Unconventional

Today marks 8 years of marriage. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by! And this morning, as I was lying in bed not sleeping, it struck me how unconventional our entire relationship has been. Can I tell you our story?

The first time I ever met Andrew was in November of 2003. I was hanging out with his best friend — we were watching the first two Matrix movies in preparation to go see the final movie that evening. Out of nowhere Andrew calls and announces he’s coming over. When Andrew got there I was exiting the bathroom, which was down a short hallway and facing the front door. We stood and stared at each other for a few seconds. Then Andrew opened his mouth: “You’re way too hot to be with this guy!” he said. I disliked him immediately. Over the next several weeks Andrew made it a point to make my life miserable, until I finally decided that I would avoid him at all costs. And I managed that for a few months.

Fast forward to the beginning of March, 2004. I was hanging out with my best friend at the time and we were bored. She didn’t have a problem with Andrew and insisted we hang out with him. My protestations were ignored and she turned her car around and drove to Andrew’s house. He didn’t want to hang out with us either, though; He wanted to stay home eating corn on the cob and watching chick flicks (which he’ll deny if you ask him). But he begrudgingly got in the car and the three of us went to the Rio. He warmed up to the idea of goofing off with us, and I realized he was a completely different person from when we’d first met. This new Andrew was sweet, and funny, and weird, and I liked him. I was grounded for one reason or another, and the rules were I had to be home by 10. But the rules didn’t say I couldn’t bring friends home with me so, not wanting to cut our time short, my friend drove us all to my house and we sat out back talking for a long time.

The 3 of us hung out together almost every day for a couple of weeks, though it was obvious to anyone who saw Andrew & I that there was a budding romance there. Then one day my best friend went to Europe with her family for spring break and Andrew & I were left to our own devices. On April 2nd, we went to Georgetown on our first official date. We spent the day in book stores and record shops, we ate delicious vietnamese food, we sneezed and blew our noses a lot since all the cherry blossoms were blooming and we were allergic. It was magical. And then, as we were walking back to the metro stop, it happened: Andrew glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and started asking me if I’d be his girlfriend. He almost got the entire sentence out, but not before he tripped and almost fell into an intersection. It was the saddest and most adorable thing. How could I have said no?

Our relationship was rocky. There is absolutely no denying that. We were that on-again off-again couple no one can stand. We’d talked about marriage on our first date though, and even though we had a lot of rough spots, something kept drawing us back together. Until one time it almost didn’t. You see, I was pretty fed up with the whole thing and I broke up with Andrew once and for all on Mother’s day in 2005. I cut off all communication and stopped hanging out with mutual friends, etc. One day my best friend and I went to visit another friend in Delaware and the 3 of us took a trip to the beach. That evening, as we were watching Finding Nemo and slathering aloe all over our sunburned bits, I got the phone call that changed everything forever. Andrew had enlisted and he was leaving for basic training at the end of the summer. We started spending time together because I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again, but I was adamant that we weren’t back together. It was a tense and strange time for the both of us.

Finally, a day or two before he left for basic training, the two of us went out to dinner with my parents. It was then that Andrew, who was still not my boyfriend, asked my dad for my hand in marriage. And my dad said no. Somehow Andrew managed to talk until my dad said yes though, and after he left for basic training I began frantically preparing to have a wedding in 16 weeks. They day we got married I was 18 and Andrew was 22.

Our marriage has been just as strange as our early relationship. We lived in Andrew’s old bedroom at his dad’s house for the first week of our marriage, then we packed up our few belongings and drove to Texas where we lived in a hotel for two weeks because we were technically homeless. By February we’d bought our first house. The day after our one year anniversary Andrew deployed to Iraq (his unit’s deployment was then extended from 12 to 15 months). By our 3rd anniversary Andrew had survived a war but returned with injuries changed our lives forever. By our 4th anniversary we’d lived apart more than we’d lived together, and by our 5th anniversary we’d already starting recovering from a short (but awful) separation. During that time we’d also experienced the death and illness of people we loved, and we got our first glimpse into the reality that infertility would be a struggle for us. We had a lot thrown at us in a very short amount of time and had to really fight to make everything work.

Aside from allowing me to wax sentimental about the last decade of my life, thinking about the twists and turns of our relationship has led me to another realization: it only makes sense that starting our family would be unconventional too. The thing is, you see, the more I think about it the more I realize that that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. All these years of doing things a little differently have changed our perspectives and priorities. We don’t buy into the notion that money and possessions equal security, because we’ve had both and that didn’t save us from almost destroying ourselves. We don’t buy into the notion of a perfect suburban family – no white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and dog for us (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not for us).  It’s really only fitting then that our way of conceiving doesn’t quite line up with the norm either. Even though infertility is awful, it’s ok. It just means we’re doing things a little differently again.

So here were are 8 years later, still refusing to play by the rules and still putting up a pretty damn good fight.

And, babe, I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else but you by my side.

5 Things NOT to Say to Someone Struggling With Infertility: Part 2

Why don’t you just adopt?

Sure. Let me just walk over to the adoption tree and pick off a baby.

Puh-lease.

Hearing that statement over and over again is frustrating for two reasons.

#1 Asking “why don’t you just adopt?” is rather dismissive. It belittles the individual’s desire to have a biological child with the person they love most. It’s basically like saying “why bother?”

#2 Asking “why don’t you just adopt?” assumes that adoption is an easy process. It’s not. It’s not cute or quirky like in Juno. In fact, it can be just as expensive, invasive, and grueling as infertility treatments. You have to jump through all these hoops, open yourself up to interviews and home studies, and sell yourself to birth parents — and the sad reality is you might still end up without a child after all that. What if the birth mother changes her mind and wants her baby back? That happens more than you’d think. Adoption isn’t something to be flippant about. It’s a serious commitment that comes with its own set of expenses, hopes, and heartaches.

Don’t get me wrong. I think adoption is a really, really, really great thing! We can’t wait to adopt (which we will do regardless of whether or not we can conceive). But the next time you find yourself wanting to say “why don’t you just adopt?” maybe try one of these alternatives instead:

How do you feel about adoption?

Is adoption something you’d consider when you get as far as you want to go with infertility treatments?