Wednesday, September 1, 2010


When I told people that John and I were going to have a baby, I was often told, “Your marriage will never be the same.” We were “warned” that we would never have a life again, that our sex would be nonexistent, that we would totally focus on our child and neglect one another. One acquaintance told me, “John needs to accept that he just won’t matter as much to you once the baby arrives.” Another woman actually said, “Oh, it’s a girl? You’re being replaced. She’ll be the lady in his life now.”

Now, I could have let all of this terrify me, imagining a lifetime in an unfulfilling marriage. However, I believe that in relationships—as in life—there are things beyond our control and there are things we can influence and decide for ourselves. Though I knew that having a child would change our marriage in many ways, I was determined that it would not be for the worse. Yes, I knew our “carefree” days were coming to an end, but that is why John and I waited eight years before trying to have a baby. We wanted that “us” time so that we’d be ready to give our time to our child unselfishly. And I knew that a baby would demand endless time and attention, but I made a vow to also find time to nurture our marriage so that Amelia could grow up in a happy home with parents who loved her AND loved each other.

I learned quickly, however, that no one wanted to hear my plan. Other parents would laugh or scoff at me and say, “Just wait—you’ll see.” I’m learning more and more that people project their unhappiness and frustrations on others. They try to predict how bad things will be for other people because deep down they hope it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Misery loves company, you know?

Throughout my pregnancy, though, there was one POSITIVE “prediction” I kept going back to, one that I’d actually heard a couple of years before. A friend of mine told me, “When you see him hold that baby for the first time, it will change the way you look at him forever.” I stored that away in the back of my mind, reminding myself to come back to it eventually and see if it’s true or if it was just her sentimentality speaking.

What I discovered is that it is true, or at least it was for me. The way I look at my husband, even the way I feel about him, forever changed the day A. was born. However, it didn’t just begin when I saw him hold our baby, though. It actually began before.

Throughout my pregnancy, people would frequently ask if we were excited (like I’d say no??). I would often reply, “Yes, we’re excited, though I think John is more excited than I am.” And thankfully, he was. I had a lot of anxiety about being pregnant and found the entire nine months to be quite stressful. I honestly believe it was John’s excitement that helped get me through it. He’s always been a sweet guy, but I began to see a tenderness in him I’d never seen before. Just watching him when he’d talk about Amelia would encourage me to stay positive. I laughed at him when he got his Droid and the first thing he downloaded was a contraction counter, but it made me happy that he was so eager to be part of her birth.

If you’ve read my baby story on my previous blog, then you know that I went into the hospital to have Amelia on a Monday morning and didn’t have her until Tuesday morning. Those 24 hours were exhausting and, at times, terrifying. But there was one constant throughout the entire ordeal of my labor and delivery—John.

John’s excitement didn’t wane during the 24 long hours we were at the hospital waiting for Amelia to arrive. It took the form of taking care of me. In the ten hours or so before the pitocin started my contractions, he made sure I was both comfortable and comforted. He never once complained or acted remotely annoyed when I asked him to (please) “get me this” or “bring me that.” He didn’t seem the least bit bored (though I know at times he must have been). They were our last moments together before adding to our little family, and he seemed to understand how important it was for him to be there with me, even if it meant just sitting in the room watching television.

Once my contractions started, John helped me through the pain and took turns with mom rubbing my back. Though I was in a lot of pain, it was comforting knowing that he was there close to me.

When I found out I would need the epidural that I’d so wanted to avoid, he assured me it was the only way and that everything would be okay. He promised me that it didn’t mean I was weak or had failed in any way.

And when I totally broke down from the pain, exhaustion and fear, he stood by my bed and did everything he could to keep me focused and calm while I cried and screamed. He’s honestly the one thing I remember during that terrible half hour. Whenever I’d open my eyes, he was there, saying my name quietly and holding my hand. Though he probably doesn’t think he was helping me, just knowing he was seeing me at my worst and staying beside me meant everything to me. I knew once I got to the other side of the pain, that once it was all over, he’d still be there.

