I was up half of last night tossing and turning in pain. My legs ached and muscles burned as I slowly made my way from left to right, and right to left between the sheets. Phoenix woke up at midnight screaming and I moaned my way to her room. I was exhausted and on the verge of frustrated tears. She was just as frustrated as I was. I laid on the floor cradling her in my arms with her head resting on my large belly. I needed the strength of everything in me to keep from laying down on the floor and falling asleep right there. But I wanted my soft bed and pillows surrounding me. After a while I laid her back down and ambled my way out. As I made my way back to my bed and situated myself, the bedroom flung open and slammed shut just as quickly, the all too familiar quiet voice of Trace spoke up, "Hi mama, I want to sleep on my little bed in here".
Trace has been sleeping in our room almost nightly for a few months now and although I so enjoyed sharing our bed with him it was becoming harder and harder the farther along I go in my pregnancy. We made a bed on the floor for him with a crib mattress and blankets and it has quickly become his favorite sleeping spot. He wriggled and cried as he tried pulling his blankets over him and he began to whine for help. I admittedly lost my cool and told him to stop whining and put his blankets on himself, I knew he could easily do it. My clouded tired mind fought for peace and quiet and everything seemed to be getting in the way.
Again I pulled myself out of bed to flip a blanket over my son and get on with the night. But he kept whining and I began to cry right along with him. Derek was awake, how could he not be with all the noise? But he kept his back turned to me and didn't seemed to be bothered by the fact I was sobbing in agony. This of course sent me further into tears.
After everyone was settled and back to sleep I was wide awake and debating just going downstairs to eat and be miserable, but the thought of moving again was too much for me. Everything in my body throbbed and my stomach growled for food. I continued to cry and a flood of emotions came over me. It was the first time in quite a while that I had a moment to sit and think of everything I have gone through in the past 4 years.
While in my right frame of mind (not half awake at 1 am) I know I am completely and utterly blessed to be in the position I am in today. I cannot help but occasionally feel a tinge of sadness for another life I had dreamed for myself. This life journey had begun in the start of my 21st year on Earth and back then I was care free and spirited. I was loving, and connected with those around me. Now I work on an almost survival mode leaving me completely depleted by the end of the night. After having Trace and battling a bout of post par-tum depression I had lost my desire for physical connection with my husband completely. In any shape or form. It was not him at all, I still held the same love for him I did prior- just not the same desire to cuddle, or hold hands, or anything to do with sex. Month after month passed and I cannot count the times I cried in my doctor's office asking her when the feelings for intimacy would return, continually she brushed it off and told me within a few months I would gain my old self back and with it the desire to be close to someone. Three years later, and two additional pregnancies, the desires have yet to come back to me and I struggle deeply with feelings of inadequacy and failure as a wife.
I had always held an idealized version of marriage, maybe because my mother was a single mom and I had nothing to base marriage on, but I believed that every married couple must be head over heels in love for each other. To me marriage meant you had found the one which you longed to stare deeply into the other persons eyes on every opportunity you could. Nothing came hard for the married couple and their love triumphed over every road block in their way. While I have the most doting, caring, and devoted husband we have never been that lovey-dovey example of marriage and love I had pictured. But we never really had time to grow to that either, Trace was a beautiful surprise and we quickly fell into the parenting role in order to provide the best life we could for him. This left little time for romantic courtship. As I thought this over and held back another river of tears I looked over at my sleeping husband who had ignored my cries and I wanted to punch him in his snoring sleep. But this required rolling my whale body over and moving. And I didn't dare move.
I muttered angrily to myself about how much I have had to go through the past few years, how much my body has changed, how much I felt my life had been put on hold to raise our children, how I felt a sense of loss over something I couldn't even put my finger on. I had battled depression, horrible anxiety, lack of socialization, loss of numerous friendships, and gained what I felt was the most boring personality ever. I realize Derek has had to forgo so much of his life to raise a family and the stresses of being the main provider for an (almost) family of five must be beyond scary, yet in that moment it paled in comparison to the strain my head and body has gone through.
As I write this with a clearer morning mind, I know he struggles with just as much as I do. It may be in different forms, but parenting is just as hard on him as it is on me. And I don't make it much easier by shying away from his affection and spreading my moodiness about the house whenever I please. The poor man has gone without affection most of our marriage and I hate myself for it. When I look deep down I know so much could be fixed with my effort. I have lots of work to do within myself but juggling everything on my plate is impossible for me. So my main efforts go to loving my children unconditionally and working on giving them the perfect life.
I have so much I need to learn, and so much I need to let go of. Number one being the idealistic view I have of marriage and family. Not every family is cookie cutter 50's perfection and I need to quit striving for that.
What I have is damn near perfect in my eyes.
My husband allows me the opportunity to relish in my children's love on a daily basis by not having to go to work. He comes home from work every night and instantly jumps into the bed time routine of the children with me. He does dishes and laundry and loves cleaning just as much as I do. He doesn't mind that I am not a cook, or probably ever will be. He is patient, loving and understanding- even after months of dealing with my continual mood swings. He gives when the funds are there, and knows when to say no if it means keeping our family financially afloat. Most of all he accepts me as I am. No matter how many times I may push him away he is always on the other side of the couch with a hand extended to hold mine if I wish. No, we have never looked longingly into each others eyes (who the hell has time for that with two toddlers screaming for your attention). And no, we may not be the most perfect fit in terms of a "Notebook"-esque love story but we work so well together as mother and father.
As husband and wife we respect each other and try our hardest to help fulfill the other's dreams they have outside of parenthood. We have love, and tons of it in my book. There is immense amounts of possibility to grow our love to an even larger scale with time and I trust it will happen. I just need to work on keeping myself sane through the pain of this pregnancy and remember why we are here.
We wanted a family, we love our children and it is our destiny to raise these beautiful angels.
This is the realism of life and love, and I will face it head on to the best of my ability. I owe it to not only my husband and children, but to myself as well.