These past 7 years of trying to build a family have certainly put our marriage to the test. Some tests were easy to pass with flying colors while others dragged us into some very dark and quiet nights. We have laughed so hard that we cried during some very awkward tests and treatments. We have also cried so hard that we ended up laughing, most likely from falling off the verge of sanity in the deep gutters of grief. There have been days, weeks and months that we have felt completely in sync with our journey and emotions. Those are the times we feel like the rock stars of infertility. Then, usually very gradually, our emotions take different paths and we find ourselves on complete opposite sides of the grid.
I’ve been blessed with a very sensitive man for a husband. He never shies away from my tears or his own. He knows when to come close and when to offer space. He is rarely offended when my hormones are quite offensive. He is extremely helpful in every way possible, always attempting to lighten my burden whatever it may be. The truth is, even with knowing perfection is impossible, I still think he’s pretty close.
This pregnancy has been a constant series of tests on our marriage. In the beginning we were on the exact same page. We were both afraid of optimism, we were afraid to hope and always waiting for the other shoe to drop. We understood the mutual doubt and constant fear that we both carried every second of every moment of every day. We bathed in the same river of denial. But somewhere through the passing weeks, things shifted. The winter months were long, tiring and monotonous. The only thing that brought me comfort was routine. Most of that routine became a solo act even if unintentional. He never complained but I could see the distance. I was constantly terrified while he was struggling with a constant feeling of gloom. Neither of us had the energy to do much about it for one another, so we carried on. Still very much there for one another and this baby, just on two different sides of the road.
When I hit 28 weeks, I fell into a 3 week depressive state that hit me like a ton of bricks. There were many tears, extra naps and early nights. I couldn’t shake this sadness and I couldn’t pinpoint it either. I missed my son so much and felt a sense of guilt for embracing my daughter now that she was surviving longer than he did. It felt wrong to celebrate this milestone that seemed to make everyone else so happy. I didn’t share this with him although he could see the change from fear to sadness take place. He would crawl into bed with me, hold my hand as I cried and sit in silence with me. He knew this was something I had to work through without extra advice. Then at 32 weeks, he had to help me out of a breastfeeding class as I completely broke down in front of the class and left hyperventilating. I cried for 2 hours straight and he sat with me and held my hand the entire time. No words. He knew I needed to get through that day with nothing but a soft blanket, box of tissues and his understanding presence.
It wasn’t until 33 weeks that he broke the silence of his own emotions and shared with me that he has been feeling guilty for feeling confident in this pregnancy. In that moment I realized that my constant fear was hindering his ability to embrace this baby the way he wanted to. And I had been doing the same thing to myself. It was another night filled with many tears and tissues but I’m glad for it. The next day, I found my way into the nursery which looked like a storage unit and little by little began to sort through things. He quietly joined in and we spent the entire weekend re-creating this space into a place for our baby girl. We sorted through lots of pink dresses, opened gifts that have sat in bags, laughed as our dog stole one of her new toys and claimed it as her own, and cried when we stood staring at our son’s clothes hanging in the closet over two years after his death. When more laughter was needed, of course he put a diaper on our dog and we watched her waddle around in confusion. We kept the nautical theme and added some girly seahorses and mermaids. We decided to use all of the same furniture and baby items that we had received for Jake. And it’s perfect because I can feel both of them in there. I have been so afraid to set up her nursery for so many reasons, one of them being that I was afraid I would not be able to feel Jake’s presence in there any longer. That’s not how it feels at all. Although it feels like her space, it carries this immense feeling of protection and love that can only be given from above. We proudly created a special space to honor him as well.
Conquering this big milestone opened the doors for more hope for me. I ordered everything on my registry (the one I never shared with anyone) and washed all of her clothes and blankets throughout the week. After about six loads my husband asked me if I was tired of baby laundry yet. I shook my head no. These tiny onsies and miniature leggings make my heart want to explode. Placing them into her drawers freed my heart to expect a future for her. This doesn’t mean that fear did not exist in the process. I often had to talk myself into opening packages and taking tags off of things. I had to breathe through the anxiety many times. Watching my husband put together a sleeper for her the other night almost made me lose my mind but he looked so proud and accomplished. He was finally able to prepare for his baby girl. I no longer want to get in the way of that bond he is forming.
It’s not about how much fear exists, but more so about how we let it go and let God do His job.
I have two non-stress per week so my husband can’t attend each one but on the few he has been able to join us at our baby girl’s heart rate is much faster than normal. Her heart also beats with excitement when he is around. She is bound to be a Daddy’s girl and I can see exactly why.
He makes me hope. He helps me to trust. He makes me believe. And because of that, he makes me fall in love with him over and over again.
Bret, I couldn’t do any of this without you. You are my saving grace on this messy, beautiful ride. Thank you for loving us the way you do.