Preface: Writing this retrospect has proven to be a very difficult and painful task.
As we said goodbye to our 1st decade together as a married couple, we recognized that our relationship had evolved from the giddiness and carefree spirit of young newlywed love to a more mature 'for better, for worse' kind of love.
We were woefully looking at a life that was destined to be child-free. It was not a deliberate decision that we had made. It was one that my body thrust upon us.
Starting a family was supposed to be one of the most natural & purportedly easiest things that a couple could do. Starting a family proved to be an extremely arduous task. It involved bucket-loads of blood, sweat, tears, prayers and dollars. And I mean all this, quite literally.
Eventually, after nearly a decade and a half of trying, we were finally blessed with an instant complete family: a set of twins; 1 little boy and 1 little girl.
What we did to achieve our success, somehow, now seemed very trivial. All the appointments, phone calls, needles, drugs, miscarriages, ultrasounds, false-positive pregnancy tests, tears, blood tests, inseminations, IVF attempts and thousands of dollars we shed was a mock marathon preparing me for the next turn that my life would take.
The wonderment, awe and joy we felt when we saw two little heartbeats flickering on the black and white screen was short lived. Those fleeting moments of indescribable joy was replaced by white-knuckled terror as my pregnancy became a precarious attempt to keep three lives from dying. Mine was a short-lived and complicated pregnancy followed by a multiple-life-saving, unexpected emergency c-section which resulted in the very premature birth of our twins and the uphill battle to keep our son alive during the first two years of his little life.
The personal challenges and heartbreak that we struggled with while we were dealing with infertility was child’s play compared to this.
We were blessed to be raising a healthy little girl, whose strength, tenacity and development was something that even her doctors admired in awe. She was quite strong and healthy given her precarious start in life.
The duality of caring for one healthy twin and delicately managing the fragility of our son's multiple medical conditions left us feeling a bit schizophrenic. We were exhausted, grateful, frustrated, anxious, weary, leery, blissfully happy, cautiously optimistic, blessed by miracles, reeling with terror. It was surreal. It also left us broke beyond our dreams.
Prior to my pregnancy, I was the breadwinner. Due to our insurmountable debt from our years of infertility treatment and now medical complications and non-stop doctor’s visits and hospitalizations, i could only manage to work on a part time basis. I was back at work before my children came home from the neonatal intensive care unit.
My husband sold his business (for a song), he reluctantly put on a suit and tie and joined the 9-5 rat race. He went to work for my family's business.
Even though hubby was able to secure a decent paying white collar job, and even with me working part time, we still, very quickly, found ourselves living in debt. The cost of all those years of infertility treatment coupled with the financial demands of twins with medical conditions who were on special (high-priced) formula, loads of medications and co-pay visit costs took its toll very quickly.
Every day was an exercise in agility, patience, fortune-telling, risk-taking decisions. This was the long haul.
This is where we started to unravel. We were doting on our children and their needs, but we stopped doting on each other’s and our own needs. We began to neglect each other and ourselves.
We were barely making ends meet; we were barely meeting each other in the middle. We were struggling to pay our bills; we were struggling to pay attention to each other.
By the end of our 15th year of marriage, I was up to my ears in dirty diapers and doctor’s appointments. He was up to his ears in credit card and medical bills. I was exhausted. He was frustrated. I was too tired to try to look pretty. He started looking at someone who was like the person I used to be…my sister.
It was around this time that he started comparing my sister to me. He started encouraging me to dress more like her, wear cosmetics and sexy shoes like her. He didn’t understand that I would not wear my Prada shoes to tramp around scampering after a set of twin toddlers. But he was tired of me wearing my sneakers, jeans and sweatshirts on my days home from work. He wanted me to be more like her.
He missed the days when he'd come home to a quiet home and be able to find the remote control. Instead he'd come home to a loud chaotic house. The minute he'd walk through the door I'd bark at him with a barrage of orders of things he needed to do.
He missed the nights when we'd swing from the chandeliers and then snuggle and drift off to sleep to a night of uninterrupted dreams. He missed the wife who used to be all put together but who was now swinging from episodes of extreme over-tired crankiness to extreme emotionally draining crying bouts over her sense of having no control over her life, the health of her children and the state of her mental status.
So, by our 15th wedding anniversary, we weren't the same couple who embarked on this life long journey together. We didn't look the same, we didn't act the same, we didn't feel the same. Everything was changing.
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