Monday, January 12, 2015

[Opinion Piece] "My degree is making babies and being a wife, and I'll graduate in eternity"...

This is not my picture.

Once again I faced the dreaded introductions on Sunday. We'll be doing this for the first month or two in the beginning of every relief society because lets face it, we all suck at remembering names! I do not take offense to this because I have no idea who the heck any of you are! Even though I have since had several lengthy conversations with half a dozen of you. 

Anyway, So the basic gist is for the first half hour of class every lady gets to stand up and introduce herself. 


Name,

Place of origin, 
Husband's name ,
Current apartment number (so they can deliver cookies & casseroles),
and Degree!

That last one though... I am really struggling admitting to it. You see, I had every intent on being a Biology major this time last year. I LOVE Biology. I have never had more fun and been more interested in any set of classes my whole life! These past two semesters I have saturated my schedule in Bio and Chemistry and been happy as a clam (I was getting B's and A's so I was also succeeding at it). That all changed though when Justin and I started talking marriage last March. 


We started talking about it a month or so before making anything official so we could run a quick sound check on the idea. Ask a few important questions and make sure we were on the same page. I remember one day he asked me how I felt about starting a family. Up until I had not admitted to anyone, even myself, how i felt about this topic. Most people would give the usual answer - get on some type of birth control and then wait until we have a perfect situation to start pumping out little bodies. 


Most people I spoke to actually advised me to do so. Common sentiments were "I would never have time to get a degree after that first little mouth to feed", "I would have no time for me after baby", and "You change into a mouth frothing monster and your husband wont even know who you are during pregnancy. Best to save that until after you've had some time together. ALONE". Most people however, not the two people who's advice actually counted. My Mom and God. 


I remember during High School I was having the conversation about marriage with some girlfriends around a table. We were all LDS and I really don't remember the conversation in general except the overall feeling was that Birth Control was as much a part of marriage as a wedding dress. Afterwards my mother took me aside and told me something. She said, "I don't know if you know how I feel about birth control." 


And she went on to explain that she firmly believed that It wasn't the thing to do. That she had experienced a full measure of joy in having us children and if she had waited for a perfect moment to start then she wouldn't have had any of us! She also told me how excited dad had been to have kids, that he actually started to worry after they had gone almost half a year after marriage without becoming pregnant. 


All of this had never occurred to me before - 

-Dad, a young man in his early twenties, wanted to have babies? 
-Mom and dad started having kids within that first year of marriage? The time that everyone said getting pregnant during would most assuredly destroy? 
-My mom would have missed the opportunity to have any of us had she waited? There is no perfect moment?

That of course started me thinking and years later when Justin was asking me how I felt about having children I had an answer for him. One that I had never actually said out loud but one that I had always felt in my heart. I would not take birth control, I would not wait until the perfect moment, I would have children according to natural timing, and I would have faith that God would not send me more than I could handle. 


And so here I am. Five months a newlywed and five months pregnant. I will admit I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon but here it is. It's happening. And It's high time I not only accepted the fact but also took pride in it. I have chosen to be a mom.


So when it came time to tell everyone our degree I went through the debate again in my head. I could tell everyone I was getting a Biology degree but was taking a quick break while I had this baby, Or I could admit to everyone there that I was wrapping up my schooling with an associates and being a mom full-time for a long time. Even with my convictions this second option, the one I am taking, seemed sub par. It seemed unworthy of being said. It seemed to mean that I was some kind of failure.


I nervously waited for the ladies in front of me to introduce themselves. Most had already graduated with jobs, others were married and going to school, and others were taking turns with their husbands (working and schooling). Then finally the lady in front of me stood up. She had a baby in one arm and and another running rampage through nursery. She stood with squared shoulders and introduced herself and then at the end of her spiel she said "My degree is making babies and being a wife, and I'll graduate in eternity."


I beamed. That's what I was doing! And if she is woman enough to admit to it with such pride then I sure as heck was going to! And I did. 


"My name is Julie Herbert, I live in Apt ##, and I am switching my major to what she just said this spring."


No one there was disappointed in me, in fact everyone laughed and some even gave me a few amens. The lady who fueled my courage turned around a fist bumped me. As the introductions went on three or four more girls said they had wrapped up their associates degrees and become full time moms. As I looked at them, arms full of baby and shoulders covered in moist cheerios and drool, I felt a little warm with pride. I was joining their ranks this May. And I was proud to be among them. 


I am Julie Herbert and I am about to be a Mom.


Now I am no expert yet but I do want to clear up a few things about marriage and pregnancy according to my experience. These are things that people felt they needed to advise me about.  

1 - MYTH: Men would prefer if you waited to have kids. 

TRUTH: Sexually and emotionally mature men actually do want to have a baby. It is the ultimate fulfillment of masculinity and virility. A man is happiest when he is able to father and provide for new life in a monogamous relationship. That situation is also the one that will allow him to remain fertile and virile for the longest time. 

Note: There are men who are unable to for whatever reason in this lifetime. They will be blessed with opportunities to be fathers either as stand ins in this life or actual dads in the life to come. God's got your back!

2 - MYTH: Wait a year so that your husband can get to know the real you before you explode into preggo Godzilla/She-Hulk.

TRUTH: You do not become an unrecognizable monster with a completely different personality when you are pregnant. You have some interesting things happening to your body which can sometimes send you a little off balance but for the most part you are still you and you are under control.

3 - MYTH: In the first year you are either honeymooning or screaming at each other.

TRUTH: I have only been married for a little over five months and many will tell you I haven't run into real troubles yet. I would disagree. I have had some serious trials and frustrations that could have blown up into fights and arguments. However Justin and I have yet to have a single fight. I'm not kidding! The worse its been is I've had a few lows and needed some time to think through things before I could share my thoughts with him (he usually holds me or reads next to me while I'm doing this so that the moment I am able to communicate I can). Occasionally we have requested kindly (always kindly) that the other person adjust a habit that might have been irritating to us. And I have been pregnant this whole time! You don't have to spend the first year screaming and crying! You can CHOOSE to talk to each other instead!

4 - MYTH: Wait to have kids so your husband can have a longer time with his hot wife before he has to deal with the ugliness of pregnancy and post-pregnancy.

TRUTH: Your husband finds your ever pudge-ing out self attractive. It's some sort of miracle God works for you. Somehow when you're pale, breaking out, and baby bloated your man somehow thinks you're as hot as you were the day he married you. Also, who's to say you can't be hot after pregnancy? NO ONE! Go look on the internet! There really is no reason you can't be if you choose to do what you need to do to get there. 

5 - MYTH: Don't change anything! Diet or Exercise when you are pregnant. Sudden changes will shock your body and cause your baby to initiate the uterine exodus early. 

TRUTH: Talk to your doctor about risks however making healthy changes is never a bad thing. Suddenly cutting out sugar will not harm but help your baby. Starting an exercise program after feeling crappy for three or four months will help not harm you and the baby. Just be smart about it people. 

6 - MYTH: Your experience will be like MY experience and everything I say applies directly to you.

TRUTH: Your experience is your experience and you can choose to make it the best one of your life. Trust me. I made that choice. ;)