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Less than two weeks from now, my now husband and I will be celebrating our 8th year of togetherness. Yes, it has been 8 years since we admitted to each other that we are each other's special someone. Thus, ending the agony that is unrequited love that both of us has been nurturing unknowingly. It was bliss, knowing that I would not have to suppress the feelings I have for a dear friend, and the mere fact that "I am loved as much as I have loved him".

Of course, committing ourselves in a relationship does not mean a smooth "happy ever after" like in those fairy tales. All relationships have their own share of ups and downs, ours notwithstanding. But thinking back, what I really hold dear to my heart are the sudden "dips" in this roller coaster of a ride. Each trying moment is like a "baptism of fire" -- that every time we go through it and manage to successfully emerge from it, we feel as if our relationship has gotten stronger and ourselves, maturing in the process. Sure there were times when we almost gave up on each other, entertaining the thought that the way out is the easiest path to take. What reins us in is the reason why we are here in the first place -- that we love each other and both of us committed in making this work.

Personally, one such instance was when I found out that I am pregnant. I was fresh from college then, having just passed my licensure exams a few months before. I had landed my first job in a local company, testing the waters only and aiming to use the experience as a platform for other possible career path. He was on his first year in law school, unsure of what to do then so he just went ahead and grabbed the offer of pursuing this next step that everyone is expecting him to take. Then that fateful afternoon came.

First look at our princess

The idea of marriage is down the road, yes; but not in another 5 years or so. He would have to finish law school and passed the bar exams first. I was expected to climb the career ladder and help out my parents finish our house too. But life took us by surprise and meddled with our plans. It was never a question of whether we will keep the baby; the main problem was how to tell everyone of its arrival. I never asked him to marry me, I was even against it in the first place because I don't want to be categorized as one of those girls who were "pinakasalan lang para panagutan"; I also know that he is not the type who would turn his back on me because of the sudden arrival of a huge responsibility that came our way. And yet, he asked my hand in marriage without even anyone obliging him to do so.

My gift for his 25th Birthday

And so came Sophie. Born last September 2009, Sophia Adele was the apple of everyone's eyes. She can light up the room with her bedimpled smile. We were so enraptured by everything that she does. Both of our families showered her with love and attention that any firstborn grandchild would ever hope to receive. But she would prove to be another test of our faith, patience and the strength of the foundations with which our relationship is built upon.

To put it simply, Sophie has multiple disabilities. Turning three this year, she still can't sit on her own nor can she stand or walk. She too cannot speak yet. She was found to have moderate hearing loss on both ears. She was about to celebrate her first birthday when we came to know all of this. Recalling that day when my husband and I were informed of it, I remember how we were like two lost souls aimlessly wandering, seeking for solace yet keeping a brave front when we were in each other's presence. We knew we had to remain strong, for we didn't know whether we are tough and able enough to handle this.

Knowing we are given a huge task by being stewards of one of God's special angel placed things in perspective. We decided to talk, in all honesty and without anymore pretenses, exposing our own raw emotions about the fate of our daughter. We both knew we can't simply let our daughter be -- we are going to give her the best possible care we could afford, and of course, we still love her dearly, even more so now. It has been our wake up call, to cease thinking of ourselves and put her welfare above everything else.

Our angel during one of her therapies

A year into it and it seems like we have finally found our bearings. That we are now quite sure of where we're headed. We have just celebrated Sophie's 2nd birthday then, thankful that in spite of the previous trying year, we are together and intact as a family. But a blessing came unexpectedly, altering the just-established dynamics of our family.

Two lines drawn: Sophie's an Ate

I found out about my second pregnancy two weeks after Sophie's 2nd birthday. I was worried, scared and excited. Worried because I don't know if I can take care of two kids, if I'd be able to give the love and attention that is their due. I was afraid that I might neglect Sophie because I would have to take care of the newborn. Scared because there's a chance that the baby will become another special angel, and I'm not quite sure if I'd be able to manage both, if that's the case. Excited because our nuclear family has grown in number. I love babies as long as I can remember, and this little one would be no exception.

My husband mirrored my feelings. But he chided me for being a worrywart. He assured me that everything will be okay, that we just have to take one day at a time. Soon I started to enjoy my pregnancy, and somehow, we were able to prepare Sophie for the arrival of her sibling. She would lift the hem of her shirt and pat her tummy when asked "Where is Mommy's baby?".

"I'm here!"

Eliana Vita or "Ellie" was born last May 7. A big baby with a matching hefty appetite. From her birth alone, being as uncomplicated as it was, my worries evaporated into thin air. I know she would be a very healthy girl -- I'm already claiming it!

Since Ellie's arrival, our life has been a noisy mess. Most of the time, our room is topsy-turvy, as the things of four people are crammed in it. I can barely manage to keep everything in order, what with a toddler and a baby in tow. But my husband doesn't mind, he puts it precisely, "Magulo nga pero masaya. Makita mo lang ang ngiti nila, tanggal na ang pagod mo". And somehow, in between changing nappies and fixing bottles of milk, my husband and I find ways to have some "alone time". I believe it's essential to having a lasting marriage -- finding time to keep the L.O.V.E. alive. Well, aside from the requisite trust, commitment, and faith in each other.

Then and Now

We have been only married for 3 short years, but with what we have experienced, it does feels like a decade. Eight years of being together is a testament to our commitment, that we are in this for the long haul --  no, make that for eternity.

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