The other morning my husband and I were just waking up in our bed, cozy and warm. "Do you realize that this Valentine's Day it will be 20 years since we got engaged?" I smiled as Joe said this. Then I felt a hand reach out to me.
It would have been romantic if the hand was Joe's.
But the hand in my face belonged to our sound-asleep six-year-old, Peter. I don't remember him coming into our bed. He's getting good at stealth missions to snuggle between mommy and daddy.
Then I felt something at my legs. I guessed that this had to be Lizzy, who at 10 knows she's no longer welcome in our bed, but sneaks in at the bottom anyway.
Joe and I started laughing at our current circumstances. Children have certainly filled our life and bed since we first decided to get married in 1992.
I can't help but think back to the sunny March morning almost 19 years ago when I woke up in my parents' house knowing this was the day we had planned for a little over a year. Birds were singing, and it finally felt like spring.
There was still some snow left from a late winter blizzard, but the morning promised a day that would be sunny and warm.
My dress hung by the window in the room that used to belong to my sisters. Sunlight peeked through my long veil.
I tried to soak it up. I was happy and knew Joe was the right man for me. I was very much in love and extremely excited at starting our life together.
Four years later, I laid in the same bed crying hysterically over the loss of the pregnancy I had carried for 10 weeks. I was devastated at the loss.
Joe thought getting out of the city would be good for me for a few days. I knew if I stayed at my parents, he wouldn't worry so much about me because he had a big deadline at work and would be working around the clock until it was finished.
I felt so empty after weeks of feeling so full of life and being so happy. Maybe I tempted fate feeling so happy. We had been overjoyed to learn I was pregnant. It seemed too easy.
The pain was so intense for both of us. I remember crying together and praying. I wanted to wake up and find out it was just a bad dream that the baby we were expecting would be born in May and everything would be fine. I kept waking up and realizing the truth.
Almost two years later I was in the same room in my parents' house exhausted. My sister had gotten married, and we had gone back to my folks' house to visit with family and friends before my sister and new brother-in-law left for their honeymoon.
I needed to take a small nap before I could visit with one more person. My bridesmaid dress was much tighter now that I was two months pregnant. The dress was bought when I had given up all hope of having a biological child.
Joe stayed with me until I fell asleep and then came back to check on me about an hour later. The guest room in my parents' house had regained the feeling of happiness and hope it had from five years before. We were going to have a baby. It felt like this time it would really work.
About a year and half later I found myself again in the guest room. This time with Joe and our newborn son, Tom. Ants had overtaken our house in Queens, and we were staying at my parents while it was being exterminated.
Now a little crib was next to the bed, and I could see my happy baby boy.
Three years later, I was laying in bed, finally getting used to the new home we moved into six months before. It seemed impossible that we would be raising our children only six blocks from where I grew up.
Our little baby girl was laying in my arms and Joe was trying to sleep next us. I was gazing at this gorgeous little creature with a shock of black hair. I could not get over that I now had the "perfect" family. A boy and a new baby girl. Could life get better?
I was looking down at my sweet angel and all of a sudden I felt a knot in my stomach. There was something in the way Lizzy was looking at me, or rather not looking at me that struck me with pure fear. I knew something was wrong with our daughter. I could just feel it.
Two years later Joe and I were laughing in the kitchen as we were getting ready to serve a five-year-old Tom and a two-year-old Lizzy breakfast in our bed.
Tom had seen a picture of Joe and I on our honeymoon having breakfast in bed and he wanted to know what it was like.
The four of us were eating, giggling, and laughing in bed.
Then shock of all shocks, a year later Joe and I are in the same bed, with a third child asleep in the corner. He was snuggled in the same cradle that my father made when we were expecting Tom.
Peter was our bonus baby, the third child we were told was impossible.
A three-year-old Lizzy sleeping in between Joe and me. A six-year-old Tom in his "Clifford the Big Red Dog" sleeping bag right next to our bed. We didn't want anyone to feel left out now that we were a family of five.
Twenty years ago, I was living in the city with my roommate. Being preoccupied at work that week before Valentine's Day because I knew in my heart that I was going to be getting engaged soon. I would walk the streets of Manhattan, my mind wandering with dreams of wedding gowns, babies, and houses.
Sleep that week was hard to come by while I was all by myself in my small New York City bedroom. I was anxious about what the next few weeks would bring.
A lot of life can happen while you are lying in bed.