Real Talk Real Moms: On Growing Your Family

Real Talk Real Moms about Growing a Family.

I am not sure if any of you remember this series a few of us other moms who have blogs started years back, but we are jumping back in to it in this new year and so am I! I am pretty excited to contribute to this monthly series again because I respect and enjoy reading other mom’s thoughts on these topics as well as hearing from all of you.

That said, today’s topic was one I almost skipped out on because it is the topic in motherhood that feels the most tender lately and I wasn’t sure I could really talk about it or if I was at a place to talk about it just yet. But after some wrestling with it I decided if I was slightly uncomfortable then it probably was something others of you needed to read so I wanted to write it even if it wasn’t the easiest.

The topic of growing a family is such a sensitive one isn’t it? I mean I think it is. I am more conscious then ever these days of even asking friends unless really close about their choices because I think everyone makes such different decisions for all very unexpected or very personal reasons. We grow sometimes without plan or with plan. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is really hard and involves a lot of pain. No matter what it is a personal choice. Very personal. I understand all of it because I myself feel that same weight when I hear the inevitable questions…

“When will another one come along?” “Do you plan to have more?” “How many kids do you want?”

We all know these questions well whether we have children or not. I have learned to swallow those questions easier and easier as I have eased further into motherhood and understood myself as a woman. I know they come from a place of wanting to understand us and our dreams. From a kind place even if for me, they bear a lot of emotional baggage.

The truth is, Yes, we want more kids. The rest of that answer is where the complications and baggage enters the pictures.

I have always known I would have more than one child. I have always wanted to be a mom. I knew I was intended for it, but I also didn’t know the work it would be too. When Hayes came along quicker then we anticipated, I learned quickly just how challenging but beautiful it all is. I fell in love with this role over the last few years and I have found my footing and a balance with it, but I won’t lie it both excites me and scares me to think about more. So we waited at least 2 years and then once we got moved north, settled into our home, we thought maybe it was time to start to let nature takes it course and it has…just not in the way we anticipated.

Real Talk Real Moms about Growing a Family.

Last summer, we were prepared to think this would be fast since with Hayes it happened nearly immediately, but this time around things didn’t go that way. I woke up in June thinking I was pregnant. I felt miserable, exhausted, no appetite…all the things that I felt with Hayes, but I also had swollen lymph nodes that were painful and agitated. I also had a fever. I went to the doctor and we learned I had developed an EBV virus called CMV (similar to Mono but it lingers in a different way) and we also found out it would cause birth defects to a child even if the baby was born healthy. It took me a minute to really take it all in and I was glad to know what was happening, but also in complete shock and felt like I was watching dominos fall around me. As I learned the depths of what was happening in my body and that it could take over 6-12 months for the virus to no longer be active in my body or transmit to a baby I began to watch our hopes of a baby that year wash away with the tears in my eyes. Within a few days I went from hoping for a baby to hoping for a negative pregnancy test when I took it a few days later. I had to be sure I wasn’t pregnant since we had been trying so a week after finding out I waited for the signs (aka my period) or a test to confirm. I remember buying them weeks prior thinking I would use them to find a positive sign and now hoping to find a negative one.

I remember taking it before getting on a flight as we headed to Texas for the fourth of July. Sure enough it was negative and I whispered the results to Mike in the car on the way to the airport and Hayes babbled in the backseat that morning.  When we landed in Texas that afternoon, I received a few texts from friends upon landing that shared they were pregnant and I felt numb for a moment, but then Mike looked at me and I had tears running down my cheeks while I held Hayes while we walked from the gate. He said the words that make any woman burst…”Are you okay?” I just remember running to the bathroom and leaving Hayes with Mike and crying in a stall in the Houston airport. I sat there in a stall and just the tears falling to me feet. All of the realities falling in those tears to the floor in that terrible smelling room. I of course was so happy for my friends and they knew NOTHING of what I was going through…how could they? I had told nearly no one other then our families what was happening. I just sat there trying to hold myself up right but feeling the mourning of what was a few weeks building. I knew that could have been me with a positive test. I knew it could have, but it wasn’t meant to be and it hurt. Mike texted me “Take all the time you need.” He knew. I was shook but after 10 minutes I came together. A bubbling mess, but a woman that was learning that motherhood is not a straight path whatsoever and growing a family isn’t just like breathing…It is work. I was crying in the bathroom because of a broken heart and shifted expectations. A moment of grieving even though I hadn’t lost a baby, I had lost the chance to think it at all possible for about the next 6-12 months of my life. I felt silly at first, but then I realized no…it is a loss of some kind…one with a different pain.

Real Talk Real Moms about Growing a Family.

That week I felt so thankful for Mike’s parents who took Hayes a lot and let me rest and heal both in my heart and in my body. I slept a lot. I sat by the pool. I also felt thankful for how Mike’s mom shared her own journey of motherhood with me. It brought me such relief and those words still do. Women don’t easily share these painful moments because they are very deep and painful. They reach us to the deepest core of ourselves.

Coming home I knew a new journey had to begin. I had never felt more thankful for Hayes. I appreciated his existence more then I thought possible and how he so easily entered our lives without barely a hiccup or second thought. I never felt more thankful for the gift of life. I spent my summer living in the moments of him while I slowly plugged away at my business, but I spent a lot of time resting, going to the beach, being a mom, being outside, and listening to my body.

Over the course of the last 9 months, I have learned a lot about myself. Getting sick and needing to wait to grow our family has been in some way a real gift that I could never have seen in that moment in the bathroom in Houston. I have learned what it means to heal my body, to listen to myself, and to let things out. I have learned that I got this because my body was tired, worn out, overworked, and carrying more then I should have. In this process of healing, I opened myself up in a lot of ways. I went to my OBGYN and she listened and we made a plan to test my blood every three months for the active virus (and yes I am still doing these regular tests…just did it a few weeks ago). In that time we have been waiting between tests, I went to my friend Elon Cameron in town to take a different approach to healing through Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. She had texted me one day and said “Healing is non linear…I can help.” It was the answer I was looking for and it has turned these months of waiting into the most positive and healing days where I feel I am learning what it means to be at home in myself for possibly the first time in my life.

In the last 9 months I have surfaced out of what I now realize was brewing in my body since last spring. I have learned a deeper understanding of balance with my work, my past, my history, my relationships, past trauma in my childhood, and most importantly with what my body has gone through and how to listen to it. Something I didn’t realize how bad I was at. I have learned how every part of who we are contributes to our health in ways I never understood before. I have learned how to let go of doing more then is necessary and breathing in the present much deeper. I take time for myself and have stopped the cycle of overworking myself and constant doing. I leave time for early bed times, nights on the porch watching the sunset, taking a bath, and just sitting and reading a book. I stepped away from a lot of social time because i knew I needed to heal and it was something that had to happen closer to home.

Real Talk Real Moms about Growing a Family.

I have spent this time in waiting, realizing that things happen for a reason we may not understand and we end up in places we don’t always understand, but many times it is where we are intended to be. This has been that for me. I have faith and hope that when it is time to grow our family I will be fully ready. It will be beautiful and a gift. It will be something I can be present in and trust my body better with because of the work of this time in wait.

We are still knee deep in all of this and I think that’s why I didn’t know how to talk about it. There wasn’t an ending yet, but I realized growing a family doesn’t have a period at the end and it doesn’t have clear lines. No not at all. So why would this story. We have recently heard that the virus no longer is active on my DNA so it is one step closer to knowing we are ready and my body is healing, not to mention the chances to spreading it are less then when I carried Hayes now. Such wonderful and bright news in this journey, but now we wait to make sure I feel ready too. It has been overwhelming to start thinking of bringing another life in after all this work. I realize the weight it all has on us all and I am mentally preparing for the months that will follow and am also very excited. It feels so fresh right now in our minds so we will see.

I also know that when I look at Hayes and the attention he has needed this last year as we help him with speech and some challenges with development, I know that if that is the only reason we are meant to wait then what a gift to be present with him. I am only 32 and I have time. I know that and I know that being present with Hayes is its own thing to hold tightly to. That will change when another comes along and it won’t ever be the same. So I feel thankful for the time I didn’t know I would have with him. He is such a bright and wild light in our life. I think about all that these last 9 months have given me and if there is another 3 or 6 months or year to go…that is okay.

