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Betrayed Spouse 101

We're Rebuilding: Do I Continue My Family?

I am pregnant again.

You probably wonder what helped me and my Husband in our rebuilding after infidelity occurred - especially since it occurred during my first pregnancy. You're wondering how I have the courage to be pregnant again, if it was a big trigger, if I'm worried anew with this new life inside me. I can tell you what helped and what's worked to keep me grounded and reasonably anxiety-free all in two words: My Daughter. She's a pre-schooler now, and she is my entire world. Mine and her Daddy's. And she has single-handedly done more to bring the two of us together than a mountain of self-help books, well-meaning counselors, date nights and hot sex marathons could ever do. That's the truth of it, in a nutshell. In those first, difficult rebuilding days that turned into those difficult rebuilding weeks that turned into those difficult rebuilding months, she was the one thing that united us sometimes. We could be screaming at each other, me in fury, he in frustration, and ten minutes later we're pulled to the side of her crib by a cry, a fever, a boo-boo, whatever. Its awfully hard to remain angry at someone when you see them holding your daughter tenderly and begging her to please, please stop crying, please feel better, Daddy's here, Daddy loves you. He's amazing with her, he really is. He's been as hands-on as a father can be, and not apologetic for it in the least. He'll turn down an afternoon of golf if it happens to fall on the day she gets her booster shots - he'd rather be there so he can hold her. Instead of going to happy hour after work with the rest of the office, he rushes home so he can take her to the local playground and push her on the swing.

In addition to that, she's brought out qualities in me that he never realized were there. He saw an exhausted women recovering from an emergency c-section drag herself up to feed and hold this child every 3 hours for the first few weeks of her life. He saw me get organized like he never thought I could be. He watched as I put my needs aside and considered hers first, every time. He sees me say "no" to her, even when he knows its killing me to do so sometimes. And he's developed a new-found respect for me in that way that was sorely missing before.

Most of all, he's shown me that being a FAMILY is important to him. Important enough to shut that Other Woman out of our lives, to do what he needed to do (no matter how ridiculous he may have felt it was at the time) to win back not just the mother of his child, but his partner in this grand adventure. It hasn't been easy, and it didn't happen overnight. But being a family is something we both want. My daughter having two parents actively in her life on a daily basis is something we both want. And falling deeper in love with the man who adores her as I do is just a pleasant side-effect. He's told me recently that he never imagined his life could be so chaotic - but he wouldn't trade it for the world.

I don't want to paint this out like it was all wine and roses. He did 4 months of fence-sitting after D-Day that only ended when I handed him a do-it-yourself divorce book. After that, I went through a long, angsty period where I wondered if he was staying solely for her. I lost my sense of value, feeling so utterly disposable, and when I saw how much he adored her and his fatherhood, I naturally felt like I'd done my job and maybe he was just keeping me around for my daughter's sake. Then I went through a phase where I wondered if I was keeping HIM around for my daughter's sake. I had a lot to work through internally while he was working on me externally, and it was rough going a lot of times. Luckily, I didn't have to worry about the "having another child" thing right away. My daughter was a fertility baby, and my insurance at work had capped out. We couldn't afford to try for another child, so we were sure we were done.

I then decided to concentrate on my daughter. The singlemost important thing I can do for her is be as secure an individual as I can. I started small. A separate bank account. Savings only, in her name and mine, jointly. All of my reimbursement checks from my dependent caresavings account at work go in there. Its not a lot, but its an emergency fund, should I ever need it. If I never do, its her wedding fund. One worry gone. Now on to the intangibles. Was I happy like I was? Being the person I was? What was working for me in my decisions? What wasn't? Where did I want to go with my life, and how was I going about getting there? Being a mother - especially a mother who doesn't feel like she can depend on her baby's father - made me really take stock and work on what I needed to do to get myself stronger. How was I going to interact with my husband? What level of respect and communication did I require from him? What hobbies or dreams or passions did I put aside for whatever reason? Did I need a more fulfilling, better-paying job?

So he and I hashed a lot out and then I landed the job I'm at now when my daughter was about 5 months old. Lo and behold, they offered full coverage for our fertility procedures. Suddenly, another child, while still a longshot, became an option. I didn't even tell my Husband about the fertility coverage right away. I sat on it, stewed in it, went to the support boards I frequented and blathered on about it. Finally, after some serious heart-to-hearts and a lot of my angst and fear coming out, and a LOT of reassuring from him, I put it all in perspective.

What if he cheated again? What if he panicked at the thought of TWO more mouths to feed? What if having two kids meant no time for us? What if, what if, what if...those thoughts can torture you, they really can. But here's the flip side: what if he has really learned that what he's got is much, much more valuable to him than a foolish gamble? What if two kids also meant twice the love, twice the sense of family? What if watching my daughter interact with a brother/sister brought us a new dimension of joy we couldn't even imagine before? What if we made a commitment to MAKE time for each other, and cherished those times even more in between the chaos of a busy house?

The bottom line is, while he's doing everything right, I will never, never be 100% secure with HIM. Its sad, but its a fact. He made me plan for a life without him, and that plan is still filed away somewhere, ready to be pulled out if necessary. I don't THINK I'll be needing it, but hey, I never thought that before either. Call it sadder, but wiser, but its there. What I AM secure in is both our abilities to parent, our sense of fiscal responsibility, our commitments to wanting what's best for our children, our mutual respect for the parenting skills of the other. Should he and I fall apart tomorrow, I know down to my DNA he will be as active a father as he can be, that he and I will probably still be good friends (even if it comes after a cooling down period) probably till the day we die, and that's enough for me. Right now, there's me, there's him, there's my daughter, there's a new life thriving beneath my beating heart, and there's love.

I'll take each day as it comes, and revel in every minute of it.

If you're stewing in the thought of continuing your family, give yourself a break. This journey is hard enough without having to make snap decisions about a life-altering event like having another baby. Give yourself (and your Husband) some time to work through this, to feel a little more directed down whichever path your marriage is going to go. You know this know whether the affair was part of a long-standing pattern of disrespect and disregard on his part, and whether he's truly willing to work through this, not around it or past it or quickly over it. That takes time, and a year or even 6 months can change your outlook drastically. You'll still hit those trigger days sometimes, believe me. But you WILL get to the point where they don't consume you. I promise.

****** Epilogue: I now have a gorgeous baby boy who loves to play with his beautiful older sister, and I am more blessed than a mommy has a right to be. Life is good.