I do find a lot of things are different now after Everlee, I’m growing more accepting of this shift and change in life everyday. I’m very reflective each new years now. I pause to remember what each year brought. The good and bad. And really intentionally set foot in a new year, and a new decade now in this case. Making sure my next step forward brings better tomorrows always.
As we rung in the new years this year, kids sleeping, comfy clothes on, sitting on the floor together playing cards, Jer and I noted how different this year looked then our first new years together which was 2009 leading into 2010. We had dressed up, attended a swanky party in Minneapolis together, determined to make it the best new years yet. I remember the magic of that night. Swaying together on the dance floor at midnight, surrounded by loud energetic strangers, kissing Jeremy at midnight under a sea of confetti. Whispering happy new year to my favorite person in the room. We still do that. Savor the moment of time changing together. Whisper each other happy new year. Instead this year, ten years later, as a married couple, no energetic strangers, rather just him and I. Quiet house. No fancy clothes or confetti, but regardless it’s the company you keep that brings the magic to ordinary and special moments.
We’ve been talking a lot about what this past decade has brought us. I had so many hopes wrapped in his arms that new years, the possibilities of dreams with this person finally knowing you found your person in this world. My heart told me I was safe with him, My soul told me he was my missing piece in life. My eyes blocked out the rest and I knew he really was it.
We got engaged that summer, out in the wilderness, not another soul in sight. Walleye fishing on a rock in the middle of a lake. I nearly clocked him when he bent down on one knee because he tried to take my fishing pole from me. Until it clicked what was going on. That IS a rare time in our life he’s caught me by surprise. Im glad he did, and where he chose. It was perfect for us.
April 16, 2011. Thats when we said I do. We got married in Vegas. Mostly because we both wanted an epic bachelorette and bachelor parties and that we both achieved! But we’ve always been more intimate setting type of people, so the gorgeous little garden chapel at Cesars palace was a perfect fit for an intimate affair with 35 family and friends. We got married outside in the heat, no need for a jacket. A perfect spring day any minnesotan would kill to have in april.
Blending families into one household that first year of marriage was rough. WE HAD A ROUGH PACTCH. And you know what looking back I would never take that difficult first year of marriage back. We learned so much as a couple, how to work through difficult seasons together, yet still growing your love for one another. Letting life evolve and change and learning how to compromise. I think by both of us having babies at 18 and single parenting till that point, we both had developed a toughness surrounding living and surviving. We had to learn to be a partner with someone.
Our first baby was Chloe. My fluffy little black and white cavapoo. Jer says he’s never seen a dog so in love with their human. She’ll always be my baby. In fact Thomas calls Chloe baby. Our forever baby of the family.
After Chloe, her brother Harvey. A dog we got in the intention of being just like Chloe the one we adored and loved. Well there are no two Chloes! Because Harvey might as well be polar opposites despite being the same breed. He’s entertaining that’s all I can say.
Then came Alice. I remember the look on Jer’s face when I told him I wanted a baby. From that time on we were almost shamed for having babies at 18, left to prove to the world we were strong enough to parent that young and do it well. So it was a shift in mindset to plan to have a baby. And with someone we loved. Alice was born August 2nd, 2013. Our Hearts and worlds grew so much with her presence. She united our blended family together. I was in shock of how easy and wonderful it was to be a mother with a partner that stood by you, loved you in that early chaos and helped because he loved being a parent too. I loved witnessing him be a dad. Jer was made to be a dad. He gives his whole heart to his children. I love him more for it.
We bought our first home together in the end of 2014. It was a difficult road to get to that point and why it’s felt like such a big moment to us. Poor life choices in younger years which threw credit away. It has been a fixer upper and not our dream home but we love it because its ours and it took a lot of good choices and hard work to make it a reality. Emma has moved a lot and switched schools a few times, so to give my children stability in a home it’s what I’ve always wanted as a mom.
Renovating it piece by piece as a couple has been an overwhelming but fun experience as a couple. Jeremy is an amazing craftsman. He quite literally is my Chip to my Johanna Gaines creative spirit of life. I love to dream. He makes my dreams become a reality. If we had an endless budget. I have no doubt him and I would be the next Chip and Johanna. We have bonded and grown over this experience, realizing dreams can be made into a reality. They are attainable.
And Just as life was swimming along great. We expected nothing but smooth sailing from here out. But 2015 happened. Everlee’s year. We started out the year in paradise. Enjoying a long awaited honeymoon in St Thomas together. We had a conversation, walking hand in hand along Magen’s Bay at sunset, talking about life and how good it feels and wanting to just stay right where we were at. Kinda feeling like we won the lottery in a way and cashing out.
You can make the best plans in life, but Life will happen, regardless of any plans.
At the half way point through the decade that was life’s biggest realization. We came home from St Thomas. Expecting a baby. The surprise threw us for a loop. But learning it was a girl, Everlee Jo we named her, Our hearts where ready for another change, another to love, more growth, more Joy to our family. Two under two scared me but I knew as long as I had Jeremy to walk with we’d get through anything.
But Everlee’s story brought more surprises to life my heart ever was prepared for. Her diagnosis was at 28 weeks. The worry of what was to come. Her traumatic birth at 34 weeks. Her Death. We had to squeeze in a lifetime of memories with her in the three days we were given to say goodbye. I remember a moment in there where a counselor came in to talk with Jeremy and I about things like burial and urns and our options, me desperately holding Everlee for memory sake in our last moments, locking eyes with Jeremy, waiting for his lead. For once I was ready to relinquish complete control. I needed someone to hold my broken heart and body. I had nothing to give in those moments. No opinion.
