Friday, August 7, 2015

Chasing motherhood

Much of being a woman and in particular a Latina woman for me includes aspiring to be a Mami. I went through a stage where I thought I was being socialized to be a mother and wondered whether I, Jessica, wanted to be a mother, or was it what I was expected to do. Being true to who I am (an introspective rational thinker) I spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons. Pros- experiencing a kind of love like no other. Cons- HUGE responsibility, HUGE risk, TONS of anxiety, and not to mention all the sympathy I felt for traveling parents at airports. Not an easy task to take on traveling with little ones on planes and I could imagine how I, the queen of overpacking, would of course overpack for the kiddos because I would need to be prepared for every possible scenario.

I thought that I would have a lot of time. I thought that my legacy would be my education and my career. I thought that I would never get my youth back and so I needed to bask in it. Although my internal debate of whether or not I wanted to have kids would creep up then and again, I thought I had plenty of time to postpone my decision.

Well now I am forty and for five years now I have gotten the nice but also concerning look at my annual exams with my ob/gyn. Every time she would ask me nicely what my plans were the future and gently encourage me to think about trying sooner rather than later. I began to dread the question but was able to handle it much better when I was married and could answer I am ready. Well at that point I was 38. The traditionalist in me could not think of going solo on the parenthood journey by choice and luckily I met someone who was also cautiously open to parenthood.

So we got married...waited until we made our trip to Italy and then decided to give it a good try. Should be easy right? We tried....i bought ovulation kits, began to take my prenatal vitamins, and started to try to not get overwhelmed by the overkill of information on fertility out there. It was a whole new world. So much I did not know. Looking back, it is amazing how much more I know about my body now that i did before trying to get pregnant.

Needless to say it has been two years of chasing parenthood. We have both had multiple tests done and some funny stories to go along with it all. On Monday we start our first round of IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will be our first and last try.

I can't help but feel a little guilty for having taken for granted time and what it would mean. It seems like now that I am pressed up against the wall for time all of those anxieties are still there, but are all trumped by the dream of experiencing a one of a kind love and the dreams that come along with it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Never say never...

This year has been a big year for me as I turned 40 in February. First of all I never thought I would be 40 and secondly I realized that 40 is not as "OLD" as I thought it was. Over the last couple of years I made several transitions in life that made me realize that I was once very young and naive and I proclaimed that I would "Never" do several things such as:

-Be far away from family
-Leave the state of Virginia
-Follow a man 
-Be a housewife
-Put my career second after anyone or anything
-Own a big dog
-Live in Texas
-Marry a man that is younger than my brother

This is just a short list of things that I naively proclaimed I would never do. Well guess what I have had to take back all of my "nevers" because I did them all. 

When I was young I thought I knew exactly what my life was going to look like. I had a timeline, goals, and high expectations. Although I did not put my list to paper, it was strongly engrained in my head. The funny thing is that nothing happened as planned. I ended up leaving Virginia and family and friends to head to Iowa of all places...that for sure was not a destination listed on my life plan. My decision to go to Iowa to pursue my doctorate as a full-time student was a pivotal life changing decision. I had many experiences I never thought I would. I visited California and most importantly Disney Land, I was a part of a curling intramural team, I went to the Iowa State Fair every year I was there, and I also made annual pilgrimages to the Mall of America. I really had a great time!! I enjoyed my doc student years even more than I did my undergrad years! I learned once again that friends could become extended family and the value of establishing networks of empowerment across the country. I also learned more about myself and reaffirmed my core values as I struggled to navigate the process of earning a doctorate. I learned to have a new love and appreciation for the green and luscious springs that would come after long and cold winters. I also unexpectedly met my future husband in Iowa of all places. Talk about does a Latina from Virginia meet a Colombian guy in Iowa?

So thanks to the Colombian guy I met in Iowa, I have had to take back more "nevers" than I ever expected ;) After meeting Fernando and realizing that I could have more than just a career as a legacy in my life, I had to learn what partnership really meant. In our case it meant making the decision to put the relationship above all other things. This was very hard for me because so much of my identity was wrapped around being a strong independent Latina woman and in my naive mind that meant that I had to rule and that a man had to follow me and my career. I struggled a lot with this and still find that from time to time it sneaks back up in my head. With the help of a health scare (funny how life works to nudge you along), I realized that life was short and that my career alone was not going to give me the full life I had envisioned for myself. I realized that I was blessed to have met someone that I wanted to build a home with. So I took the plunge and followed my man, to Texas, without a job, became a housewife temporarily, we got a big dog and to top it all off he is 3 months younger than my brother!

Now I understand that life takes you on its own journey full of unexpected twists and turns. The twists and turns can be fun and sometimes they are not, but at the end I survived and with time I have come to appreciate it all.

So now whenever I hear someone say "never" I just smile to myself. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Where are you from?

I always cringe when I get asked the question, "where are you from?" You would think it is a pretty easy least I think it is for most, but for me it brings up a crisis of identity.

So where am I from? If you want to get technical about it the answer, I was born in Washington, D.C. and was raised in Arlington, VA. Oh...if only it were that easy. The reality is that I am much more than just the locations of my birth and upbringing. I am the child of two immigrant parents that met for the first time on a DC Metrobus. I grew up in a home where my father shared many beautiful and painful stories of his childhood in Guatemala. I also grew up in a home where my mother hid her painful childhood in Honduras from not only my brother and I, but also herself. I am a child that grew up seeing her paternal grandmother every weekend and remembers staring out the window at the moon as we drove through Washington, D.C. on Sunday nights to drop Ita back off at her job as a live in housekeeper.

I am also a big sister to a "little" brother and I have always taken my duty as a big sister pretty seriously. My job is to protect, provide, and support. I protected him from another big sister in the school playground, I would buy him a small gift every time I went out with friends, and have done my best to be a source of support. It also turns out that I am also a little sister....I have an older sister and brother from my father. My identity has been wrapped around my role as big sister....that only until now can I even admit that I am a little sister as well, but really I am big sister ;)

Other key facts that play into where I am from are my gender and education. I am a Latina....woman of Latino descent...spanish speaking....faithful to the Virgen de Guadalupe....dancing.....and complex. I was raised to be traditional but also given the freedom to break tradition. I was taught that education was the key to everything and that it was the one thing that could never be taken away. My father graduated from high school in Guatemala. My mother did not...she had to quit school to learn a trade to support her family. My Ita (paternal grandmother) had only been able to go to school for two years because she had to help provide for the family. I loved school and I was really good at it. I was not good at a lot of other things, especially sports, but school....I was great at it! So i flourished. So much so that I am the first in my family to have gone off to college and graduated. I also went on to earn my Masters degree and my Ph.D. So can call me Doctora!!

I know I have just scratched the surface, but I hope that you can see that asking me where I am from is actually quite complex. I am from a lot of physical spaces, dreams, pain, sacrifice, joy, determination, and resilience. So if I look at you with hesitation in my eyes when you ask me where I am patient...i am trying to package it all up nicely for you.