Now, our family knows that back when Mark and I were graduating from undergrad together that we had a big 3 week trip all planned and booked to Italy. We were planning on deferring Mark's medical school acceptance for a year and spending that time taking a little break from schooling, traveling, saving some money, and we were hoping to have a baby sometime that year too. Fortunately (for many reasons) Mark felt strongly that we shouldn't take that year off after all, and we ended up moving to Iowa after graduation (for his schooling) and we didn't take that trip.
We'd been married for 2 years when we finished undergrad. Knowing that we had 4 years of med school followed by 3 years of residency ahead of us (followed by being the new guy at his first job) we figured that the soonest we could take that trip to Italy would be for our 10th anniversary. So, we always planned that we'd do a shorter version of that trip for our 10th anniversary. Well, bigger things were in store for us and we ended up being blessed with our 3rd little boy not long before celebrating our milestone anniversary. No complaints here - we're beyond grateful for our little Max and will happily take him over a vacation any day...however I'm still determined to get to Italy with my husband someday!
So as for how we did celebrate our big day...I was 18 days post c-section and doing a lot better than I was at that point after Lincoln's birth (section after 20 hours labor). Things were a lot better with it being a scheduled c-section. So! After Mark got home from work my mom watched Noah & Lincoln, and I got out of the house for the first time (doctor visits don't count) since Max was born. We went out to dinner! Before we left my mom had arranged a surprise for us from the boys. Here is a picture my mom took of the boys and their gift to us.
Lincoln was beyond excited to give it to us, and wasn't understanding the concept of letting us open it (or being careful not to drop it), but it was still so dang cute that my mom had gone out and let them help pick a gift for us. It was a beautiful, engraved gift and I will have to get a close up picture of it (when we finally unpack our home decorations)...and I'll include it in this post at that time.
Here is a picture of Mark and I on our way out the door for our date!
One more shot of us with baby Max (since he came too).
For documentation's sake, I want to tell (in detail) about a conversation that we had over dinner. We had agreed not to spend money on gifts for each other since we just had a baby and were also starting to save up to buy a home (we didn't know at that time that the home we would end up buying would be in Utah instead of Arizona!)...but Mark did have the rhodium plating on my wedding ring redone to make the white gold look perfect again. (Side-note: I hadn't been able to wear my ring for the last few weeks and went to put it on for our big date and panicked when I couldn't find it. Luckily it was just because Mark had it)
However - I digress! We weren't supposed to buy gifts for each other, but Mark had looked up the traditional gift for a 10th anniversary. The modern (U.S.) gift is diamond (out of the question), but the traditional gift is something made of tin. He began to think about things made of tin, which led him to think about the properties of tin. He realized that tin can be molded or made flexible...it can bend without breaking. He realized that our relationship could be represented by such an element as tin...we have had many times when we have been bent without breaking.
So, we discussed many of those over dinner. Being a person whose "love language" is quality time...he knew I'd appreciate a good conversation more than most any gift that he could have given to me anyway. We went through our relationship and talked about times that "bent" our relationship, but didn't break us. Starting from the drama of our on again/off again and long-distance relationship before marriage, to things like:
- The hectic schedule we both had after getting married during undergrad...him working 2 part-time, crazy-hours hospital jobs while finishing his pre-med requirements and taking the MCAT, and me taking between 20-22 credit hours in school for 3 semesters (so I could graduate when he did) while working full-time to carry our health insurance benefits.
- Moving to Iowa for medical school.
- Infertility. And lots of procedures (that didn't work).
- Injuries - like my grease-fire burn (any wonder I don't like cooking?) or his ACL replacement.
- Having our apartment robbed, and later having it burn down (that fire wasn't my fault).
- Adoption roller coaster - including one that fell through.
- Fourth year of med school - spending weeks apart at a time, then visiting him (with baby Noah) in a different state each month where he was rotating...ironically I look back at that time fondly when I was able to travel and spend time with just my one baby (and Mark), but it was stressful at the time while I was a new mom.
- Anxiety of where we would match for residency.
- Moving while pregnant.
- Two kids under 2.
- Car getting stolen.
- Getting through residency itself.
- Where Mark would get a job...then us not being happy to move & leave family in Utah.
- Happy for in-vitro to work again, but the hardest 9 months of our marriage (we both agree) was that pregnancy...I was so, so sick (while also having a 3 & 4 year old to care for) and we'd moved away from family/friends.
We went through and talked about these and other trials that we've had over the 17 years that we've known each other, and during 10 years of marriage. We talked (and in some cases laughed or teared up) about how we got through those times...about how, like tin, we bent (sometimes a lot), but didn't break.
I look back on this conversation already with a bit of a smirk, since while having that conversation we had no idea that within two weeks from that time Mark would unexpectedly be offered (and accept) a job that would require him to leave a job/co-workers that he loved, but allow us to move back near family. We would do this with a colicky 5 week old (and me still a bit sore from my c-section), and buying our first home under time-pressure.
We would later joke that we'd endured 3 of the top 5 most stressful events in life - all compressed into one time period: birth of a child, change of a job, and moving (2 of which were totally unplanned/unexpected)...only leaving death or divorce from the top 5 list, and then the weekend we moved into our new home my grandpa passed away unexpectedly.
It was a very high stress couple of months, but we had a LOT of help from family (especially my brother's family who allowed us to live in their basement for 2 months) that we are so grateful for. We don't anticipate that life's trials will stop at any point, nor do we think that we've had more than our share of them...we are simply grateful to have each other to get through them together, and that our relationship (like tin) has bent and not broken during those times.
I'll never say that our relationship is perfect...and I'll openly admit that most of the avoidable problems in our relationship are usually my fault, but I'm so gratful for *us* and that when it comes down to it we stand by each other, and balance each other out. I'm grateful to be married to Mark, and look forward to celebrating the anniversaries of crystal, china, silver and gold together...and I'm still hoping to someday get to take that trip to Italy together ;)
I love you, Mark.