For our first post in the Before & After Series, we talked to Carrie Sharpe of He Says, She Says. We were interested in finding out how a group of mothers saw their life before children and if that reality matched their life after children. I’m sure you’ll see that you’re not the only one who arrived at a giant wake up call. I knew I wasn’t alone so I’m glad to be able to share these stories with you. Here is Carrie’s experience in her own words…
For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up. I dreamed about it throughout my childhood and teenage years, so it was easy to choose my major in Political Science when I went off to college. Immediately after college, my husband, Ryan, and I packed up everything we owned and moved south to Tennessee from Michigan so I could attend my favorite law school. Having kids was never really part of my plan, and if we did have any, Ryan was going to be a stay-at-home-dad because I was planning a big important law career.
That was my plan. But as they say, “If you want God to get a good laugh, tell Him your plans.”
I did well enough in law school to earn a “Best Memorandum of Law” award, but I found myself not loving it like I thought I would. By the middle of my first year, Ryan and I started talking about having kids. All of our friends were having kids, and I found myself warming up to the idea. But as a law student, I was putting in 12-hour days (or more) on my studies, and I knew that a career as a lawyer would demand nothing less.
I knew I would not be able to be the kind of parent I wanted to be if I was a lawyer, so I dropped out of law school. Just like that, after thinking it through for only a couple weeks, I quit the one thing I always wanted to do.
Honestly, though, I’ve never looked back. I have never regretted that decision.
We immediately started trying to get pregnant. The next year-and-a-half was a very frustrating time for us, filled with disappointment as every month passed without a pregnancy. We wondered if we’d ever have a baby. We agonized over it. Finally, we did get pregnant, but unfortunately, we suffered a miscarriage and were both devastated. We wondered how God could bless us with a baby after trying for a year-and-a-half, only to take that baby away.
A few months later, we got pregnant with our daughter, Madison. A couple months after her birth, we decided to start trying for Baby #2 in case it would take as long to get pregnant as it did the first time around. It didn’t. It only took one try for me to become pregnant with our son, Maguire. He and Madison are only 13.5 months apart in age.
Didn’t see that one coming.
A few years later, our son, Maverick, came along two weeks before his due date. A “maverick” is someone who “blazes his own trail.” That could not be truer for our own Maverick. During his delivery at the hospital, he became distressed, and several emergency steps had to be taken. The doctor told me from across the room to take a “practice push,” and Maverick shot out in that one push. My husband, Ryan, caught him, while the doctor leaped across the room to assist. Apparently after previously having two babies, I did not need a “practice” push.
Most things after that are a blur. Maverick arrived two weeks before his due date because he was dying. He had contracted a rare life-threatening bacterial infection in-utero and needed to be sent by ambulance to a hospital in a town two hours away so he could receive specialized treatments. So I basically gave birth, took a quick shower, and left that hospital to follow our son to the next hospital.
After two days there, Maverick took a turn for the worse and needed to be transported again via ambulance to a Children’s Hospital four hours south. I will never forget watching that ambulance drive away with our son inside and wondering if he’d be alive or dead the next time I saw him.
Maverick spent weeks in the Children’s Hospital, where the neonatologists prepared us for the worst. They eventually ran out of options and treatments to try in their attempt to save his life. Those weeks felt like a million years as we stayed at a Ronald McDonald House each night and spent each day by Maverick’s side.
One day when we arrived at the hospital, the NICU nurse told us something unexplainable happened overnight, and Maverick was suddenly improving. He continued to get well. Miraculously, Maverick healed completely and was able to come home shortly after that. Today, Maverick is almost 12 years old and has no lasting after-effects from his experience.
I could never have predicted that!
I also could not have predicted our twin daughters, Marin and Moxie-Mae, who came along a few years later!
So for a girl who never wanted kids and saw herself becoming a high-powered attorney, it is crazy to think that now I have five children and run a communication business from home. Ryan and I started sharing our story of Maverick’s experience on stages across the United States and Canada, which is what led us to begin our “He says, She says” communication business. We’re passionate about helping people strengthen their relationships by improving their communication skills. We’ve been married almost 19 years now, and we firmly believe our marriage is so successful because we’ve developed excellent communication over the years. We love helping other people do the same.
I also homeschool our five kids. Never in a million years did I ever see myself doing that. When I was young, every homeschooled kid I knew had terrible social skills and was reclusive. It was probably a stereotype on my part, but I never considered homeschooling because of that. We decided to homeschool anyway, though, because it was the best option when we considered our busy travel schedules and desire to be close with our kids and build a tight-knit family structure. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it’s been a wonderful experience for our family. Despite my initial fears, our kids have good social skills because we’ve worked hard to teach them. I even created a video to help other parents teach their kids social skills. It’s available on our website. Who could have predicted that?
My life now is nothing like I imagined it would be.
I enjoy working with my communication clients. I love seeing them break through barriers and overcome communication challenges. I feel successful when I see someone’s marriage or relationship with their kids improve because of something I taught them or coached them on. When I share our story about Maverick’s experience, it is overwhelming (in a good way!) afterward when other parents share similar stories with me. All parents face unexpected challenges and circumstances, and that’s what binds us all together.
I have no idea where I’ll be in ten years. I don’t have a 5-year plan. Honestly, I’m not even sure what I’ll be doing next week. I can make plans, but ultimately I believe God decides my path. Wherever He leads, I’ll go. He has created an unexpectedly beautiful life for me so far, so I trust Him with whatever is to come… good, bad, or otherwise.
I look forward to the rest of this amazing, unpredictable journey.
Carrie Sharpe is a Communication Consultant and Speaker at He says, She says. She has been married to her husband, Ryan, for over eighteen years. They have five children, including twin daughters. During their marriage, they have experienced everything from financial strain to miscarriages to the life-threatening illness of their son, Maverick. Carrie describes that experience in her signature talk, “Trusting God With Our Maverick.”
Carrie believes that the foundation of every great relationship is great communication, so she loves to help other people strengthen their relationships by improving their communication skills. She coaches clients in pageant interview skills, public speaking, marriage communication, and inter-office communication.
Carrie earned her degree in Political Science and Psychology from Lake Superior State University. She homeschools their children full-time, and she runs her communication business from home. Carrie also has over twenty-five years of pageant experience– competing in them, judging them, emceeing them, and coaching contestants in interview skills. She writes articles about a variety of communication topics and has been published on Huffington Post. Carrie has spoken across the United States and Canada about marriage, relationships, and communication skills.