by Cara Essick Ontiveros
Growing up, I had a very specific idea of how my life was going to play out, my very own personal road map. I was NEVER going to get married and having a child was iffy at best. I was going to become a super-successful advertising executive in NYC working for a top firm, such as Omnicom or BBDO. I was going to live in a spacious apartment in Manhattan and have an equally successful network of friends and colleagues. We would meet regularly after work to discuss politics, traveling and current events while indulging in a few glasses of California red. That was the plan. It was simple and obtainable and it was mine.
So, fast-forward several years later and my plan had completely taken an alternative route (this was a bit unsettling for a control freak like me). The biggest and most shocking detour was that I got married! I was still living in Grand Rapids and I worked for a broadcasting company, not the ad agency I had envisioned. I was batting zero for three here on my original pre-planned life. Apparently, the big guy upstairs had a different road map for me to follow.
After a few years of marriage, the inevitable “when are we going to have kids” conversation came into play. Everyone we knew was starting to have a family and my husband and I were both open and willing to an “expansion plan.” But, I have to admit, being a D.I.N.K. (dual income no kids) household did offer many positives such as sleep, disposable income, and freedom. But none of those were good enough reasons to NOT have children. My maternal clock was a’tickin’ and it was tickin’ louder and louder by the day. Operation “expansion plan” was underway and I was ready. But my plan went awry. This is how it went…
Step 1: We made the decision to have a baby! Exciting? Yes! Scary? Beyond terrifying!
Step 2: I planned out when I wanted to get pregnant based on the season in which I did not want to be pregnant during the last trimester.
Step 3: I told my BFF, Erica, that we were “trying” and we both cried and squealed with delight!
Step 4: Erica and I tried to figure out my ovulation schedule so I knew the exact days that I would be “ready.”
Step 5: …Um, yeah… you know what happens here.
Step 6: I bought an E.P.T. pregnancy test, because let’s be honest here, they can give you results a few days faster than many other tests. When you are on a mission to have a baby you need answers like it was yesterday.
Step 7: The test was negative? Seriously?!
Step 8: Repeat step 6 for a solid week until the negative changed to a positive.
Step 9: Repeat Step 5 until we get
What we didn’t consider when we made the decision to have a baby was that it might not happen right away. That thought never entered my mind because I had made a very structured plan to control every aspect of my pregnancy. Becoming pregnant was effortless for so many of our friends that I assumed it would be the same of us. After a few months passed, Step 7 was still a dissapointment for us. Months turned into years and while I would like to tell you that I was not totally freaking out, that’s a lie. I was OBSESSED with ovulation schedules and pregnancy books. Becoming pregnant turned into a full time job. With every friend that called to tell me her exciting news of an upcoming joyful arrival, a little part of me was jealous and sad. I had begun to lose hope for being able to have a biological child of my own.
In November 2005 my OB doctor sat me down and told me that we would begin testing and would “get to the bottom of this.” She encouraged me to simply enjoy the holidays and try not to think about our struggle for the time being. Waiting and not knowing was most certainly NOT part of my plan.
The holidays came and went and on January 1, 2006 I took a pregnancy test. This is how it went…
Step 1 – Step 6: Been there, done that.
Step 7: Positive. Yeah! I may pass out.
Step 8: Immediately head to Walgreens and spend $137 on pregnancy tests, including but not limited to, E.P.T., Clearblue Easy and First Response.
Step 9: Cry for joy. Literally. Now, this definitely felt like part of my plan.
On August 26, we welcomed our gorgeous daughter, Olivia Claire into our family. I was IN LOVE. I learned in one nano-second that it didn’t matter that things for the past two years didn’t go according to my delusional plan. What mattered was we had a beautiful, healthy baby and that she made everything a-okay. I loved the time I spent with her. I loved making her laugh and watching her sleep. I loved being a mom and I was good at it. She was a pure joy and we felt blessed and fulfilled.
One day, shortly after I had gone back to work, I started to feel a tad “odd.” I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was not right. I called Erica to complain about how tired and spacey I was feeling and she said four hilarious words to me, “Are you pregnant again?”
“You’re kidding, right? It took me two years to have one kid, there is no way,” I told her. “Plus, we aren’t planning on another child for a few years and we only recently got the green light from the doctor to um….well…..you know. It can’t be possible.”
But once again my plan didn’t go accordingly. Let’s just fast forward to Step 7, shall we? This is exactly how it went…
Step 7: Positive. Did I just pass out?
Step 8: Call OB doctor in a panic. “Hi, I just took a pregnancy test and it’s positive and I am freaking out because I just had a baby like 12 weeks ago and I am wondering if I possibly have some leftover hormones hanging around that would create a false positive. That happens, right?”
Step 9: Welcome our gorgeous daughter, Brooklyn, into the world nine months later. And for those of you that are not great in math, this means that my children are 12 months apart.
So, I guess what I’ve learned on my journey to adulthood, marriage and motherhood is that I can’t always plan everything out. And, as much as I would like to be in control, many things, especially when it comes to raising children, are out of my control. My life-plan didn’t go as I had originally thought, but let’s be honest here, whose ever does? While I may have never gotten my high-powered job, cool apartment and wine filled nights in NYC, I sure made out way ahead of the game. My would-have-been wine nights in the city are now family movie nights, where the drink of choice is root beer. My cool Manhattan apartment is now a house in the suburbs filled with family photos and the coolest refrigerator artwork you’ve ever seen. My days are filled with countless hugs, smiles and a constant reminder from two beautiful girls that sometimes the best things in life are unplanned miracles that come 12 months apart.
Cara Essick Ontiveros is the mom to 4-year old Brooklyn and 5-year old Olivia. Cara is a true modern day mom and proudly wears many hats such as mom, wife, business owner, philanthropist, cook, maid, chauffeur, and wine-drinker.