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eSpecially Parents June Edition: Natalie's Story

Mark and I have been together for 7 years and married for 4 years. He proposed to me in Central Park during an overnight stay in New York on our way to vacation in Aruba.

Of course I said yes and the next day we flew to Aruba. While sitting on the beach, we spontaneously decided to get married while we were there! I found the perfect dress at a small boutique just minutes before the store closed. It was the only white dress and it happened to be my size. Our wedding planner at our hotel set up a
beautiful beach ceremony at sunset. It was on the last night of our trip, which happened to be our 3-year (dating) anniversary. It was amazing, spontaneous and better than we could have ever imagined.

Several months later Mark and I decided to get pregnant. We found out that I was pregnant very early. I was only two weeks when the test came back positive. We were very excited. I wanted to do everything right. I was very healthy throughout my pregnancy.

Mark went to every doctor's appointment with me and everything was routine up until 32 weeks pregnant. We spent hours with several doctors giving me a detailed ultrasound. They finally told us that our baby had differences to her face, hands and feet. There was a chance she wouldn’t be able to breath on her own and may not survive birth. They had never seen anything like her.

Naturally, we were in complete shock. I remember the ride home very well. We both held on to a very tiny piece of hope that the doctors were wrong, even though they told us that they were 100% sure of what they saw. In an instant, our dreams for our baby and our future had completely changed.

We had 6 weeks to prepare for Sophia, not knowing what to expect or anyone except each other to lean on. It was the longest most painful 6 weeks we had ever experienced. It felt like I had a ton of weights on my heart from the moment I woke until the moment I fell asleep.

Mark and I were there for each other and helped one another out during those 6 weeks. We talked openly and honestly about our feelings, the good and the bad. When I was down he would lift me up and when he was down, I would lift him up. We comforted and cared for each other. He took really good care of me during that time. I didn't realize that those 6 weeks would define the way we would handle things once Sophia was born and the way we handle things now.

Our journey is very different than the typical one but we don’t let it overtake our lives.

Yes, we experience many heartbreaking moments – like watching Sophia go into (and recover from) many surgeries and struggle to do the simplest things. Sophia does it with a smile & a laugh and simply moves on – and that’s what we do too. Even with all this heartbreak, love & happiness for our children and ourselves is very important to us and we make sure we experience it even during the tough times.

Sophia recently had her 6th surgery. It has made a huge difference in her life and has dramatically reduced the daily pain she experienced for months. She is now happier than ever, making a lot of progress and even sleeping through the night!

For the first time in over two years, Mark and I have our evenings to ourselves. It has been so wonderful to have some quiet time together. We feel rested and more energized. We have been going on more dates and we've even had a few overnight getaways with some planned in the near future.

Mark and I have changed and experienced so much together. In many ways, our relationship has stayed the same. We laugh a lot and we don't take life too seriously. Somehow Mark still makes me laugh hysterically, especially during the most inappropriate times.

It has been so important to our relationship to make time to just be a couple. Our relationship is stronger, closer and better than ever because of what we have been through together. I feel so lucky to have him by my side. I don’t think I could go through this and be so strong and positive without him.

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  1. What a beautiful story!!

  2. You are an inspiration to me Natalie! I have enjoyed reading your posts and am sure they help many others too.Thank you for being so open! Also, The wedding and proposal sounds so perfect! Your wedding pic is beautiful!!! So happy for you and your sweet little family. Best wishes, xo


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