The Big Family House

In anticipation of having children, my husband and I got all our ducks in a row. Often without even necessarily meaning to. Our life was following this simple plan:

  • Step 1 – finish multiple university degrees, each. (You know, we have to be able to afford the future children)
  • Step 2 – buy the starter house.
  • Step 3 – get the dog.
  • Step 4 – buy the family house.
  • Step 5 – paint the bedrooms, including the nursery.
  • Step 6 – have 2 babies.
  • Step 7 – raise 2 babies into well-adjusted and responsible adults.
  • Step 8 – live happily ever after.

So, our whole life plan was predicated on our anticipation of having and raising children.

We anticipated having children.

We anticipated having children would be easy.

The plan went perfectly…until it didn’t.

We were wrong.

And here we are today with the big, empty house. A house that we love, in a community that we love, with neighbors we (mostly) love.

We worked hard to be able to afford our house. And we worked hard to turn our house into our home. A home that reflects us, and is filled with love and laughter. But, so far, the home is not filled with laughter from children. Our home is mostly a quite home (unless I’m cleaning, then the music usually gets turned up pretty loud so I can rock out). We mostly use the main floor, with the kitchen, my husband’s office and our main living room. The basement living room sits quite and mostly unused. As, we currently have no reason to build a playroom in the basement living room, we’ve slowly started to build a home gym instead.

Our house is filled with our things like beautiful pictures from our travels hung on the walls; trinkets picked up in different parts of the world on the shelves; and, camera gear in what should be a toy box. Yet, we would give anything to have brightly colored plastic toys littering the floor, pictures of our family hanging on our walls, and fun finger painted pictures hung on our fridge. So, for now, we are making the best of what we have, and ensuring we love our home and we have created a beautiful adult focused home in the absence of children.

We have 4 bedrooms in our home – that were envisioned to eventually include 1 master bedroom, 2 kid rooms and one guest-room. When we moved in, we got right into painting the upstairs rooms – the master, and the 2 kid rooms. As for paint colors, we compromised on our room, and each picked a color for the 2 kids rooms.  And, we turned one of them into a guest room for the time being since we had an extra bed. So, we have 1 master bedroom, 2 guest-rooms, and 1 nursery room. With the intent of turning the upstairs guest-room into a kid room for our first child when the second one came along. (Look, at us, with all our good planning…)

But, this of course since we are still waiting/working on the producing the first living child this means, we are faced with an empty room. An empty room that we painted in the perfect color for a nursery, and nothing else (in my humble opinion, no-one would choose the color we did for anything but a nursery and/or a little kid room). So, now we have an empty nursery without a baby.

20140729 - The Big Family House

We have to walk past that room to get into our bedroom – the design of our home means there is literally no option but to walk past it. This means no matter what, at a minimum, I walk past the room 2 times a day. We’ve lived here for over 2 years now, which means I have walked past that room a minimum of 730 times. And of course that is just a minimum, because I can promise you that some days I have walked in and out of my bedroom multiple times as I run back upstairs to put on make-up, do my hair, change my outfit, etc.

Since we are forced with a daily encounter, the room is now a constant reminder.  Now we keep the door closed. The room has no purpose for us now except to be a reminder of what we hoped for, and what we may or may not ever achieve. And at the same time, it is a reminder of our lost 5, the 5 who were supposed to start there lives in that room. It is a reminder of so many things.

It has been suggested that we repurpose the room, or at least repaint in the short term. But, so far that’s isn’t an option for us. First, because we have a big house, and we truly cannot think of an alternate use for the room. I kid you not, we have no idea what to put into that room (pun not intended, although rather fitting). Second, even if we did have an alternate use for the room, for me, painting it and changing would signify that we have given up. And, as of today, we have not given up hope, not yet at least. So for now, the room stays. The room will continue to be both a reminder of what we have endured and a reminder of what we continue to hope for.

In addition to changing the room, it has even been suggested that we sell the house, and leave behind our giant reminder. But, this too, is not an option right now. First, we spent a lot of money on this house, and it would make no financial sense to move right now.  As the ever pragmatic and practical people that we are, we would never make such an important decision based on an emotional response. Second, we just aren’t ready to call this adventure done and give up home.

