I distinctly remember every moment of our wedding day. If someone were to ask me to tell them about it, I could go back in time and recall each second. I woke up, twisted the engagement ring that sat on my finger and smiled. I can imagine myself stepping into my dress. I can still feel the crisp air on my bare shoulders as I patiently waited for you to turn around and see me for the first time that day. I stood in front of a hundred people and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. You squeezed my hand and glanced at me during the ceremony like you had a secret that only I knew.
When I promised my life to you, I knew I loved you. I knew you were a good, good man. I knew you only wanted what was best for me. Doubts never clouded my thinking that day. I couldn't imagine loving you more than I did in that moment. I was all in.
The night I told you I was pregnant, you laughed so hard you almost cried. I couldn't ask for a better reaction. And every day forward, before you left for work, you placed a hand on my growing belly and told me you loved both of us. The first time I had morning sickness, you watched helplessly from the bathroom door as I emptied my stomach over and over again. I leaned my back against the cool, ceramic toilet and you sat down beside me in silence. After a few minutes, you said, "You're beautiful." I rolled my eyes, but I wondered, have I ever loved you more than I do right now?
The day we left the hospital, I stood in front of the mirror, holding our son. I inspected my body, inch by inch. I was proud of the fact that a child came out of me. I was proud because labor didn't kill me and I was a little nervous that it would. I remember being sort of shocked that I still looked seven months pregnant even though a seven-pound baby had vacated my body. I guess I thought I would magically look like the person I was nine months ago. I kept these things to myself as you took him from my arms and put him in the car seat for the first time. You told him that he'd better thank me someday for delivering him. That it was hard work and I had already done so much for him even though he was only three days old. You kissed my forehead and asked if I was ready to go. I don't remember answering you. I think I was scared to leave. But I do remember telling you that I loved you.
Today, babbling baby noises from beside our bed woke me up. I twisted the wedding ring on my finger and opened my eyes. Yours were already open and you met my gaze. Your eyes were lined in red and bleary from a night of little rest. You smiled at me and blew a strand of hair out of my face. I wrinkled my nose, sat up and lifted our baby out of his bed. You took his hand and sang a silly song in a high voice because we've been trying to get him to smile for weeks now. I know he'll smile any day now. The baby app on my phone said so.
I watched you play with him. Your hair was sticking up in a funny way and your lips were chapped. You smelled like smoke and sweat from a fire you fought the day before. No matter how many times you shower, that scent lingers for days. I thought I couldn't love you more than I did in that moment.
I knew we were a good match when I married you. I knew I loved you. But I didn't know that one late night, we would sit in bed and you would ask me about the dreams I had for myself. And when I told you what I wanted to do with my life, I didn't know that you would do everything you could to make that happen for me. I didn't know that you would go above and beyond in every way. I didn't know that I would love you more today than I did yesterday.
People say that love after children is difficult. They say that marriages wither like grass in a drought. Fatigue sets in and frustration ensues. It's hard to be frustrated with a tiny infant, so you take it out on your spouse. That's happened to me. But, so far, I've found that love is richer after babies. I firmly believe that love isn't a mystic, driving force that comes and goes as it pleases. Love is a choice. And when my soul feels dry and parched, I lash out at you. But you calmly and wisely choose to come and make me feel brand new again. You choose to love me when I feel unlovable.
Dear, sweet husband, I want you to know that love still exists between us. When Valentine's Day isn't quite as romantic as it used to be because of diapers, spit up and early bed times, know that I wouldn't have it any other way. When it gets hard, I'll choose to be with you. I'll choose you over anyone else. Don't ever worry that I'll fall out of love with you. That won't happen. I will choose to love every part of you because you do the same for me.