I know this topic is all about growing your family and tips and thoughts about it, but I think we don’t always talk about the journey of it. It can appear easy. Each person’s life can look perfect on the surface, but I have learned that in every woman who has wanted or hasn’t wanted to be a mother there is something under the surface that is full of longing, pain, and grief on such various levels and learning to make peace with it all. We each have our own story in this journey and they aren’t easy to tell or see or even really put words to and that’s why I wanted to share this. It has been a tough journey of waiting, finding patience in the unknown, and also trusting my body to do what it needs. There are days I so want to begin again and I wonder if it will happen or what it will be on the other side. It is scary, but I also know how far my body has come because of the healing I have given myself room for and the things in my past and heart that I have made peace with that I hadn’t before. I have to believe in my deepest parts of my heart that the purpose of this is for some thing far greater than my understanding and I think that’s why I share this more then anything. I want any one of you have are either in waiting or wondering or dealing with maybe even a loss of any kind to know it is all okay. You aren’t alone.

Real Talk Real Moms about Growing a Family.

Growing a family isn’t linear. I have learned that very clearly in this process. It isn’t always about it happening when we want it to happen at all and sometimes it is, but most of the time it isn’t, and we have to really trust that there is a reason for that. So in some very real way I am glad we have had to wait. I know that one day another little one will come into our lives at just the right moment and we will wait in complete hope for that moment, but right now I know the greatest thing I can do is to live presently with Hayes and absorb all he is while I work at becoming better at caring for myself. All great things come with time. The journey there is just sometimes windier then we anticipate.

So tell me, what decisions have you made about your family? I want to know your story. I want to know the real journey. Not just the one that leads with a pregnancy announcement with smiling faces. I want to know about the realities and most likely the tears you have had in a bathroom of some kind of yourself.

And I know you may have a ton of questions so feel free to ask. I realize this may be a heavy subject too. I mean I cried through most of writing this, but it was so cathartic to share this. It has been in me for so long and many people even close to us didn’t know much of this because it felt so painful in that moment to me.

Read Other’s Thoughts on growing their Families or choosing not to:

Sugar and Cloth

Lovely Indeed

Studio DIY

Natalie Borton

A Daily Something

The Sweetest Occassion

The Proper Blog

Parker Etc.

Effortless Chic

Oh Lovely Day

The Lifestyled

Apartment 34

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  1. What a beautiful article. Your personal story really hit me, as it is as you state: Every family has a story to tell beyond the happy news and passing of ultrasounds. I am happy you were willing to share, as it’s such a big part of life which is rarely mentioned outside of personal circles. ConceivemenT gets a bit of a taboo sometimes (just like miscarrying), and to my opinion, that’s the last it should be!

    As for my story: We have a lovely daughter who almost turns two years old, after a hard pregNancy and labor. Although my pregnancy condition was superviSed and not life threathening, it was a bitter pill. Instead of doing everything I was planning to do as an impending mother (take puffing classes, read all there is about motherhood and babies, take all appropriate vitaminS and coo in every store over itty-bitty baby stuff) I was suffering from extreme pregnancy nausea (Hyperemesis Gravidarum or HG in short) from week 5 until the delivery, leaving me bedridden – or at least, stuck to my couch – fighting a constant battle to keep down the least bit of food and Drink. In case you’re interested, I wrote an article about it on my blog, because I feel awareness about HG is very important in this day and age, where the condition is only just now starting to become known.

    The chance of repetition is over 90%, and now that I would already have a child in tow, overcoming HG again for a second child feels like an impossible task. ADd to that the fact that my labor was less than exemplary too, and that I physically can’t have what you’d call “a normal” deliveRy, me and my partner have decided we will have a family of three.

    Although we are happy with the current dynamic and neither of us has a strong longing to expand, the idea of being limited to get pregnant again took a lot of getting used to. Although being pregnant was close to hell for me, the thought of never getting pregnant again messed with me on a primal level. Reason – and even my emotions – told me I didn’t really want another child. But to state it poetically, I felt beaten at a game that I felt I never had a chance to play right, to begin with. It took a lot of coming to terms with everything that happened to accept that.

    It took a long whiLe, but currently I am happy to state I am in a good place about that. It did make me realize motherhood (or parenthood, if you will) is such an intense and primal endeavor, and different – yet similar – to so many people. This is why I am hAppy to see you take part in a series which sheds a light on the little about spoken topics like these.

    Love, N

  2. Oh, friend. I am so so glad you shared your story. I hope it feels like a relief. I am so saddened by the heartache you’ve had to carry, but so grateful that it has turned into a season of healing and quiet joy for you and your boys. When the time is right to try again, I think you have the clarity now to know precisely when that moment is. I am so excited for all you for all there is to come. Sending love! xoxo

    1. Thank you! I couldn’t write this post without writing this. I tried…it didn’t work. It felt fake and too surface and the universe knows me better then that haha. But yes it feels good and I feel the time is approaching and it will all fall into place and I strongly believe we will deeply enjoy it in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise.

