MAMA

February 1, 2012

You probably know by now how I feel about mothers and their babies! I can’t help but marvel at the miracle of life, and every story surprises me more than the last. My smart friend Emily recently shared the all-virtual International Museum of Women‘s newest project with me, and I’m already hooked. I can’t wait to see what it becomes.

It’s called MAMA: Motherhood around the Globe, a collection of compelling stories, policy-changing ideas, and gorgeous artwork from more than 60 countries. It’s incredibly eye-opening to hear from mothers of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and drastically different cultures talk about motherhood.

I’m curious. How did motherhood happen to you? For those who aren’t there yet, how will you determine the right time — if ever — to bring a baby into your life? I’d love to hear your stories and opinions!

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tabitha (From Single to Married) February 1, 2012 at 4:48 am

What a great post – I’m curious to hear other’s experiences too.

Motherhood is something that I had given up hope on ever experiencing I guess. I got married when I was 36 to my husband who is quite a bit older than me and who already has adult children. I had a career and had supported myself for years. But yet I couldn’t shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, we should have a baby. After two years of thinking about it, the time seemed right so in 2010 (at age 38) we had our son, Henry. The best thing I’ve ever done, to use an oft-used cliche. And now we’re trying for baby number two. I LOVE being a mother and I love being a SAHM (which is a whole ‘nother topic). :)

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2 Mau February 1, 2012 at 5:35 am

The video is really moving for me. My first was unplanned and I raised her on my own for 3 years till I met my now husband who then adopted her. She turns 7 next months and now we have an 8 month old girl. Different experiences, same love.

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3 Kristina February 1, 2012 at 6:06 am

“Different experiences, same love.”

Yes.

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4 Elizabeth N. February 1, 2012 at 5:38 am

In college I told myself that when I got married I would wait two years until I tried to have children. By the time I got married, I had lowered that down to a year so the deal I made with my husband was that we would wait one year before thinking about having children. But then our church put us in charge of the toddlers and despite how frustrating they were, I began to want one for myself. But the husband said we were going to wait until our year was up before we started thinking about it. So I patiently or not so patiently, waited. And then about a year into our marriage I stopped the birth control and we have been trying ever since.

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5 Jillian February 1, 2012 at 5:47 am

I found myself pregnant with twins 3 weeks after moving to Italy. It was terrifying. And so exciting. Back then I didn’t speak Italian and had no idea what any of the doctors were saying to me. The girls were born in a tiny little local hospital. It was the event of the year I think. There were about 20 nurses and doctors in the room all talking to me at the same time. When the girls were born they showed them to me. Two tiny weeny little beings. I fell in love. And that’s pretty much how motherhood began for me.

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6 Patricia February 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

I planned my first baby, who’s now 9 months and I’m still learning. I think motherhood is an lifelong work and vocation. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by raising a child in these times (with so much information) and it’s hard to turn off the cacophony and let your instinct blossom. (some members of my extended family cringe at the fact that she still nurses). I want to hear more about this project!!!

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7 Kristina February 1, 2012 at 6:10 am

This project is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it.

My first son was not planned. I found out I was pregnant 2 weeks after my husband proposed. He’s 14 now. For me, the struggle with motherhood has been that I always wanted a large family. To my husband 3 children *is* a large family. It is hard to deal with the grief of not having more children. It is especially hard because I sometimes feel guilty for that grief since there are so many women who want to be mothers and have no children. But, I know one cannot control her grief. So I let myself grieve for the children that will never enter my home.

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8 Carly February 1, 2012 at 7:33 am

I’m so sorry for your grief. I have a little bit of that flavor in my own life.

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9 Hend February 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

“I let myself grief for the children who will not enter my home”
You took the words out of my mouth! We have 4 happy, healthy that were planned 3 and a half yrs apart all throughout my college and grad school yrs and I want more but my husband doesn’t. We are both stubborn:) so i figured I’ll wait another year and if I’m still ‘grieving’ then I win and will plan for baby 5. I’ve always loved kids, mine, others, they just amaze me at all ages and their views on everything. Can’t imagine being without them, they truly are the beauty in life.

