Today, my husband and I celebrate 7 years of marriage! I truly love doing life with him.
Within a year of getting married, we decided that we wanted to grow our family. It’s hard to believe that that was 6 years ago! Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on expectations – personal expectations I’ve had for myself that haven’t been fully realized and coping with
the failure the reality of that. I turn 30 this December, and I fully expected that we would be nearly done growing our family by now, at the very least be finished having biological children before we focused on growing our family through adoption. After finishing my Masters last year, it was our hope that we would have another biological child before I turned 30. As the necessary conception month for that came and passed, I consoled myself by thinking “well, that’s ok. As long as I’m pregnant by the time I turn 30, that’s ok.” December is quickly approaching, and I’ve been reflecting on how and why people find meaning in expectations in connection with age. Why is it that we have certain expectations (personally and imposed by societal norms) of completing school, getting married, starting a family, retiring, etc. at or before a certain age?
With infertility, it’s hard. There’s so much hope and waiting (and hope in waiting). Every season, holiday and anniversary that approaches, I’m left thinking by Christmas, maybe we will be able to announce a pregnancy. Maybe I’ll be pregnant over the warm months of summer? How do I plan my life and schedule around hopeful anticipation? How many years will A.J. and her sibling be apart? Each birthday, holiday and anniversary is a milestone complete with memories of what we have enjoyed and endured. It’s also a time of checking off another year with some unfulfiled hopes and plans for our family.
There is obviously nothing wrong with growing your family in your thirties or later, but infertility already leaves me feeling so disempowered and out of control, that I wrestle with also having to come to terms with my personal expectations that have not come to fruition within my desired timeline.
I woke up this morning happy to be beside the man I married 7 years ago. I look back at what we have been through over that time: academic pursuits and professional development, loss of close family members, hard work, fun play, changing jobs and career paths, and welcoming our daughter who is the light of our lives.
As we long for our family to grow, I try to focus less on expectations (which, to me, feels like a checklist of goals) and more on hope.
As I think back to our wedding day, I’m trying to remember everything that was going through my mind on that day (it’s difficult as our wedding day – like many – is just a whirlwind of fleeting memories), in particular the hope and expectations we had for our lives as we started our newly joined family as husband and wife. Our wedding vows are on the wall in our family room, and I returned to them to see what expectations we had for ourselves and each other:
I promise you my faithful and enduring love and devotion, to be expressed to you each day and in all situations.
I promise to share my thoughts and feelings with you, and to be honest and truthful.
I promise to encourage you in abundance and in need.
I promise to honour you, create a loving home for you, and to be true to you until death alone shall part us.
I vow this as a covenant made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and daily made new.
And through these vows, lived daily, we do life together and hope for our family. (Happy anniversary, Mark! I can’t imagine life without you!)
(I’m not crying! YOU’RE crying!)