Note from Jen
Our “Becoming a Parent” Story
By Jen Paul Schroer
I’ve shared before with readers that I had my two kiddos a little later in life. Not by choice, but by circumstance. I got married in my early thirties, and we could not get pregnant for years. Infertility is tough to go through, and I had few friends that understood the emotional rollercoaster. I had one acquaintance that went through a similar experience and supported me as I did the taxing fertility treatments. But eventually, after years, I threw my hands in the air. Justin and I decided to accept that we would not have kids, and we committed to dream up a new vision for our marriage and future.
Late 2016, we planned to focus on our careers and international travel. It was exciting to dream and create a plan for this new reality. It lifted our spirits as we booked our travel. I bought a cute little sports car because why not. Justin accepted an incredible job offer that took us out to California. We signed a condo lease on the 14th floor in downtown Sacramento, so we could fully enjoy everything city living offered. We were planning our move from Rio Rancho to Sacramento when I suddenly got really, really sick.
I swore I was dying. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I felt like my stomach was turned inside out. I remember my head pounding as I wrapped myself in my fuzzy robe, crawled under the comforter, and called for Justin in the darkness. I told him there was something seriously wrong and to get me to the doctor. He calmly asked me a few questions and then recommended I take a pregnancy test. I can’t recall if I laughed or snapped at him, but I took the test knowing that a doctor would most likely ask me if I had ruled out pregnancy.
I put the pregnancy test on the counter and watched the testing windows. I waited and thought about all the decisions we had made over the last year—sports car, travel, moving, new job, downtown living. Our lives were committed (both financially and contractually) to this new direction. Two blue lines appeared clear as day. I sighed and crawled back under into the darkness.
Was I happy? Yes! Was I terrified? Yes! Was I completely confused about the change I was going through? Yessssss! I had just spent an entire year convincing myself that our future didn’t have children in it, and I was OK with it. We were moving to a city without any family or friends. I didn’t know how I would navigate and frankly make it through.
Late summer 2017, Justin and I packed our belongings. We moved to Sacramento. We started a new chapter, Justin at his new job and I continued with my Albuquerque job working remote. Seven months later, we welcomed Ryker to this world. We made new friends. We found great child care through Cultural Care au pairs. Just as Ryker turned nine months old, around Christmas 2018, I got offered my dream job back in New Mexico, which required me to start January 1, 2019, just a few days away.
Without hesitation, Justin said, “Go for it.” I looked at Ryker and he said, “Jen, I got this.” My eyes welled up because I knew that I would have to go back to New Mexico, first, alone. To make it work financially, we both had to have jobs so we would be apart for a while. I had to leave Ryker with his dad because we knew I would have unpredictable work hours for the first three months.
In the building’s parking garage, I stuffed as many clothes as possible into my little sports car. I went back up to the 14th floor to say my final goodbyes. I rocked Ryker and sang him a few songs. Even though my eyes poured and my heart broke, I knew I was leaving him in good hands. Justin was and is a strong partner. From day one, he fed and changed and cared for Ryker. Justin was more than capable of taking care of Ryker without me. But all the confidence in the world couldn’t stop my tears.
I left my baby boy with his father for three months. I saw them twice when they came out to visit. I cried alone a lot, but we made it through. We were all together in Santa Fe by the end of March. Justin got a great job. We found someone to sublease our downtown condo, releasing us from the financial burden. We found a “reasonably priced” home to rent in Santa Fe, and we started yet another chapter.
By May 2019, we felt settled. We reconnected with friends and family. Our jobs were going well. Just before Memorial Day Weekend, I suddenly felt really, really sick. That’s right, I was pregnant again, with Aviva. Needless to say, I sold the sports car and got something more practical.
This is my journey to motherhood. I feel beyond blessed to have two beautiful children and to live here in Santa Fe near family and friends. My motherhood journey did not start off easy, and we’ve had our fair share of challenges along the way. I am grateful that Justin loves being a dad and takes on many of the parenting duties. We work really hard on parenting together.
Tumbleweeds is as much my parent resource as I hope it is yours. This issue features a new special section, New Parent Survival Guide, and includes articles about new mothers’ mental health and baby-safe sleep. It also includes an article that particularly resonated with me about fatherhood, given Justin’s significant role in parenting, “It’s Time for the Dad Talk.” Additionally, there are articles on nature, getting outdoors with Scouting SBA, and more.
Empowering every family to be the best they can be, so New Mexico is the best place to be a kid is our mission. Justin and I appreciate the support from our readers, and the collaboration among our contributors, community partners and advertisers. Together, we continue to increase access to family resources and strengthen our community. Thank you for supporting every parents’ journey!