Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Anniversary #4: Finding Blessings in Our Losses

Our fourth wedding anniversary silently crept into the midst of chaos: a baby's food falling onto the floor while the puppy eagerly lapped it up before the mess gets cleaned up, a loud incessant talking from a toddler slowly turning into a pre-schooler boy as he kicked his feet underneath the dining table, a quick rattling of "honey-to-do" list being signed across the room to a husband hurrying his way out with keys in his hand, and balancing dirty dishes on my free arm as I balanced a happy drooling baby on my other arm. It dawned to me that today is our anniversary, and it surprised me how quickly it came. 

Has it been really four years already? 

In these four years, I have experienced two pregnancies, and births of two beautiful boys, a transformation from being a married couple to a family of four, and hurtling through life changes that inevitably changed our marriage into something richer. 

With our increasingly busy lives being rocked back, and forth by so many events recently, we have come to learn how to keep our marriage strong, fresh, and alive. It has not been an easy feat with two little boys, a rambunctious puppy, bustling career, endless doctor appointments, and family time. It is rather eerily amazing how my sister-in-law's letter echoes exactly what we are going through right now: 

Stuart & Ashley, 
Wow! 4 years already! I hope by now you have made me an auntie! 
The first few years go by quickly, and your relationship changes. You begin to know what 
comes next: I hope that you are both still looking for ways to keep your 
relationship fresh, and young! Never forget the feelings you had on the magical day of your 
wedding! Wishing you many more years of wedded bliss! 
Love, Jennifer

With our chaotic, crazy lives; our marriage has often taken a back-burner. Our marriage is not as impulsive as going on a last-minute trip to Door County just because we feel like it. It is not as romantic as having a candle-lit dinner spilling into a late night conversation. Instead of impulsiveness, and whimsicality; our children takes up most of our time for each other, and we often find ourselves smiling to each other with our boys tucked underneath our arms between us as our puppy dozes softly on the edge of our bed. 

It is fortunate that I have a wonderful husband to hold on as my rock through the hurtling madness called life. I believe that Stu feels the same way toward me. This is when I am most grateful for our solid marriage. We may not be as romantic, as impulsive, and as carefree as we used to be when we first got married, yet our marriage has evolved into something much deeper, and solid. This deepness, and solidness of our marriage has been allowing us to stand upright on a rock of foundation while the losses continually collided with us. 

Many losses have rocked us in this recent year; a loss of our first fur baby, Layla, a several losses of our friends' family members, a loss of our grandparent, a loss of friends' pets, a loss of a family friend, and so many more. It has been so difficult to bear a constant on-slaughter of sad news, and it has not been easy to feel such sorrow in our hearts. 

One of our losses became a remarkable gain for us. I may come off sounding wrong, or strange, and there is no really right way to convey exactly what I mean in words. This loss pertains to our son, Frank. At six weeks old, Frank, our second child, had been diagnosed with Torticillis, and Plagiocephaly. Gone is the carefree pace of watching Frank grow without the gray cloud of medical mumbo-jumbo hanging over our heads. Gone is the luxury of walking through any public places with Frank without getting rude stares from the strangers. Gone is all the time in the world. Time has been replaced with a lot of driving trips to doctor appointments for the head correction therapy, physical therapy sessions, investing in home exercises, and having to dance the dance of taking two steps back every time we take a step forward. As a second time mom, I learn that I am not always immune in knowing that our child is delayed with achieving milestones as I watch my friends' babies achieve theirs on time, or earlier, or quicker. 

In its place, a swell of pride has grown by knowing that Frank has been overcoming so many challenges that an ordinary baby hasn't encountered, celebrating momentous accomplishments when Frank DOES hit a milestone, and despite worrying, there is more relaxation in knowing that Frank will be just fine. By having a baby with medical issues, I meet, and befriend wonderful mamas going through the same struggles. My friendships grow richer not just with my new friends, but also with some old friends, whom I could not connect with earlier, who also have children with special needs. I become an advocate for Frank, and other babies with the same issues. By this, I become a stronger person as a mother for not just Frank, but for Forrest as well. This is a blessing in so many ways.

With all the struggles whirling all around us, I am so blessed to have a husband by my side, who happens to be my rock. While I am usually the one that does the bulk of attending to doctor appointments, bringing both kids with me to places, and scheduling all the commitments to fit everything in without compromising one over other, Stu often fades into the background, silent, and forgotten, because our society has far often focused more on mothers of children with medical issues, and special needs. More often than not, I struggle with trying to explain the importance of Stu's role in our family, and especially so, in our marriage...until I came across to this beautiful excerpt from a blog that hit the nail on its head perfectly. 

Brenna, the blogger of her blog named Blessed, said it perfectly: "Maybe you can't always be there physically; though you desperately wish you could be-but you ask questions after each therapy appointment, you call the pharmacy to get refills on prescriptions your child needs. You support your family in the best way you know how. You work hard at your job to earn raises to cover the co pays, medications, and therapy sessions. You stay. You might not think this is commendable-of course, you stay, right?-but I have seen it so much. Fear and stress and grief and anger cause so many fathers of special needs babies to leave. You stay and you selflessly put your family's needs before yours. Maybe you don't talk about it as much, or show it emotionally, but you feel it as deeply as mothers do. You feel helpless, wanting to do everything in your power to protect your children from pain. And you love, and lead fiercely, wrapping your strong arms around your baby so gently, and carefully." 

Yes, this is exactly why Stu is my rock, and in of our family. Our marriage acts as a glue, adhering everything important to ourselves, in the face of adversities, losses, and hardships. We create our own happiness, and count blessings from our sorrows. It encourages us to love more freely, judge less, find solace in our tears, to reach out to those who matters to us, to allow others hold on to us for support, and to live life more deeply. Our marriage continues to bloom, even in the face of a wintery storm, and become into something beautiful. 

We may not always been able to keep our marriage new, in a sense of being adventurous, impulsive, and romantic; we still do find time over a fire, working on our garden, or watching an episode or two of our favorite show on Netflix. Our marriage has grown stronger, deeper, and richer. We know, and understand that this time in our lives is only temporary, and we are enjoying every moment, because we know we will miss this time with our kids someday. We often find fleeting moments to laugh as our eyes locked across the room while our kids are screaming, or running around like a bunch of animals in the zoo! With our children, their infectious energy keeps us young. With our love for each other, our marriage remains fresh, and carries the same message from the day we married--friendship, love, and happiness. 

Stu returns back into the hallway leading into our kitchen, and quickly called out to remind me, I love you,and headed out. I smile. Yes, I am incredibly blessed.

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