Internet, today you get a reprieve from pregnancy discussion. But don't worry, tomorrow we find out who, exactly, is growing inside my body, AND YOU BETTER BELIEVE I'LL BE HERE TO TELL YOU.
Until then, let us discuss something else.
On March 3, exactly 18 hours before staring, shocked, at a positive pregnancy test (and then another. And then two more...), something else amazing happened: Todd proposed.
And boy, that was a magical time. Both of us completely unaware of how monumentally our lives were really about to change the next day. For those 18 hours, we were just Todd and Krista, engaged, and it was good.
So allow me to back up.
I'm fairly certain I was prepared to marry Todd before Todd was the Todd I know now. At the time, Todd was simply a character on Twitter, just like many other people I know. A number among the thousands of strangers I follow. We'd met, once. I was twitterpated, of course. I've told this story before.
But before our story began, while I was fresh in Bend and faced with the terrifying prospect of dating (horror), I had a conversation with my mom, like I do. We discussed what I looked for in a guy, and the deal-breakers I set as hard limits. At 34, my incredibly high standards were starting to feel like a road block. But I'm a stubborn asshole who refuses to settle.
On anything. Ever.
Once upon a time, and for a long time, I knew I'd struggle if dating a man who already had children. I had very real and personal reasons for this. And I'll tell you, as someone now absorbed in that exact life, it is very hard, and I recognize why I set those limits for myself. Immersing yourself into someone else's life with a child is an incredibly complex experience for someone with anxiety, an overactive mind, and insecurities 32 miles deep, no matter how wonderful the child.
I would be a big, fat, hypocrite if I tried to convince you I was awesome at this. But you do your best and move forward as gracefully as possible to overcome and understand your anxieties.
I am not graceful.
I remain honest about it.
I try again.
But as this conversation came up with my mom, well before Todd was Todd, I said these exact words:
"But I know a guy. Todd. He has a daughter and I'd totally marry him."
Those words came out of my mouth. I knew so very little about him, but I knew he was good. He was inherently good. He was also hot, and that is definitely for sure on my list of standards. Let's be real.
I shall remain honest.
I've always remembered that conversation, and have told Todd the story several times. Last year, as our relationship progressed and we began making plans to relocate my life back to Wisconsin, it was under the stipulation that there were no guarantees.
Just because I was moving home, it did not mean Todd and I were guaranteed forever. He told me this more than once. I suppose it's a lot of pressure when someone moves 2,000 miles for you. My moving home was not a promise we were spending forever side by side. Sure, that was the goal and the hope, but there are no guarantees. We should all know this by now.
However, every time he told me this, I'd agree, I'd nod, but I knew he was full of shit. I would marry him. I knew it. He'd probably know it eventually.
Fast-forward to March 3, 2017.
I'd returned home late the previous night from a fast and busy business trip to Florida. It was a Friday evening, and I walked in the door at the end of a long day of work, exhausted from three days in Fort Lauderdale. Fun fact: I was pregnant, unknowingly. And I now fully understand why I felt so awful.
My anxiety was on high, high alert as I walked into my too-small apartment, alive with noise and messes and an excited 5-year-old who wanted to play, while Todd was busy making tomato soup and grilled cheese.
I promptly wanted to pass out. Literally. I just wanted to disappear into a cave of solitude until I could unwind all the way down. That's the thing about anxiety. It cripples you, and when there is no escape, there is no escape.
Todd greeted me with a kiss, as he does, grilled cheese spatula in hand. I, as I often do, found myself overwhelmed at the prospect of a busy weekend, little rest, and a messy apartment. I was so tired. I just wanted quiet. At the time, my apartment was in complete disarray. We were moving into our house the very next weekend.
Life was a wide open mess of boxes and plans.
I turned my back to the mess and looked at the kitchen, willing myself to breathe. Todd asked if I was alright. In response, I cried.
Why did I feel so overwhelmed? Why was I so tired? Why was I so bad at navigating this life? Why did everything feel like a challenge for me? What if I was never good at any of it? Why can I not nap until July? Why is pizza not acceptable for breakfast?
Okay those last two I just made up, but that's legit.
In return, he put his arm around me.
