In 2005, my husband and I made the decision to accept a job he'd been offered in the States. At the time, we were newly-weds living in the UK. Obviously this was going to have a major impact on our lives, although we didn't realize quite how much. Six years later, I look back at what that acceptance has meant to me personally and find it hard to believe that my first instinct was to say "No."
There are three very specific ways in which it changed our lives. The first one was that my husband's salary would be enough for us to live on (which was kind of a necessity if we were going to uproot ourselves for the sake of one income). Being free of any dependence on my salary meant that we could start a family and that I could be a stay at home mother. That last was something I always believed in very strongly until I became familiar with the actual logistics of parenting!
Accordingly, once we'd settled down into our new home and my husband had had his contract confirmed, we went off birth control and started not-preventing a baby. And as the months went by, we started trying, and then trying harder...
Secondly, I had to leave my own job as a secretary. I had never been particularly career-motivated, and because we were planning for a baby, I did not take finding a new job in the States entirely seriously, although I did want to be doing something other than twiddling my thumbs and counting the days between periods. More or less on a whim, I knocked on the door of the local Montessori School asking about secretarial work. The next thing I knew, I'd been talked into co-teaching the toddler class with another lady.
I hadn't had any dealings with small children for a good ten years--in fact, part of the reason I accepted was that I figured it would be good experience before I became a Mum myself. I had never heard of Montessori before. Yet while I was predictably nervous and incompetent at first, I realised early on that I loved it, and after a few months had gone by, I realised I was good at it. All my life, I'd had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. A few months before my thirtieth birthday (in 2007), I finally figured it out.
However, we were no closer to starting a family more than a year after we'd started trying. I knew that if twelve months of regular unprotected sex doesn't get you pregnant, you're considered infertile. I also knew that my periods had always been irregular, although I'd been burying my head in the sand against that fact. My cycles were getting longer and longer, and some online research was doing nothing to help me 'monitor' my fertility.
So I went to my doctor, suggesting that I might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (thank-you, Dr Google). She was dubious since I was thin and not overly hairy. She told me I should probably just relax (I managed not to throttle her) but had my blood tested anyway. The results came back indicating PCOS, and after discussing our options, she referred us to a fertility clinic.
This is where the third impact of my husband's job came into play. Our insurance covered fertility treatments. We didn't realise it at the time, but that is practically unheard of. So it was that when a few months of pills didn't work, we were able to progress to IVF without having to worry about our finances. And of course, because we had the option of doing multiple tries, we got pregnant first time and had our son in 2008.
I was sorry to leave my school, but I was given the option of working part-time and bringing my son with me. Honestly, I wasn't much more than a glorified cleaning lady at that point, but being able to carry on with something I loved without sacrificing my time with my son? That's definitely having my cake and eating it too.
I especially loved the fact that from six weeks old, my son was exposed to a Montessori environment. When he started school 'officially' in 2011, he settled in easily, and I had the advantage of knowing his teachers and routine intimately.
I had always wanted two children, so in 2010, we went back to the IVF drugs. One stimulation and one frozen cycle later, I was pregnant again. Our daughter was born in 2011, by which point I had left working at the school altogether, barring occasional helping out.
So here I am. A stay at home Mum of two children, a healthy boy and girl (plus cats and a husband!). I know exactly where my career track is going but I have the luxury of choosing when to start it up again. To all intents and purposes, my wishes have come true... Do I now find out the meaning behind the phrase "Be careful what you wish for"?
Not really. It's not all as rosy as I pictured it, and I complain far more than I have any right to. But usually I feel like it's all been too easy, and I'm deeply grateful for the twists of fate that brought me to this point. There's a superstitious side of me that's waiting for my luck to run out, but for now, I'm focused on this parenting thing with a twist of Montessori.