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Planning a family is never what you expect

Planning a family is never what you expect


Kelly Wilbanks

posted in Pregnancy

The other day I ran into a friend at a going-out-of-business sale. We had snatches of conversation as I tried to keep my 2-year-old in the store and make selections at the same time. My friend has a little boy, just a little younger than my 2-year-old, and is currently trying for a sibling.

As she spoke it reminded me of all the variables that play into “planning” our families. My husband and I waited three years before we “pulled the goalie,” thinking a spontaneous pregnancy was just around the corner. When that failed to happen after a year or so, we began looking into ways to make a baby happen.

Rear view of a businesswoman looking at large business planning sketch on a chalkboard.

I invested in books on the subject, Taking Charge of Your Fertility gave me a lot of information about my cycle, basal temperatures, and the right kind of mucus texture needed to conceive. But, still no baby. Then we had my husband’s sperm tested and he was given a list of vitamins to pep those puppies up. But still no baby.

As we waited for any sign that I was pregnant, it grew harder and harder to plan for our future. Can I book this flight seven months out? Do we get a family vehicle now that this one is wearing down? Do I make a dental appointment six months from now?


My “plan” to have children in my late twenties shifted to my early thirties. I added acupuncture to the line-up, began taking Chinese herbs, and made sure my legs were in the air after each time. It seemed ironic that we’d made such efforts to keep from getting pregnant before, since no matter what we did we couldn’t seem to will this child into being.

As I spoke to my friend I asked her what she was going to do since she wasn’t pregnant this time. She quickly responded, “I’m going to eat sushi and have some deli meat.” We both laughed at the little indulgences she got to take part in since a baby wasn’t in the works yet. I told her I’d eat some soft cheese in her honor.



We joked, but I know how hard it is to wait for your future to unfold. It’s stressful knowing your biological clock is clicking. When do we become active agents in our own stories? When do we go from “removing the goalie” to taking our basal temperatures every morning?

Even when we found out we were pregnant, things didn’t go quite as we’d expected. We lost that baby five weeks in, and it was devastating. Here I thought I had my answer, a due date, a plan, but it all slipped through my fingers. The certainty I thought pregnancy would bring was an illusion.

That is the struggle. Any time you have a loss or are confronted with infertility, anxiety, and joy compete for first place. Our next pregnancy came on the heels of our loss and I couldn’t shake the feeling I would miscarry again.

But, then we got past 5 weeks and I began to breathe again. We made it to 10 weeks and heard the heartbeat. I clung to each milestone more grateful for them than I would have been if we hadn’t fought for this; if we had not experienced loss for this.

Perhaps that is the silver lining for me. An awareness that there is so much out of our hands when it comes to having a family. I’m on the other side now, but this awareness gives me empathy for my fellow moms. Moms like my friend in the store, women who are eating sushi this month instead of setting up prenatal appointments.

What is your silver lining? Do you have a drink or a deli sandwich?

Images by iStock

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