Now, this is not to say Todd is uncaring or cold, but that gesture caught me off guard at the time. I still don't know why. These meltdowns aren't particularly rare for me, but they can often lead to prickly conversations and tense feelings on both sides.
Instead, that night he just put his arm around me and told me he loved me. He assured me I was okay, that I was going to be okay. I think I will remember that moment with as much clarity as I remember what came after.
We stood there for a while, quiet, in a shitty, messy kitchen. I cried, because I cry. And he said, "Let's go outside and talk."
Okay it was March. It was dark. It was cold. I had slippers on my feet. Outside sounded like a terrible place to go. With Eden just feet away watching TV in the living room, I assumed he wanted to have this very grownup conversation about anxious feelings away from her young ears. In my apartment, there really was nowhere to go for privacy.
That made sense. There was no need for her to see me cry, particularly when I had no logical reason for it.
But I still didn't want to go outside.
But Todd scooted to the coat rack to grab his coat. I continued to stare at him, planted in the kitchen, wearing my slippers, daring him to make me go outside just then.
He turned off the stove and grabbed my hand. "Come on, get your coat."
You guys he was making me not only go outside, but to the backyard where there was nothing but a faulty motion light, dog poop, and barely any room to stand on the mini stoop outside the door.
I protested a bit, making a fuss about leaving Eden alone in the house, where certainly she'd be scared. It didn't work.
I didn't want my coat. I walked out in my slippers. He was bundled in his coat because bless his damn heart. (Spoiler alert: he had a ring in the coat pocket).
I was certain this would not be a lengthy conversation. More of a, "Listen, Krista. Pull yourself together. Put on your big girl pants. Eat a damn grilled cheese sandwich. And let's do this shit, okay? You're fine."
I prepared myself, tears wiped from my face.
We stood awkwardly in the cold and the dark for a moment. I awaited the "pull yourself together" speech. Instead, he told me I was the love of his life.
Why did he seem nervous?
I was cold.
But now I felt nervous. Someone once promptly broke up with me after declaring their endless love with words.
And then, without another word, he said, "It would be my greatest honor if you would be my wife."
He held my hands and looked at me as he said this, and we stood there. We just stood. I had no idea what was happening.
Did he just propose to me? Did he mean it? Was he just trying to make me stop crying? If I say yes right now, am I agreeing to a real marriage proposal? What is happening? Can I ask Twitter?
AND WE CONTINUED TO STAND. No words.
I think I might have asked, "What?" But honestly, it all happened so very much out of nowhere that I don't know for sure if it even happened. I think it did, though, because we most definitely have an entire wedding happening in 15 days.
He finally reached into his pocket, got on one knee, and opened a small, red box. THERE WAS A RING INSIDE. I couldn't particularly see it because, you know, it was dark outside, but there was a ring, and he took it from the box, placed it on my finger, and that happened right there on the tiny doorstep outside my messy apartment. There in the dark, in the cold.
And I... cried.
Of course I would marry him. I always knew I would marry him. This new life challenged me in ways I've never been challenged, but he is my best friend, and I loved him before I ever knew just how much my life would change in every conceivable way.
And I still love him.
And I will always love him.
And on June 16, he and I will become "we."
And I'll look at my mom, remembering that long ago phone conversation from Bend, Oregon, and I'll come at her with her own favorite phrase:
"I TOLD YOU SO."
She loves that.
Todd and I celebrated in a quiet way in that messy apartment on a Friday night. We shared the news with Eden, with our friends and family. Eden asked for a group hug. My mom cried via FaceTime, as she does. Instagram and Facebook exploded. And before going to sleep, we rested on the bed, alone. It felt perfectly simple and exhilarating.
We were getting married. WE WERE GETTING MARRIED.
I'll never forget how that felt. Lying beside the person I'd just agreed to promise my life to. Every fear, all my anxiety, the unseen challenges -- they disappeared for that time. Me, Todd, and our future.
The following afternoon, I'd walk nervously out of the bathroom with a positive pregnancy test in my hand and an entirely new challenge in our path. But for that night, we slept side by side with the peace of knowing we had each other forever. Forever was wide open to us.
We still have each other forever, but our "each other" is growing. That's also exhilarating and unknown, but we are an "us." He is my partner and I am his.
I am lucky.
Our forever will be okay. Our forever will be a family.