Monday, July 17, 2006

Life has a way of forcing you to stop and recognize things - even when you didn't know they needed to be recognized.

Today is our 7th wedding anniversary. Seven years ago I married a man willfully and without ANY reservations. No small feat for me. This is a second marriage for me and follows an engagement to a third person in between. Chris was, and still is, the embodiment of everything I was looking for in a man: intelligent, supermodel looks (ok, maybe not internationally, but he was in print ads for the local farm supply store at the time), ambitious, caring, sensitive, laid back, open minded, non-judgemental and physically active.

Over the years we’ve had a high amount of stress and change. Our first year was filled with pregnancy and adjusting to a small town. The second year brought a colicky baby and a new house that needed extensive remodeling. The next three years brought two new jobs, another baby, more do-it-yourself hell and Chris finished his undergraduate degree after starting it 22 years prior. Year six we moved across the country and waited 18 months for our house in Wisconsin to sell. Oh – and two more new jobs. Year seven the house sold and both kids were out of diapers.

Through all this “stuff”, one thing has been clear. Chris and I did not have enough time to fully establish “us” as a couple before we became “we” as a family. The kids have always been our number one priority and that has caused a lot of strain on our marriage. I’m not saying that kids have undermined us – I just mean that because they are so needy, and completely change the focus of your life, that the strengthening of our relationship has often taken a back seat to all the other events/priorities that have occurred.

Coming to Salt Lake has helped tremendously. Things have slowed down a bit. The kids are getting easier and we try to have a date at least once a month. Still we know that things could be better between us and that what we probably need to focus more concerted energy on our marriage to make it better.

Since my dad is visiting, we were thinking of taking advantage of the free babysitting and going out to dinner tonight. However, things happen sometimes that free you up for more “together” time than you planned.

Yesterday morning, Chris and his brother drove up to Park City to go mountain biking. Chris has entered a series of races and was going to check out a route that he would be riding in a 100 mile relay race this upcoming Saturday. After riding well for over two hours, he encountered a patch of rocky gravel. He slowed down and tried to safely maneuver through it as there was a drop off on one side of the trail. For one reason, or another, he was unable to avoid falling. Since his feet were clipped securely to his pedals, and he couldn’t get his left foot clipped out fast enough, he put his left arm out to stop the fall. He fell down the drop off a bit with his bike on top of himself. He did get himself unclipped, but as picked himself up he knew right away that something bad had happened to his left wrist. Things didn’t look like they were in the right places. His brother, a weekend ski patrol during the winter with lots of first aid knowledge, immediately dropped to the ground and grabbed some sticks for a splint wrapping Chris’ wrist with a bike tube. They walked down to a chair lift and the operator radioed for help. Two EMTs drove up the mountain in a Suburban and gave him a better splint. I was already on my way to Park City as he was getting this help. He had called and from the tone in his voice I knew it was pretty serious. Or maybe it was because he was telling me that it hurt like a mother f*@#er and that he needed to get the emergency room right away.

After giving the EMTs some information for their reports, and loading Chris’ bike into the already fully loaded trunk of my Passat, we drove straight to the hospital. This took about 25 minutes and then we had to wait about 40 minutes to be seen. Watching Chris in so much pain was one of the hardest things I have ever done. He was given a couple pain killers and then taken to X-ray. The positions that the technician had to put his wrist in were so painful for him that we both started crying. He told me that it was the most pain he had ever felt.

Around 3:45 pm, five and half hours after the accident, the orthopedic doctor numbed his arm and moved the broken off end of his radius bone back into place. This was the culminating procedure in an afternoon of prodding and poking (he had to have an IV put into the back of both hands – THREE attempts to insert had failed.) To numb his arm, the doctor cuffed his arm at the bicep and administered 20 mg of Lidacaine. Thirty mg. of this is lethal – it stops your heart. The ortho, a nice Norwegian boy from Minnesota, assured us that he knew what he was doing. I tried to give him my complete trust since we share the same home and heritage, but it was hard. As Chris was given the Lidacaine, we exchanged a stare. One of those stares that needs no words, but the two people know exactly what is being said. He was telling me that he was scared, that he loved me and that everthing was going to be fine. I was telling him that I loved him too and that I was also scared.

Around 5 pm we finally arrived home. My father had tried to keep the kids occupied and fed for the entire day – no small task. My brother-in-law, and his wife, went over to our house to assist for a few hours as our house guest didn't really know what to do with kids for an entire day.

After I dropped off Chris, I ran to Walgreen’s for his prescription. I ran over to the grocery store for chicken to grill while I was waiting for his pills and then ran home to make dinner. I was pretty weak from all the stress, and my lack of food most of the day. As my sister-in-law continued to pitch in, I expressed my guilt over leaving the kids all day. I felt badly that they hadn’t had the entertaining family day we had originally planned. I also was upset that I had been away in general.

She then sarcastically said something that stopped me in my tracks, “Yeah, you were just busy being an attentive wife all day – you should feel guilty.” I just found that so thought provoking. I know I wouldn’t have felt any guilt about spending the day with Harry or Ella if they had been in an accident.

As I think about my anniversary, I hope that this reminds me of how important nurturing a marriage is to keep it going and making it better. I need to spend as much time working on that as much as I do worrying about which teacher I want to request for Harry or if Ella has worked on learning her phonics enough.

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