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Family Planning In The Time Of A Pandemic

When I got married, my husband and I made plans to wait before trying to get pregnant. Five years, to be exact. We were young in our professional lives, had just finished an 18-month long distance engagement, and my husband started a masters degree program two weeks after we said "I Do." Taking stock of our finances, energy, and time helped us determine that perhaps waiting a while before expanding our family would be best. And luckily for us, we got pregnant pretty fast after those five years and we had our daughter like we had hoped and planned for in 2018.

Family of three holding hands

Both my husband and I grew up with a younger sibling and have loved having a sibling to squabble with, joke around with, and cheer on in life. After the birth of our daughter, there wasn't a discussion around her being an only child; it was almost assumed we would try for another after we settled in with her. Well, dear reader, that didn't happen.

What did happen were two things that greatly impacted our decision to try for another child. The first was the discovery of my underlying health conditions that resulted in a premature birth and continued issues with my blood pressure post-pregnancy. The second was this little thing you may have heard of before: COVID19.

My first pregnancy wasn't the worst pregnancy experience some women face, but it wasn't the easiest either. Because of my type 2 diabetes, I quickly added extra doctors visits, added an extra doctor, and had to do a lot of monitoring and adjusting that caused a lot of stress. Then it was discovered that I had preeclampsia and spent longer than I had hoped I would in the hospital waiting to give birth and after I gave birth. After that experience, I knew that we would need to try our best to be purposeful in our family planning again because we had more things to consider the second time around.

In February 2020, my husband and I went on a date night and we talked about whether or not we both were comfortable with trying for a second child. I felt like I was the healthiest I could be at that time to manage another pregnancy with my underlying health conditions, but we still took the time to discuss things we were afraid of or anxious about just to be sure. By the end of the conversation though, we were pretty excited and eager to start trying to see if we could add to our family again. At the time, COVID19 was around, but it felt like a murmur that was off in the distance, and we were honestly naïve to think it wouldn't impact us as it has now.

A month after our date night, COVID19 stopped the world as we know it, and I knew it was something big and something that wouldn't go away quickly. I also paid special attention to how it was impacting and affecting women who were pregnant and families who were expecting. I immediately knew in my gut that with all the things I had to deal with pre-pandemic, it could be even more stressful now to get pregnant and navigate my pregnancy.

I know there are other beautiful ways to add to my family, and those options have always been on the table. I know there is beauty in having what we have, right now, with just one child, and I have been so grateful to have had this precious time watching her grow up without having to share my energy with another child. I am so proud that I have taken the time to consider my own physical and mental health before trying again, and I am confident in my "not yet" when I think about adding to our family. But at the same time, I find myself feeling sad, having to come to terms with waiting and grieving not adding to our family within the timespan that we thought we would, and that has surprised me the most.

Woman sitting looking out at mountains

I know I am not alone in this waiting. I know we are not the only family in this "terminal of departures", where it seems like all the flights have been delayed or cancelled. I also know that for some, "not yet" is actually a "no", and that's perfectly fine too.

You can make decisions that are right for you and also grieve what your yes means to other things that now become no's. You can make plans and be excited about them and also grieve when the plans don't work out or have to be re-planned. Much of life is learning how to manage our own expectations, hopes, and dreams with the reality of what can happen, has happened, and has to be deferred.

If you are finding yourself navigating this space, I hope you know that you are not alone. There are many of us here with you, in the waiting and the grieving, holding the space to be and live this life in all its highs and lows, with you.

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