Five years ago tomorrow, I said "I do" to the man I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
These last five years have not been easy. I never expected them to be perfect, but I certainly didn't expect to endure some of what we've been through - particularly everything that we experienced with trying to start a family. When I think back on some of what's happened to us over the last five years, sometimes I'm surprised we survived as well as we did with our sanity still intact. I know so many couples who didn't, and I can understand why. It's easy to see it when you're in it: all of the frustrations boil over until you both reach your breaking point. I get it, and I know that we are very lucky to not only have withstood the test of infertility, but to become parents on top of that. We beat so many of the evils that were out to get us.
Yet, it's interesting how, in the last (almost) eleven months since we've been parents, all of those difficult times have been pushed away. We of course remember how we got here: all of the disappointment, all of the blood, sweat, and tears we shed to become parents. But none of it matters now, because now we are focused on devoting ourselves to her. Those difficult moments with each other have been boxed away - placed in the back of the closet to collect dust and get tossed out with the next round of spring cleaning.
Not that parenting is easy on us or our relationship. It's not. Every day is a new challenge, and I suspect these challenges will only grow more difficult as K gets older and we begin to experience all of what the universe has prepared for our child. But looking back on these last five years now, the tough times aren't what I think about. I don't think about the heated discussions on fertility treatments or the times I snapped (sometimes yelling, sometimes crying) from my body being overrun with hormones. I don't think about the sleepless nights of wondering whether this was some kind of punishment for either of us, or whether we even deserved to be parents.
Instead, I remember the acts of love, big and small, that we showed each other during these tough times. I remember the flowers that Joey would bring home after every failed treatment. I remember the way he told me endlessly how much he would always love me, even if we couldn't have children. I remember how he waited on me hand and foot after both of my surgeries. I remember the way he held my hand in the airport as we realized our last cycle had failed and we'd reached the end of the road with treatments. I remember when we made the decision to adopt. When I asked him, "Do you want me to pregnant, or do you want us to be parents?"
And, of course, I remember the moments when we found out we would be parents. I remember the reaction in Joey's voice when I told him we were matched. I remember the nerves both of us felt meeting K's birth mother for the first time. I remember watching him hold K for the first time and realizing that this was the reason I'd married this man: because I could always imagine him in this moment, being such a wonderful father to our little girl. And he's doing just that. He's an amazing father, maybe even more amazing than I imagined he would be when we first started dating.
He's not perfect. He doesn't push in his chair at the dinner table. He tears off his toenails instead of using nail clippers. (Gross, right?) But dwelling on the tough times and the imperfections isn't what marriage is about. It's focusing on the good. It's remembering the past so that you don't make the same mistakes, but looking toward the future.
In many ways, I'd grateful for infertility and what it did to our marriage. It put us through the ringer, but in the end, we are better for it. Many other couples don't get along over finances or they can't agree on what neighborhood to move into. We dealt with decisions that not only affected our health, but our future as a family and our potential child's future. We adopted and now parent a child who was born with multiple health issues and who, so far, has beat all of the odds that were stacked against her. In a way, infertility was a blessing. It made me realize how good life could truly be, and how lucky I was to share this good life with an equally good man.
I love you, Joey. Happy five year anniversary, and here's to many, many more.