Spring of 2001.
I found myself 19 and pregnant. I found myself questioning my current relationship because of this pregnancy forcing a forever commitment. I knew in my heart that leaving him was the right decision for me, but what about the baby?! I followed my heart. I cried for weeks. I broke it off. I cried more.
I moved into a tiny, shady one bedroom apartment, above a noisy bar. I forced myself into solitude. I forced myself into a quiet, uncomfortable space to figure out the predicament I had gotten myself into. I was so young. I wouldn’t be able to finish nursing school now. What would this do to my already-broken family relationships? What will everyone think of me now? What have I done?
I created a child selfishly, non-traditionally. I was a statistic. I was an unwed mother.
I was having a very difficult time wrapping my head and heart around all of this. I was so wrapped up in how this “pregnancy” was changing MY life, when a friend of mine put things into perspective for me. My friend Harmoni knew I was struggling and gifted me with some crocheted, yellow baby booties, a note from my baby, some sound advice (she had walked in my shoes a few years prior), and a whole lot of perspective. I drove myself to the store and bought a baby blanket and a Dr. Seuss book. I gave this “problem”, this pregnancy, a face, and a place in my heart.
Summer of 2001.
Then came him. The first time that my now-husband met me, he told a friend, who was a co-worker of mine, that he was going to marry me. Ryan laughed and told him that I was way out of his league. He wasn’t. He never was. He was so sweet, so fun, so loving, the one. We shared a root beer float and walked around a local-favorite spot on the edge of town for our first date.
Jeremy started dating me despite the fact that I was 4 months pregnant with another man’s baby. I was always so surprised at how much he adored me, enough to open the car door for me every time and have bouquets of flowers delivered weekly to me. The thoughts pierced my heart to think about how much pride he had to set aside to answer tough questions regarding his pregnant girlfriend.
Fall of 2001.
He started joining me at my doctor’s appointments. He starting planning for this baby…my baby girl. He felt her kick, he massaged the charlie-horse ridden calf muscles and went to Lamaze class with me. He introduced me to his family. They welcomed me, us, with open arms. I never once felt ashamed around them. Isn’t that beautiful? I never felt judged.
Winter of 2001-2002.
Kennedy Marie was born on January 20th, after a very long, difficult labor…my sweet Jeremy by my side every second, except for the few minutes when he leaned down to me, pressed his forehead to mine, sputtered the words, “I think I’m going to pass out”, and then went limp… falling backwards into a chair that the very attentive nurse caught him in, taking my IV pole down with him. That made me laugh, and made me angry at the same time. After she was born, Jeremy presented me with a beautiful necklace of a mother embracing her child, a symbol of his love for me, and his trust in me…his trust to love and care for this baby.
Kennedy was introduced to more family and friends that weekend than I can even count. I remember being so amazed at how a tiny little baby, could bring so much love and joy into a room and into the hearts of so many people. It was mesmerizing. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. She was mine. She was ours.
That drive home from the hospital sitting in the backseat next to this tiny baby was when the nerves and insecurities kicked in. My mind raced and my heart rate quickened at every stoplight and I prayed that God would gift me the wisdom and heart to be a mother, the best mother.
The first 6 weeks flew by so quickly despite the many trials of new-mommyhood. The first 2 incredibly painful weeks of nursing a newborn, the physical recovery of birthing a child, the sleep deprivation. Jeremy continued to love me so well, and I fell in love with him even more, watching him fall in love with Miss Kennedy.
On March 8, 2002, Jeremy got down on his knee and asked me to be his wife. He bought us a root beer float to share. He took me to the park where we had our first date and slipped the most beautiful ring onto my shaking finger, promising to love me forever. I had never seen Jeremy so nervous, or heard his voice crack. We went out to our favorite spot for dinner where he had our closest family and friends waiting to surprise me for an engagement party. They had congratulations balloons and champagne. I had never felt so loved in my entire life. I had never felt so special.
We were married 7 months later, on October 25, 2002.
Our love story is so great, so unlikely. I feel so blessed that God provided me (+ one) exactly what/who I needed in that moment. It hasn’t been easy, or perfect, or without pain. I have learned that it’s in pain that we grow. I respect that and I wouldn’t change any of the hard times because of it.
I intend to spend my life honoring this love. Happy 14th Anniversary, Jeremy. I love you more than I can put into words.
Whoever lives in love lives in God…
1 John 4:16