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
• C-Diff
• 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.


Kim said...

What a sweet post, happy anniversary!

Lauren said...

Good lord, there should be a disclaimer that pregnant women should NOT read this post w/out a big box of tissues nearby!

Your wife's strength amazes me, but you know that already.

Happy Anniversary to one of the strongest, most amazing couples I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Hopeful34 said...

Seriously! never mind being pregnant reading this. I'm not pregnant and i'm balling. Lol there should be a disclaimer. You truly do see your wife in a different way when it comes to being pregnant and giving birth. You are an amazing man and you'll be an amazing father. I am praying for you guys and the babies everyday. Happy anniversary!!!

Diane, John & Adam said...

Happy Anniversary Brookie and Joe!

We have always known Brooke was special, and always really liked Joe. But Joe, you have really amazed me through all of this. You have nerves of steel and the patience of a saint. I'm so glad my Niece has such a wonderful, supportive husband that virtully worships the ground she walks on. Those babies will have a great set of parents. Keep strong Brookie, each day makes those babies stronger.
Better watch out Joe, Brooke will have the babies kickboxing before they can walk. Nobody will mess with those kids in the schoolyard.

Happy Anniversary,

Diane, John and Adam

Christi said...

Unlike the other comments, I don't know you guys personally but I can tell that you have what it takes to go thru this. It's not going to be easy, which I know from first hand experience. My husband and I are still having stress related tiffs that you wouldn't have if you didn't have a complicated pregnancy and now a baby in the NICU. But hang in there...and happy anniversary.

I thought of Brooke today when I was at the hospital visiting my little man and came around the corner and saw one of my fave NICU nurses talking to a mom with a triple stroller...with 3 healthy 7 months olds, opposite of yours, 1 2 boys and 1 girl. They looked amazing and were attracting a lot of attention of course. They also were NICU graduates. triple blessed, just like you guys!

Mommy Shay said...

Joe, you need not make me cry like that this early in the morning! That was beautiful and a perfect description of Brooke. Happy anniversary to both of you, love you guys!

Amber said...

Happy Anniversary!! What a beautiful post. We just celebrated are anniversary a few days ago. Along with our trio's first birthday.

Brooke said...

This is the nicest post ever and I am naturally crying my eyes out. I love you so much. Happy anniversary.

Anonymous said...

No need to be pregnant with this one - the tears are flowing here but they have been this entire time. Both of you are doing an amazing job - Be Proud of Yourselves... I Love You guys.
The seniors are hanging in there - they ask about you all the time -in fact NUMEROUS times a day. Yesterday Mom Mom grabbed her picture frames of her 5 grandsons and displayed them smack - right in front of the visiting nurse and aide. They all know who the triplets daddy is... She also took them on a tour of your wedding pictures and had them sit there while we all watched the little tv (digital frame) - I have the feeling that they've been on this tour before... Pop Pop remembers 1 boy and 2 girls - he has no clue what he had for dinner but he remembers 1 boy and 2 girls... Keep fighting for those little angels - they are your life - every breath that that you take and believe me it never ends. It just gets stronger. Happy Anniversary...

Patience my dear little ones - keep working with Mommy and Daddy and continue to gain weight and mature. We love you and can't wait to see you BUT we need you to be healthy and strong. xoxoxo

All My Love Always, Auntie :) xoxoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Okay, well now I am crying. Happy Anniversary to you both. You are both doing an amazing job as it is never easy on the daddy when this stuff if going on. I was on bedrest from 21 weeks on and I have seen how difficult it can be. Sending you both tons of prayers.

shawna said...

What an amazing tribute to an amazing woman. Happy Anniversary!

Molly Pepper said...

I wish I knew you all! haha I'm just a reader of ... And a Cookie for Dessert that is also rooting for your precious babies.

Love endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13

Happy Anniversary!

The Home Cook said...

Seriously, Joe, I needed at least five tissues reading this post. You are so sweet to write such an amazing post about Brooke. I know I haven't known her that long, but she is everything you said here and more. She's already an amazing mother.

Happy Anniversary!

E. Merritt said...

What an awesome and heart-felt post. Her physical strength before the bed rest will help her to quickly regain her strength back afterwards. I can tell your relationship as a couple has been tested and yet has grown through these challenging circumstances.

Colleen said...

Aww, sweetest post EVER! Happy anniversary, guys! I am already in awe of Brooke and all she has gone through but you definitely did her justice here with your words.

Ivory said...

This is the most beautiful post I have ever read. Happy Anniversary!

Stephanie said...

I cried reading this post- so beautiful. Your beautiful babies are in my prayers daily! Happy Anniversary!

Tiff said...

Aww...what a great post! Happy Anniversary to you.

Tiffany said...

Beautiful post. Happy anniversary!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous posters, no need to be pregnant to cry at that one. You are a fighter and inspiration to me (with a great husband :)). I pray for you and your growing family often. Happy Anniversary!

Tamarakp (from the nest)

Stacie said...

A beautiful post. Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

This is so sweet! You brought tears to my eyes. You are so lucky to have each other and are both fighting for your babies. Brooke as I have read this blog, I have thought of how strong you are and how much of a fighter you really are. Happy anniversary.

Emily said...

A beautiful post! Happy Anniversary. Thinking of you all tonight...many prayers!

nora said...

crying pregnant lady here..that was really beautiful. i am praying for you guys so much tonight.. you deserve so much happiness, and i hope it comes to you


We have Angel Wings said...

I'm not pregnant, yet I'm still crying.

So beautiful and true.

Happy Anniversary!!!


Anonymous said...

the babies are here
the babies are here
the babies are here

thoughts and prayers for the five of all


Anonymous said...

god bless you and your sweet babies. if they're half as strong as mom and dad, they'll be doing very well. all the best.

Anonymous said...

i don't think my heart has ever swelled so much in my life, i believe it may be overflowing from the pure love you two share... you two are truly inspiring =)

Laura said...

After reading your post I went to my hubby and showed him your post. I said, "see, this is a man who gets it. He gets his wife and appreciates her." You are going to be great parents.

Lori (o: said...

Just completely awesome...

wifeplzak said...

I am not going to lie that brought tears to my eyes. Those babies are so lucky to have parents so much in love, happy anniversary!