Gliding through my undergraduate career, and I do mean gliding, everything was just as I had planned it would be. My long time boyfriend and I had recently become engaged, we purchased a brand new car, and we lived in a beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment that would be perfect for when we got married and started thinking babies. All was well in my Type A world.
For a while my perfect bubble continued. I worked part-time in both our local school system and a local community bank. We were saving money for our wedding and the planning was going great. I was even managing to make Dean’s List amidst all we had, going on.
As life goes, my bubble was soon burst. My fiance’s family refused to cooperate with any of the planning, never mind offering any financial assistance. Worse yet, my biological father’s family, whom I had always been very close to save for my father, refused to attend the wedding because they didn’t approve of the way I worded the wedding invitations. I was devastated to think that the grandparents I had spent countless weekends with wouldn’t be there on the most important day of my life, but alas, the choice was theirs, and while I didn’t have to agree with it, I had to learn to make peace with it and respect it. After the initial shock, the planning went on.
Our wedding was scheduled for March 17, 2007, the first weekend of my 2 week Spring Break. My fiance was working between 50 and 60 hours a week so the majority of the preparations fell on me (despite the fact that I was carrying a full course load at school, working two jobs myself, taking care of our home, and now planning the wedding; independently). I was lucky enough to have the help of my sister’s and my best friend; Thank God.
The wedding went off without a hitch. All of my Type A idiosyncrasies were carried out to perfection. I couldn’t have been happier. Without skipping a beat I soon switched gears to baby making. We had the room after all and I was just a few months shy of my degree. So we started trying. Within 3 months I was pregnant! My plan was unfolding exactly the way I had intended it to and before I knew it we would be the most perfect family of 3.
Before I knew it though, Mother Nature had bigger plans for me. I was stricken with hyperemesis gravidarum so severely that I was hospitalized for a week and put on bed rest for 2 weeks. Most of my professors were wonderful. I had always been a good student and I was keeping up with my work from home. Sadly, I did have the unpleasant experience of having a not-so-understanding professor. This particular professor was teaching a class I needed to graduate (commonly called a GER), and he simply wasn’t hearing anything I had to say about my condition. I actually had to escalate the situation to the Dean. Ultimately, I passed and all was well, but the anxiety that man caused me was beyond unnecessary. I was so sick I remember taking my final exam in an English class and having to grab the trash barrel and run out into the hall to vomit.
Soon Winter Break was upon us and we decided that due to my condition I would stop working and focus solely on school and getting ready for the baby; who we now knew was a boy named Jack! I spent Winter Break decorating the nursery, shopping, beginning to fill out Jack’s baby book, and attending my weekly doctor visits.
When Spring Semester started I breezed through. Granted I was huge and exhausted, but the crippling nausea and vomiting that had plagued me during my first trimester had finally begun to pass. For the second semester in a row, I made Dean’s List and was very proud of myself.
Over the Summer discovered I needed one credit in order to walk with my class in January. I decided to talk a Guided Study in Art History (my minor) under the guidance of one of my favorite professors. I figured a Guided Study would be ideal as my now very pregnant self was having a difficult time getting around. It worked out great too, because with English as my major and Art History as my minor, I decided I would write a thesis paper highlighting the symbolism in both English and Art History and there parallels. I finished the Guided Study with an A+ and was recommended for a research grant. As much as I would’ve loved to have taken the research grant, I was very pregnant and unable to commit to the project.
Soon Summer faded to Fall faded to Winter and I was getting bigger and more excited by the day.
My commencement ceremony was scheduled for an evening in late January. I wrestled with the idea of going and walking for quite some time. I was so obviously pregnant and a married woman. What business did I have walking with all of the young kids when I was obviously the “old lady” of the bunch? After a lot of careful consideration I decided I had as much right to walk across that stage as anyone else. My husband, parents’, grandparents’, siblings’, and friends’ who had supported me so unconditionally throughout both my pregnancy and undergraduate career deserved to see me walk across that stage. Further, I owed it to myself. My education meant so much to me and I was so proud of myself for completing my undergraduate degree that I just couldn’t fathom letting the occasion pass with no recognition. I’ll never forget standing in line waiting for my name to be called. In that moment I didn’t care how huge I was or how much older I may have looked than the other graduates (I was 23). Instead, my mind raced with the thought, “Oh My God, You Did It. You Actually Finished and This is Yours and Nobody Can Ever Take This Away From You.” When I heard my name, I proudly waddled my eight-month-pregnant self across the stage and I wouldn’t change it for the world!