We Had A Baby To Save Our Marriage & Here's What Happened

Ad failed to load

When I turned to my husband after five years of marriage and 11 years together and said I was ready to have a baby — or more accurately, that I was ready to start trying — I had an ulterior motive: I was doing it because I wanted to save my marriage. Admitting that out loud (uh, typing that?) is a truth that I've readily avoided for more than 37 months, namely because I didn't want to admit that I had a baby to save my marriage. Giving birth to my daughter wasn't ever a mistake, and I don’t want her to ever think she was one, but she was the product of a strange and stupid decision at the time. Telling my husband that I wanted a baby felt like the only thing I could do to save us, and even though I suggested it, I didn't really know if it would work.

My husband and I have a long history. We met in seventh grade, started dating during our senior year of high school, and soon shifted from hand-holding sweethearts to a true-love college couple. We lived together by the time we were 19, got engaged at 21, and we were married by 23. And we stayed there — married,without children — for many years, and for a multitude of reasons: our jobs, our lifestyles, our lack of a three-bedroom, two-bath home (complete with two-car garage, oversized backyard and a white picket fence — ah, dreams!). But the main reason we stayed childless was because we weren't really ready for what came next.

As I write this, I can't help but feeling I'm doing a disservice to my daughter. Maybe I am. But there was nothing more right than the arrival of my daughter. The moment they placed her in my arms I knew that she was the smartest decision I'd ever made. In a sea of her parents wrongs, she was so, so right. She was the best mistake we'd ever made.

Ad failed to load

I just had all the wrong reasons for making it.

Over the course of our 11-year history, my partner and I had both changed. I became pensive, angry, and reclusive as the years went on. I struggled with jobs, with school, with the ever-daunting question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I struggled with body dysmorphia and an unmedicated and unmanaged mental illness. My husband’s once-adorable sense of humor turned mean, judgmental, and malicious. He struggled with his anger. He struggled with alcohol. For awhile, we both did. Alcohol became the way I self-medicated and it became an addiction for him.

Ad failed to load

The more we struggled individually, the more we pulled away from each other. The angrier he got, the more withdrawn and depressed I became. It didn't take long for us to morph into nothing more than two broken strangers living in the same house. We were two broken strangers trying in vain to find ways to make ourselves — and our marriage — whole. We'd taken vows and with each passing day, we struggled to find their meaning.

But when a chance job opportunity arose in a new state, we packed up and moved in an instant. Doing such forced us back together because we only had each other. We were forced to face what had made us fall apart.

Ad failed to load

After we'd moved, I was 28, unemployed, and wandering around a new city filled newfound hope. I wanted to believe we could save what had broken, I just didn't know how. As individuals, the move had helped us both find individual happiness. I am transient at heart, and bitten by my wanderlust urge. A new city gave me time and space to breathe as well as a new world to explore. My husband, on the other hand, was away from local haunts and not-so-positive influences. It was then that I started thinking about a kid. I assumed that a pregnancy would mean his drinking would get better, I'd grow mentally stronger, and to top it all off, I had the time to care for a child.

I felt like this was our time. This was when things would get better. We'd get better if only — if only we were complete. A baby would make our house a home. And so we started trying, expecting the process to take a bit, like maybe six months or maybe a year. But it took just six weeks. And before we knew it, I was pregnant. Before we knew it, baby was born.

Ad failed to load

Shockingly enough, our baby didn’t fix us. Yes things got better ... for a bit. During my pregnancy, my husband and I rekindled the feelings we'd lost for each other and our union so many years ago. He looked at me with a loving gaze instead of the bitter, resentful one I'd come to know. We went on dates. We spent time together. But even though we were better, we were far from OK.

After baby was born, I retreated to one corner — a babe on my breast and tears pouring from my eyes — and he to another. He went back to the bottle and my depression shifted to paralyzing postpartum depression. I spiraled out of control.

I know children cannot fix their parents. I know children aren’t objects or pets or things you buy to try and fill a hole in your heart. I know that for most people, children complement a marriage. They don't make it. I knew it then and I know it now, but I still hoped beyond hope that we would be different. That we had a chance.

Ad failed to load

Our problems continued well into our first year as parents. We couldn't shake the cracks that threatened to fold in on us. We fought constantly, as unhappy with ourselves as we were in our partnership.

The day after our daughter's first birthday — a date that I'd long hoped would mark a celebration for us too, not just as parents but also as "survivors" — I placed my wedding ring on the table near his side of the bed and I told him what I'd been so terrified to say for so long:

Ad failed to load
I couldn't do it this any longer.

We had finally broken. Finally shattered. A baby couldn't save us. Not even we could save us.

As I readied to leave, the confessions came pouring out of his mouth: He didn't want to do this anymore either. He didn't want to lose us. He was going to get help, real help, and we were going to work our way up from there.

Ad failed to load

That was a year ago. Since then we've mended. Been honest even when it hurt. Gotten the help we needed. Given each other the support we'd so long denied. We fought like hell to stay together, and every day we fight a little more.

I realized my daughter isn’t the reason my husband and I work today (though I would be lying if I said she wasn’t a motivator). We work because we got help. I sought help for my depression, my own anger, and my struggle with self-esteem. My husband sought help for his addiction. (He's one year sober, and counting.) Getting help gave us the opportunity to come together as two whole, complete people. We were armed with the tools and words and phrases we needed to help us get through the tough times and the even tougher times. Our daughter didn't exactly save our marriage, but she did help save her parents. And we owe her everything.

Images: Pixabay (1), Courtesy of Kimberly Zapata (4)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Things That *Will* Go Wrong Every Time You Plan A Kid-Free Night

The last time my husband and I went out to dinner alone was… actually, I can’t remember. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a movie in a theater in the last year. Before we had children we used to go out all the time. But even with …
By Liza Wyles

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack