The past is supposed to make you who you
are in the present, right? As the sixth year of trying to conceive is coming up
in a few months, I have been thinking about the relationship I have had with my
husband and how our marriage has evolved. For instance, our first Valentine’s
Day as a couple occurred in 2005 and was complete with roses, a nice dinner at
a fancy restaurant and a stuffed teddy bear with a heart-shaped frame
holding a picture of the two of us. Yes, really.
This year, we celebrated the day of love by
bringing our foster puppy to the vet to be neutered, and then had a quick lunch
at a bakery before immediately going back to pick him up again. We had plans to
have wine and dessert leftover from the restaurant, but due to some surgical
complications from the pup, our Valentine’s Day was anything but romantic and
more like a trip to the after-hours emergency vet clinic and the Chick-fil-A drive-thru.
I promise, the point is not that we are
boring. OK, we are a little boring. And we have no money because we are doing
our fifth IVF transfer in a few weeks and need to save up. When I think about
that first Valentine’s, I think of the bear, the roses and dressing up to
go out to eat. Yes, we still go out to nice restaurants, and he still buys me
flowers. Back then I thought that this was what love was made up of.
We’ve had rocky moments. Our relationship was
tested several times, and we’ve endured some of the deepest hurts a marriage
could endure. There were times when the word "divorce" was uttered in the most
spectacular of fights. There were times, I admit, I thought about leaving him.
I mean, you throw two people together in an 800-square-foot apartment
and expect them get along all the time? Back early in our dating years and
early marriage, we were immature—we both fought each other for the right to say
“I told you so!” He took the passive route and wouldn’t bring things up because
he thought I would get mad, and I would holler at him because he took the
passive route and would never bring things up. (OK, we still do that.)
You take all that away, and all you are left with is two people who can face hell because it’s somewhere they’ve already been. They came out maybe a little scarred, maybe a bit worn and dirty, but still intact.
When infertility hit us square in the face
and forced us to undergo yet another obstacle in our marriage, we took a step
back and realized that for once, the problem was no longer pitting us against
each other. Instead, this was something we had to battle together. And since
hindsight is always 20/20, it hasn’t been until recently that I can reflect
back on these years, especially before IVF, as something we could only have
overcome because of all we have been through.
We have dealt with our share of pain. I
think back on that life-changing event early in our relationship, the first of
several tests we needed to overcome, and how choosing to forgive my husband and
moving forward was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. In other
words, we can survive infertility because we have been through worse. And I think
all those past hurts, challenges and leaps of faith have prepared us to face
something that not all couples can get through together. It means that if we
don’t end up having children, it’s OK, because we still can be with each other.
We don’t need stuffed animals, flowers,
candlelit dinners. You take all that away, and all you are left with is two
people who can face hell because it’s somewhere they’ve already been. They came
out maybe a little scarred, maybe a bit worn and dirty, but still intact—still
holding hands and still arguing over which brand of toilet paper to get. Had we
not gone through the trials we’ve had, I don’t think we could have faced
My husband loves "Doctor Who." There's a
quote from the show that's a favorite of his and he told me one time that he
thinks about us whenever he hears it: “But times change and so must
I. We all change, when you think about it, we are all different people all
through our lives and that’s OK, that’s good. You’ve got to keep moving so long
as you remember all the people that you used to be.”