By Laura Erendira Baum, Senior Associate, Catalyst
Last year I wrote “Love Has No Race,” where I talked about my interracial relationship. This year, I’m happy to say that I’ve been married for 5 months now! While my marriage is still fresh, some family and friends have felt entitled to ask us when we’re starting a family. To some, that is the next chapter of life, and even though that is what my husband and I really want, it is causing a lot of internal stress.
You see, my mom immigrated to the U.S. as a young teenager and then met my dad, moved away from her parents, got pregnant and had me at 16. She dropped out of high school and by my age (29) she already had all 5 kids! She didn’t get to enjoy all the phases in her life as she had to grow up fast and, in a way, sacrificed her youth to be a stay-at-home mom. From the outside looking in, I appreciate all that she has done and I know it must have been hard. The rest of my Latino family members also had children at an early age, and they expect the same from us too. However, I am currently enjoying my time with Eric and our newest family member Maui – our 12-week-old puppy.
My family is split in terms of education – I have family members and friends that didn’t go on to college, are not married and have kids all while trying to make ends meet. It’s not that I hold myself to a higher standard, I just believe everything should be done when one is ready and financially stable. I love planning ahead, projecting my life’s next steps and I want to be capable of achieving everything I want which I have thus far.
Feeling the pressure and stress of trying to build a family has made us feel like we’re “failing at life.” So, for now, we’re trying to dodge the “when are you having kids” question and just say “we’re trying to enjoy our marriage.” It will happen when the time is right. People also don’t know what happens behind closed doors – our family and friends have no idea that I’ve been taking ovulation tests, searching for ways to get pregnant, or that I have been taking pregnancy tests every month since we got married. I’ve been on prenatal vitamins and we’re trying to build a family, but we do not like the pressure of it; It’s hard. I especially get discouraged and do not appreciate the pressure my mom and others put on me. If I cannot bear children, will this make me less of a woman? How will our families react if we choose to adopt? There’s a lot of unanswered questions but I know I can lean on my husband, Eric. He calms me and encourages me; everything will happen when it’s time. I am also very fortunate to have my friend, Jill, who got married a couple weeks after me and she is also going through this pregnancy journey with me. She’s been a great support system for me. We are in constant communication about all things pregnancy!
If you’re reading this, please be aware that not everything is easy. You have no idea what other people are going through mentally, physically and emotionally. Until the universe decides to make Eric and I parents, you will find us loving our little nugget of joy, Maui.