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10 Cathy February 1, 2012 at 6:28 am

When we married we also thought we’d wait a year before trying to get pregnant. However, four months into the marriage we were curious as to what our combined genes would produce. Crazy! Fifty-three years and 6 children later – we are grateful for the joys and challenges of parenthood.

PS I discovered this website via the BYU alumni magazine. Your time in France especially caught my eye because my daughter and I explored and enjoyed France in April 2006.

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11 Amy February 1, 2012 at 7:05 am

I got pregnant 7 months after my husband and I got married. I was 26 when our first daughter was born and I truly could not have been happier. It took 6 very long years for our second daughter to come. Thank goodness she did! :)

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12 Connie February 1, 2012 at 7:19 am

Early on in our marriage, my husband and I had a huge list of reasons why the timing wasn’t right for children yet. This past august, we realized that we just didn’t feel those excuses were valid anymore. Half a year later…still no luck. But, we have hope that perhaps this year is our year. In the meantime, we are trying to see this time as a continued blessing to strengthen our relationship and continue to ready our home.

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13 Amber, theAmber Show February 1, 2012 at 7:50 am

My six-week stint of being pregnant ended by nearly killing me, and I’m not sure I want to try again! The idea of being a mom is amazing, though.

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14 The New Diplomats Wife February 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

Motherhood happened because of a few too many gin and tonics and not much to do after dark while on a safari with my husband – we came home and said “let’s never do that again!” but what was done was done! I don’t think there is ever a perfect time or a right time, but there is a time when you’re ready to embrace it, and sometimes circumstance gives you the little extra push you need to jump in. I will say this, our daughter has been our best (if not most expensive ;) ) souvenir from a trip to date!

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15 simplyblythe February 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

i watched my twin sister give birth in june.
in the following weeks i watched her mother her new son and was amazed by what purpose she now served.
i rapidly felt i wanted that purpose for myself.
two months later i became pregnant and we’re now expecting in may.

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16 Lily February 1, 2012 at 8:28 am

I knew ever since I was young that I wanted to have a big family, and to have the children as soon as I got married. Lucky for me, my husband felt the same way as I did. We have been trying since we have gotten married, four years ago – and yet, still no children. But, I hope and pray that the day will come soon that I will be called mom!

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17 Gia February 1, 2012 at 8:30 am

I love reading about other’s paths to motherhood. What a great conversation. My own journey started at 19 when I got pregnant and decided not to keep the baby. After surgery I said to myself, “I will never go through this again.” Two and half years later I kept that promise to myself as I told my long time boyfriend that I was pregnant. I was 21 and he was 23. We struggled because we had come to the end of our 3 year relationship when I found out and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a dad. I planned for a life as a single mother.
During the early months of pregnancy my husband found me. He had just moved to the city, he was kind and funny. We started dating and he accepted that though timing was a little strange he still wanted to be with me. About half way through the pregnancy my ex decided he really wasn’t ready to be a father at all, even part time, so he went to my new boyfriend and asked him if he would like to be the dad of this baby. I was shocked, who does that!? I was deeply in love with this new man but it seemed way too much to ask him and I was in awe when he answered, without reservation or hesitation that yes he would like to be the dad.
We didn’t plan on marrying but we found out that for him to legally adopt our son we couldn’t use our domestic partnership agreement and we would have to be legally married for 6 months before they would approve the adoption. We married that July and in August we welcomed our son, at home surrounded by our family, friends, and amazing midwives.
It is now over 8 years later and we have two more daughters, ages 6 and almost 2. Between the two girls I experienced my worst fears, a miscarriage that resulted in surgery again. I was so sad and hurt to go through that again. I was so sad and hurt to have my husband experience that loss and our children to witness our pain, but we decided that we would try one more time and now with three lovely kids we have completed our family.
If I had planned out my road to motherhood I’m sure it wouldn’t look the same as it ended up being, but I wouldn’t change a thing now. The road helped lead me to the mother I am and the family I hold so dear.

