In a few days, I will be full term, and this past week has been a bad one for me, both physically and emotionally.
I’ve been with K for 7 years, and with all honesty, its been difficult. I’ve always put the idea of marriage on a pedestal, especially since my parents are amazing role models, but you know what, its so much more than just two people in love. Its equal parts love, hard work, trust and commitment. Its making the decision every day to be a wife to your husband. Its not walking away even after you’ve hurt each other.
Its deciding to love even when you’ve been hurt. And its learning that, as cliched as it sounds, you can’t love someone else until you’ve learned to love yourself.
These past seven years, we’ve both done our share to hurt each other. We’ve taken each other for granted, said things to inflame each other, lashed out in unreasonable anger, lain silent on both ends of the bed fuming on so many nights. We’ve done things we immediately wished we hadn’t one second later, without a regard as to the consequences.
In the process, K and I, we’ve lost and found each other so many times. There have been moments when I have been so consumed with heartbreak that I have walked away, ready to leave it all behind. When I am full of doubt as to whether I made the right choice in marrying this man, and if I truly can see him as the father of my children and a partner for life.
But we stuck it out. I came back, he chose to stay, we both refused, at some level, to let go. Even when we didn’t behave like we loved each other, we desperately wanted to stay together.
At the five year mark, after so much struggling, we finally found our equilibrium. You know, hit our stride, figured it all out.
We’d decided that we would prioritize our marriage and each other over our careers, and focus on starting a family. We’d cut down on holidays with friends and take long, faraway ones together to start to know each other again. I’d cook, he’d clean. I’d wash the laundry, he’d do the ironing. And we would both give Benjy and our future children all the love we could give.
So the past year got so much better. I gave up the job that was personally fulfilling but basically in complete competition with my marriage, he gave up the “brother” holidays. He went to church with me, decided to go on a one-year RCIA course, became a Catholic and that made me so very very happy, that he had made such a big commitment for me and our future. Weekends were spent vegging out at home, or going out on brunch expeditions.
We started to enjoy each others’ company again, and to laugh. The tension slowly ebbed, replaced by a sense of contentment and general happiness. Meeting up less with friends didn’t feel like a huge sacrifice for me anymore, and rushing home from work for dinner became something K wanted to do, not resented.
And then we started to try for a baby. In a matter of months, our baby was on its way. At 10 weeks, God called our unborn child to be with him.
I was devastated, K worried about my wellbeing, but we both had faith that we would be called to be parents. We tried, and Baby S came along, exactly two years after we got married.
From the start, Baby S defied the odds. We made it through dengue together, through dangerous spotting – every month when we saw her heartbeat, that throbbing dot so full of life beating away defiantly on the screen, I would cry and thank God for keeping her safe.
The past nine months have been physically and emotionally difficult, but they have also filled an emptiness and a little space in my heart. Baby S has given me purpose and a joy for life, an overwhelming need to be a better person for this little miracle, and I have seen my capacity to love grow in a way I never thought possible.
Every time I worry about labour, I also know that no matter how terrible it will be, it will also all be worth it, if only to hold in my arms and kiss the soft downy head of my daughter, this angel I have done nothing to deserve.
And then two days ago, I found out about something that happened after we were married three years ago. Something I thought I already knew everything about but apparently had had the worst of it kept from me, for my own sanity.
In that moment, something in me just snapped. I wanted to scream myself hoarse. I lay in bed, swollen, tears running down my face as I struggled to find the words to say. It happened more than two years ago, I told myself, we’re good now, we’re happy.
But no, my heart was bitter with the pain of betrayal. I was overwhelmed with anger, acid burned at the back of my throat as toxic and caustic as what K had done to me. I put my hand to my belly to comfort the roiling kicks and squirms from Baby S, who I knew instinctively could sense the grief and turmoil churning at my insides. I found myself instinctively curling up in bed to hold the baby safe inside, head under the covers just to keep breathing.
Two days on, I am still here. I cannot bring myself to throw away what we have had for the past 7 years for a mistake that I had partially forgiven him for three years ago. I cannot live with myself with the knowledge that I did not give my Baby a chance to be loved by her Daddy, or for her Daddy to be given a chance to love her.
I could not live with myself knowing that I had not done everything within my limited power to make sure that my Baby is born to a happy, full, and complete family. And at this point, I am the only one who can make sure it happens for her.
And I cannot walk away already knowing how happy K and I can be and could be even more together, like in the past year. I look at him now and I see that his spirit is broken because he sees that I am breaking. He is bent with grief because he has caused me grief. Most of all, I see his sincerity when he tells me that he will go to the ends of the world to make sure that Sophie and I will never lack the love of a good husband and father.
This is not the same man who did those horrible things to me three years ago. Could I, knowing that he has made such a complete change, close the door on him and make it all for naught?
I know I will forgive, but I will not forget. Three years ago, when I made those vows, I never knew how difficult it would be to keep them, and how sacred a commitment it would be. Today, I do, and I also know that I want to keep them – these vows, and now our beautiful baby are two bonds that hold us so steadfastly together I sometimes do not know where I end and he begins and vice versa.
The journey is not going to get any easier. In fact, I am sure that it will be so much harder, but also so much more beautiful. And today I say that I refuse to let a mistake made three years ago ruin the happiness that is waiting for me, for K, for our little family. I choose to love, and I choose to love all of my husband with all his flaws and blessings, all his perfect imperfections, and I know he has chosen to do the same.
Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
And you, my little unborn daughter, you are the reason and you are more than a hundred times enough for me to find the strength to keep going and keep trying for our happily ever after.