If we end this journey without a child(ren) then the room may change. We may paint it. Or, heck, we might even sell the house! But for regardless of how this adventure ends, our house is our home with or without kids because it is what we choose to make of it.  And, I know for certain, we will always choose to fill our house with laughter and love.

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26 Comments on “The Big Family House

  1. We have a 4 bedroom house as well. For now, the 2 spare bedrooms are “guest rooms” and 1 is my home office. We even painted the one “guest room” a neutral baby colour. One day my friend…. one day.

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    • Thanks for sharing. I wanted to paint our baby room a neutral baby colour, but my husband was all about picking a fun color. Oh, what fun we had when we were so naive about baby-making. But as you said, maybe one day. 🙂

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  2. Ours is a three bedroom. I turned the nursery into my writing nook and the second became the guest room.

    But I would gladly give up my nook, if…..well, you know.

    Hugs,
    Dani

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    • We’ve talked about changing it into a writing space for me, but I’m just not ready to do it, at least not yet. Who knows, maybe one day that’s what it will turn into.

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  3. Sigh… I sense the sorrow in all of your cerebrally and heartfully crafted equilibrium. I *love* the colour of The Room, in part because that is almost the exact same colour we chose to have our painter use for our little one’s first bedroom (though he never slept in it – we moved shortly after his birth and I had him in a basinette beside me the whole time). One of the extra rooms in our current house (formerly a kid room painted by the former owners) is this shade of green on one wall and a very child-friendly blue on another two walls (the fourth is mostly mirrored doors on a built-in wardrobe). That room haunts me – the room for the second kid we may never have. I kept the door closed, too, until I started sleeping in there as we were leading up to our first IVF cycle and I had to wean the night-nursing-only miracle toddler. That has softened the edges of the reminder for me, even though that IVF cycle (and the next one) led to more lost babies. When we bought this house, I was so hopeful, like you and your husband when you bought your current home, and the blue-green room (as I call it) was a really happy place for me, a room in which I envisioned the miracle toddler spending time after old enough to migrate downstairs, away from mom and dad.

    There is so much emotion infused in all of the reminders, isn’t there? My heart is a little heavy reading your post, for you and your husband and for me and mine, but I admire that throughout it all that equilibrium shines through and you can end on a positive note. On days you can’t however, please know we understand and would never expect otherwise.

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    • Thanks for such a heartfelt response to this one. I appreciate you noticing the positive end to this one, because I felt it so important to explain why we cannot change the room yet (i.e. hope) and if we do change it it signifies a loss of hope. There are definitely days where I am not positive, or not hopeful, but I work really hard to hold onto our hope, because I think once that’s gone then so it a future with kids. (I firmly believe we may end up without kids, but so long as we are trying I have to focus on the hope, otherwise there is just no point).
      I also have to agree with you that that there is so much emotion infused into all of our reminders, whatever they may be. And there are heavy moments, where if we let it, grief will take over.
      Oh, and I love that you call the room the blue-green room. We have never actually referred to the room as the nursery, instead we call the room the “skittles” room because when my husband and I were painting it I told him it looked like the yellow and green skittles threw up on the wall! (He clearly chose the color for this room, I picked the color for the other room – a soothing blue). Anyways, 2 years later, the color has grown on me. 🙂

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      • I am in the exact same place about making changes that will signify, for me, giving up for good. Right now it isn’t paint or moving homes. It’s the decision of when to take all of the baby clothes and “stuff” to the consignment shop. That will only happen when I am truly ‘done’.

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  4. I Know too well how this feels. I actually had the entire nursery set up in preparation for Holdon coming home, but he never did. I had that room set up for years, but eventually packed it all away when we moved into our new house last year. (If you’re interested, you can read the post here:http://myhopejar.com/2013/11/06/i-would-die-for-that/). The would be nursery in our new house has become a dumping ground for storage I’m too lazy to put up in the attic (very few houses have basements in SoCal because of earthquakes and ours is one without one :(). Now, I’m in the process of cleaning that room out to get ready to start thinking about setting up the nursery. Cleaning out the room is not a big deal, but setting it up as a nursery terrifies me. I’m really nervous to unpack all that stuff and set it up again and still wonder if we’ll ever actually have a take home baby to put in it, but we’re getting closer then I honestly thought we’d get to it being a possibility.

