My husband and I took things slowly before we got married. By the time we heard our wedding bells ring, we had been together for a total of seven years and engaged for three. To us, our love and life were not a race - it was a leisurely journey, and taking things slow always felt right to us. And frankly, I loved savoring every new chapter in our lives without rushing into big commitments.
We knew we wanted to eventually have kids - two, to be exact - but we also knew we wanted to enjoy being newlyweds for at least a couple of years before we became parents. After all, we were only 25 when we got married; we had our whole lives ahead of us to have a family. We planned on partying late into the night with our college friends, taking tons of fun spontaneous road trips, and spending lots of passionate evenings together as newlyweds, not comforting a crying baby.
That all changed just three months after we got married. My period was late, but I thought it was due to the stress I was feeling from having a cornea transplant. When another week went by and Aunt Flo still hadn't paid me a visit, I decided to take a pregnancy test, first at home, then at the doctor's office. The results were positive, but my feelings were not.
Although we used the rhythm method as a form of birth control, it failed us. (According to Planned Parenthood, fertility awareness methods, like the rhythm method, are only 76 to 88 percent effective.) When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately felt a state of shock, followed by one of panic and fear. No way was I ready to become a mother! I selfishly wanted my husband to myself and a life without kids for a while longer. I knew that having a baby would change everything . . . I just wasn't ready for such a drastic change so soon.
Although I struggled with the notion that unlike everything else in our lives, my pregnancy was not planned, I knew I wanted this baby with all of my heart. I always wanted to be a mother, and my husband and I were thankfully at a point in our lives where we could start a family. Our relationship was solid, we had wonderful jobs with great health insurance, and we owned a nice house in a quiet and family-friendly neighborhood. The fact of the matter was because we took things slow with our relationship for so many years, we were as prepared as we could be to start a family.
So I got ready. I read all the pregnancy and baby books, magazines, and online articles I could find. The more I learned about my growing baby, the more excited I became about becoming a mother and starting a family with my husband. Like many first-time moms do, I went overboard on shopping for baby clothes and ended up buying way more than my baby would ever need, because I couldn't resist how gosh darn adorable they were. The idea of being a mother and caring for my baby was all I could think about. I couldn't wait to meet my baby girl.
In the back of my mind though, I still worried about how having a baby so quickly would affect my marriage. I talked to my husband about how I felt, and he reassured me that everything was going to be OK - and it turned out, he was right. Having a baby brought us so much closer in ways I never dreamed. Becoming parents helped us see each other in a whole new light. Watching my husband rock our baby to sleep filled my heart with so much joy. He was a dad now, not just a husband, and it was amazing to see him in his new role. And after watching me go through my pregnancy, birth, and the challenges and exhaustion of breastfeeding and early motherhood, my husband had a whole new level of respect for me.
So we traded in our late-night partying for late-night feedings and our spontaneous road trips for visits to the newborn club. I'm not going to lie: having a baby was a big change for us - but it was a change we welcomed with open arms. We may not have started our family exactly when we planned to, but in retrospect, I'm so glad I got pregnant when I did. Our baby girl is now 10 years old, and she has been an absolutely wonderful blessing. I simply couldn't imagine our family and our lives without her.