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18 Mau February 1, 2012 at 8:50 am

What a beautiful road it was too! We have similar stories though number 3 is still a dream.

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19 Anonymous February 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

This is such a difficult topic for me as I struggle with infertility. I long to be a mother and seeing so many happy stories just breaks my heart.

Infertility has been the toughest challenge of my life and what is the hardest is that it seems like nobody that hasn’t experienced it can understand. We are constantly exposed to stories like this and I’m really happy that they had one women briefly talk about her struggle with infertility. Most of the time we are just supposed to smile and be happy for everyone else. And we are!!! It’s just that we are grieving so much that it’s really hard to show that happiness for others.

Sorry a bit off topic,I just wanted to speak up for all of us that dream of being able to share our motherhood stories with others.

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20 Mau February 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

I’m so so sorry! And I mean from the bottom of my heart. I have close friends in your situation and they just adopted 2 girls, after many years of heartache. They couldn’t be happier and are amazing parents to their girls. I wish you all the very best you surely deserve.

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21 Sandra February 1, 2012 at 10:05 am

I struggled with infertility for years…many miscarriages, lots of treatments, two adoptions (one local and one international) that fell through because of varied administrative reasons. Lots and lots of bad luck all around. Three years of it.

I did fall pregnant and now am the mother of a lovely six year old daughter. We tried again for a second but after one miscarriage I just couldn’t go on and try further.

The grief is overwhelming. And the joy now is too but I won’t be the same person every having gone through all of that. I take nothing for granted health-wise. And nothing for granted about being a parent.

I came this close to never having a baby….

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22 Kristen E February 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

I’m with Anonymous, above. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to talk about pregnancy and children and motherhood even though I desperately want to be a mom. I’ve had endometriosis and fibromyalgia since I was 13, and at 17, my doctor told me I only had about 5 years before my childbirthing window closed. I’m 32 now and still not a mom. I was pregnant once but the pregnancy literally would have killed me and the baby was deformed, so it was terminated. I want to be pregnant so bad, but I’m also terrified of so many things. My husband isn’t quite ready yet, though I think he’s close, so hopefully we’ll start trying in the next few months.

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23 eva February 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

I can’t wait for motherhood! And hopefully it’s just around the corner for my husband and me. It’s wonderful to hear all of these stories, so inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

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24 Robin February 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

Ah yes. When is the right time? For my husband and I we are in the midst of this topic. We have been married 1.5 years and I would love to start trying soon. Logistically we’re waiting until he finishes grad school and also so I can get good health insurance. The goal is in 2 years from now. Upon graduating he’ll get a great paying job. But I look around and wonder how everyone else affords it, when we’d barely be able to pay for the delivery alone (out of pocket 10K or more!) never mind the rest of his/her life!

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25 Katie Gnau February 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

I knew I wanted to be a mother at 14, then waited for the right time to come – sometimes not so patiently! I met my husband at 29. We were engaged a year later, married a year after that, and shocked to find we were already pregnant 3 months after our wedding. We celebrated our first anniversary with a newborn in our arms. 8 months in, motherhood is even better than I imagined and I’m amazed every day that this wish finally came true!

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26 barchbo February 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

I got married at 38 and just assumed I would never have children, and my husband and I were at peace with that. Surprise! Baby at 40!

Comments like those above from Kristen E and Anonymous helped spur me toward a wonderful, positive pregnancy. I have so many friends who would love the blessing of carrying their own babies, and every time I wanted to complain or moan, I thought of those friends and people who would love the chance to have aches, pains, or gestational diabetes. It helped me to be so incredibly, deeply grateful for the privilege of being pregnant. And it makes me a better mom.

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27 Sara February 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

I love this post! Just last night my husband and I were talking about whether or not it’s time to start trying for baby number 2. Like some of the other comments above, it’s easy to come up with a list of reasons why the timing isn’t right (which we did) but nonetheless, once you get the yearning, it’s hard to control! There may be lots of reasons to wait, but if there is even one reason to not wait, I find it wins out! The silliest thing for me is imagining that it’s possible to ever love another person the way I love my son! I know it’s crazy to say that, but it really is hard to imagine! Have other people ever felt that way?

