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What It Entails to Love a Person With a Congenital Heart Defect

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When my husband (then boyfriend) first said “I love you,” I paused and started to panic in my mind. For so many years, I doubted that I was lovable or that I would find someone to spend the rest of my life with because of my congenital heart condition.

There is so much that comes with loving me. When he said I love you, all I could think of was, “Does he even know what it entails to love me?”

The day after he said “I love you,” my mind was spinning. I started having thoughts of, “Does he really grasp what life would look like with me long term? Have I been completely been honest with him about my condition? Does he fully understand that our marriage won’t look like your average marriage?”

My mind was like a broken record. I couldn’t get these questions out of my head. I realized that the only way to find out if he truly knows what it entails to love me was to simply ask him.

Stepping into that conversation and asking that vulnerable question wasn’t easy. My heart was racing and my hands were sweaty. I said to myself, “Lindsay, you have got this and it is only fair to him that he knows what life may look like with you.”

Right out of the gates, I asked the bold question, “Babe, I know you said you loved me, but do you really know what it entails to love me?”

From there I went onto explain that high medical bills were always going to be in our future. I explained that there is no cure for congenital heart disease, it comes down to quality of life and wait-and-see scenarios. I explained that I can’t tell you when I will have health complications but I can promise you, I will have them. I explained that a major surgery will most likely happen, that my life may be cut short due to my illness… And then I paused. This was the hardest part. I explained that bearing my own children wasn’t possible.

When I finished the long explanation, he told me that it changes nothing about how he feels for me. He comforted me saying that he would always be my biggest champion throughout our whole lives. He didn’t care how much the medical bills would cost or that I can’t bare our children. He just wanted to love me fiercely and unconditionally. What I realized is that just because I have a chronic illness doesn’t mean I am not lovable. It means that I have experienced challenges that have shaped me into who I am. And who I am is who my husband fell in love with.

It wasn’t easy being vulnerable, putting all my cards on the table. But at the end of the day, this is my story and this was his life that would become our life. It is through his love that I am encouraged to live in the moment, always seek adventure and to never take anything for granted. And the best part is, we sealed it with our vows and a kiss on July 9, 2016.

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Thinkstock photo by Sergiy Serdyuk

Originally published: February 24, 2017
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