I had this awful habit of taking pregnancy tests so I would get my period. I would be late and then rush out to buy a test just so it would come. It was like my body couldn't cycle through unless I knew for sure I wasn't pregnant.
That was the case on December 8, 2008. I was sitting in disappointment over still not being pregnant after receiving a phone call only days before from my best friend, announcing that she was expecting her first baby. We felt like we were the last of the couples we knew who had not yet conceived. That night I was hormonal and tired and late once again. I took a pregnancy test thinking I would see the all-too familiar negative line, sealing my fate. I would never be a mommy.
Instead, for the first time in my life, I saw a plus sign staring back at me. The day I had hoped and prayed for was here. I was pregnant. I was going to be a mom.
Todd worked late that night and by the time he had come home, I had already run to the store to find something to share the news with him in a special way. I found a Christmasy onesie that looked like a present. It read "Mom and Dad's best gift ever!" I folded it with the pregnancy test inside and put it in a bag for him to open. When the test fell out of the onesie, he saw the news. That beautiful positive sign that we had so ached to see. "Is this you?" He stared at me in disbelief. "Yes, baby. It's me. It's us. It's finally our time."
We both cried. He hugged me, trembling with fear and excitement over what this meant. For him, for me, for us.
Our little boy was delivered by c-section. He had a minor complication that landed him in the NICU for a few days after he was born in July of 2009. His birth was long awaited and full of much rejoicing. Yet with it came with disappointment and heartbreak as it hadn't looked the way that I had hoped for it to. My c-section left me in immense pain, and just trying to walk was excruciating. More than that, I was an emotional wreck still not having yet held my own baby boy in my arms.
The night I was moved into a different room, I had to use the bathroom for the first time. Everything hurt and there was no way I could do my business without Todd's help. As he got me situated, I began to sob. "Was this what you imagined this would be like?" "Is this what you thought was going to happen when you were dating me?!"
I felt exposed, disgusting and gross. I couldn't understand how he could love me enough to do this.
As I sat there on a toilet (A TOILET!), he knelt down in front of me, and cupped my face "Yes. Yes, this is what I imagined when I was dating you. I want to share life with you - all of it. Even these messy parts. This isn't too much for me. I am here for you in this Jennifer."
That was the night I realized how deep his love ran for me. That was the night, one day after the birth of our son, that our love began to really take root.
The journey to becoming parents felt redeeming for us in many ways. It felt like it healed places that were caused by our rocky first year. Struggling some with infertility gave us something to lean on each other for in ways that brought us closer together. Honestly, I wouldn't change that part of our love story for the world. It was a beautiful thing we did together. I was honored to struggle and cry, wait and hope, alongside this man.
Being a mom has been the most humbling experience I have ever known. Tommy lights up our life. His laughter, his wildness, his constant invitations to play, how he lives so alive and vibrantly at this age - all of that makes us want to be more than we are.
His birth created yet another shift in our marriage though. It's interesting how being a parent makes life more rich and full. It's been one of our greatest joys. It's thrilling and rewarding. And yet it wears on us and brings us down at times too. It drains our bank account and our energy and our patience. It takes a toll on how we are able to show up for one another. And inevitably, parenthood seems to come with plenty of opportunities for conflict.
The older Tommy gets, the more I'm curious about what he observes. What does he see Todd and I modeling for him about relationship and marriage and love? What do I want him to learn? What did we learn watching our parents and their marriages? How has that impacted us and how we've been doing life together? What needs to change?
Those questions feel hard to look at. And they are questions that need answers.
Marriage is like that. It makes us question things. It keeps coming again and again, with hard questions.