He never left the hospital, or my side, he listened to my body heave tears trying to find sleep. He urged me to take care of myself after a hard surgery when I secretly wished my body to give out, join Everlee where ever her soul could be found. We made those hard decisions together. We drove home together out the the hospital without her in our back carseat. He let me clutch him as I watched the hospital where I held my baby in our only moments slip out of view. I turned up the music and wept the whole way home. Un able to fathom what just happened. The most silent a car ride that ever has been.
That same counselor made sure to tell us the percentages of couples that don’t make it after the death of a child. I believe her. You do have to come together, carrying grief completely different, holding one another up in what can be years of hard moments to follow. Loving each other despite what hard things grief brings to your life, honoring each others wishes in remembrance and healing. It gives love a new meaning. Even though he carried his own sadness he stood strong so many times for me, letting me break over and over again. Never rushing me.
The next few years of infertility after Everlee’s death was the hardest as a couple. We both felt so helpless for one another, we both ached for the same thing and both our bodies couldn’t seem to give one another the thing our hearts longed to hold again. We both cried and fought how to achieve that. Wondered if we were making ourselves miserable, if we should give up. On top of grief it was a lot for even the strongest marriages.
We had a miscarriage in 2017. Jeremy said yes to another puppy understanding at the time I needed a new baby to love. And the best I could do was a puppy. We found Jorgia. We decided to move forward with further treatments but decided our life might be complete with a new puppy, and that was ok.
Thomas came to us in October of 2018. I’ll never forget Jer’s face when I woke up and met him with a card, groggy before work on a monday morning, after a sunday where the Vikings just lost in playoffs for the millionth time, stripping our football fan hearts of a superbowl win, again. He asked if he could open it at work. I smiled “no way”. His face went from that depressed monday look and lite up the dark morning. The Vikings might have lost its chance of a superbowl win but we just received another chance to become parents once more. That moment was full of joy.
I tell you this start to Thomas’s story because pregnancy after loss, and infertility, is hard. I know now life happens and will. I know I can make plans for this baby in our life, but we are never guaranteed to get to that point. Thankfully Thomas made it safely. It wasn’t an easy delivery, scary at times, but one thing that I remember is Jer’s faith in my ability to get our son into our arms safely. He’s always believed in me. More than I have ever myself. And that moment Thomas was finally in our arms we knew we had won our own superbowl in life. He kept telling me thank you, and how proud of me he was. But what I don’t tell him enough is his constant presence in my life constantly gives me the strength to go on. He should be Thanked.
Jeremy took a job that lead him out of state for 5 months. He had to leave when Thomas was 6 weeks old and returned the next spring after Thomas had turned 6 months old. What I can say about that decision Jeremy made is he would do anything for his family, even leaving and sacrificing time with a long awaited for baby, if it was what his family needed finically. We had to grow again even through the distance. We learned communication on a different level. We learned that we really really value each others company in life. We learned we never want to be apart again. Not because we wouldn’t make it without one another, but because we don’t want to do life with out each other.
This past year, after Jeremy’s return we have really have kept our time together close. Intentional to spend quality time together. Work on learning to live again again after being in survival mode for so long. We found a good rhythm for a bit. We watch little tv now, listen to more music while talking together instead, playing card games in front of a fire is a favorite date night. I appreciate that Jeremy’s good about making me put work down sometimes, to remember to experience what life is happening in front of me.
Time is a gift not to take for granted.
I had big goals for this past year. I devoted myself to perfecting a craft in photography, devoting myself to starting a new business. Jer encouraged me. Supported me. And Never made me feel guilty for how busy life got starting a new business and chasing after new dreams. He has been my biggest fan. A sounding board for frustrations and someone who whole hearted believed in me.
Jeremy and I both carry scars from Everlee’s missing piece, and from the trauma surrounding her birth. It’s affected us both in so many ways. Loving someone in times of mental warfare is not easy. You learn GRACE. You learn to see through the mask of whatever one carries into their heart. you grow UNDERSTANDING. This past year brought on a lot of anxiety and further depression related to the ptsd I carry. I came to the realization it’s going to take a village to heal me. Jeremy has been such a big part of that village giving our vows in sickness and health new meaning.
Reflecting on this past decade with Jeremy, I never imagined much of this dreaming of life in his arms on that new years ten years ago. I never saw three babies, three dogs. I never imagined we would endure one of life’s hardest things it can throw at you. The death of our child. I never dreamed or wished for the infertility, or the further loss, I never wished to carry the scars from the pain, but at the same time, I can promise you my answer will always be the same. I would repeat those years again and again and again. Those last five years STILL gave us Everlee. And Thomas. Another puppy to love. A united front as a family. I’ve honestly never felt closer to my family as I do now. They are truly my home.
And Jer is truly my person. There’s nothing that could shatter us at this point as long as we are together. I feel as safe in his arms as I did ten years ago, the mindset of safe is just different. And even though we understand life is a journey of happenings and events it doesn’t stop us from dreaming where the next decade will bring us. This new years was fitting to what we value out of life now. Calm, peace, comforts of home and the glow of Everlee’s tree rather than blinking dance lights. I know I’m thankful to be able to look back at ten other new years spent with him. Our hearts grew immensely these past years, for each other, for our children, for the value of life.
The most important thing Ive taken from life thus far, Its not a race, there is a lot of talk about right or wrong but it’s really whats right for you, there isn’t a guide book only your heart to lead you, and not an end goal but making sure you embrace the journey.And there is absolutely no one I would rather do it with than him. I’ll always choose him. I’m grateful he chose me.