finding a full-time job that I can take leave from before the baby comes is looking to be about zilch. Not because of my assumed pessimism, but because I have checked job postings every day for months and there’s nothing really out there that will work right now. I’m still waiting to hear back form jobs I’ve already applied for, but they aren’t looking too promising.
So the options I have left are to a) be a stay at home wife, and b) do part time/temporary work. While I’ve had some leads on some temp jobs (and even one interview!) they’re looking tough too. One goes from November-March, so that’s obviously out. The other starts a few weeks before my parents want to take a big family reunion trip. Because we couldn’t afford/didn’t have time to fly home this summer, and none of my family came to visit this year, it’s the only real chance to get together. It’s a bummer to have to turn down a potential job for it though.
So it looks like I’ll probably substitute teaching come fall. (Which does have a small potential to make more money than above temp job, if I work every day!). Does it upset my feminist heart that my husband will be the primary bread winner while I twiddle my thumbs doing part time work I’m overqualified for until the baby comes? Yes. But I chose to get married, I chose to go to school, I chose to move, I chose to have kids, and I chose to have them now. And this is the way it worked out. It’s not ideal, but we are thrilled that we have the chance to become parents.
It’s not a life for everyone. I’m sure there are people who will think I am an idiot and a disgrace to the feminist cause for not getting out there and using my degree before having kids. And there are others who will say (I know this because I’ve heard it!) “it doesn’t really matter; your husband has a job!”
It’s hard. I hate being unemployed. It’s embarrassing and frustrating, not to mention difficult financially. But I know it’s just a season. I am happy I finished my master’s before we had kids. I’m very excited that we are going to have a kid. And although the timing could be worse (I could have gone into labor during my defense!), it couldn’t be much worse.
But so what? I’d rather be a parent than an anthropologist/public health worker. And I can go back to work in a year or five. Sure it’ll mean starting a lot lower than I am qualified now, but it’s a sacrifice I chose to make. And while that doesn’t make things easier every single day, I know it’s the right decision in the long run. For us.
And we hope it will be the right decision for our little one too. You are loved. We are blessed.