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Seven years ago, I stood face-to-face with my soon-to-be husband, in heels way too tall from what I was used to, grasping his hand (partly for balance) and held back the tears as he spoke his vows to me into the microphone. He vowed to take me for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part. We placed the rings on each other, kissed and then spent the rest of the night eating, mingling and dancing the Cha Cha Slide. In the weeks to come, I would randomly exclaim to him over dinner about how much fun our wedding was. We received our pictures, and I changed my last name on Facebook.
We started trying for a baby about a year into our marriage. It wasn't until three years later that we came to the realization that our relationship was being tested, both emotionally and physically. We spent many evenings biting back retorts at each other as we started caving under the intense pressure of fertility treatments. Our physical intimacy was dictated by doctors' orders and cycle protocols.
Our wedding is one of the happiest memories we have as a couple. But I don't think we honestly had a clue what our vows really meant when we faced each other seven years ago.
When he took me for better for worse, I wish he would have known that meant seeing me broken and defeated after each and every failed cycle. I wish I could have warned him that we'd say things to each other that we didn't mean, because the stress of trying to have a baby can change a person until you hardly recognize them.
When he took me in sickness and in health, I wonder if he would ever have thought the thin bride gazing up at him would gain forty pounds from multiple rounds of fertility drugs.
When he took me for richer for poorer, I wish he would have known how much we'd struggle financially over IVF treatments. I wish we could have predicted the sleepless nights spent worrying about the cost of the next cycle, and where the money was going to come from. I wish we could have seen into the future the forty thousand dollars it would take to become pregnant with our baby girl.
When he took me in sickness and in health, I wonder if he would ever have thought the thin bride gazing up at him would gain forty pounds from multiple rounds of fertility drugs. I wish he would have known how hormonal I'd become, going from raging anger to a sobbing heap on the floor. I wish he could have seen into the future, when the depression and anxiety would take over because I couldn't bear a life without children.
When he took me to love and to cherish, I wonder if he foresaw our marriage crumbling under the weight of infertility. I wonder if the thought ever crossed his mind that his wife would tell him to leave her for someone who could give him children. I wish he could have known that he'd be called to love me at my most unlovable.
After seven years of marriage, those vows don't mean the same thing as they do now. Nor should they. Those words take on more meaning because we have lived "for better for worse." We are learning what it means to live through heartache and come out closer to each other on the other side.