A Letter to My Husband

The meltdown came when I realized our relationship had pretty much been a permanent resident in the backseat of life until now. We had spent 13 years unknowingly breaking the rules of a successful marriage. We put our kids first. We let life get in the way. A quick Google search for ‘marriage after kids’ and I was convinced we were screwed. Hell, I could have ruined it all by myself based solely on what a crappy wife I’ve been.

To put things in perspective, here’s how our relationship started off:

  • Our wedding was 99 days after our first date.
  • We were 18 and 20.
  • Our first child was born almost 8 months to the day after our wedding.
  • We had our second child by the time we were 20 and 22.

To say the odds were against us from the beginning is an understatement…

It’s not that we have been unhappy. We have been an amazing team, getting through the craziness of life together. It’s the fact that we have never made a distinction between being a married couple and being parents. We literally just skipped right over the whole chapter where it’s just the two of you, getting to know one another as individuals.

B and I on our wedding day,  2001

B and I on our wedding day. We were just kids!

What brought things back into focus for me was writing this letter to my hubby. It helped remind me of all the reasons why we are going to be okay. Actually, more than okay – we are going to be awesome together.

Dear B,

Today marks the end of an era. It has taken us nearly thirteen years to write this first chapter of our lives together (a little longer than anticipated, but that’s okay), and it’s time to turn the page.

When we decided that our family was complete, I panicked. Obviously, you know this because you witnessed my craziness first hand.

I’ve spent all of these years trying to be the best mommy to our kids. I’ve been with them almost every day and night since the day they were born. This has been my job, my identity, my number one priority above everything else. I know that all of O’s firsts will be our last firsts to witness as parents. As they grow up, they’ll need me less…and differently than now.

This made me see our life through a different lens. We have never been husband and wife without also being mom and dad. It’s like those two things have been intertwined from the beginning for us. Our lives have revolved almost exclusively around raising our babies up to this point. As they get older, we will start to have time for the husband and wife part and I worried that we would suddenly find ourselves lost. What if our connection to each other is parenthood? So I panicked.

It wasn’t long though before I realized how dumb that was. We’ve totally got this.

You and I have been through so much. We literally grew up together. When I look back at all of the challenges we’ve overcome, I am comforted because I know we are stronger as a couple. There was that moment, you know the one, when we both considered walking away. But we didn’t. We weathered the storm together. I know it is our connection – our love for each other – that gets us through it all.

You are my very best friend, and you get me like no one else. You’ve loved me at my very worst, supported me no matter what, picked up the slack when I was too depressed to get out of bed, and forgiven me when you had every reason in the world not to. I love you more every single day and I am so very blessed to be your wife.

I can’t wait to see what adventures await us. Let’s do everything we have ever dreamed about together. It is going to be A-MAZING!

I love you, my love!

-L

I felt so much better, just being able to remember ‘us’. Our marriage is strong despite our kids coming first all of these years. I was able to see that even though we have been breaking the ‘rules’ from day one, we have been doing what works for us.

 

 

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The Lesson I Learned in 2014 – I Was So Wrong

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I can admit it. I was so super wrong about how our life would be with our third child, O, born in January of this year.

Sweet, blissful ignorance…

I thought it would be easier now that I’m older. I was 18 and 20 when I had the first two – so young and so dumb. Looking back, it’s a miracle they survived. I was so unaware of what could go wrong! I just didn’t think about it. I just learned as I went and luckily, they were both super easy, super healthy babies. Flash forward a full decade, and I’m thinking I’ve totally got this. I’ve done this twice before. M is 12 and E is 10. They’ll be able to help me out, which will really make it easier this time. If I could do it at 20 and still manage going to college, it’ll be a breeze now that I’m 30 and a stay at home mom! It’ll be fun…(famous last words, right?)

Before she was even born, my little O made it clear that things would never be the same. Everything I thought I knew about motherhood went right out the window the day we were told she would be born with a major heart defect.

Transposition of the Great Vessels.

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Let’s hear that one more time: Transposition of the Great Vessels, or TGA for short. Even the name is overwhelming. I am pretty sure the cardiologist was forced to repeat this news 10 times before I heard it. The world was on mute for those first moments. I could see her mouth moving, but there was literally no sound for me. It truly took a moment to hear what this doctor was telling me.

In order to survive, she would need to undergo a balloon atrial septostomy immediately after birth. This would create a hole in the atrial septum of her heart in order to allow oxygenated blood to reach her body. Then she would need open heart surgery – called an arterial switch – a few days later. They weren’t even sure if I would be able to hold her after delivery because she would have to be immediately transported from the delivery room at one hospital to the cardiac cath lab at the children’s hospital. OMFG…

We went into shock at that moment and we still haven’t fully recovered. The days following her birth are a blur. I’m not sure how we got through it. I have never known fear like the fear I felt on surgery day. For 2 days afterward, her chest was a huge, gaping hole and you could literally sit and watch her heart beating. Indescribable.

