In June, I will celebrate my second anniversary with my wonderful, loving, devoted husband. In two short years of marriage, large trials have loomed before us, and it is by the grace of God that we have weathered them all. At the start of 2016, we welcomed our beautiful daughter to the world via a chaotic birth story.
I had high blood pressure caused by my pregnancy for most of my third trimester. Because of this, the doctors felt it was safest to induce me at 37 weeks. We agreed, and after 12 hours of labor (8 completely without any pain relieving medication) we met our precious sunshine after an emergency C-section when it was determined a natural birth put both myself and our baby in danger.
Forty-eight hours after being released from the hospital, I was again admitted with pneumonia and signs of heart failure. Luckily, it turned out to be pneumonia and a minor leak in my aortic valve. Six weeks later, I returned to my cardiologist for a scan to check on the leak. It had increased a great deal and open heart surgery was scheduled.
At 8 am on April 5th, I checked into the hospital for my open heart surgery to hopefully repair, but most likely replace, my failing valve. There were two replacement options. (1) A mechanical option which lasts the patient’s whole life, but they must be on blood thinners the rest of their lives (which also takes away the possibility of having any more children in women of childbearing age). (2) There is a tissue valve option (either from a cow or pig), that only lasts 15 years, but allows for no blood thinners and the chance to have children. I picked the tissue valve, knowing I will need to have a second operation and choosing a second child despite it all. I also believed that at 24 years old, looking at a life of over 50 years on blood thinners, and the risks they posed, was too risky.
The first day was very difficult. I honestly feel like a semi truck had hit me. The pain in my back is the worst because of how my rib cage had to be pulled apart. But my husband and parents were there. Before I came out of the anesthesia my husband sat and cried and told my mother, “I cannot lose her.”
I was moved from the ICU in 24 hours and spent another five days in the hospital slowly regaining strength and ability to walk. But certain things were still out of my control. I could not take a shower by myself. I could not go to the bathroom by myself and after having my sternum separated, I could not clean myself after using the bathroom, either. My handsome, kind and God-fearing husband did it all without complaint. I cried when I needed the help I thought wouldn’t be nessecary until I was 80 years old, and he looked at me and repeated, “In sickness and health, until death do us part. I meant my vows before God to you.”
What struck me is that when you’re young and bright and the world is at your fingertips, it’s easy to say your wedding vows because you can see all the positives of health and good times. Sickness and bad times will come at some point, of course, but certainly not for some time. Yet we are proof that a marriage has no timeline and your vows are forever, not just the good for now and the bad for later on.
I have been humbled to realize the goodness and faithfulness in the heart of the man I married. Before you stand before your family, friends and fiancé and make those vows, please reflect if you believe you can hold yourself to them and if you really trust that your partner can, too.
I can, without any doubt in my mind, say that I would be willing to live out my vows to my husband each and every day. I was not ready to have to require him to do so, but he did. And he did so beautifully. Find that kindness in someone. Someone who will support you, who will shower you without any complaint, and assist you with the toilet without being at all disgusted. If you have found that, cling to it, because this is the kind of selfless love Christ demands of us in our marriages.
For any readers getting married, have you thought deeply on what “in sickness and in health” might actually mean to your marriage?