Adventures of a Wedding Belle – A little bit hitched.

It’s the 8th December today, and that means many things. It means that there are 16 shopping days left until Christmas, that there are 3 days until until I party it up London-style with Bella and Gemma, it means that Emilia Charlotte is FIVE WHOLE DAYS OLD and that in 9 months time our Bella will be becoming a wife.
Today is Bella’s fourth post for us and it’s my favourite of hers. It’s a story that, despite having heard it firsthand already, still leaves me slightly shaky and filled with wonder and love for Bella and Betrothed. It’s a tale of strength and hope. It’s a beautiful tribute to their relationship and best of all, it has the word ‘knobby’ in it.
Here’s Bella, with her take on feeling married with 9 months to go until the wedding…
We have just touched down in London having been in India for a couple of weeks, and boy have those weeks made a big change in our relationship.
When we first got engaged I launched into planning mode, and admittedly got quite stressed because we couldn’t seem to get what we wanted for various reasons, most of them logistical. My mum turned to me whilst ferrying me to see her church and said she was worried that we were focusing too much on the wedding, rather than the marriage. My reply? “I’m not worried about the marriage, but I am worried about the wedding.”
This remains largely true – I’m not worried about the marriage per se, but we have found that we really are focusing more on planning the marriage rather than the wedding. Mum will be pleased!
Don’t worry, we aren’t faltering in our commitment in any way, but something has definitely changed. In Goa (I appreciate how knobby this sounds, but stay with me, the place in relevant) we had one of those conversations that both centres and excites you, that makes you feel even surer of how in love you are – and how loved you are and gives you that sense of peace that cannot be described anyway near well enough.
I never thought we would get to this point. Physically I didn’t ever think we’d get to India, but emotionally I didn’t think I would feel so at peace with being so in love. Yes, I know I am in love and I know I am loved, but this year I have struggled to see our future, and feel any sense of peace being in a relationship that totally utterly has my heart, despite being engaged and excitedly looking forward to our wedding day in 9 months time.
Back in March Betrothed fell ill, and since then I have found it hard not to panic every time I don’t hear from him, or fret if we argue before he goes out in case I never see him again. I always worried, but this ‘natural’ worry has turned into hysterical panic mixed with a sense of dread that just makes me want to throw up, because I know what it feels like to think the person who has every piece of you may not be there in the morning. It might help to tell a little story here.
Last Christmas I bought us flights back to Ireland for the England/Ireland Six Nations game in March. March came, and Betrothed was a bit under the weather, having caught a cough from me. We had had an argument, to this day I can’t remember what about (which is a good thing, as I’m sure it’s an unfinished one and wasn’t fun) and I only decided to join him in Ireland at the last minute. On the plane he started getting sicker, running a fever and barely able to keep his head up. He managed to walk off the plane, and we all thought it was the flu. The next morning, after a night of feverish sweating and coughing Betrothed called his (doctor) brother who suggested he could have pneumonia – so off we headed for some x-rays. Fast forward 12 hours and yes, he had pneumonia and was incredibly unsteady on his feet. Fast forward another 6 and he had lost all movement below the waist. I can remember helping him to the bathroom at about midnight, practically dragging him on my back, but by six am I couldn’t do this, as when I got him to a standing position he fell like a dead weight at my feet. We couldn’t get him up. He was completely conscious and lucid throughout this entire process, which made it scarier somehow.
The early hours at the hospital are blurred like Vaseline has been completely smeared over my memory. I remember the doctors speaking to each other with their eyes, and calling one of my friends but I don’t remember what was said. I remember the words Guillan Barre Syndrome being uttered, and I remember being too scared to go back to Betrothed’s parents house. That night I was too scared to sleep, I remember praying harder than I ever had before, and I remember feeling as though if I fell asleep he wouldn’t wake up. So I stayed awake, with my soon to be sister in law, watching Bridal Plasty. Finally 7am came and we got word that it wasn’t Guillan Barre, but he still had no movement so would undergo tests. The following few days seemed like months, as one hypothesis was replaced with another. Once I had started to believe he wouldn’t die, I started to plan life with a boy in a wheelchair. The docs were fantastic, as were the nurses, but no one could tell us anything.
In typical me style I imagined our entire life changing, I googled, I discussed – I didn’t panic, I planned. I continued to plan even when Betrothed starting getting movement back in his legs, when he walked again for the first time (with a zimmer, actually quite funny) and when he was discharged from hospital (largely because he took it upon himself to quiz the student doctors every single day to test them on their knowledge of his random condition and on my late grandmother’s birthday – thanks Gram). We were so lucky. Betrothed was diagnosed with Encephalomyelitis, an inflammation of the brain and spine, and has, to date, made a full recovery. We still don’t know what caused it, and who knows if it will happen again, but he is ok. He can no longer hold his drink and I still think he walks funny, but he is ok.
I, however, wasn’t really. I had to fly back to London for work after 2 weeks, with Betrothed staying in Ireland with his parents for another 6. I went straight back into incredibly long days, and flew back and forth each weekend. I didn’t believe he was going to be ok, every day I waited for the news that he had relapsed. I got frustrated  with not knowing why this happened, I got angry at him for being positive and upbeat, I am ashamed to say it, but I felt like I was the only person who was being realistic about the future. Not that I shared this with him of course, or anyone. I felt incredibly guilty for feeling anything at all, as I knew how lucky we were. I feel guilty writing this, because I am under no illusion that what we went through was the worst thing you can go through.  I was the strong one on the outside, but inside I felt terrified of loving someone so much. Instead of feeling blessed that I hadn’t lost him, I felt like the countdown to that event had just begun.
This feeling subsided somewhat as he came home, just in time for the Royal Wedding, it lessened even more when he started back at work, and even more again when he went away with the boys for a weekend for the first time. But it didn’t disappear altogether. I was still terrified and have been for the majority of this year.
India was the holiday we didn’t think we could have. We were invited to a wedding in Bangalore, but we weren’t sure Betrothed would be well enough, if we could realistically risk anything happening, or if any insurers would cover him abroad again. But we went for it, so sitting by the beach in Palolem, Goa felt like the greatest achievement for us: we called time on the year that has been the hardest and celebrated the good that has come out of it. We spoke honestly about our hopes and dreams not for ourselves, but for each other. We laughed, we drank, we celebrated where we were. And the next day, when I left Betrothed for a solo swim in the sea, for the first time this year I didn’t panic about his safety. I kissed him and swam back to shore, where I sat contently reading my book and cursing him for hiding all of our money so I couldn’t get a drink. (Why do men do that on holiday? At least tell us the secret hiding place!) For me, realizing this was an incredible moment. I know I will always worry, but hopefully in a more natural way (!), but for the first time I feel so calm about the love we have and the future we hope to share.
There were no vows, no fireworks or bunting, no hand made favours or raucous speeches. There was nothing but my darling boy, me, a few mosquito bites and the sound of the sea lapping against the side. we celebrated where we were. Betrothed made my heart swell with “I didn’t propose because I thought I was going to die, I proposed because I knew I was going to live”. We came back from India feeling a little bit hitched.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience, Real Bride
12 interesting thoughts on this