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28 Jane February 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

My husband and I are expecting our first child in May (due on Mother’s Day, actually!). We’re super excited! We’ve been talking about starting a family for a while, and I’ve been tracking my cycles for the past year and a half since I went off birth control. The real catalyst was last summer when we found out that his dad had pancreatic cancer. He had a major operation to remove a tumor in August, and doctors projected that he’d be around for at least another couple of years. Unfortunately, the cancer had other plans, and my father-in-law’s passed away Jan. 9. But he knew we were having a boy, whom we plan to name after his grandfather.

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29 Lisa February 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thank you for this lovely link. As for how we decided to have a child, we married young and we waited ten years, during at least half of which I was pleading my case for a baby. After 8 months of trying, we got pregnant and had our first child, a girl, in July 2011. Having wanted to be pregnant for so long, I had imbued pregnancy with a lot of expectations, which just did not materialize. Although fascinated by the process, I did not feel connected to my daughter until she was born. That said, motherhood – and the process of getting there – has been the most life-altering and amazing experience. She opens my heart and my eyes every day; and we can’t wait to do it again.

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30 Lisa S February 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

I became a Mama 1/2 way around the world in a very crowd Civil Affairs office while living out of a hotel room. Both of my children were adopted from China. I feel so blessed to be a Mama – I was the recipient of a very young hysterectomy. For my husband and I this was our path to parenthood. Like all Mom’s I will never forget the moment my child was placed in my arms (or in my son’s case the look on his face when we met him for the first time). My daughter was 7 months old and grieving for her nanny, she cried for hours – I did not. She needed my loving touch and re-assurance. My son was older, deaf and confused – he needed a gentle touch and understanding. I was reading above of the those considering adding to their families. I had to chuckle – we adopted both of our children within 5 months of each other, two trips to China and I quit my job. Not what we planned, not what we thought – but so much better! My husband and I had lists and ideas – but took a leap of faith.
What a lovely link to share and read of others. I believe children are truly a gift.

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31 Jenny February 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Hi Gabrielle. I’ve been thinking A LOT about motherhood lately. Now that my youngest is 15 months old we are trying to decide if we’ll go for a 4th or stop at 3. I wrote a post about my journey into motherhood last year. Here’s the link.

http://bubysplace.blogspot.com/2011/05/journey-to-motherhood.html

The videos are so touching. Thanks.

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32 Ella February 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm

As other commentators have alluded to, sometimes it unfortunately takes more than determining it’s the right time. My husband and I determined it was the right time 3 1/2 years ago. We just achieved our first pregnancy through IUI, but had a miscarriage one day shy of 8 weeks.

I hope to one day be able to talk about motherhood as the mothers in this video did.

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33 Sarah Jane February 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Ella, I’m so sorry to hear your sad story. We had trouble getting pregnant too and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. It seems to be a common story yet it’s so personal at the same time. My best friend had many miscarriages before finally having a baby through IUI. Then she had several more miscarriages and is miraculously pregnant again with no drugs or intervention at all! My point is, there is hope. Don’t give up! And you’re not alone.

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34 Holli February 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Motherhood happened upon me. Seven months after getting married, we discovered we were pregnant. We were scared but mostly excited.

Then, we found out at 12 weeks via ultrasound that we’d had an anembryonic pregnancy. I had been given a mother’s heart but no one to parent. We considered ourselves as a mom and dad, but it wasn’t until our son was born a year and a half later that we could outwardly be the parents we had already become.

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35 camille February 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I always knew I wanted children, and I met the man I wanted to have them with at a young age, but for years neither of us could imagine changing anything to the full and happy life we shared. And then my sister, to whom I’m quite close, had a baby, and a couple of my closest friends started to talk about trying for one, and that’s when the whole idea started to feel less foreign, and more like something I could actually imagine for myself.

