I am twenty-four years old, I have been married to my Marine since I was twenty and we haven’t yet started a family, or begun trying. Which, in the military community makes me a rarity. Up until about a year ago I was completely content with the idea of remaining childless for an undetermined length of time. It wasn’t until a phone call from my husband during our last deployment planted the seed, well a bit more than a seed I suppose. It was right before they pushed into Afghanistan, when he dropped the baby bomb on me.
When we got married it was never any question that he desired to someday become a father much more than I felt the drive to become a mother… well actually, I didn’t have any compulsion toward the idea at all. So it wasn’t as much a surprise that he was the first to drop the baby bomb, as it was surprising that I was willing to go along with it. That conversation took place nearly two years ago, and so far we keep chickening out. When he got home last May we discussed the idea, and he decided that he’d rather wait. We almost tried before he left for this deployment, but decided it was too much of a long shot with only one month to get the job done.
So here I am; twenty-four, childless and I am beginning to hear my biological clock tick, and that terrifies me. A few years ago I didn’t care either way whether I participated in procreation, but now my empty womb aches to be filled. I am asked fairly frequently, often by complete strangers, when I intend on starting a family. I laugh and tell them that my husband is deployed and he’d be rather upset if I started without him. This inevitably makes them laugh and steers them away from the topic.
The reason strangers ask most often is because anybody who knows me knows better, they know that before that phone call two years ago I was not in the slightest interested in the matter and that thinking about it just makes me jittery inside. Another question I am frequently pummeled with is in relation to our parents’ desire for grandchildren. Thankfully, they have provided me with the least pressure on the matter and continue to remain patient and open minded as they have been wise enough to know that my husband and I were nowhere close to being ready to be parents until fairly recently, and even then you’re never truly ready. Well, at least that’s what I’ve been told, when I tell people that I’d like to be more ready first.
The thing is though, I know they’re right. We will never really be ready for kids. I am acutely aware of the fact that if I try to wait until all my ducks are in a row and we’re really ready, it will be too late. Not only do I have my own biological clock to think of I also must factor age into the equation. My parents were about my age when they began their family and I think it served them well as parents. I didn’t think so when I was a teenager, but that was because they were still young enough to remember being a teenager themselves so they were wiser to my shenanigans than I often even was.
My dad’s parents however were in their forties when he came along and without going into too much detail, it will suffice it to say that having parents so much older than him certainly shaped the kind of father that he became. This knowledge and experience has led me to the decision that I would like my future children to be at least graduated from high school by the time I’m forty-five, and considering I would ideally like to have two children about three years apart, I need to get started like, now.
That is when my insides start doing gymnastics, and I struggle to figure out how I feel about all of this. Two years ago I could barely stand in the same room as an infant comfortably. Now when I am with my friends and their newborns I silently ache for a chance to hold that tiny miracle for just a few moments. I want to slap myself, knock myself out of it somehow. Convince myself that these feelings are merely a result of the deployment or a fear of being left out as more and more of my friends become parents.
Making the choice to stop preventing pregnancy is probably going to be one of the biggest decisions my husband and I ever make, and as much as I try to stop thinking about it, I cannot silence the voice in my head trying to answer everyone’s big question; when? After he reenlists? After we PCS? After I finish my Bachelor’s Degree? It all starts to snowball into a whole bunch of “afters” and too few “befores.” Before we’re too old? I certainly hope so. So the question remains unanswered, and will for some time still. After all, my husband really wouldn’t be too happy if I started without him.