Friday, June 26, 2009
My Wife, the Fighter
Brooke and I got engaged back in August of 2001. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that it was around that time that she started to get into exercising.
She was in her last year of college and I was working at my first teaching job, so our life in dorm rooms was over. I guess it was only natural that she’d want to start getting into shape when our weekends of wasting away in front of the tv with take-out, Ben and Jerry’s, and no exercise was over.
At first, she bought some Billy Blanks tai bo VHS tapes and worked out a few times each week in front of the tv in our apartment. Then a few more tapes and a couple DVDs found their way into the collection, and she started the daily workout routines. I even did a few of the workouts with her every now and again—I saw how hard she was working and didn’t want to feel like a slacker.
And after a thankfully brief stint commuting to a job in NYC, Brooke found herself with more time on her hands and so she joined a local gym. Since she didn’t have to spend the extra hours on the train every day, she refocused her energies on working out. And sometime around the middle of 2003, I realized just how buff my wife was becoming.
When we got married on June 27, 2003, Brooke couldn’t have looked more beautiful. She had dropped all the extra college weight (I did too but I put all of it back on very quickly after the wedding, plus some extra for good measure) and walked down the isle like a model straight out of one of her bridal magazines.
Silly me, I assumed that she would ease up on the exercising after the wedding—I couldn’t have been more wrong. She started working out multiple times every day, getting more and more into kickboxing and toning her arms. Remember the scene from Terminator when Linda Hamilton was doing pull-ups in her prison cell? Well, she had nothing on Brooke.
When we bought our house in September of 2007, Brooke’s favorite part wasn’t the yard for Tucker or the extra bedrooms or the nice neighborhood; it was the basement workout room. She has a virtual library of workout videos, and full-sized punching bag, and more weights than I can count. She’s got her exercise balls and her steps and framed posters of herself with Billy Blanks and Cathe Friedrich. In short, she has her own gym.
Should could probably bench press more than any woman I’ve ever met. My wife is tough. She is strong. But I didn’t know how strong Brooke really was until she got pregnant.
Let me list for you all the things that my beautiful wife has had to fight through:
• A year of failed pregnancy attempts
• Three failed IUIs
• Two failed IVFs
• A chemical pregnancy
• Two ER trips for bleeding
• Emergency surgery to remove an ovary and a fallopian tube
• A shortened cervix and a doctor who would do nothing about it
• Implantation of a cerclage
• Bedrest for the past two months
• Water breaking at only 24 weeks
And let me take it one step further. Because of all the complications early in the pregnancy, she was hesitant to let her sister and mother throw her a baby shower. And then, in the weeks leading up to it, she started to get excited. It was the first and only thing that would be “normal” about this pregnancy—everything has been so hard and such an ordeal, and now finally here was something that would make her feel like she was just like every other pregnant mother. Despite the fact that she was on bedrest and would have to lay down on a couch the entire time, she was really looking forward to it. But then, 36 hours before the shower, her water broke and she’s been confined to the hospital ever since. No shower, and no sense of normalcy that accompanies it.
But Brooke is strong. Every day, she fights. She fights for our babies in a way that amazes me every time I see her. Every day, she has ultrasounds and monitors and tests, and every day she keeps going, never letting the unfairness of it all get to her. She gets sad, but she doesn’t give up. She gets frustrated, but she keeps fighting.
I go up to the hospital and we talk for a few minutes about what the doctors said that day, what the babies looked like on the last round of scans, and what to expect tomorrow. And then we move on. She tells me about the nurses and their gossip, she talks about what she’s reading or watching on her dvd player, and she makes sure that I’m taking care of myself and our animals and the house. And sometimes she has a quick cry about how hard things are, about how worried she is about the babies. But it passes quickly and then she goes right back to fighting.
Because that’s what she is: a fighter.
Happy Anniversary, Baby. I love you more than words. And I couldn’t be more proud of you every single day.