Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Kind of Love Letter

Full disclosure: I wanted to have this written and ready for Valentine's Day. And then I blinked and it was March and I was like, crap. But then I realized that I could be nice to CB on days that weren't mandated by Hallmark and so...here we are. 

When I was younger, I thought I knew what love was. Real, true, it'll get you through anything kind of love. And the reason I knew this is because I had a very specific list of what that love needed to look and act like in order to win my heart. It wasn't scientifically proven or anything, but I was pretty sure I'd nailed it. The list included: 

Tall
Dark hair
Funny
Smart
Lived close enough to me so I didn't have to exert too much effort
About my age
Ambitious
Curious
Smelled good
Could support himself

...and the deep, thoughtful list goes on and on. Looking back on it, I didn't have extraordinarily high expectations. I also didn't have any idea what love actually looked like. 

And then I met a tall guy with dark hair who was funny and smart and lived close to me and was about my age and was ambitious and curious and smelled good and could support himself. 

So I married him.

Luckily for me, he also had characteristics that actually mattered. And over the last two and a half years, we've gotten married and had two kids. So we're nothing if not efficient (efficiency! Also on the list.) Anyway, having our first daughter felt like a bit of an up-hill battle, at least for me physically. I've written here before about the health issues I faced and the after-math of postpartum stuff that I dealt with, and so I won't delve back into that. But my second pregnancy was much smoother. The only real issue is that my pants got tighter, faster, and I was chasing around a toddler this time. Other than that? Smooth sailing. 

Until, of course, it wasn't. 

The morning my second daughter was born, we took the typical hospital family photo - me in bed, looking stunning and well-rested, holding our little girl, CB next to me looking equally well-rested, clean-shaven, and handsome as ever. And when most people look at that photo they probably see the obvious - two happy parents and one confused little newborn. But when I look at that picture, I see something else. Actually, it's what's not in that picture that stands out to me the most. 

What's not in that picture is the 24 hours leading up to it when I was so violently ill that CB would be awoken from a dead sleep on a narrow hospital couch and run to my side with a bucket while holding my hair back so I could dry-heave from the magnesium coursing through my system. I mean, don't get me wrong, we were grateful for the drug that kept my body sedated enough not to seizure or stroke,   but there are only so many times you can hurl in front of your husband before you start to worry that the bloom might be off of the rose....

What's not in that picture is CB standing by my bedside while I lay there so uncomfortable and feverish and IN LABOR that the only thing that brought me comfort was him gently scratching my head and running cool washcloths over my face. Also what's not in that picture was how terrible my hair looked because he scratched my head so many times that it looked like bird's had nested on my skull and were violently looking for food to no avail. And he didn't tell me because "you had enough going on, I didn't want you worrying about your hair." 

Um, the man knows nothing about me. Have we met? You must ALWAYS tell me when my hair doesn't look good, because it's always on the verge of breaking out of my control and it's my number one fear in life to look exactly how I looked for, apparently, three whole days. God. That should've been on my list.  

Anyway. What's not in that picture is the husband and father caught between not wanting to leave my side and needing to go be with his littlest daughter in the NICU so she could be held and kissed and loved. 

And what's not in that picture are the countless sleepless nights, endless poopy diapers, blissfully happy cuddles, tear-inducing laughter, and outright delirium that accompany most new parents. The picture doesn't show the five years that led to this life we love. Or the people and places who paved the way for us to get there. It doesn't show the compromise, arguments, shared values, stolen moments, and everyday routine that goes into making a marriage work. And mostly, what's not in the picture, is just how bad my hair looked.

And for that, I'm eternally grateful. 

And so this is the part where I'd wish CB a Happy Valentine's Day and call it a win. But now that idea is shot and so, I'll simply throw him a high five and say what I always say: "Nailed it." 

Happy Wednesday, everyone!