Once it did, though, it was like a light switch: all of a sudden it became this thing I wanted deeply, with all of my heart, and with a strange sense of urgency. We were lucky and didn’t have to try for very long: I am now five months pregnant, and couldn’t be happier, or more excited and curious to embark on the adventure of motherhood.

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36 Sarah February 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Like a few of the commentors, my husband and I decided we would wait for a year after we got married to try to start our family. We were both so anxious to have a child and so excited to get started! Like a few other posters, we experienced infertility. We tried for three long, sad, heartbreaking years before finally concieving our son on a consolation (because it looked like no child was coming our way and our sibs kept giving us nieces and nephews instead) trip to Paris. That trip gave me light and something to look forward to for a whole year as we planned it and then we came home to discover the best souvenier ever.

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37 Natalie February 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

We are 3 months shy of our 2nd anniversary, and we are constantly thinking about bringing another spirit into this world. I have dreamed of it since I was young, but we are waiting a few more months until we can comfortably pay for the arrival. I know some people say to disregard finances and just trust that everything will work out – but I can’t imagine doing something that would cause me to focus more on something other than my child.

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38 Jane February 2, 2012 at 9:59 am

Natalie — I totally agree. My husband and I got married young (I was 23, he was 26), and we’ve waited five years to start a family because we did not have a sense of stability that we felt was necessary to bring a child into this world. I’m 6 months pregnant now, and very happy that we waited and stuck to our principles.

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39 Marae February 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

We had just married and moved to London (husband’s grad school) and I was searching for a job. All of the stress of not finding one was making me nauseous–I had awful headaches, could hardly get out of bed… I finally went to the doctor and she told me to just try to relax. And then the lightbulb went on a few days later and I took a pregnancy test!

It all came quite unexpectedly and we were nervous, but oh she is perfect! And I discovered that I was made for this, being a mother.

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40 Anonymus February 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Everyones journey to motherhood is different indeed. What I have learned best about it is that sometimes regardless of what we think is best, there is something divine about motherhood that has the real answers. We tried for several years to conceive our first without succes. Seeking motherhood with all my being we began working with an adoption agency to fulfill our dreams. After a few prospects turned into empty arms we discovered that , withou any medical intervention, we were expecting. And our first daughter was born. She filled our hearts with light and our home with joy, so imagine our delight/shock when we discovered we were pregnant with our second as she rounded a year mark. I actually lied around for weeks complaining to my husband and certain that I had the swine flu ( it was had hit our home state hard that year). 8weeks pregnant a light finally went off that it could be something else! And a sister was born. And while I cannot imagine my life being blessed even more, we try for a third. And bringing this ones to us has a path resembles the first; but the path that brought me these two little girlies has also brought faith that things will work out just as they should….and so we will wait…and see…and hope.

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41 Emily February 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm

When I was about 3, I told my mother that I was going to have a baby “the day after I become a lady.” It took until I was 32 to become a lady, but when I finally did it was as great as I imagined it at age 3.

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42 Anna February 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm

my son came to me unplanned. he proved that plans are overrated. he lights up the room where ever he goes.
motherhood makes mothers feel like the best and worst people on the planet…all at the same time. i wouldn’t trade it for anything. i love being hendrix’s mother. my husband and i are finally in the place to plan to have another. he wants only two. i want three. we’ll see who wins.

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43 Sarah Jane February 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm

This sounds really interesting. Can’t wait to check it out. With two little ones at home, I’m also amazed at moms and how they survive, bring joy, comfort, discipline, principles, etc. on a daily basis and manage to stay sane! Moms are amazing and definitely don’t get enough credit for all they do.

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44 rebeccanyc February 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm

When I was younger, I very much wanted to have children, but when I married the wrong man in my 30′s, it quickly became clear that we would not have children. We divorced when I was in my 40′s, and by the time I met my current husband, I was close to 50. I tell people that I “forgot” to have kids, but I never forgot, I just made the wrong choices when choosing a parenting partner. I do not live with regret, but I would have welcomed being a mother at the right time, with the right person…

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45 Avimom February 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm

It’s funny that everyone’s comments are about deciding to try or to be pregnant. My thoughts are different. I hated being pregnant, each times. But I loved delivering, nursing, and now just mothering daily. I have miscarried three times and still grieve for those babies…I’m not saying motherhood isn’t real during pregnancy. But the decision to be a mother is one I make every day, over and over again.

