Babies, Business, Books

| This is the 570th story of Our Life Logs® |

“I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting pregnant,” I told my coworker, Diana, when she offered to make me a ‘fertility packet'' full of charts/predictors/calendars, etc. Her eyes were bright as bunnies on Easter as if she couldn’t wait to help.

My mother is one of 14 and my father is one of 11. My maternal grandmother gave birth from the age of 19 to the age of 50. Granted, this was before the pill and safe sex were common, especially among people in my grandparents’ socioeconomic class, but come on! I have 35 first cousins on either side of my family tree.

So, when my eager friend suggested I prepare for a possible struggle at 31 years old, I laughed and smugly thanked her anyway.

That was the summer of 2008. This is where my story begins.

At the time, I was the owner of my own creation, Growing Young Café.

Ad from the Spring 2009 issue of WNC Parent Magazine.

Growing Young Cafe was a coffee shop/drop-in child care center and avenue for community education and arts classes, meant to be a haven for moms to hang out, have coffee, and get a break from the stresses of being a mom. We offered child care for up to four hours a day so parents could get haircuts, run to the DMV, have lunch with a friend or spouse, shop, you-name-it, all gloriously child-free.

Or, for those parents who didn’t want to leave their child, just needed someone else to entertain them for an hour or so while they enjoyed a mocha and muffin, uninterrupted and within viewing distance, we did that too. We had easels, a bouncy castle, slides, dress-up, all kinds of toys, and an eager, friendly staff, who were all moms themselves—except for me.

Why did I bring this lovely place into existence before I had a child myself to enjoy it in, you ask? Because I love kids? Yes, but more importantly, because I wanted to create this refuge, get it running successfully, and deal with all the stress of launching it before I entered the scary highway of motherhood. It was sensible, but I had no way of knowing how hard it would be to greet these ebullient mothers daily, serve them coffee, wipe their children’s noses, and read their kids stories while they climbed on my lap and rested their sweet heads on my shoulder. I cleaned up the crumbs their adorable toddlers deposited all over my café floor and sent these mothers on their way, back to their fertile lives.

Still, my regulars told me that this place allowed them to be a better mom. I knew this was an important place; I just wish it had been economically viable as well.

Within a year, it was evident that my skills did not lie in business. Everyone loved the café, but no one wanted to pay to use it. Having more of a George Bailey mentality, I hated the exchange of money and having to tell people they couldn’t camp out all day and buy one cup of coffee while their baby gnawed on my carefully-selected collection of books.

My husband was offered a job in his hometown in Florida, and although I didn’t want to leave my favorite place in the world, Asheville, North Carolina, I knew we needed a way out of the business. We sold it for way less than it was worth and moved to be near family and start our own.

Now comes the hard truth: If you’re not in love with your life, or at least enjoy most aspects of it, it’s not a good time to try and bring someone else into your world. A baby cannot replace a life.

When we first moved to Florida, I hated everything. I had failed at my dream business. I left all my friends behind, and I was living in a place that was unbearably hot nine months out of the year. The town was so brainwashed by football that if you said the words orange and blue in the same sentence, a two-year-old knew to shout, “Go Gators,” with a sickening fist pump.

One lesson I had to learn over the next year was how to go looking for life.

In my first two years in Florida, I took Zumba, Shakira belly-dancing class, started a writing group, joined a book club, saw a number of plays, acted and sang in community theatre, attended author talks by two of my favorite writers, danced at amazing concerts in town and at the beach, took long drives on country roads, saw alligators from ten feet away, and drove through the night to have Christmas in Key West with my husband.

Even though I was finding distractions from my barren situation, I was still planning my life around the remote possibility of getting pregnant. I took a major pay cut as a teaching assistant at a preschool and lost all career ambition. I didn’t want to start something stressful with a lot of commitment, when I could be starting my new life any time.

When it didn’t happen after the first year of trying, instead of reevaluating my life goals, I took an even more dead-end, low-paying job as manager of a coffee shop. It was like I thought if I had nothing else going for me, I’d have to get pregnant because I was putting motherhood first. Bad idea. I started to feel embarrassed when people asked me what I did for a living.

“Why aren’t you teaching?” they’d ask.

And I could only eek out, “I’m just taking a break,” or, “I didn’t want to start something I couldn’t finish.”

What I failed to recognize was that the pregnancy challenge might have also been something I couldn’t finish and would prove to be much more frustrating and demoralizing than the anxiety that comes with handling a classroom full of kids. Infertility changed me. It made me look at myself differently and question my self-worth. I wondered if I could really do what I wanted with my life or if I would be doomed to disappointment.

After the second failed IVF attempt, actually after about a week of crying and screaming at God and cursing the d