  3. I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I OPENED THIS BLOG POST TO READ DURING THE MIDDLE OF A LECTURE ABOUT… YOU GUESSED IT. MEDICAL SCHOOL. MICROBIOLOGY CLASS. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT EBV AND CMV. CRAZY THING.

    1. WHOA that’s nuts! It has been a weird road and I have made a lot of connections to how it all happened. It surprised me as someone thinking they were “healthy” I have come to understand how much my body was lacking and how I have had EBV in my system since I got Mono in high school. Fascinating stuff. Even more fascinating the tests that are out there for it and also how many women do contract it during pregnancy and never even would know it.

  4. you write SUCH heartfelt stories! I wish you all the happiness you and your family deserve. may I point out a little something? please use than when comparing, and
    then when enumerating.. more than, greater than, less than.. and then we went out etc… your writing would greatly profit from it 🙂 kind regards from Vienna, anna

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m from a big family and always wanted more than one, but i had a lot of complications when my son was born almost two years ago (pre-eclampsia that continued post partum, plus a precipitous labor). this has led to major anxiety about getting pregnant again and worries about my own health, physically and mentally. i’m in therapy and working with my doctor to create a support team, but I’ve also had some serious talks with my husband about how my dream of how our family was going to be might need to shift. accepting that idea has been both hard and healing at the same time. I still don’t know for sure what the outcome is going to be, but taking time to figure it out.

  6. Megan, this is beautiful. It’s so hard to know what to do sometimes. We want to wait to grow our family when we have life all figured out, but what I have found is that every time I have another kid, I have something new to learn anyway, so I might as well keep on keepin on.

    When I look back at my life I can see I wasn’t mentally well when I had my second, third, and maybe even my fourth baby. But I can tell you, my life would not be complete if I didn’t have them in my life. They have helped me become the person I am today.

    In October I had my sixth baby. In all honesty, I thought I was done having kids. I wanted to grow my business and really step into my life as ME. I wanted my own identity outside of motherhood. I thought having another baby was going to hold me back from my life. I wrote a blog post about it called How I really feel about baby No. 6.

    Now that she is 4 months old, I can see how everything was happening FOR me. Everything I went through gave me deeper insite into what my clients experience. Knowing how to manage my mind has been a tremendous help for me.

    I also find it helpful to really think about your priorities. When I think about the end of my life, I want a big family around me. I grew up with 6 siblings and we are spread across the US from Michigan to Washington and it makes me wish there were more of us so maybe someone would be here with me.

    I have strong belief that God will give you strength to get through everything. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. My Elinor is the same age as Hayes, and I love watching what you are doing together. You are amazing and inspiring.

  7. I had chronic EBV after I had my son, he is 4 now and we were hoping to have kids closer together. Thank you for ACKNOWLEDGing how I felt when I realized we had to wait. I am finally healthy and early in my second pregnancy and hoping to stay healthy. It truly is a mind game!!

    1. Wow this makes me feel so good to hear. I am glad to hear of success in this journey. It brings me a lot of hope. We are just beginning processing starting this next step and yes the mind game is so real.

  8. This was Beautifully wRitten and i heard your voice so clearly. thank yoU for sharing your story. <3

    I have a 9 month little boy. Sometimes i feel like im never enough. I had an Uncomplicated pregnancy and my son is Very healthly. And yet, i cant seem to handle the days the most basic tasks. Im learning to give myself grace because Im a Mama with a lOng mental health history.

    Again, thank You For sharing. The best thing ive Read in a while.

  9. So heartfelt, and also heartbreaking to hear. (Sorry for all caps!) I wish i had the right words, but i know from my own Journey in motheRhood that we all have different paths and timing – and It shouldn’t be clouded in guilt but often is! We were “that couple” who didn’t have kids for the longest time; then parents of “just” one. i came to embrace the slowness of it all…even amidst loss. every season of life is full in dIfferent ways. All this to say, Sending love & light your way as you heal and nurture your family.

