I always wanted to be a mother.

I always imagined having two kids.

And now, on the verge of trying for the very first time to have a baby, I realize that my whole life has been leading to this moment.

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Growing up in the Soviet Union, things seemed simple. I would have a career—back then, I imagined becoming a dancer touring with Michael Jackson. Then I would find a husband. And then I would have babies.

But my family’s immigration to the United States in 1991 meant that my life took many more twists and turns.

I became an American girl and the entire world seemed open to me. I was incredibly motivated to understand the conflicts my family escaped from. I wanted to know why wars occurred and why we had to leave everything behind. More importantly, I had great ambition to succeed because my family and I were given a chance to start anew, and I wanted to make them proud.

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I majored in international relations in college, and, shortly thereafter I got my master’s degree in international security with a regional focus on Eurasia. Since finishing college and graduate school, I’ve had the honor of working on the key international security issues our country faces.

I achieved the American dream.

And I’m proud to say that I became a successful career woman.

But at the same time, my immigrant family’s culture reminded me that motherhood wasn’t just something I eventually wanted—it’s what was expected of me. I come from an Armenian and Russian family; making babies has been ingrained in me since I can remember.

I once made the dire mistake of sitting in the corner of the table during a family dinner when I was in high school. Several family members and friends yelled at me, because in ancient Russia it was usually the unmarried older women who took the corner seats. So then, according to the tradition, sitting in that seat meant that I wasn’t going to get married for seven years and procreate Armenian-Russian babies. They made it seem like a family tragedy.

Meanwhile, I mostly ignored them. For the past decade I’ve lived a great D.C. lifestyle. I figured I’d live in Washington my whole life.

Then, one December evening a few years ago, I swiped right on Tinder. A handsome man holding a koala was too much cuteness for me to handle.

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I went on a date with this handsome Navy guy, and the rest is history.

We were very lucky to get stationed in Hawaii. I’ve lived here since fall 2015 and have adapted very easily to the aloha life. I continue to work in the international security field, but with the beach in my line of sight.

Being a military wife is difficult because I don’t see my husband for months at a time—but the challenge has only made our relationship stronger. It’s also made me stronger, as I’ve realized how independent military wives have to be.

I know it’s a cliché, but when you marry your best friend and love of your life, things align naturally.

So many things in life are difficult. Love should be easy. You grow together. And one day you’re ready to start a family. At least, that’s how it unfolded for us.

So that is where we’re at now —on what I hope is the verge of parenthood.

Becoming an American girl was a journey. Becoming a woman was an experience.

Becoming a mother, I know, will be my greatest adventure yet.