Shame

My husband, Ethan, and I will be celebrating our 5 year wedding and our 10 year “dating” anniversary this June. Dating is in quotes because when we met, and decided we would most certainly one day get married, I was 12 and he was 15. For a couple years, our “dates” only took place at youth group, soccer games (in which he played), and little dinner/movie/activity outings with either his family or mine.

Yes, you’re doing the math correctly; we got married at 17 and 20, and are now 22 and 25. We consider ourselves to be beyond blessed to have found each other so early in life. We never had to play the dating around games in high school or college. We’ve been each other’s best friend since 7th grade for me, 9th grade for him. We’ve really never known life without one another. It’s been such an incredible experience to literally grow up together throughout our “dating” relationship and our marriage, all the while getting to be so stinkin’ in love.

Despite our young ages, having a baby is something that has been on our minds for quite a while. Being honest – or, authentic, if you will, it’s been much more on my mind than his, but he’s been supportive. I’ve known for as long as I’ve known Ethan Brown would be my husband that I wanted to have lots of little curly headed, soccer playing, home schooled kids running around our house one day.

A little over two years ago, in the spring of 2016, we were close enough to Ethan graduating (read: career beginning, salary starting), it seemed like the right time to start trying to get pregnant. I was only 20 years old, but I figured the age of our relationship would make up for the age of my mind and body, and it’d all be just fine.

I went off birth control in March 2016, and was bitterly disappointed when my period showed up in April. I was sure I’d done something wrong or that I just hadn’t read the right pregnancy book yet. So, I went to Barnes and Noble in search of the missing book that would better prepare me for next month’s ovulation. This odd cycle continued for several months.

I don’t think I’ve ever been truly honest with a single person about this period of our life. I’ve eluded to some that we did try for a baby during 2016, but I’ve never fully gone into how intense my feelings were during this time. I wanted to be a mother so badly; my heart physically ached. I couldn’t make it through a day without imagining myself having a pregnant belly or holding a precious, sweet-smelling, baby version of my husband in my arms.

I became one of those crazy women who cuts dairy, caffeine, and alcohol out of her life, has mechanical, precisely timed sex, and basically plans the entire course of her present and future existence around a child that hasn’t even been conceived yet. I would literally break down into tears when someone on Facebook would announce a pregnancy or when I would see a cute baby in Target.

At the time, I was studying to receive my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I was due to graduate May 2017. My days became so consumed with reading baby books and feeling sad, that I started to neglect my coursework. I simply didn’t have the motivation required to be a student at a competitive private university anymore. I lacked the passion I once had for psychology and statistics. Inevitably, this led to my dropping out of school.

It’s very hard for me to even type that paragraph of our story, which is probably why I haven’t ever been able to say it out loud to anyone (aside from Ethan). In the moment, I told myself I was being “called to motherhood” and that it was perfectly valid for me to lose an entire semester’s tuition so that I could dedicate my time to day-dreaming about having a baby. Looking back, of course, I see how incredibly ridiculous that was, and I very much wish I would’ve reached out to a family member for guidance and ignored the feelings of shame I was having.

I did feel strangely shameful admitting, even only to myself, that we were 20 and 23, both in school, and trying to have a baby. I felt that anyone we discussed the matter with would shut the idea down or offer judgment our way. I had an entire story worked up to tell people once we got pregnant. “I forgot to take my birth control just a couple days in a row!” or “Well, we were trying to prevent, guess we weren’t doing a very good job!” Then, even though we were young, people would have to acknowledge that we were, at least, trying to be responsible. We were married after all. How much judgment could someone possibly pass on a married couple getting pregnant?

These thoughts and feelings subsided in October 2016, when Ethan and I found out that he’d been placed in Nashville, TN and Colorado Springs, CO for his last two clinical rotations before graduating in May 2017. Now, it all made sense. God knew we’d be receiving these out of state placements, and He didn’t want me to give birth so far away from family. Duh! I was sure I had God’s reasonings all figured out. I got back on birth control, and we decided to put off the baby thoughts until we came back home to Indiana.

This might sound unbelievable, but in those six or seven months, I could just tell something wasn’t right in my body. I kept trying to tell myself that it was only the timing; God wanted us to wait a little longer to become parents. While that is still true, today, I know God placed that small feeling of “something’s not right” in my heart back then to prepare me for the infertility diagnosis I now have. He knows I hate surprises.

Liv – Authentically

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

6 thoughts on “Shame

  1. After reading the entry from May 24, I was going to write to you and begin with the Jeremiah 29:11 scripture. But, rather than write, I moved on to the next entry … and there it was. Chills. So, now, the other thing I wanted to share. Please enter the Guideposts Writers Workshop (guideposts.org/wwcontest). You have a message to deliver …. Bless you.

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    1. Mrs. Howell! I’m so glad that you took the time to read what I wrote and enjoyed it! That means so much to me.
      Jeremiah 29:11 has been such a comfort in many realms of life, but especially this one.
      I will be sure to check out the link you sent me! Thanks for thinking of me.

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      1. You are a gifted writer! I strongly feel that you should apply for this grant opportunity. All expenses paid, five day workshop with Christian writers, taught by the editors of Guideposts magazine. Go for it! 😀 Deadline is June 10th. (No pressure!)

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  2. Olivia,

    Reading these entries brought about so many emotions for me. You made me smile at the amazing love you found so early, fearful while reading your daily struggles, sadness from learning your ultimate challenge…but beyond that I felt blessed to be apart of your life (even if it’s through media only) and privileged to read what you are sharing. It touched me deeply and I can’t find the words to express it. All I can say is thank you for sharing. I’ve always admired you because of your amazing strength and personality. All my love and many blessings!

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    1. Shaunna, I’m so glad that you enjoyed getting to catch up with me through reading my story, thus far. I love that you took the time to read what I had to say. Thank you for your kind words, it warms my heart to heart from you. Support from friends and family feels so important right now!

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