We lived in the NICU for a month (33 days to be exact) while she recovered. That period of time was traumatic for everyone and it still feels like some distant nightmare. Like it never really happened. We got through it with the help of amazing family and friends and she is totally healthy today, thank goodness.

Going home, I was a nervous wreck. She still had a huge chest wound that had extended our NICU stay because it somehow got infected with staph! We couldn’t hold her like a normal baby. We had to be gentle and she could not lay on her tummy at all. She wasn’t eating well yet. I was terrified of bringing this tiny, fragile little angel home. What if I don’t know what to do?

That month in the NICU had left me feeling powerless. Powerless as her mother unable to control what was happening to her, unable to take away the pain, unable to hold her and comfort her. I also felt powerless as a human being as I realized that sometimes really bad stuff happens and there is nothing you can do about it. I really struggled with this. I felt panicky, hyper vigilant, out of control…and completely powerless.

It didn’t take long for O to put everyone in their place! The fragile little heart baby from the NICU transformed into what we lovingly call Hurricane O

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She’s intense, demanding and stubborn as hell. Her voice is loud and she has a lot to say. She has no patience for incompetence. I am constantly being cussed at in baby babble. She never sleeps. Ever. She’s 6 months old and it was the best day ever when she slept for 4 hours straight one night. A normal nap is around 10 minutes. She wakes up refreshed and full of energy, ready to attack. I am O, hear me roar!

You know what though? I LOVE her craziness! I love her intensity and stubbornness, and how loud she is. She has been a fighter from the start and is a force to be reckoned with.

She is FIERCE.

This journey has challenged me in ways I never imagined. I’m exhausted. I also cherish every minute of it and I feel honored to be her mother.

This is O’s world now and we are just living in it.

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What was the biggest lesson you learned this year? I’d love to hear yours!

**This was previously published back in August, but as 2014 comes to an end, I’m reposting it. I think this was my most important lesson of this year. **

If you are enjoying the blog so far, please share with your friends! Your support is appreciated! Plus, the more the merrier, right?!

An Ending

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I just read a great post on mamapedia.com, written by Pete of Dadmissions, talking about couple-ness in parenthood.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with my hubby. I mean, what are we REALLY like as a couple when everything else – work, kids, etc. – is stripped away? It is so easy for the ins and outs, ups and downs of daily life to shift focus away from the really important stuff…like a marriage.

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Right before we got married. Just kids, right?!

My lack of focus on “us” became glaringly obvious to me once we decided that our family was complete. B had a vasectomy this past September and just like that, no more babies. The decision was made and the appointment was scheduled before we could have a second thought.

Then I was pummeled by a hailstorm of emotions. I kind of fell into an emotional funk, grieving all of the things I’ll never experience again – hearing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, seeing the first sonogram, feeling her kicks in my belly, meeting her for the first time, etc.

And what about my sweet little O? She was only 7 months old. I second guessed the decision for days, feeling guilty because O will not have a sibling close to her age. M and E are so much older than her and that sibling bond that comes with shared childhood experiences just isn’t there. She will probably be the only kid at home for a good chunk of her childhood. I cannot imagine my life without my baby brother, so it seemed so awful to deprive her of that.

I expected to feel and worry about these things.

But then all of these unexpected things came up! I realized at that moment that hubby and I have hardly spent time together just being a married couple. The fact that we would not be having any more babies opened up an entirely new realm of things for me to think about, plan for, and worry over.

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That one time we went out and got crazy in 2012. Let’s do that again!

What will we do with our time? What will we talk about if not of the babies or the bills or whatever? We are already on the quiet side, so what WILL we talk about? What kind of couple will we be when we have the time and the energy to actually BE a couple? What if we suddenly realize we don’t like each other?

EMOTIONAL FUNK I tell you.

Such a funk that it has taken me almost 3 months to get around to writing about the situation. Depressing, I know. It took a little longer to process than I had imagined, and I think this rambling stream of word vomit is just another step in the journey.

One thing that truly helped me sort out the tangled, matted mess of my thoughts and feelings was to write a letter to my husband. I started it the night before his appointment, and I’m just finishing it up. I will post it as a Part 2 (kind of) to this one.

I know this was a very long post, and I hope some of you can relate a little. I wanted to get some of the heavy stuff off my chest as 2014 comes to an end.

Starting anew always feels amazing! 😃

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Maybe getting back in shape can be one of our things!

If you are enjoying the blog so far, please share with your friends! Your support is appreciated! Plus, the more the merrier, right?!

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