12 Comments

  1. Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Wow Bella, that must have been some shock. My nephew had something very similar (encephalitis) when he was little and it was horrendously scary. The not knowing what the outcome or after effects would be, or still having any idea how it might have affected him.

    This IS the marriage stuff, the events that throw all the napkin debates into sharp perspective. we know there's a long road chock full of them ahead, but we don't always grasp it until life girls something like that at us and watches us struggle through it.

    Glad you found yourself emerging from this one in such a beautiful place….now whenever you come up against another battle, close your eyes and drift back to Goa….

    Px

  2. Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Girls? Hurls. Whatevs.

  3. mahj
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Bella-roo,man oh man do I know how you feel. Every single bit of it. I won't go into it here as this is your story but but I read your post 3 times and each time the time nodding of my head got progressively faster. The part I most identified with was the fear that something else bad was just about to happen, and then the sheer blissful relief when you realise that it won't. That you can carry on being happy in love with your Bethrothed.

    xoxo

  4. Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I can really relate to this, Bella, having had a similar health scare with M this year, and I'm so glad you found a way to come to terms with it and move on from it together. It's really hard realising that someone you love isn't immortal, but so good to be able to escape somewhat from that paralysing fear that can grip you about them. (Though I'm not sure I'm quite through myself yet.)
    And that feeling you experienced on the beach – absolutely priceless.
    xx

  5. Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Aw thanks ladies, was a bit nervous as still have lingering guilt about being a bit self centred rather than just grateful it wasn't worse… Mahj please do feel free to elaborate if u want to, it's not nice that others have been through it but is comforting to know this journey was 'normal' in some way! Pen i hope your nephew continues to be ok, i can only imagine how terrifying it is when a child is ill. Much love to you both xx

  6. Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Emma, I hope M is well in the mend? It is exactly that- a paralysingly fear where your heart hurts but somehow feels like it's stopped: i found that once I accepted how scared I was and confiding that in F, I was more open to healing really. We have to remember that it isnt selfish or self centred to need to heal the non-ill person too. But I never actually expected it to happen!!x

  7. Esme
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    You are KILLING me with this Bella. Man, this post is just… no words.

    This is what planning a wedding should be like, you know? Realising that you cannot possibly not be married to this person and feeling how much you love them. Seriously, it's not about choosing chair covers, it's about LOVE.

    Amazing.

    xxx

  8. Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Oh Bella, you wonderful thing, this is an amazing post. One of my favourites ever. It reminds me of everything I should always remember.

    Please don't feel guilty. What you're feeling is so unbelievably normal, heavens I panic regularly if G is late home in case he's been in a traffic accident (yes I am a neurotic loony-pants). I would be a TRAIN WRECK if I went through what you went through. You have my unending admiration for fighting through your fear and coming to terms with it. And now you know what a marriage is all about. Your last paragraph made me well up, I'm having to pretend to be REALLY emotional about E. coli in the lab.

    K x

  9. Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Oh my word, the penultimate sentence made me choke up.

    What an experience Bella, I cannot even begin to imagine. I'm a real planner and worrier too so I think I'd react in a similar way but who knows? I'm so pleased for you both that you got to take the trip to India, and all that represented for you, it sounds perfect xxx

    Ps. We went to Palolem too when we were in Goa, hope to return someday :)

  10. Posted December 8, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Crying at my desk. I can only begin to imagine what you went through (and Mahj and Emma too), but it sounds like you've got amazing strength and will have a wonderful marriage.

  11. Posted December 8, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Lucy-I know, that line 'I proposed because I knew I was going to live', is a KILLER.

    B, you know I think you're ace. But I really, realy do. Betrothed too, what a married couple you will be.

    x

  12. Posted December 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Aww I am so glad you made it through all that and he came out healthy the other end.
    It makes what you have so much more special to you when you go through something like that!

    xx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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