Our Journey to Parenthood - Laura from "Oakland Avenue"

As part of my blogging hiatus, please enjoy this post by my amazing sister-in-law and friend, Laura.  Check out her blog, because she's kind of a mommy blogger rockstar ;-).  If you missed the first post in the series, read about Abby's journey to parenthood and the story of God's grace in the midst of miscarriage.  

I aways wanted to have children later in life. While "later in life" is quite the subjective term, for me, that meant early thirties. I thought I'd get married in my late twenties, enjoy a few years of just being a couple with my husband, then ease into parenthood like gently releasing a canoe into a placid lake. Instead, my canoe flipped of the roof of my car, landed hard on the shore and bounced into the lake in the middle of a hurricane.

married a Hugh Grant look-alike at 23, soon after graduating college. We both wanted 4.5 children - he wanted three, I wanted five or six, so we compromised when sharing our "public number" at 4.5. We also knew we wanted to wait a bit, he felt he just wasn't ready and wanted to be more "financially prepared," but for me it was a different reason. While I wanted a lot of children, I didn't really want any babies. I was never a baby-person growing up, I just wasn't interested in them and didn't know what to do when interacting with them. I never volunteered to hold a friend's baby and I definitely never babysat unless I had to. I was the type that wished children came out as thirteen-year-olds, picking out their own clothes, feeding themselves dinner, communicating their emotions in plain English - minus the hormones of course.

All throughout our first few years of marriage, my husband and I talked about having kids "sooner rather than later" but each time "sooner" came, we pushed it out another year, maybe two. In 2011 our friends and family were just starting to get pregnant and have children which helped move our needle a little closer to the "ready" side, but it still moved pretty slowly. I had a fulfilling career in public relations at a local agency and knowing that we'd like me to stay home with the kids, I wasn't quite ready to give it up, plus the DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) lifestyle is pretty fun - we were content to play the doting aunt and uncle. 

In June 2012 my husband and I took a two-week vacation. It was never meant to be our babymoon, but God had other plans. In August of that same year, we found out I was pregnant. As I walked downstairs with the positive test to show my husband, I couldn't stop the tears. I didn't feel I was ready to have a baby, be a mom, or give up our current life, but deep down, all of that just masked my true reasons - I was scared. Scared that I wouldn't know what to do with a baby at 2 a.m., scared that my baby wouldn't love me back, scared that I wouldn't be as good of a mother as my friends or sister-in-laws, scared of everything and anything that had to do with me being a mother to a baby. 

Throughout the months waiting for our son, I cried a lot. I struggled with anxiety, fears and worry over how I would ever manage to take care of a baby. I avoided putting together a nursery, purchasing baby gear or doing anything really related to becoming a parent until I was at least 25 weeks along. I didn't even purchase an outfit for the baby until I was 30 weeks for fear of it making things too "real."

By the end of the pregnancy, I was ready to have our baby, but I think the reason might have been an even toss up between getting to meet him in "real life" and shedding the 20 plus pounds I had gained. After a pretty difficult 32 hour labor, I finally met my baby, Eli, face-to-face. Our introduction wasn't what movies are made of or what you hear about in the baby books. Meeting my son that first time didn't make me forget the pain or fill me with love and joy - instead I remembered every ounce of pain and was filled with fear and skepticism. Even after nine months of getting to know my baby and preparing to be his mother, I was still scared. 

But God granted me grace with my newborn and six weeks into motherhood, I realized everything had changed. I believe it was partly because I needed trial by fire to prove to myself that mother-instinct is a real thing and I could in fact take care of a baby, but moreover because God, in his mercy, changed my heart and softened it towards my son and towards myself as a mother. I realized I had been putting God in a box, not allowing him to work in my life and show me that He is my source of strength and he provides all I need at every stage of life, especially in mothering a baby. I kept wanting to wait to have children until I was "ready" - I'm not sure what I was looking for, a baby not to cry in my arms I suppose - but what I needed to realize was that I would never truly be ready, and that's okay, because I would be the best mother for my baby boy - simply because of God's grace in my life. 

Today, I'm so grateful parenthood came unexpectedly to my husband and I. I've found that life as a parent is more fun and more fulfilling than life as a DINK, and I believe Eli came with the absolute perfect timing. God had a plan for our family, one that was so very different from mine, but also much better. While our canoe took quite a few scratches and dents getting into the lake, it's staying afloat and moving through the waters better than I ever expected.
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