    So, I say keep the room as it is! And I don’t think anyone should pressure you to move or even change that room. That room represents a dream that I don’t think you should give up on just yet. You worked hard for your house and you deserve to have everything in it you want. And I still have so much hope you’ll have use for that room. Hopefully soon!

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    • We’ve never bought anything for the nursery. Our first miscarriage happened so quickly that we didn’t get around to it, and ever since we’ve just been on high alert, so we haven’t bought anything. We’ve been too afraid of ending up with a nursery without a baby. I honestly, have no idea how you managed to get through that after losing Holdon. I’m pretty sure I would have made my parents or someone else do it for me. Anyways, I will definitely check out your post.
      Now, my husband and I joke that if we ever actually get a healthy pregnancy, we will be too worried to start putting together the nursery. We’ve even joked that someone had better visit us at the hospital with a car seat as a gift so that we can take the baby home, because we wont be buying anything until the baby arrives and is healthy. Oh, the joys of what RPL does to a would be parent!
      And, you are exactly right, so long as we have hope, the room stays as it is. 🙂

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      • 🙂 The only thing I’ve bought for the baby so far is a little stuffed elephant that I found at maternity store and couldn’t resist getting because it was so cute. I just reread my post too and it made me tear up remembering where I was back then. It really is amazing to me that things are so different now. So yes, don’t lose that hope hon, it can all change in just one cycle. Hugs!

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  5. I just can’t get over how positive you are 🙂 I think we would be best friends if you lived next door because I think like you…don’t sell the house, don’t paint it a different color…don’t do anything but start filling it with a crib, changing table, and a rocking chair. I’m being completely serious. And then every single day, sit in the rocking chair and visualize yourself holding your baby and singing them lullabies. There is a woman who goes to my church and she struggled for YEARS. She even adopted children because she couldn’t seem to have her own but one day she decided to take her extra room and put a rocking chair in it. She would sit in it throughout the day and pretend to rock the baby she had envisioned in her head and she would sing songs, pray, and hum. She is now not only the proud mother of several adopted children, but also of a 23 year old son who she gave birth to herself. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Keep pressing on. I have a five bedroom home and I’m believing that every room will be put to good use 🙂

    love ya! xo

    waitingforbabybird.com

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  6. I too, like so many others, have this experience. Everytime we made a purchase, our friends and family would always tells us “Remember, kids are around the corner, you have to start thinking ‘family smart;”. So we bought a house in the Burbs, with a big back yard and big trees the kids could play on. We choose the good school district (expensive as hell on our Taxes too). We choose the Sudan, rather than the Truck or smartcar. We prepped our entire lives, with the idea of “the kids” in mind. And now… we have a big car, with a big yard, and two empty rooms. I can’t help but feel anger for everyone who assumed with us, that we would have children. Even now, I will post something on Facebook about car reviews (I want a Prius now) and I have friends who tell me “Not a good family car, it would be too difficult to fit car seats in there”. Infertility is/was one of the most depressing things I have ever gone though… because people who should be having children, were having litters at a time, and those who were thoroughly prepared, couldn’t. It was beyond our control, not matter how well the house was put together, in the good neighborhood, in the suburbs. it was painful, and to be honest, still is. But it’s not to late to write your happy ending. I wish and cross my fingers for you, that you will be able to put that nursery to use for the purpose you initially wanted, but i hope you know that your life will be beautiful, fun, inspirational and full of worth, even if it is just the two of you.

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    • Oh, I totally get the family based decisions. I used to have a Honda civic coup (2 door), and we got rid of it as we prepared for kids. Looking back it was rather stupid of us (although I do love my Subaru so I shouldn’t really complain too much). But, that’s just another example because all of our major decisions have been predicated around future kids. But, like everyone, we were naive enough to believe we would get children easily.
      Also, thank you for your kind words of support and encouragement. I too hope that we get to put that room to use as a nursery, but I know the statistics are against us and it just might not be our reality. And, I know, once the initial hurt is over, we will make the most of a childfree life, is that’s where we end up. Thank you again.

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  7. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. We have a ‘spare’ room too. It’s mostly used for laundry. One of these days, hopefully, we’ll be able to use it for its intended purpose. Good luck to you.

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  8. I loved reading this post because I could have written it myself! What particularly stings is when people with children come to our house and comment on how adult and neat it is…. As if we choose for it to be this way. I smile and make some sort of gracious comment but I really want to shout and scream and have a toddler like meltdown.

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