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46 Gretchen SB February 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

What an incredibly touching and beautiful set of stories here in the comments! My heart goes out to those dealing with loss and infertility. My husband and I have been very blessed, but we married in our late thirties and I had plenty of doubt about what my future held during the long years of searching for my wonderful man. We have a beautiful 18-month-old who is absolutely the light of our lives. She came at exactly the right time, and she has taught me so much already. I offer my hopes and prayers to all those who are seeking to become mamas and daddies.

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47 Melissa - Keith Pitts Portraits February 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Today is my youngest daugther’s 5th birthday. What a joy.
I married my husband 9 years ago. We wanted to travel, etc. maybe wait a year or two for kids. But, I always had gyn issues growing up, so it was no surprise when my GYN told me I would have problems getting pregnant. A few surgeries, forced menopause and a great doctor later – I managed to get pregnant with daughter #1 about 2 weeks before the recommended 6 month wait after the last surgery. I took multiple pregnancy tests, from different manufacturers to make sure this could possibly be true. Elated! I had wanted a family my entire life, but had waited until I met the greatest man in the world (in my 30′s) to get started. Baby Isabella was born healthy and beautiful!
A caveat is that my husband has hepC due to a blood transfusion as a kid. He had just finished his treatment and the last thing (according to the doctors) you want to do within 6 months of the treatment, is get pregnant. Guess who was pregnant about 5 months after him finishing his chemo like treatment – me of course. But Gabriella was born so healthy and beautiful 5 years ago today.
I am so lucky. Our timing was off in both cases, but the end result is two absolutely gorgeous, intelligent little girls.

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48 Abby K February 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Coming to the conclusion that I was ready to have a baby was rather sudden actually. I have been very happily married for 4 years and my husband has been comfortable about us having kids since we got married. I am close to my many nephews and niece and I perfectly at home with babies but I was completely terrified of the possibility of a little person growing inside me. The fear of pregnancy and birth ran very deep for me. It may sound silly but nearly every birth story I had heard a personal account of was profoundly scary. There was always some major complication or awful problem that had long term effects on mother of child. In the case of my sister in-law she quite literally was bedridden for all four of her pregnancies after the first month and she is one tough cookie! Despite this near panic fear of pregnancy and birth I still deeply desired to be a mother. It was actually through your blog that I was first exposed to real stories of the beauty, wonder, and good of pregnancy and birth. When I stumbled upon your series of birth posts last December I just couldn’t stop reading. I was gripped with fascination and hope that maybe it wasn’t all terrible. Those posts prompted me to have a real heart to heart conversation with my Mom on this issue last Christmas. She was very understanding and gave me her copy of “Thank you, Dr. Lamaze” knowing that I needed facts just as much as I needed good stories to over come this fear. Reading that book changed my entire outlook! Suddenly birth was understandable and approachable instead of foreign and scary. It ceased to be an unknown and became a matter of fact. Half way through reading that book I was ready to have children. It was more then simply no longer being afraid, that book factually instilled an absolute confidence in me that as a woman I am fully capable of giving birth! It was an amazing turn around in my life!

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49 Heidi /I'm with Leia February 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Becoming a mum wasn’t easy for me – year of trying, exams and fertility treatment and then as a surpise on the screen when scanning for eggs – he was there – the little miracle – now a big boy 4 months old – and I love being his mum!

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50 Jane February 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm

My husband and I got married last October (2011) after five years of dating. I really wanted to wait until I turned 30 before even thinking about getting pregnant which would have put us into 2014 for my first pregnancy. Then we went to Italy for two weeks for our honeymoon in November, came home and realized I had gotten pregnant at the beginning of our trip. We found out on Friday that it’s a boy :-) It’s been a fantastically wonderful surprise.

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