So, when Joel and I got married, we dreamed of having a baby right away. We got married in September, and by December, we were expecting. Unlike some of our dearest friends, we have never had any trouble getting pregnant. Seriously, it was like he looked at me funny, and BAM! I was pregnant. What we didn’t count on were the complications.

Yes, having a baby changes any relationship. Sometimes, it enhances what you’ve built with your partner, making what you thought was perfect even more so. Sometimes, it makes it painfully obvious that you didn’t have a great relationship to start with. Sometimes, it’s a little of both. Now, add in the medical problems, and developmental issues that come with having a child with special needs, and you’ve got a hell of a hurricane waiting to happen to your lovely little seaside town. Thankfully, Joel and I had a pretty good relationship to start with.

When I was pregnant, I had high blood pressure, and it was moving toward pre-eclampsia around week 35. My doctor decided to induce me after a 5 day bed rest that didn’t help my BP. So, off we went to the hospital. Jamie was born 6 short hours after the pitocin drip was started. He was not a healthy little guy. He had a goat-like cry that would put the fear of God into anyone who heard it. It was not strong at all; however, his APGARs were 9 and 9. He needed oxygen for the first two days of his life, and was hypoglycemic and jaundice for the first week. We were in the hospital for 7 days after he was born. There are a lot of little things that made Jamie the way he is today. For example, it wasn’t discovered that he has hypothyroidism until he was 13 months old; this can cause irreparable brain damage if not caught early on, typically within the first two weeks of life. He also has sleep apnea, which was not caught until he was almost 3. Jamie was diagnosed with CP, after lots of tests, and as I’m sure most of you know, those tests are enough to make you crazy. You wait for weeks and weeks to hear whether or not your child has a disease and whether or not there is a cure, or a therapy available to help him/her.

Jamie, 3 months old, October 2002

In all of this testing, Joel and I held hands, and prayed. We waited and waited. We must’ve gone through the first year and a half of Jamie’s life going through tests. Waiting to hear back from Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Florida what they’ve found out about our child. Waiting to see some improvement from all of the therapies we’ve taken our child to. Waiting to get back to being husband and wife after becoming Mom and Dad. Would THAT ever happen again?

Jamie is very susceptible to infections from colds. He catches everything. So, Joel and I have worked really hard at reducing the amount of germs he’s around. This also had a way of wreaking havoc on our relationship. When you’re constantly worried about whether or not your child is getting sick, and what that will mean, it takes all your energy. Running him back and forth to therapies, doctor appointments, the ER, hospital stays, surgeries, etc, makes you very tired. You are mentally exhausted. Forget sex…It doesn’t happen. I’m ashamed to admit that there was a time when we went almost 8 months without sex. Eventually, Jamie started getting stronger (after a few bouts of pneumonia, a collapsed lung twice, and a few surgeries), and meeting some of his milestones (around age 4), we started thinking about having another baby. Were we completely mad?! The simple answer is, we wanted another baby. We wanted another chance. We wanted Jamie to have a sibling. And honestly, having been raised around lots of cousins, and my own two siblings, I wanted Joel to know what it’s like to have a neurotypical kid. Thank GOD, Riley was born without any disabilities. She is a very neurotypical child, who brings her own set of relationship-bruisers.

So, now we have two kids, who couldn’t be more different from each other, and our poor marriage taking the beating. BUT, in the middle of all of this, we move to a completely different state, without any family or friends around. We really are crazy. But I have to tell you: when Jamie was born, we made a pact that we would always be together. Jamie needs us to be married and happy together. He deserves that. We deserve that. And now that we have Riley, too, we really need to be together. Neither of those kids deserve to be with unhappy parents. Plus, we really do love each other. We work on our marriage. It’s a daily thing.

We try to make time to talk to each other. Even if it’s just about our days, or what’s going on with the kids. We make the time. If the kids don’t settle down and get to bed until after 10, and even though I’m dog tired, we still make the time to talk about the important stuff. We try to have a date night every week. We never had one before, and you can read all about that in my date night post, but now that we are able to have a sitter we take advantage of it.

We try to make our sex life happy, too. It’s work, I tell ya, keeping a marriage happy and satisfying. It is so worth it. Joel is my best friend and I couldn’t be happier when he’s happy. So, this is the story of how this was not what I had planned. But damn if it isn’t exactly what I’m happy I have.

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