Once I had the epidural, things got scary with the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure. I didn’t even know at the time how touch and go it was. However, being confined to the bed, temporarily paralyzed and hooked up to various monitors and an IV and oxygen made me feel trapped and anxious. I started shutting down emotionally. Everyone in the room was focused on my physical needs; no one seemed to notice my emotional state… except John. He saw me giving up and didn’t let me. I look back now and see those moments as proof of the connection we have and I thank God for sending me a man with whom I can have such a connection.
When the time arrived to push, John and my mom stood on either side of me to hold my legs and help me through the delivery. I had originally decided I wanted to deliver kneeling or squatting
because it was more natural and allowed gravity to take its course. However, there was a small part of me that also hoped it would prevent John from seeing what was “going on down there” during labor. I mean, c’mon… we all know it AIN’T pretty. Of course, I was unable to delivery in either position due to the epidural, so they cranked the table up into a sitting position and pushed my legs behind my ears (well, it felt that way.) John basically had a front row seat for the whole show. I thought I’d be self conscious, but by that point, I wasn’t. The last 24 hours had taken away any small lingering doubts I’d ever had about him or our relationship. I’ve hears of women insisting their husbands not look, but there was no way I was going to deprive him of watching Amelia be born. And I’m so thankful I did! Watching the expression on his face when
she started crowning was all the incentive I needed to keep pushing as hard as I could. He was grinning from ear to ear and about to burst from excitement. It made it even more exciting for me.
And then… she was here. Purple and crying and lying on my chest. It was the single most beautiful moment in my life. I honestly can’t remember exact details since I was both exhausted and totally high on life at the moment. What I do remember, though, is my baby and my husband. Watching him look at her. Him kissing my forehead. His total concentration when he cut the umbilical cord. I had never loved him more than I did at that moment.
After a few minutes, they cleaned her up, wrapped her up and handed her to him. Which brings me back to what my friend had told me about seeing him hold her. I don’t know if it was just seeing him hold our baby or if it was the culmination of everything we’d been through during the labor, but it did change the way I look at him. Watching him hold our baby girl so gently, so protectively, was a powerful moment. I said a silent prayer to God in my heart for giving our child such a loving father… and for giving me such a loving husband.

Some of you have seen the picture on my Facebook of John holding her. There is a large tear rolling down his cheek as he stares down at her. It is my very favorite picture and I know it will mean so much to Amelia someday.

That night, after everyone had left and we were finally alone, John crawled into my hospital bed with me and Amelia. I don't want to write about the details of our conversation, but it was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. As we lay there with our newborn daughter in the dark quiet of my room, I knew nothing would ever be as important to me as my husband and child. I fell in love all over again with my husband that night.

I look at him with new eyes now. Even now, a month later, I love to watch him hold our daughter. I love how he kisses her tiny hands and feet and how he quietly talks to her. I love the way he is so gentle yet so strong. Every time I see him hold her, I honestly fall in love just a little more (if that's even possible).

And for those who said I’d be “replaced”? I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as loved as I do right now. Having a child has brought us so much closer and has ushered in an even stronger intimacy between us. I guess I could attribute it to sharing a child and having a “common goal” or something, but it’s more than that. We have this little piece of us, this living proof of our love for one another, and we are so excited that we get to raise her together. “Mommy and Daddy” are our titles now, but they didn’t replace “Husband and Wife.” We are both and it is wonderful.

Today is our nine-year anniversary. I look back on our wedding day and marvel at how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown since then. My heart is full of joy and I have never been so content. I am so blessed to be married to a man who is the love of my life, my best friend, my confidante. He is the father of our beautiful baby girl and the protector of our family. He is my husband and my hero. And whether he’s holding our daughter or holding my hand, I am constantly thankful that God chose to cross our paths and bring us together nine years ago.

I love you, John.