No Really. I Did.
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So this story starts out just like any other love story. Boy meets girl, they fall madly in love. Actually…that’s about where the commonalities between our story and the average love story ends.
My husband and I met on Plenty of Fish. Back before Tinder, POF was the muddy pond mostly full of penis brains and hopeless romantics where one night stands were openly broadcast and “relationship seekers” were scoffed at. When I found a cute (ok, SEXY) guy who also had “looking for friendship” in his profile, I rolled the dice. Literally one message in and we already had butterflies. Corny, but true. We were a couple of odd ducklings in a sea of suckerfish, and somehow we had found each other.
We were living about 1000 kms apart at that point, so email and FaceTime were our cupid and bow. Blowing off our friends to Skype in our PJ’s on Saturday nights, racking up long distance phone bills so high that I was losing weight from grocery neglect. The dude even wrote me a song! (check it out here – https://soundcloud.com/kemal-evans/stumble-on). After a couple months of this nuttiness he finally decided to fly his cute lil’ butt out to see/meet me. I won’t bore you with the mushygushy ass details but…it went well.
Skip to a month or so later, I was packing up my single girl life and following my stud muffin out to the West Coast.
Blah blah blah, life life life, fast forward to December 2011. I was told by my doctor that, due to various medical issues, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to carry children. Approximately 9 days after this news, I got pregnant with trouble maker number 1. Safe to say that doctor is a bit of a dipshit, no? Anyways, yadda yadda. We freak out. We decided take one last babymoon (where you go somewhere that you know you won’t get a chance to go for a very long time because you are about to have a mini-you that ends your life as you know it) and the bee-eff proposed.
AWOOGA! Starry heart eyes, over the moon, blingy finger, pee my pants. Bloody excited. The ring was perfection. The location was breathtaking. In the months following I dreamt of nothing but puffy white dresses, foot popping kisses, and bratty flower girls. I was basically a 5 year old in Barbie high heels and a Cinderella costume dress all over again.
Our little bundle of joy/poop was born at the end of that summer, and we were consumed with new baby life. All thoughts of wedding bells slipped through the cracks in my overwhelmed mom brain.
It’s a pretty intense thing, becoming a new mom. Not at all like you imagine it to be. People would ask me if I was ready to be a mom and I would always respond with “Oh, I don’t think I’ll mind staying up all night with the baby! I’m usually up pretty late anyways!”. When I said stupid shit like that I was picturing snuggling up with this angelic, cooing baby while watching Friends reruns. I did NOT, however, picture bouncing the baby in his car seat, that is strung up on his dad’s pull up bar with bungey cords, for four hours straight because it was the only place he would sleep. Yes. That really did happen. For months. Oh the screaming! Our kid was a screamer. Screaming so long, and so loud that I literally thought he was going to implode. That, or I was. Your body goes from gigantic, but adorable, to looking a bit like a mostly deflated balloon. You’re exhausted, you’re hormonal, your boobs are leaking all over everything you touch. You smell a bit like old cheese. That adjustment can be so hard on couples.
Not us. It seemed that we were among the lucky ones (my husband loves aged white cheddar). Sure, we had our growing pains, but we felt more solid than we did before. So…let’s get planning this rockin’ white party babe!
Just kidding. Once #1 turned 7 months old I got pregnant with #2. So…ya. Some more reassurance that the doctor was getting high on her own supply. Wedding plans hit the back burner again until WHO KNOWS WHEN! Which was cool because when #2 was about 8 months old #3 came a knockin’. WHATTHEFUCK? Apparently the pull out method should only be applied to grey hairs.
Frustration was mounting at that point. Parenthood is basically synonymous with sacrifice, and in my mind I had sacrificed more than enough. It was time. In a first trimester fit of tears, we finally set a wedding date for the next year, when our wombling was going to be about 8 months old, and our other monkeys would be 2 and 3. Equal parts ambitious and insane, to be planning a wedding with a newborn and 2 toddlers underfoot, but I was determined.
We pictured a quintessential West Coast wedding, inviting our families to celebrate with us, and our midwife to perform the ceremony. Tucked in to a serene cove on a private beach, we were to tie the knot inside of a beautiful open sided structure beside a roaring fire, a lapping ocean and surrounded by a circle of our loved ones. Walking down the aisle to Bob Marley, reading out our personally poised nuptials…I had built it up to perfection in my head.
After our littlest gremlin was born I immediately started the dieting (many, many times over). I did the waist training, I did the “no sugar cleanse”, I did the protein shakes, I did the fitness classes, I did the “magical, fat burning wraps”. My ass wasn’t budging. As the weeks ticked down to the wedding and my arm-ginas were still plump, I started practicing posing in the mirror. Sucking in my mommy tummy, popping out my elbows to make my chubby arms look slimmer, jutting out my hip to make my waist look more shapely. I was especially obsessed with my face. My fat, fucking face. I would look at every angle, trying to memorize how exactly to stick my tongue to the roof of my mouth so that my double chin would single out for our photos. I had 3 babies worth of weight packed onto that face, and those arms, and that tummy, and it was consuming me. I would laugh it off when mentioning it to my friends, joke about the jiggle. But, to be honest, the pressure that I was putting on myself to “bounce back” was immense.