  10. Thank you for writing This. It really spoke to me. My son is nearly 3 and the questions from others about when we will grow our family come more and more frequently these days. I know people mean well when they ask, but the honest answer Isn’t an easy One. I always wanted to have kids close together, but what I couldn’t have anticipated was the TOLL a difficult first pregnancy and post partum anxiety would take on my mind and body. I have waited to feel ready, and while I would have hoped to feel ready by Now, I’m just not quite there yet. And that’s okay. I’m choosing to enjoy a little hard earned rest and contentment AS a family of 3 and know that when I have a peace about adding another, there are lots of ways to grow a family.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I know how difficult it can be to share something so personal but also know how valuable it is as a community (even an online one) to be open about our struggles. I am sure your words and your story has helped another feel less alone in their own journey. So thank you for that. I talk a lot about my journey of loss and grief on my blog but motherhood is still a topic I mostly avoid.

    For me, being a mom is no longer on the table. When I was 28 I was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after being in remission, it came back. Because of this, my doctors recommended I wait until I reached my 5 year mark before attempting to get pregnant. They were concerned about the effect of changing hormones on my body and the possibility of another diagnosis. I had to make the choice whether or not to freeze my eggs because the treatment had been known to cause infertility. At the time, my husband and I were not 100% on having kids and we couldn’t justify the expense for something we were unsure of. We figured we’d live our lives as fully as possible for the next 5 years (and we did!) and we’d talk about it again at my 5 year mark.

    Unfortunately, a couple weeks after my 5 year cancerversary, my husband Brad was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Brad died a few months later and I never got the choice on whether or not our little family would grow beyond the two of us. Some days I am grateful that we didn’t have kids. That I don’t have to figure out how to take care of my grieving self and a child. Other days, I yearn so much for a piece of Brad to be here in our child.

    No matter what, it’s a hard conversation to have with a stranger who innocently asks if I have kids or if I plan to have them. The reality is, I don’t know if my treatment caused infertility. There is a possibility I can physically have them. I’m just not sure I will ever be emotionally ready. And for me, that’s a good enough reason.

    1. My goodness Dana, I never knew your full story. I knew you had lost brad but the rest of the picture wasn’t something I knew. I was in tears reading this. My gosh girl you are so strong and incredible. What an story and what awareness you have of yourself to know you may never be ready even if you could. I don’t blame you and think it is serious power to know that about yourself. You are an amazing woman! Thank you for your story.

  12. Megan, I really enjoyed reading this. When asked whether we are “done”, I always respond I’m 99% sure we are, and I think we are. I’m pretty sure we are. But nothing is easy or certain sometimes.

    J and I married in 2007, just before we turned 29, and waited a year to try to have a family. Then, nothing happened. I remember our 9th month of trying, three friends called in the same weekend to announce pregnancies and I looked at J and said “something’s wrong”. I knew my cycle. We were timing things well. Something was WRONG.

    It took us six years and a lot of guessing and science, but we ultimately welcomed b/g twins in 2015. We didn’t use birth control after they were born; our OB and RE supported this. We also still had two embryos, and I announced that I would not consider serious discussions about what to do with them until the twins were one. By then, we were staring at 38. A month later (and three months after weaning), we were also staring at a positive pregnancy test. A couple of months before we turned 39, our surprise daughter was born.

    We still have two embryos. We are now looking at 41. I am still nursing, if just a tiny bit. We are planning our surprise’s second birthday and talking to the twins about how they might want to celebrate their fourth. I’m finally exercising again and feeling like I might be in this body somewhere.

    I can’t say I’m sure what we’ll do with the embryos. Our children are amazing and the greatest source of our joy…and exhaustion. (They are all three in their own age-appropriate battles for independence and mama is tiiiiired!) I am 99% sure we are finished. But not 100%.

    I like the extra seat at a 6-top table (for family or a friend or our coats). we are _always_ outnumbered, but with everyone walking and language skills exploding, it is starting to feel more manageable. I turned 40 still nursing, but also 99% sure we were done, and I’m enjoying having my body and my _self_ back a little bit. But we still joke about having one or two more. 99%. Not 100%.

    I am unable to grapple with certainty. I am pretty sure. But I am not certain.

    I am glad to read you are in the clear and wish you peace and a family-building story that is right for you and yours! I can say with our _MANY_ years of infertility that I understand finding peace in the process and it’s been much easier to experience infertility from this side than from the wondering and waiting side. limbo might be the toughest place out there, i think. x

  13. Thanks for sharing this story. I’m so glad you have healed. I’ve found a lot of HEaling personally through the Medical Medium protocols (especially the celery juice cleanse for EBV.) Check it out. Wishing you the best.