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What Happened When We Found Out We Couldn’t Have Kids

On my worst day, I offered to leave

Woman and man at sunset
On our wedding day, after my father gave an uproarious speech, he pulled me aside and told me that there was something else he wanted to say in his speech, but he didn’t think he could include it without being misunderstood.

He told me that if there was one thing he was certain about it was that on that day, our wedding day, the day we’d chosen to stand in front of our friends and family to pledge our love and commitment to each other, that day was the day we’d love each other least for the rest of our marriage.

It took me a minute to puzzle that out, because I was bursting with love and joy that day.  But once I understood what he meant, that we’d love each other more tomorrow than today, and more the day after that too, I told him that I hoped that was true.

Josh and I have been dealing with some difficult truths lately, but we are unbelievably fortunate to have each other everyday.

I think back on our wedding day; it was only a year and a half ago, but what my father said is absolutely true.  Compared to the love I have for him now, what I felt on our wedding day pales in comparison.  I can hardly imagine the love we will share after decades of our life together.

Before we got married we talked about money.  We talked about kids.  We talked about retirement, savings, vacations, our parents, living wills, final directives, investment philosophies, parenting philosophies, faithfulness, sex, love, chores, our childhoods, holidays, what would happen if one or both of us was seriously injured, our plans for our bodies and our kids and our pets after our deaths, work, weekends, where we want to and are willing to live.  We talked about religion, and who would raise our children if something were to happen to us.  We even talked about what we might do about raising our children together in the case of divorce.

That might seem like a lot to talk about in the short time that passed between when we met and when we made it official, but I’m a planner.  I’m also a worrier with a vivid imagination and a borderline-unhealthy procedural crime drama addiction.

At the time I’d thought our wedding day was the happiest day of my life, but I can’t begin to describe the relief we felt the day after the wedding.  When we were married and we never had to do anything like that again.  We could just get back to life as we knew it.

For a long time when people asked me “how’s married life” I always gave them my stock answer “’bout the same,” but, after a while I began to realize that wasn’t exactly true.  Little things started began seeping in.  When we fought, for example, even at our most vitriolic, things never really felt desperate—I knew that this fight wouldn’t be the death knell of our relationship, we’d fight and then afterward we’d still be married.

We’re a pretty boring couple actually, we don’t get out much.  We like cooking, drinking wine, playing with the dogs and gardening.  We started looking at houses.  I never thought I’d be such a cookie-cutter wife, but I wanted a house, and right around the time I turned thirty I started wanting a baby.  Fortunately, so did Josh.

Something funny happened when we started trying to get pregnant.  I noticed my body wasn’t working right.  I’d never really paid attention before, but now it seemed so obvious.  I went to the doctor.  The diagnosis?  I am unable to have children.

At first we were floored.  We were devastated.  We’d talked about adoption before we got married, but we talked about it the same way we’d talked about what to do if one of us gets hit by a bus.  Could it happen? Sure, but we’d never entertained the idea that it was a real possibility.

That is, until it was our only possibility.

We took the time to grieve.  To be honest, we’re still grieving.  I felt both betrayed and a betrayer; betrayed by my body and a betrayer to my husband, to our plan.  On my worst day, I offered to walk away, to leave my husband so he could find a new wife, one who could give him the family he deserved.  The look on his face told me he’d never even consider it.

It was that day that I really understood our marriage.

Despite our insistence to leave all of that in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow stuff out of our vows it was another one of those things that crept in unnoticed.

I don’t have a heart-warming end to this story yet.  We are still on our journey, still suffering and still laughing together.  But I feel like the tide has turned, and I think we will have our happy ending yet.

Even if it doesn’t look like what we were expecting. 

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