It’s funny how the universe works, isn’t it? Our household was hit with a particularly nasty preschool plague just a week and a half before the wedding was scheduled. It took us OUT. Like down and out. Each and every bloody one of us. As us mommies usually do, I shook it off better than the rest of the family. Or so I thought. About 5 days before the wedding, I was hit. Hard. My sinuses were so sore that I had a permanent migraine radiating up the left side of my nose. All of the teeth along my left, upper jaw were throbbing and I couldn’t eat. All common symptoms of a sinus infection. So I did everything that I could think of. Downing hippie tinctures, breathing in thieves oil steam, using the netti-pot twice a day. Nothing helped, and finally I went to the doctor. He prescribed me two different types of antibiotics for what he called a “stubborn sinus infection”. Despite the antibiotics, I woke up 3 days before the wedding with a swollen face. Mildly at first, but as the day progressed, so did my cheek. I continued on to my hair appointment, my nail appointment, my wedding errands…but by that evening I was in so much pain that I had to cancel my bachelorette party. My face had swollen out so far that my speech was significantly affected, and my left eye wouldn’t open all the way. Surely the antibiotics hadn’t kicked in yet? Surely it was an easy fix. Yet, I found myself heading in to the emergency room at 4 in the morning, 2 days before my wedding.
By that point the swelling had extended so far that my temple was swollen; risky business. The ER doctor that I saw was beyond reassuring. He deduced that it wasn’t a sinus infection after all, but a tooth abscess gone horribly wrong. IV antibiotics, an emergency dental surgery scheduled just a few hours away, and even MORE antibiotics that he guaranteed me would “dry up” any remaining yucky shizzzz living in my face. Brilliant. Wonderful. I was trying not to think about the fact that I would be getting married in 2 days, and concentrate on what he was saying. It would all be fine. I’m sure this happened to brides all the time! These people were professionals, they would help me. They knew how important this was.
After approximately 37 minutes of nightmare sleep, I drove back in for my surgery. I’m censoring the shit out of that situation because it was really, REALLY not cool. Shiver. Shudder. It also just so happened to be the place that my wedding dreams were fucking shattered. The abscess was so aggressive and far along that it had eaten through not only all of my gum tissue, but also the bone that separated my mouth from my sinuses (hence why I had all of the pressure and pain through there). The surgeon laughed when I asked if my face would be ok for the wedding. She said that it would take weeks for the swelling to subside to normal.
Driving home with a wad of gauze shoved in to my swollen, bleeding cheek, exhuasted and in tremendous amounts of pain, I broke down on a level I never had before. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I had a hard time looking at myself in the mirror, yet this would be my face on my wedding day? I had obsessed about my double chin, my chubby arms, my flabby thighs for months. It was like the universe was laughing in my face. My gigantic, pus filled face. The one day in your life that you are meant to feel and look your most beautiful, and I would look like Quazimodo.
I got home, filled my prescriptions for 2 different kinds of pain killers and antibiotics, climbed into my bed and cried. For about 8 hours. I contemplated all of it. Obviously we had to postpone the wedding. I couldn’t get married looking like this, it wasn’t an option. Even though my brother, my parents, my best friend had all traveled over 1000 kilometres to be a part of it. Even though everything was paid for, and planned. Even though we had waited almost 4 years to finally get married. Even though I was madly in love.
I couldn’t postpone the damn wedding.
I was eye to eye with my demons. My weaknesses, my insecurities. They have done so much damage in my life. They have ruled over me, dictating the choices that I have made, every single day. Pool party? Hell no, you can’t go to that! Your thunder thighs will cause tidal waves! THE KARAOKE BOOK HAS ADELE IN IT! Ha, don’t even think about it. You sound like a tone deaf cat being strangled. Think that hair cut is cute? Not on your moon face, dumbdumb.
Man, it’s depressing as hell to speak these things out loud, but that has been my inner voice for about 15 years. That voice has wasted so many opportunities, robbed so many experiences. I was about to let it ruin one of the happiest days of my life. I have an incredible support network. People that love me unconditionally and traveled a long way just to see me happy and adored. I have 3 beautiful, healthy and happy little boys that revel in seeing their Mom and Dad together and in love. I have a stunning man. A man that loves me. Loves my sense of humour, my compassionate nature, the dorky little love notes I leave for him when he works late. He loves my wobbly bits, my stubbly legs, my dimpled thighs. He even loves my big, fat face. How could I speak so poorly of his wife? Their mom, their daughter, their best friend? I had always thought that I loved myself but in that moment I realized…I never really had. If I postpone this wedding that I have waited SO long for, I am saying yet again that I’m not good enough.
That, my friends, is such horse shit.
I pictured myself as I wanted to be on that day. I wanted to be with the people that I love the most. I wanted to play on the beach with my babies, in my beautiful wedding dress, and kiss my new husband as the waves soaked my funky wedding shoes. I wanted to walk arm in arm with my dad and take in the scenery. I wanted to tear up as the love of my life read his vows to me. I wanted to be strong, and confident, and beautiful. So, I was.
It really was that simple. My options were limited, so I chose to be happy.
The wedding day was such a whirlwind. My hair was flawless, my makeup was stunning, my dress made me cry (shoutout to my DREAMTEAM!).
The weather was better than I could have imagined, and the ceremony was HILARIOUS. Perfectly chaotic, interrupted less than 30 seconds in with a 3 year old tugging on his groom-daddy’s arm, telling him he needed to pee.
I’ve realized that I’ll never look back on that day as perfect. I will always remember feeling self conscious, wishing my face looked normal and my smile wasn’t crooked. I’ve also realized that none of that matters. I was brave on that day. I conquered something that had championed me for a majority of my life, and I took a huge step towards being exactly who I want to be. I didn’t feel beautiful on my wedding day, but I felt confident. And badass. And worthy of all of it.
I look back on that day and I swell with pride. Just thankfully, not in my cheek.