I was almost 20, and he was 26 when we met. I’d be lying now if I didn’t say that people were hesitant to support our relationship at that time. In fact, looking back, I totally understand. Not only were we young, we were both severely struggling with our own personal demons and issues in our own way. For those that knew us closely, I’d lay money on the fact that they didn’t see us going anywhere – and I don’t blame them. Although in an ideal world our beginning wasn’t quite this beautiful love story, I firmly believe that our foundation was set in that we were there, supporting each other, in big ways from Day 1. We met over the summer while I was home from college, so our relationship was basically long distance right off the bat. It included frequent drives (I mean, Every. Single. Weekend. for 6 months) to and from Duluth to Eau Claire, hours upon hours of phone calls, and daily emails. It may not be a glamorous story – but it’s ours.
We moved in together after finding I had gotten accepted at school in Minneapolis and he had landed a job here – and we did what any normal, naive, young couple living in a downtown apartment would do – got a puppy. Now, I had never lived with dogs before. I had no idea what to expect except maybe a lot of kisses, games of fetch, and lots of trips outside. This was my first experience as a mom. It included those things – but it also included attempting to get 10 pounds of dirt and chewed up floor plants out of glowing white carpets, crying over chewed one-of-a-kind shoes, and cleaning up more pee than I’d ever like to admit. And although Harper ruined a ton of physical things, he taught me how to love unconditionally. Because staring at me through the dirt were these big Lab eyes, attempting to apologize and his kisses licked away my tears.
Fast forward four years later, and we lost our guy abruptly to kidney failure. It was terrible. So we did what any heartbroken, devastated couple would do – adopt two puppies within three months of each other. What the heck were we thinking?! This was the second time I became a mom. We rescued both dogs from shelters, and we were probably in over our heads. And then I somehow talked him into letting me bring foster puppies home while they were in transition to their new forever homes. (It was in those moments that I knew behind the tough-guy attitude, he wanted me to always be happy.)
Just shy of six months of our “adoption anniversary” with our pups, I found out – extremely unexpectedly – I was pregnant. Those close to us know the terrible way in which I told him I was pregnant. He had been gone for a long weekend with very little cell phone reception, and I really wanted to tell him in person….so I sat on the information for two days, telling only one person. (Hey, MJ!) By the time he pulled in the driveway, I literally felt like I was going to explode….and then he took his sweet time getting out of the car and unpacking the trunk. Then I did what any hormonal, irrational woman would do – opened the door, burst into tears, yelled the news, and immediately slammed the door. (Sorry, hun!)
I had a rough pregnancy in someways – in others, it was pretty easy. Again, I had no idea what to expect – we attended three hours of a birthing class before “dropping out.” (I mean, really, all I needed to know was that the baby was coming into this world somehow – what else could I possibly need to know? Ha!) After being induced, and being in labor for what felt like a decade, but was more about 30 hours, I took one big deep breath and pushed out a beautiful baby boy. As exhausted as I was, looking at that face, I knew – this was the third time I became a mom, and it was in a whole new way. Life changed. So, so much. Not only did it get more fun, it made us truly reflect on ourselves. It made us strive to be better people. It made me fat. But hey – good with the bad, right? I left an office job to work from home (and the company turned out to be a NIGHTMARE to work for), I went through a major bout of depression, but that little smiling face kept reminding me I had someone who was counting on me, everyday, to be my best.
After a few years, and a few discussions about the idea of trying for another baby, I found out I was pregnant again. This pregnancy brought on a whole new set of challenges. Where it was easier in someways than the first, it was also harder. I had more physical pain (my pubic bone felt like it had broken in half for 4/9 months I was pregnant). I also didn’t get sick with the first, but this one left me dehydrated, puking, and in the hospital. But as soon as I saw that sweet little baby face, it all disappeared. This was the fourth time I became a mom – and perhaps, in someways, my last.
I wouldn’t mind having another….I know he feels differently, and someday we might have a real discussion about it. Right now, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the last five years. It’s been a wild ride, and it will more than likely just get crazier. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything in the world.