Totum Stories: Adjusting To Life With A Baby After 20 Years Together
By Lindsey Staples
A Wife, Mommy and Career-Focused Wine Lover
For the first 15 years of our marriage, we were the “if” we ever have kids, not the “when” we have kids kind of people. We have been together for 20 years and spent that time growing our careers and making memories while enjoying the freedom that being DINKs (dual income, no kids) provides! But once we decided that parenthood was for us, we tried and tried and I was eventually diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. Basically, I had no eggs and if, according to the doctor, I did have any, they were likely “no good.” We were devastated, to say the least.
I began questioning our decision to wait for so long. Did my career-focus stand in the way of us having a family? We got married when I was 20 years old – if we had started our family then, I would have had plenty of eggs, right? The guilt and regret was overwhelming. So overwhelming that my husband and I decided to put our house on the market, move to the beach in Southern California and completely reboot our lives (my firm has an office in LA, so I could transfer easily and the hubs owns his own business, so he can work from anywhere). I needed the beach. It’s a happy place for me.
In the meantime, we were referred to a fertility specialist and made an appointment even though we had told ourselves we were not willing to use medical intervention to conceive. Much to our surprise, the specialist disagreed with the diagnosis. And even more to our surprise, shock and awe actually, she did an ultrasound at that appointment and told us that I had an egg, prime and ready to be fertilized. She told us to go home and make a baby. I had no faith that it would work, but who were we to question our doctor’s orders? So make a baby we did and two weeks later, we got the answers to our prayers: a positive pregnancy test. Well, 5 positive pregnancy tests to be exact! We pulled our house off the market and Northern California became home again; the place where we would raise our family.
When discussing starting a family, we promised ourselves that our marriage would always come first. We were committed to this baby not changing who we were as husband and wife. The reality is that our relationship as husband and wife did change. Seeing my husband love our daughter so deeply changed the way I look at him. I admire his commitment to being a dad; he is so natural at it. I am so blessed to have him as my partner in parenthood! Becoming parents has changed our marriage, which still comes first, but the love I have for him is so much deeper. Something I never thought was even possible.
To be honest, I also didn’t want having a baby to change who I was as an individual either. In that vein, I was so naïve. The evening before my first day back to work I held our daughter and rocked her to sleep. With tears streaming down my face, I felt something I never thought possible: I felt like my daughter was enough, like I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Who had I become? I never understood how a child could be enough. Had I lost my sense of self since becoming a mother? I had always prided myself on my commitment to being an executive, my strong work ethic and my ability to travel the state, working long days while tirelessly keeping up with our busy social calendar. And now I was ready to throw in the towel on that. What had my daughter done to me?
I went to sleep that night and awoke the next morning to head to the office to begin construction on the build-out of my office, which had been put on hold while I was on leave. As I walked in, I was greeted by an office full of people who were happy to have me back and met with my construction crew to kick off our project. I felt fulfilled in a different way than I had been for the past two months. Not a better way, just a different way. I felt like I was right where I was meant to be. I knew then that I had indeed changed, but that I didn’t need to throw in the towel on my career, I just needed to find a balance.
Fast forward nine months and I can say that motherhood is the most demanding job I’ve ever had, but also the most rewarding. My husband and I often joke that the first eight months were spent just keeping her alive. What does a newborn really need other than intermittent sleep, a little food, a lot of diaper changes and a ton of love? Nothing…that’s the answer…nothing! But now we are entering the fun zone! I love coming home from work each night and ditching my Director of Operations body armor and getting silly during bath time or participating in our family 3 piece band, where Juliet plays the tambourine, daddy plays the guitar and I become a world renowned maraca shaker!
I will forever be grateful that the stars aligned and we kept that appointment with the fertility specialist and that we followed doctor’s orders and my one good egg turned into light of our lives!